Political opposition to ethanol ignites in California

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Political opposition to ethanol ignites in California

Date: 
Fri, 09/20/2013

State Legislature unanimously passes resolution calling for an end to the federal ethanol mandate.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Using food to make fuel has found a distasteful audience among California politicians.

Kristen Olsen, R-ModestoLast week, a resolution by Assembly member Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto, seen here) that calls upon the U.S. Congress to eliminate the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate on the amount of corn-based ethanol that must be used in gasoline was approved by both houses of the California State Legislature… unanimously.

The resolution will now be shared with Congress – an action that, realistically, figures to be far more symbolic than politically effective.

Still, it does send a loud message to national lawmakers that the largest food-producing state in the nation by far strongly believes the ethanol mandate is bad for both agriculture and consumers.

The RFS mandate says that by 2022 at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels must be incorporated into U.S. fuel supplies. So far, nearly all of that has been ethanol made from corn. In 2011 alone nearly 40 percent of the nation’s total corn crop was used to make ethanol.

“Diverting feed stocks to fuel has diminished corn supplies for livestock and food producers, resulting in higher corn prices,” said Olsen. “These higher prices have contributed to hundreds of California dairies going out of business and have increased costs to consumers through increased food prices in grocery stores and restaurants.

“Feeding our livestock and our people should take precedence over creating alternative fuels that have proven to be less energy efficient than gasoline,” she added.

It’s a message and a reality that Congress needs to finally start listening to.

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The author has served large Western dairy readers for the past 36 years and manages Hoard’s WEST, a publication written specifically for Western herds. He is a graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, majored in journalism and is known as a Western dairying specialist.

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