Hot Air posted an article today about ethanol in America. The article notes that when the ethanol program (Renewable Fuel Standard) was put in place, it was based on two basic assumptions. The first assumption was that we would be producing huge amounts of biodiesel from sources like palm oil and recycled cooking oil. The other was that we would be pumping out massive volumes of cellulosic ethanol, derived from plants like switchgrass, which grows naturally all across the country. Well, both of those assumptions proved to be false. Because America is now the number one energy producer in the world, it no longer makes sense to use ethanol. Ethanol is not as environmentally friendly as carbon-based fuels when you consider the carbon footprint of its manufacturing process. There are also serious questions about the impact of ethanol on car engines.
The article concludes:
Corn is the least environmentally friendly way to create ethanol. It’s also a very inefficient fuel compared to gasoline so you wind up having to burn more of it to produce the same amount of energy. In short, we’re defeating some of the primary motivations that led us to start down this path to begin with. And yet the program endures for nothing other than political reasons. Midwestern states like Iowa want the government to keep demanding more and more corn ethanol to bolster agricultural markets. Meanwhile, refineries are stuck trading on a corrupt, fake market for RIN credits, driving some of the smaller ones toward insolvency.
The dream of corn ethanol has failed everyone across the board. But like most government mandates, once it’s been summoned into existence, it proves nearly impossible to kill. It would take a tremendous amount of political will to get rid of the RFS now, and that strength clearly doesn’t exist in the Trump administration. You won’t find it among the Democrats, either. And so we keep paddling upstream against the same forces for the foreseeable future.
The closest thing to immortality is a government program.