The 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard created goals for increasing the amount of ethanol, biodiesel, and other greener fuels available in the United States. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced volume mandates under the RFS for 2014, 2015, and 2016, and while the ethanol level is better than some biofuels supporters feared, many in the Corn Belt are expressing disappointment.
Earlier this year, though, the EPA had floated a proposal that would have reduced ethanol even more.
"Those of us in Congress and the ethanol community tried to get the EPA to see the light on stronger volume requirements under the RFS," says Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). "We had some success, but not nearly enough."
Grassley says reducing the mandate for ethanol is inconsistent with the administration's stated support for renewable energy.
"It's very unfortunate that this administration, so strongly claiming to be for renewable and clean energy, stands in the way of the production and use of more of these very same renewable fuels that they say that they want," Grassley says.
But some environmental groups argue the RFS has prompted farmers to plow up fields to grow more corn, a process they say is tougher on the environment than the use of traditional gasoline.