- Farm and biofuel advocates are pushing back against an Environmental Protection Agency rule they say limits the expansion of corn-based ethanol within the nation's fuel supplies.
- The EPA on Wednesday set biofuel blending volumes at 20.94 billion gallons in 2023, 21.5 billion gallons in 2024 and 22.3 billion gallons in 2025. Volumes for corn-based ethanol, however, is set at 15 billion gallons for all three years, despite a previous proposal to raise production to 15.25 billion.
- Most gasoline sold in the U.S. has 10% ethanol and is processed in the Midwest, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Biofuels and farm advocates have pushed to increase the amount of biofuels used in fuel supplies, promoting it as an immediate climate change solution.
Ethanol has grown to become one of the largest markets for corn, according to the National Corn Growers Association. Each year, about 30% of field corn goes into fuel ethanol.
Biofuel advocates argue there is more than enough supply to meet demand, and that failing to expand use of conventional biofuels could slow the country's progress on climate. National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag said in a statement that the final rule “falls short of the emission reductions and cost-saving benefits the higher proposed ethanol volumes provided.”
The EPA's final rule is meant to diversify the country's energy mix and combat climate change. The agency said the measure is estimated to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil by roughly 130,000 to 140,000 barrels of oil per day from 2023-2025, according to a news release.
“From day one, EPA has been committed to the growth of renewable fuels that play a critical role in diversifying our country’s energy mix and combating climate change,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in prepared remarks on Wednesday. “Today’s rule reflects our efforts to ensure stability of the program for years to come.”
Biofuels have remained a controversial solution to combating climate change, as some argue increased ethanol use hurts the environment. A 2022 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that increasing the amount of conventional corn grown for biofuel purposes led to more fertilizer use, water quality degradation and enough emissions related to land use changes that the carbon intensity of corn ethanol is no less than gasoline.