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Iowans to ethanol: Enough is enough



Iowans to ethanol: Enough is enough
By Bonner Cohen, Ph. D. |June 21st, 2021

During his long – and not always illustrious – political career, Bob Dole was fond of telling crowds on the campaign trail: “I’m the senator from ethanol.”

Dole, still with us at 98, is from Kansas, which along with Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, Missouri, and Minnesota is part of the Great American Corn Belt. Because ethanol sold in the U.S. as a transportation fuel is derived from corn, ethanol and corn have become inseparable. Roughly 40% of the U.S. corn crop is refined into ethanol at 210 ethanol plants scattered across 27 states.

Friends in High Places

Coddled by politicians in the Midwest and Washington, D.C., ethanol was subsidized by American taxpayers for decades and protected by tariffs from foreign competition. Thanks to a 2005 law, the subsidies and tariffs finally went away, but they were replaced by a mandate requiring that a certain percentage of ethanol be blended into gasoline. Almost all gasoline currently sold in the U.S. is blended with 10% ethanol. Higher amounts are not recommended because of the potential damage ethanol (alcohol) could do to engines.


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