The diversion of corn to the production of ethanol was intended to decrease reliance on imported hydrocarbon fuel. The corn to ethanol bandwagon rolled across our heartland pulled by a bi-partisan consortium of grain-state legislators. Despite subsidies and mandates, the ethanol industry is faced with overproduction. This is evidenced by the fact that up to 20% of capacity is mothballed.
With 30% of corn now diverted to the production of ethanol the industry is constantly seeking to break the “blend barrier” of 10% addition to gasoline. In the absence of a favorable decision from the federal government, ethanol derived from our food supply is now being exported.
In March 2010 according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce, the Renewable Fuels Association exported 83 million gallons of ethanol during the first quarter of 2010. Jeff Cooper, vice president of research for the RFA, stated “unfortunately, current regulations restrict the amount of ethanol that can be used domestically.”
This commentator would suggest that if ethanol was so economically beneficial and was free of undesirable attributes as a fuel, there would be no resistance to a mandatory increase in the proportion blended into gasoline. In fact the opposite is the case. The 10% level of ethanol in gasoline is mandated by law. In the absence of subsidies, import protection and an assured market, ethanol would have attained its own level of commercial acceptance and competed with other fuels in a true free market economy.
If the federal government really wants to encourage energy independence why not tap our virtually unlimited supply of natural gas which can power buses, semis and taxis at a lower cost, without diversion of food and with less impact on the environment. The distribution system for natural gas could be developed along our interstate highways and urban areas at an acceptable cost.
Why is the public subjected to an indirect tax based on the false premise of ethanol as a fuel for vehicles? Why are we subject to the irrationality of a legislature and administration that continue to pursue a policy which is to the detriment of consumers but benefits corn farmers, lobbyists and vested interests?
To divert our corn to the production of ethanol which is exported to Canada and the Netherlands is unconscionable. Ethanol from corn is a boondongle. Ethanol from cellulosic sources is a pipe dream. We have natural gas, the technology for its use as a fuel is available and is inexpensive. Why are we victims of RFA sophistry, misinformation and lobbying?