Ethanol Update on Recent Policy Decisions and Options
I am to ethanol what Chrissy is to tax credits, so I have been mildly remiss in waiting a few days to write about the latest on the
massive scam economic growth opportunity that is the ethanol industry.
First, the bad news, which is really not all that bad — yet. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved increasing the amount of ethanol allowed in the standard blend of gas, from 10 percent to 15 percent. The important thing to note here is that the agency has allowed such an increase, not required it. There is really no argument against allowing the option for retailers who wish to undergo the expense in order to sell a higher blend, or to consumers who choose to buy that higher blend. So, as long as it remains an option rather than a rule, I see nothing wrong with the EPA’s decision.
The fear, of course, is that states like Missouri will subsequently require the higher blend for gas sold in the state. We currently have a ludicrous law that requires a 10-percent blend of ethanol in Missouri gas, whether we want it or not. If the state were to increase that requirement now, it would be a sick joke. I am tepidly optimistic that this won’t happen, because the higher blend is not recommended for most old cars.
I agree with this part of the article suggesting that, minus the requirement, most gas stations won’t choose to sell the higher blend, and we might not have much to worry about:
Critics said the decision could be a frustration to drivers and argued that many retailers will opt not to sell the higher blend because of the expense of adding new pumps and signs.
In places where there is enough demand, retailers will choose to sell it. Customers should also be informed enough to realize that the suddenly cheaper option at the pump might not be right for their cars. If everyone read this blog, they would already understand this.
On to the potentially more exciting news: getting rid of federal ethanol subsidies entirely! The main ethanol support programs are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, and Congress has yet to renew them. Abolishing these subsidies — or, more accurately, just letting them expire — would be the
sole crowning achievement of the 111th Congress. Seriously, getting rid of those subsidies would be a victory for markets and freedom, and a loss to rent-seekers everywhere. The 111th Congress would deserve praise for letting them expire.