U.S. Senators Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) recently wrote a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson, asking the agency to use its waiver authority “to adjust the corn grain-ethanol mandate of the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS)” in light of ongoing drought conditions. Signed by 26 senators, the bipartisan letter notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already rated 50 percent of the nation’s corn crop as poor or very poor while “stressful weather conditions continue to push corn yields lower and prices upward.” The signatories have thus urged EPA to employ some of the “safety valves” built into the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 “that enable the agency to adjust the RFS in the event of inadequate supplies or to prevent economic harm to the country, a region, or a state.”  

“With record droughts across the United States causing corn supplies to shrink and prices to spike, an adjustment to the corn-ethanol mandate will provide relief from an emergency that is harming North Carolina’s poultry and livestock producers and driving up food prices for consumers,” said Hagan in an August 8, 2012, press release. “While I believe the RFS is helping to bring advanced biofuels to market that are critical to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the EPA should adjust the corn-ethanol mandate to reflect the new market conditions created by the worst drought in 50 years.”