The Federal government is continuing its ethanol mandates in its misguided effort to clean up the fuel our cars burn as we get about our business. In an op-ed earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal rightly decried the artificial, government-created and -propped up market in RINs, which oil refineries can trade around in order to get credit for ethanol that they’re unable to obtain and blend into the fuel they produce. As the WSJ noted, one of several outcomes of this artificial market is this.
The core problem is that the federal government has distorted the energy market by using subsidies and mandates to support biofuels.
The Federal government has distorted far more than that. By diverting so much corn to ethanol production, the Feds have very greatly driven up the price of food—corn and corn products, meat animals fed on corn, other food crops that are corn substitutes—wheat, beans, etc—and on and on.
The solution is to end this political favoritism.
The favoritism here is in acceding to the wishes three Senators from corn-producing States: Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst (both R, IA) and Deb Fischer (R, NE).
The more direct solution is for the Feds to end the ethanol mandates and to get out of the energy and food markets altogether (the latter which also requires eliminating farm support subsidies, a much more politically difficult proposition even though the subsidies also markedly drive up the cost of food). A large side effect of that would be to strike a blow against political favoritism.