Cruzing on Empty

Ethanol – corn alcohol – won’t take you as far as a gallon of gas.

But that doesn’t mean it is isn’t powerful stuff.

Politically powerful stuff.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is feeling the heat right now as the ethanol lobby pressures him to openly commit to expanded support for federal ethanol mandates – a kowtow every recent presidential candidate from both parties has done up to now.

The ethanol lobby’s potency derives not only from the money it has and the campaign contributions it can make (or not) but also from the fact that – in a presidential election year – the Iowa Caucuses are critical.

And Iowa is a farm state.

Cruz has at least criticized the federal Renewable Fuels Standard – the law behind the force-feeding of ethanol alcohol down the gullets of Americans and their cars.

But The Lobby is very persuasive.

And we are not talking “family farms” here but rather, enormous agricultural combines that exploit the family farmer by applying artificial economic pressure (via government subsidies) to divert food crops to ethanol production. Corn that  would otherwise be used to feed people – or animals that feed people – ends up being used to make ethanol, which is then mixed with gas in various concentrations.

Currently, 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop goes to ethanol production – up from just 10 percent as recently as 2005.

Most of the unleaded gas available in the United States is actually 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. This fuel is labeled “E10″ gas.

Which would be ok … if that’s what the market wanted.

But it’s actually what the government (and corn lobby) want.

And now they want more.

Specifically, they want ethanol concentrations upped to 15 or even 25 percent (E15 and E25). And they want whomever is nominated and ultimately elected president to make it so.

Big money – and big pressure.

Cruz recently stated that “market access (for ethanol) is critical” and even gone so far as to argue that anti-trust laws be “vigorously enforced to ensure that the oil and gas industry cannot block access to the market for ethanol producers.”

But ethanol has never been blocked from entering the market. The problem is just the opposite. Ethanol producers want a “market” created for their product – enforced by government. They want to suppress the market’s verdict about ethanol, bypass the preferences expressed by Americans for gasoline rather than ethanol-adulterated “gas.”

They want ethanol forced down our throats – and into our tanks.

Ethanol sounds good – superficially – because it is “renewable” and produced here in America. The problem is that a gallon of ethanol-laced contains less energy than a gallon of straight gasoline. Your car’s fuel economy goes down on ethanol and ethanol-blend fuels – by as much as 5-10 percent vs. straight gasoline because the engine has to burn more ethanol-adulterated fuel to get the equivalent energy out of it vs. a gallon of pure gasoline.

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