The Washington Examiner posted an article today about the Iowa Caucuses and the role that ethanol plays in them. In theory ethanol is a great idea. In practice it has not had the positive impact on the environment that was hoped for.
The article reports:
The summer before the Iowa caucuses is when politicians abandon whatever it is they believe in and instead pay homage to King Corn.
When Republicans are running, any belief in free enterprise is scuttled in favor the big government ethanol mandate.
Among Democrats, concern about smog and pollution evaporates in the heat of an Iowa summer.
The politicians who pledge to take on the special interests instead bow obediently before the ethanol lobby.
Al Gore, who admits federal support for ethanol was a mistake, explains his own advocacy of such policies thus: “I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”
It’s a dispiriting sight, but it’s as much a part of the Iowa caucus tradition as butter cows and fried Oreos.
The article explains some of the problems with ethanol:
Also, federally mandated use of ethanol wreaks havoc on the environment.
“Making corn into ethanol threatens surface and sub-surface waters in several ways,” the Freshwater Society states.
For starters, there are the spills, which occur every two days on average. Ethanol can’t be transported by pipeline, and so it rides trains and trucks from the heartland where it’s made to the coasts, where Uncle Sam forces refiners to buy it.
The added use of fertilizers in the extra corn-growing creates lots of runoff, which down the line deprives rivers of oxygen. Distilling ethanol requires four times as much water as does refining real gasoline — so the ethanol mandate depletes water supplies.
Ranchers pay the price as corn is shifted from feed to fuel. Drivers pay the price as they have to refuel more (ethanol has less energy per gallon than gasoline does). Bikers and boaters suffer more, as ethanol gunks up those smaller engines. Ethanol is also destroying your lawnmower this summer.
The article concludes:
Refiners, corn growers, and ethanol distillers all suffer from uncertainty and inconsistency. So, we’ve got a proposal for any 2020 Democrat who cares about taking on the special interests, protecting the air and the water, and moving beyond the inconstancy of the Trump administration.
Abolish the ethanol mandate altogether.
Maybe Cory Booker or Joe Biden can pick up the bill Ted Cruz pushed in 2015, which would wind the mandate down to zero gallons in five years. Cruz even won Iowa, in part because enough voters liked a man who stood on principle.
Do the Democrats have a man or a woman like that?