The drought and sky-high corn prices are forcing federal officials to at least consider doing something that should have been done a long time ago.
Kill the federal ethanol mandate.
The law passed by Congress five years ago essentially says the industry will produce a certain amount of ethanol every year and American motorists will buy it.
The mandate curries favor with farmers and farm conglomerates that produce corn to be used to make the ethanol. It’s a way to prop up the corn market even while it does far too little to drive down oil consumption or petroleum prices.
The dry times of 2012 have killed large portions of the corn crop, spiking prices, even while the mandate calls on ethanol producers to make more of their product. Meanwhile, farmers who have herds of cows to feed are draining their wallets to pay for higher-priced corn.
You’d think Republicans who constantly whine about government mandates would be chomping at the bit to get rid of this whacky incentive.
You would be wrong. GOP members of Congress — just like President Barack Obama and too many other Democrats — continue to kowtow to the farm vote, as fiscally illogical as that is.
Congress did allow one costly tax credit for the ethanol industry to expire late last year. That’s progress.
Obama should use the opportunity to waive the ethanol blending quota for this year. And Congress in 2013 should get rid of it for good.
Copyright Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.