Senators urge EPA to consider implications of E15 fuel waiver on livestock industry

By Erin Voegele | June 03, 2009
Report posted June 10, 2009, at 5:00 p.m. CST

A group of 21 senators sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on June 9, outlining their concerns over the possible approval of an E15 fuel waiver. In the letter, the senators requested that the EPA complete more comprehensive testing on ethanol prior to increasing the ratio of ethanol that can be mixed into gasoline. The letter stated that air quality and technical issues should be explored further, as should the potential for the wavier to negatively impact consumers, as well as livestock and poultry producers.

The fuel waiver request was filed with the EPA on March 6 by Growth Energy and a group of 54 ethanol producers. In the waiver request, the group asked the EPA for approval to increase the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. The 60-day public comment period on the waiver request was originally scheduled to end on May 21. However, the EPA announced in March that the comment period would be extended an additional 60 days until July 20.

"While increased production and use of ethanol has helped advance the goal of energy independence, it has had the unintended consequence of sharply increasing costs for corn and other sources of feed," said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. "This in turn has negatively affected beef cattle, dairy and poultry producers. I believe it is important to fully understand the impact that increasing the use of corn ethanol would have on food costs. Moreover, prior to increasing the percentage of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline, EPA should study the effects of ethanol on emissions and durability of different types of gasoline-powered engines."

In the letter, the senators stated that they feel the approval of the E15 fuel waiver could negatively impact Americans during challenging economic times. "We feel strongly that any proposal to increase ethanol levels must be subjected to a complete assessment of what such an increase might do to the economy and the feedstock markets generally that our livestock and poultry producer rely on every day," the letter stated.