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The ethanol mandate affects us all

A snowmobiler, a conservationist and a chicken farmer walk into the EPA. Unfortunately for the ethanol lobby, this one doesn’t end with a punchline. It’s a typical day in the fight to reform ethanol mandates, a policy broken in so many different ways that people who don’t agree on much are finding common ground.

Scroll down to learn more about the kinds of people who are calling for reform and see the logos below to get to know our partners.

Consumer & Taxpayer Advocates

The unworkable nature of the ethanol mandate is a raw deal for consumers, risking higher gas prices, lower fuel economy and warranty-voiding engine damage.

Ethanol is a highly corrosive product that can cause damage in most engines when used in concentrations higher than 10 percent. That’s why gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol (E10) is the only fuel blend approved by the EPA for use in all vehicles, motorcycles, boats and power equipment. Higher ethanol blends can cause a litany of problems for engines not designed to run on the fuel, including unintentional clutch engagement, rubber swelling and metal corrosion. Even worse: many auto warranties will not cover damage from the use of higher ethanol blends, leaving consumers out of luck.

And that’s not all–because ethanol contains a third less energy than regular gasoline, gallon-for-gallon, ethanol in your tank means more trips to the pump. In 2011, ethanol’s energy shortcomings added about 10 cents per gallon to the cost of U.S. gasoline.

Oil Refiners

Ethanol mandates require refiners to blend impossible amounts of ethanol into gasoline — amounts that the current gasoline supply cannot safely accommodate. Yet, if refiners do not somehow meet their targets, the agency can fine them up to $32,500 per day for non-compliance.

In order to comply with the government, refiners may soon be forced to put an amount of ethanol into fuel that could damage up to 90 percent of cars on the road today, or risk spikes in gas prices – a point known as “hitting the blend wall.”

Food Producers

Ethanol mandates increase the price of corn — a staple ingredient in 75 percent of all grocery items — leading to higher food prices for restaurants and consumers alike.

What’s more, corn makes up more than 95 percent of all U.S. animal feed, which means that as ethanol mandates raise corn prices, livestock farmers have to cope with higher feed prices. This has led to higher prices of food items like meat and dairy as well as the closing of more than 60,000 pork, poultry, and beef operations since 2007.

Anti-Hunger Activists

America is the world’s top corn producer and third biggest exporter; therefore, a rise in U.S.corn prices brought on by ethanol mandates, which convert large amounts of corn into fuel instead of food, increases the cost of food globally, disproportionately hurting the poorest among us at home and abroad.

Foreign and domestic food assistance programs — like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), child nutrition programs and international food aid — become more expensive and less effective due to rising food prices.

Environmentalists & Conservationists

Supporters of ethanol mandates claim that growing corn for fuel helps the environment. But if that’s true, why are numerous environmental and conservation groups, academics, and scientists calling for reform? Study after study has proven that ethanol mandates are not only not helping the environment, they are making things worse–plowing over conservation land for cornfields, polluting waterways, and actually increasing emissions.