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Texas ag divided on EPA ethanol decision

EPA approves ethanol blend increase Corn, sorghum support ruling Cattlemen express disappointment

The Texas Farm Bureau has endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of E15 (gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol) for model year 2007 and newer cars and light-duty trucks.

“This is a step toward strengthening America’s commitment to home-grown and renewable sources of energy,” said Kenneth Dierschke, TFB president.  “There is no question this will stretch the available supply of gasoline and improve air quality.”

Dierschke said the move is a step toward energy independence.  “We know that farmers can produce the raw stocks for energy,” he said. “Combined with wind power–which we are already generating and the potential for solar–liquid biofuels like ethanol can play a significant role in reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.”

“Ethanol is a clean-burning, home-grown renewable fuel. Increasing the percentage of ethanol in the domestic gasoline supply moves our nation one step closer to greater energy independence,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “It also promotes job creation in rural America.”

 The EPA decision applies to some 43 million vehicles, or about 20 percent of the current U.S. fleet. A second decision by EPA on the use of E15 in earlier model vehicles will be made after additional testing by the Department of Energy.  

In March of last year, Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers filed a petition with EPA requesting that the ethanol blend cap be increased from 10 percent to 15 percent. Farm Bureau and other supporters of renewable energy endorsed that request.

The EPA announcement clears the way for states to begin adjusting state fuel regulations to allow the sale and distribution of E15. Currently, most ethanol is made from corn, but other raw stocks may be used.  These include other grains or biomass sources like sorghum, corn cobs, cornstalks and switchgrass.

Livestock industry disappointed

Joining the Texas Farm bureau in support of EPA’s decision were The National Corn Producers Board and the National Sorghum Producers. The Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) expressed disappointment over the ruling and the potential effect an increase in ethanol production will have on grain prices.

"The high level of corn-based ethanol is one of the key factors driving price increases in corn products, including feed for cattle," said Dave Scott, rancher and TSCRA president. "Over the past few years it has become very clear that putting our food and fuel in competition with one another is bad for cattle producers and consumers." 
"Texas cattle producers support renewable energy and a lessened dependence on foreign oil; however such an investment should not sacrifice our nation's food supply," Scott said. 

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