On Friday, June 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will require American refiners to blend a record amount of ethanol and other biofuels into the country’s fuel supply.
Reactions were mixed.
Corn farmers in Iowa, where more than 40 percent of each year’s corn crop is turned into fuel, were happy.
Many environmentalists, oil refiners, and yours truly were dismayed.
There’s nothing inherently strange about President Joe Biden flying into Iowa to crow about mandating increased production of corn-based ethanol and E15 (motor fuel with a 15 percent ethanol content instead of the usual 10 percent). President Donald Trump did almost exactly the same thing four years before, flying into Iowa, a major corn-growing state, the month before mid-term elections to announce E15 mandates.
(The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the implementation of E15 mandates, saying that the administration didn’t have that authority under the Clean Air Act.)
What’s unusual about Biden’s move is its timing.
Not only are the mid-term elections still five months away, but normally E15 is banned in the summer months due to the fact that burning it increases smog. In the name of reducing atmospheric emissions of a non-pollutant—the CO2 emitted from burning gasoline—the president is waiving longstanding anti-pollution regulations to allow increased smog this summer.
Americans are already feeling the pinch of food inflation every time they go to the grocery store. Biden talks about getting inflation under control, but his desire to use more farmland to grow corn for fuel instead of people food belies his rhetoric. Increasing mandates for ethanol at a time of soaring food prices is more than insensitive; it’s cruel.
The problem here is that Team Biden is obsessed with crushing American fossil fuel production. They would much rather have Americans burn ethanol than refined petroleum in their vehicle engines. That’s a dubious policy in the best of times, but at a time of critical global food shortages, it’s obscene.