The Ethanol Election Delay
This summer’s once-in-a-half-century Midwestern drought caused global prices for staple food products to soar by 10%—and corn in particular to jump by 25%, according to the World Bank. The food shortages across Africa, the Middle East and South America are the worst since the 1980s and have produced hunger and political instability, according to the United Nations.
So perhaps this emergency is the time to relax the U.S. ethanol mandate, which diverts four of every 10 domestic bushels of corn into gas tanks. That’s equal to 15% of international corn production, burned in internal combustion engines that could run on another fuel. But this obvious solution is evidently not obvious to the Environmental Protection Agency, which, despite studying the question for more than a year, says it needs more time.
Last October, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Action Aid petitioned the EPA to review the so-called renewable fuel standard that mandates that 13.8 billion gallons of corn ethanol be blended into the gasoline supply next year. The free-market think tank and global hunger charity argued that the EPA’s technical regulations implementing the mandate did not meet “basic standards of quality.”