From: Reuters
Published May 19, 2008 03:08 PM

Senator promotes bill to freeze ethanol mandate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison introduced legislation on Monday to freeze the federal mandate for corn-based ethanol at this year's current level of 9 billion gallons.

Hutchison said her legislation allows for necessary adjustments in the renewable fuel standard to transition to a more realistic and sustainable source which does not use food for fuel.

"The ethanol mandate is clearly causing unintended consequences on food prices for American consumers," Hutchison said. "Freezing the mandate is in the best interests of consumers, who cannot afford the increasing prices at the grocery store due to the mandate diverting corn from food to fuel."

Energy legislation signed into law last year requires an annual increase in the amount of ethanol produced domestically, from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007, to 9 billion this year, increasing to 15 billion in 2015 and then 36 billion gallons by 2022.

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Congress provided the Environmental Protection Agency with the authority to waive the mandate, or adjust them as necessary to provide relief for consumers.

A Hutchison spokesman said the ethanol freeze legislation could be attached to the farm bill, which the president has threatened to veto over expensive commodity programs.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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