Minnesota Democrats in Congress voice opposition to ethanol cut


Some members of Minnesota's congressional delegation are speaking up against a proposal from the Obama administration to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to lower the biofuel targets for 2014. It would be the first time that has ever that has happened.

The move acknowledges the biofuels law championed by both parties in 2007 is not working as well as expected.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and Collin Peterson, all Democrats, say the proposal would discourage investment in the biofuel industry and hurt jobs especially in rural communities around Minnesota.

The change would reduce the amount of ethanol and other biofuels blended into gasoline in 2014 by almost 3 billion gallons.

Peterson is the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. He called the Renewable Fuel Standard "vital to rural America's economic strength."

Klobuchar said she will encourage the Obama administration to reconsider.

Generally, ethanol companies and grain farmers oppose the move on the grounds that it will hurt the growth of alternative fuels. However, as MPR News reports petroleum companies, environmental groups and even some farm organizations support the plan.

National Turkey Federation president Joel Brandenberger told MPR that, "The Renewable Fuels Standard effectively has cost our producers over a billion dollars."

The use of corn to make the fuel has raised grain prices and hurt the farmers who need to buy corn to feed their animals.

The EPA is taking comments on the plan. It will release a final decision on the renewable fuels standard sometime next year.

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