Originally conceived to breathe life into the fledgling U.S. ethanol industry and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, continued tinkering with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has turned the program into a nightmare.
Ethanol, because it’s popular in corn-growing states such as Iowa and Nebraska, was once thought to be politically untouchable. But at the end of last year lawmakers finally scrapped a tax subsidy that paid refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline. The subsidy had cost Americans some $20 billion over three decades. “Fiscal conservatives joined liberal environmentalists to kill it, with help from a diverse coalition of outside groups,” The New York Times explained. And, as politicians must have noted by now, the world didn’t end.