GOP group wants curbs on ethanol due to increases in food prices; others point to oil prices

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

From a story by Thomas Content and Joel Dresang in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Twenty-four Republican senators, including likely presidential nominee John McCain, on Monday called for a halt to the expansion of ethanol production as a response to rising food prices.

The senators urged the Environmental Protection Agency to restructure rules that would require greater production of ethanol from corn by 2022.

"This subsidized (ethanol) program - paid for by taxpayer dollars - has contributed to pain at the cash register, at the dining room table, and a devastating food crisis throughout the world," McCain said in a statement.

Critics of the proposal said that too much attention was being placed on ethanol as a reason for rising food prices, and that not enough attention was being placed on the role that rising crude oil prices - which surged to $120 a barrel Monday - have played in driving up the cost of food.

"It's the wrong medicine for the problem," Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen said. "If we hadn't had the significant increase in renewable fuels that we've seen in the last five years, we would have higher gas prices today, not lower ones."