published Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Wrong track on gas prices

The Obama administration is digging in its heels to promote even greater use of heavily subsidized, corn-based ethanol.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited a convenience store in Nashville recently to praise its special fuel pumps that dispense a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol. But the overwhelming majority of American cars cannot use that so-called “E85” blend. In fact, the current 10 percent ethanol blend sold at most gas stations reduces the mileage that cars get. Why would anyone encourage more ethanol use?

What makes it all worse is that U.S. taxpayers subsidize ethanol to the tune of 45 cents for every gallon produced. That’s no bargain!

We also pay for ethanol in higher food prices, as lots of corn is diverted out of the food supply and into ethanol production. And we pay for the damage ethanol can cause to small engines, such as those found on lawn mowers.

Despite all that, the Obama administration is providing “incentives” to gas stations around the country to install more pumps that can dispense the 85 percent ethanol blend.

That will do nothing to ease gas prices that are already close to $4 per gallon. It’s long past time for ethanol subsidies to end.

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