The world has changed in unexpected ways since Congress passed legislation in 2005 establishing a renewable fuel standard.

Domestic energy production has increased while gasoline consumption has dipped. And, unfortunately, innovation in next-generation fuels hasn't yet lived up to mass production hopes.

The result is federal mandates -- particularly those pertaining to ethanol -- that are causing unintended problems.

Don't get us wrong: The renewable fuel standard should not be scrapped. However, it should be idled down for a variety of reasons.

And that's the job of Congress, which we hope will find ways to ease the pressures caused by the current mandates without ending the program.

In the meantime, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a waiver lowering volume mandates for ethanol for 2014.

Corn ethanol, in particular, has been under scrutiny. The "blend wall" is a phrase coined to describe the collision between requirements to mix increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline, and the inability of the current system to absorb it.

The EPA acted to reduce the amount that must be blended into gasoline for 2014. However, the renewable fuel standard, expanded in 2007, allows waivers to be issued only one year at a time.

Ethanol has ridden a rocky road in recent years. In 2011, federal lawmakers allowed a $6 billion federal tax credit for ethanol to expire for a variety of reasons, including concerns over federal spending and the controversial assertion that corn being diverted to ethanol production was raising food prices.

At the time, according to The New York Times, the Government Accountability Office concluded: "The increasing demand for corn for ethanol production has contributed to higher corn prices."

That led to increased costs for those who produced meat and poultry, large food companies and consumers, according to the GAO report cited in The Times.

There have been calls from some to abolish the renewable fuel standard. Some have painted the controversy as Big Oil versus the underdog renewable energy industry.

The way we see it, neither the battle lines nor the remedy should be so stark.

Surely there is a middle ground that involves an easing of mandates to offer relief without abolishing them, thus encouraging development of alternative fuels important to the nation's energy future.

–The Denver Post, Aug. 30