Drought Forces Debate on Ethanol

Nick Gale, Illinois Capitol Bureau

ILLINOIS (IRN) – Given the drought, there’s discussion of making ethanol mandates go away. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says not so fast.

Durbin says there are two things to consider when talking about suspending a mandate that a percentage of corn-based ethanol be produced and blended with gasoline. First, he says the byproducts of ethanol can still be used as feed for livestock. Second, he says the ethanol mandate is a way to rely less on foreign oil.

“We need to take a balanced look at this,” Durbin said. “The ethanol industry is a way to maintain our…energy independence and to promote a lot of jobs in America. So before we jump at this in the name of those who are raising chickens and livestock and other things, let’s be real careful on how we measure it.”

Some have suggested that ethanol production be temporarily halted to ensure enough feed for livestock in the coming year.

Meanwhile, Durbin isn’t saying whether the drought is a political issue. Instead he says it boils down to those who have or don’t have crop insurance. “At the end of the day it really comes down to the fact that farming is a risky business,” Durbin says. “If you don’t buy your insurance and something happens, it can hurt you.”

Durbin says the federal government has authorized low-interest loans for farmers in need of money to carry them through.  This week all 102 Illinois counties were declared USDA disaster areas, making farmers eligible for those loans.

Copyright IRN

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