February 12, 2005

King Corn

State Senator Jack Kibbie of Iowa is introducing a bill mandating that all gasoline sold in the state include 10% ethanol, as in Minnesota, the only state that presently requires this. The timing of the wiley old farmer couldn't be better due to the war in Iraq and consumer concerns about fuel costs and the environment. Ethanol is supposed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and provide a cheaper and cleaner burning fuel. One problem is that ethanol doesn't perform as advertised according to the EPA and the National Academy of Sciences. It could conceivably worsen air quality, cost more and reduce gasoline mileage.

The corn lobby is powerful, as Senator Diane Feinstein learned after an unsuccessful attempt to prevent ethanol from replacing MTBE in California gas. Minnesota already has a government/agri-business hard-on to raise their requirement to 20% by 2012. For those who would like to see the development of hydrogen fuel and other alternatives, the ethanol industry will undoubtedly become a special interest roadblock. And for those, like myself, who would like some freedom of choice at the gas pumps, don't look for it in Minnesota and, quite possibly, Iowa.

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