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Why Are These Franchisees Ganging Up Against the Biofuel Industry?

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What do Pizza Hut and KFC franchisees, the National Turkey Federation and clean-air advocates have in common? An opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposal on ethanol.

Over 30 advocacy groups, including franchisee groups representing Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, signed a letter Monday opposing a proposed ethanol reduction mandate, which allegedly encouraged continued artificial dependence on ethanol.

A bipartisan effort by the Committee on Energy & Commerce has worked to redefine the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed blending volumes lower than 2013 requirements, and far less than called for in a 2007 law that expanded the mandate.

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While the oil industry and other anti-ethanol groups widely consider the reduction as a win, anti-ethanol groups such as the restaurant and food industries argue that more must be done. Companies in the restaurant and food business have a vested interest in the issue of ethanol due to the belief that mandates supporting biofuel artificially raise feed and food costs. 

“If the EPA promulgates a final rule in line with what was proposed, some 13.01 billion gallons of corn ethanol will still be required, which is less than a 6 percent reduction from this year’s 13.8 billion gallon mandate,” reads the letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee signed by 34 groups, including three franchisee associations. “At these volumes corn ethanol will continue to provide perverse incentives to overplant corn, distort commodity and energy markets and wreak economic and environmental havoc.”

The ethanol industry, meanwhile, is attempting to overturn the EPA’s proposal on the grounds that the diminishing requirements of biofuel undermines the goal of upping biofuels production as an alternative to foreign oil consumption.

Related: Chipotle Is Making a Dark Comedy Series About Industrial Farming. (Yes, Seriously.) 

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