Minnesota's U.S. Senator Al Franken met Saturday with two dozen corn producers to discuss proposed rules from the Environmental Protection Agency that would lower the amount of corn ethanol that's mixed with gasoline.
Franken is upset with the EPA's proposal that would change the nation's Renewable Fuel Standards, or RFS, to lower the total amount of ethanol blended into gasoline supplies.
"The argument is, 'Well, the infrastructure isn't there for ethanol.' The infrastructure isn't there for ethanol because the gas station franchises get punished for putting in blender pumps. So this is, as far as I'm concerned, a conflict of interest," Franken told a group of corn producers Saturday.
"The oil companies don't want to compete with ethanol," he said.
Goodhue corn producer Ryan Buck said with corn prices down, the EPA's ruling would devastate the farm economy.
Buck also serves as president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. He produces about 800 acres of corn annually on his farm near Goodhue, half of which goes toward ethanol production.
"When this is all said and done, I hope they read the comment letters, the EPA does, and take a look at things and say, 'We made a mistake, we're going to re-evaluate this and we're going to move forward," said Buck.
Most gasoline now contains 10 percent ethanol. Minnesota is the country's fifth largest producer of the corn-based fuel.
The EPA's proposal has upset grain farmers but drawn praise from oil producers and livestock farmers.
The agency will release a final ethanol decision sometime this year.