As a direct result of the worst drought the U.S. has seen since the dust bowl and, consequently, record-low corn yields, the pressure is on for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive the nationwide ethanol mandate.
The EPA announced Monday that it will begin weighing requests for a suspension of the mandate, which requires that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol.
The cost of corn and other crops has skyrocketed as conditions continue to worsen across the Corn Belt. According to the most recent report by the U.S. Drought Monitor, released Aug. 16, 87 percent of the corn-growing areas are experiencing some degree of drought, with more than half of those areas experiencing extreme to exceptional drought.
The crisis has prompted Democratic governors from Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina and Arkansas to join the agricultural industry in a push for a waive of the ethanol mandate.
The mandate was originally implemented to help decrease U.S. reliance on foreign oil. However, with corn in short supply, its use in ethanol is driving up food costs and lowering reserves even further.
"It's mandatory because of the law but it's possible that the government, if they chose to do so, could suspend that or lower the percentage to 7%, and that probably would relieve the pressure dramatically," Jim Dunn, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Penn State University, said in an AccuWeather interview last month.
Though the government has never before altered this mandate, the Congress and Senate are very well aware of the looming crisis, Dunn said.
Thus far, the Obama administration has not taken steps to waive the mandate, despite recent efforts to aid the farming industry.
On Aug. 13, Obama announced that the USDA would purchase $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help drought-stricken farmers recover from this year's agricultural devastation and to counter the high cost of animal feed.
"The purchases will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA nutrition programs," Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, said in a statement.
The EPA is gathering public comment on the need for a waiver for 30 days, while asking petitioners to demonstrate that the mandate is causing severe economic harm. The agency has until Nov. 13 to make a decision on the waivers.
December is set to kick off with rain returning and chilly air once again loosening its grip on the New York City area.
The first widespread ice storm of the season will slowly diminish over parts of the southern and central Plains, but areas of slippery travel will continue on Sunday.
Summer-like heat will be short-lived eastern Australia early this week in advance of a cold front.
The reprieve from heavy rain across southern India will not last with the threat for flooding downpours set to return for the final days of November.
December will begin with a roar across the Northwest as rounds of rain, mountain snow and even ice are in store for late this week.
After another brief shot of chilly air over the weekend, the month of December will start out milder across the Northeast.
New England (1945)
Severe "nor'easter" in New England - winds in Boston averaged 40.5 mph over a 24-hour period. The rain changed to snow which accumulated to 16 inches in interior New England. Thirty-tree deaths were attributed to the storm.
November 1972 was one of the wettest on record for the Northeastern U.S. As of the 27th, NYC had its wettest November ever with 11.36 inches. This broke the old record of 9.97 inches. Binghamton, NY, had a monthly total of 7.11 inches -- the wettest November in the 75-year history of record keeping at Broome County Airport. Binghamton also had 19.4 inches of snow -- exactly a foot above normal.
Minneapolis, MN (1983)
With 13 inches from the latest storm - set new monthly record snow for snow with 29 inches. This record was broken during November 1991.