Government “moonshine,” better known as ethanol, packs a powerful punch — especially when the forces that be on Capitol Hill threaten its reduction in the nation’s fuel supply.

Recently Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ethanol’s most forceful proponent, threatened to hold up nominees for top Environmental Protection Agency posts if the Trump administration supported an ethanol reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard. That’s the mandate that determines the mix of ethanol and other biofuels in the nation’s gasoline and diesel fuel.

Just days later, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt assured the champions of this corny fuel that proposed blending volumes under the fuel standard won’t be cut and might even be increased. Moreover, the EPA will work with lawmakers to offer year-round E15 — gasoline with 15 percent ethanol instead of the standard 10 percent. Never mind any pedantic concerns over ozone pollution — which is why E15 is curtailed during the summer.

As it has been for years, ethanol’s mix is driven not by any public need but by purely political interests perpetuated by lawmakers whose states directly benefit from the fuel’s production. Pollution? Engine damage? Production efficiency? Such legitimate concerns take a distant back seat to the politics that sustain an antiquated fuel standard, which got dumped on consumers back in 2007.

But rather than review and update that fuel standard, Washington consistently enables ethanol’s slow, interminable burn.


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