If this summer’s drought and its toll on crops weren’t enough, it may also impede some of this country’s efforts to move away from fossil fuel.
As recently as a few months ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was working to promote the use of more ethanol in the country’s gasoline supply. In light of the drought, however, concerns over corn shortage may actually force the agency to push for less ethanol use in gasoline.
Lawmakers and governors of eight states that produce corn have asked the EPA to reduce ethanol requirements from the current plan - which, according to a 2007 law, would require that 15.2 billions of gallons of ethanol be used this year, with that amount doubling by 2022.
But the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday predicted that the country’s farm grain output will fall by 5.4 percent — the lowest levels in 39 years. Additionally, barely one quarter of the U.S. corn crop yields are in “good” or “excellent” condition, compared with 70 percent last year.
The EPA is expected to make its decision regarding the corn ethanol levels early next month.
While certainly a blow for those hoping to see America reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, the issue speaks to a frequent criticism of the U.S.’ corn ethanol program - that it diverts crops from the food supply, making the market more susceptible to food shortages and price increases.
Photo: Flickr/Wayne Truong