Under the Dome

Hagan leads Senate push for EPA adjustment of ethanol mandate

With a lingering summer drought and growing concerns that U.S. corn supply will be insufficient to feed animal and ethanol plants, federal lawmakers are pushing for an adjustment of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Laws passed in 2005 and 2007 require billions of gallons of corn-based ethanol be produced each year. At present, 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol must be produced in 2012 and 13.8 billion gallons in 2013, according to Farm Futures.

North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan is leading the push in the Senate to convince federal regulators that a waiver is needed.

Hagan and Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss -- who campaigned in N.C. last week for Mitt Romney -- sent a letter earlier this week to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson asking the agency to use its waiver authority to adjust the mandate in light of the drought.

The letter points to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report that rated just 23 percent of the country’s corn crop as good or excellent.

26 members of the Senate, Republican and Democrat, also signed the letter. A similar letter was sent last week with signatures from more than 150 members of the House.

"As stressful weather conditions continue to push yields lower and prices upward, the economic ramifications … will become more severe," the letter says. "We ask you to adjust (the mandate) to reflect this natural disaster and these new market conditions."

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