Nelson and Grassley May Force Corn Into EPA Appropriation Bill
Several farm-state senators are looking to include a provision in a major appropriations bill that would significantly increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline, despite concerns about the impacts.
Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) are reportedly considering (sub. req’d) offering amendments to force the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the blend level above the current 10 percent maximum as an amendment to the EPA appropriation bill. The corn-state senators would like to see blend limits raised to 15 percent, and E&E reports that it looks likely that the potential amendments would block funding for the EPA if they don’t move forward on raising the blend limit.
The EPA is currently considering a petition from more than 50 pro-ethanol groups, and is expected to come to a decision on it by Dec. 1. But that’s not soon enough for Nelson. “I have been waiting for EPA to deal with this,” he said. “It is something I must admit I am concerned about because they don’t seem to ever come to a conclusion.”
But the EPA faces opposition to increasing ethanol levels in gasoline from environmentalists, livestock producers, refiners, and other groups. Concerns have been raised about whether most engines can handle higher blends, and recent studies indicate that the use of ethanol may increase global warming. The general impression among opponents of the higher blend is that it doesn’t really benefit anyone other than the corn lobby.