It seems that ethanol has a target on its back. The rising cost of food has gained a lot of media attention, with many laying the blame at ethanol's feet, despite numerous reports and studies showing that other factors such as the high price of oil are the real culprits. The increased coverage of the issue has brought politicians into the fray. Texas Governor Rick Perry requested a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard from the Environmental Protection Agency, asking that blending requirements be rolled back to 50% of mandated levels. Now Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, says she will submit a bill that would freeze the national biofuel mandate.
It's unclear whether Hutchinson will be able to find support in the Senate, since the mandate that was passed in the Energy Bill had wide bi-partisan support. However; the winds of politics can change rapidly, especially in an election year.
On Tuesday, President Bush defended ethanol in a speech given in the Rose Garden. He said food price increases are minimally impacted by biofuels and the recent rise in food prices can chiefly be blamed on weather, increased demand and higher energy prices.
The truth of the matter is it's in our national interests that our farmers grow energy" Bush said. "As opposed to purchasing energy from parts of the world that are unstable or may not like us."