ST. PAUL (Reuters) –
U.S. Republicans called on Monday for an end to a controversial requirement that gasoline contain a set amount of ethanol, a policy backed by the Bush administration that critics say has helped drive up world food prices.
In their 2008 platform detailing policy positions, Republicans said markets — not government — should determine how much ethanol is blended into gasoline, and pushed for development of a cellulosic version, which could be made from grasses rather than corn.
It will be interesting to see what this implies for California’s LCFS design.
Corn belt Republicans are not pleased.
Contrast the new platform with the situation in 2005.
McCain seems to have done a double-flip-flop, reversing his 2006 reversal of his 2000 campaign position:
McCain’s farm flip
October 31 2006
McCain has argued that government support for ethanol actually raises gasoline prices. He has claimed ethanol does nothing to make the U.S. more energy independent. He has even questioned the science behind making fuel from corn – contending that ethanol provides less energy than the fossil fuels consumed to produce it.
Those may be reasonable positions for a senator from a nonfarm state like Arizona. They may even fly for a presidential candidate running as a straight-shooting maverick, as McCain did in 2000.
But for a front-runner – one presumably interested in getting his as-yet-undeclared 2008 Republican presidential campaign off to a winning start – opposing ethanol is political lunacy.
For a politician like McCain, the stakes go far beyond a little name-calling. When McCain ran for president in 1999 and 2000, he barely campaigned in Iowa, knowing that his anti-ethanol stance wouldn’t cut it in corn country.
Four years later, McCain hadn’t changed his tune. “Ethanol is a product that would not exist if Congress didn’t create an artificial market for it. No one would be willing to buy it,” McCain said in November 2003. “Yet thanks to agricultural subsidies and ethanol producer subsidies, it is now a very big business – tens of billions of dollars that have enriched a handful of corporate interests – primarily one big corporation, ADM. Ethanol does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, nothing to increase our energy independence, nothing to improve air quality.”
Even the most slippery politician would have a tough time wriggling away from a statement as unequivocal as that one, yet McCain’s Straight Talk Express has been taking some audacious detours during recent trips to Iowa.
In a flip-flop so absurd it’ll be a wonder if it doesn’t get lampooned by late-night comedians – not to mention opponents’ negative ads – McCain is now proclaiming himself a “strong” ethanol supporter.
“I support ethanol and I think it is a vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects,” he said in an August speech in Grinnell, Iowa, as reported by the Associated Press.
Well, at least this flip represents a return to good sense.