Ethanol debate hits Texas

By: Mystic Matthews Email
By: Mystic Matthews Email

SHERMAN, TX - A bold move by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who wants the Environmental Protection Agency to lower the amount of federally mandated ethanol that's put into gasoline. But some people don't agree with Perry's petition. Mystic Matthews has more.

Governor Perry reportedly wants the EPA to suspend half of the federal ethanol requirement, which means only 4.5 billion gallons would be added to this years national fuel supply, instead of 9 billion.

Some local farmers are against Perry's petition. They say he's only seeing half the story.

Among Perry's reasons for opposing the ethanol mandate is the price of corn. Many claim it's driving up costs for cattle farmers, who compete with ethanol plants for the corn they use as cattle feed.

“Ranchers are being hurt, bidding against ethanol plants for what they feed their cattle and I know that's hurting them,” says Congressman Ralph Hall.

But corn farmers in Grayson County say Perry's petition won't help. “I think it’s going to cause fuel prices to go up, more than it will reduce food costs,” Says corn producer Bruce Wetzel who owns Wetzel Farms.

Corn farmers say the price of oil is behind the increase in ethanol and food costs. And the use of ethanol in fuel will actually keep prices lower than if it were not used.

“Texas A&M released a study that says a complete waiver of the mandate might reduce corn 5-8%. Governor Perry has requested a 50% waiver of the mandate. That much difference in the price of corn will make almost no difference in the people's food bill,” says Wetzel.

But according to Governor Perry, decreasing the amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel will help the cattle industry, many of whom reside in his state.

“It will cost states like Texas, in their economy,” says Hall.

Either way, farmers we talked to here in Grayson County say more than just cutting ethanol mandates needs to be done for the economy to see a change.

“The overall benefit is ethanol is good for the consumer, the homemaker looking at increased cost of food and its good for all of us buying fuel,” says Corn Producer and Cattle Raiser Jack Norman of Norman Farms.

Other states are defending the ethanol mandate, along with most Texas corn producers. But it will be up to the EPA to make the final decision. No word on when that will come.

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