Policymakers Must Take a Broader Approach to Reducing Tailpipe Emissions

Feb 23, 2024  |  Today's News |  ICGA |  Ethanol |  Legislation & Regulation |  Additional Research

America is in pursuit of a clean energy future, but to get there, our leaders must prioritize a solution that already exists at gas stations across the country.


Ethanol, made from corn produced on farms in Illinois and throughout the heartland, is a low-cost, low-carbon fuel resulting in up to 52% fewer harmful tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions than regular gasoline. Today, nearly every gallon of gasoline in the U.S. contains at least 10 percent ethanol, but by expanding the marketplace with higher blends, policymakers can help decarbonize the transportation sector while continuing to offer drivers a choice at the car dealership and the gas pump. What’s more, they can bolster the financial viability of farming operations and safeguard the resources Americans rely on each day.


Today, family farmers throughout the country face economic hardships as high inflation is causing the cost of producing crops to be more expensive than ever before. In Illinois specifically, crop budgets for 2024 include a reduction in the corn and soybean prices, resulting in negative return and lower profitability projections for farmers in all regions of the state.


This takes away from the income farmers rely on to pay their bills, educate their children and invest in their communities. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, America’s farmers can expect net farm income this year to be $40 billion lower than in 2023 – that’s a 25 percent reduction and the largest recorded year-to-year dollar drop.


Transitioning away from renewable fuels and exclusively to electric vehicles (EVs) as proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency last year would only create more hardships for America’s farmers. Ultimately, this transition would decrease the price of corn and cost the agriculture industry an estimated one-billion bushels of corn in the next decade. In fact, if the price of corn permanently decreases by 50 percent, the top five corn-producing states – Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana – could collectively lose more than $100 billion in farmland value.


Yet the impact would not just be felt by farmers, but all of rural America as rural businesses that rely on a viable agricultural sector and rural schools that rely on property taxes would lose critical funding.


It’s clear now more than ever that to meet our nation’s emissions reductions goals, policymakers must take a broader approach to EVs and harness the full benefits of corn-based ethanol. The first step they can take is passing the Next Generation Fuels Act, bipartisan legislation that would expand ethanol usage and create a path for the production of more advanced, efficient vehicles that run on low-carbon fuels.


Corn farmers are doing their part to advance America’s clean energy future, now it’s time for our leaders to support them in making it a reality.