Corn farmers expect higher profits as EPA expands sale of higher blend ethanol

Corn farmer Kevin Malchine
Posted at 9:38 AM, Feb 27, 2024

At Kevin Malchine’s farm in Waterford, corn, the main source of ethanol fuel in the United States, is king.

“Ethanol has been an integral part of helping agriculture be successful over the last 20 years,” he said.

So, when Malchine learned the Environmental Protection Agency would be allowing gasoline sales with a 15 percent ethanol blend year-round, instead of the usual 10 percent, he had reason to celebrate.

The fuel additive consumes 40 percent of the nation's corn crop, so a higher blend year-round likely means more profit for corn farmers.

“It's very important at this point in time when corn prices are hitting multi-year lows,” he said

But environmentalists say it could come at a cost.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Clean Wisconsin said higher ethanol blends increase the amount of chemicals entering our air and could worsen smog during warm weather

Yet at the same time, gas with less ethanol puts more carbon into the atmosphere.

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t share those concerns,” Malchine said.

He doesn’t appear to be alone. Eight governors in the Midwest, including Wisconsin’s Tony Evers, pushed to see the summertime band lifted.

Sales of the newly-approved higher blend will go into effect in April of 2025.

Clean Wisconsin’s spokesperson also said when considering environmental impacts the bigger conversation isn’t ethanol versus gas, but rather the transition away from fossil-fuel burning vehicles altogether.