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Ethanol would never last

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The ethanol industry is in trouble because its lofty promises are not realistic. The drawbacks of ethanol are at war with its avowed goals. Government support programs have become a trap.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The ethanol industry is in trouble because its lofty promises are not realistic. The drawbacks of ethanol are at war with its avowed goals. Government support programs have become a trap.

Hardly a motorist alive would buy ethanol-laced gasoline except for government mandates. Ethanol plants, with their politically placed investors, would not survive in a free market. Even with government market-making, many are going broke.

Auto and boat engine makers have learned ethanol blends cause damage to internal fuel-handling components. Owners have learned ethanol reduces mileage efficiency.

Supposed price savings materialize only when gasoline prices are much higher than they are now, and many of these alleged benefits disappear when costs of corn and food production and lost engine efficiency are taken into account. Alleged benefits amount to little, failing to save the planet from pollution and the nation from imported oil.

Having grasped the bear by the tail, government planners now talk of doing more of the same. Since the 10 percent ethanol blend falls far short of mandated gross production levels, planners now talk of raising the mix to 15 percent, compounding the problem for motorists and petroleum marketers alike.

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Having subsidized their friends into the ethanol production business, politicians now are pressed to keep the plants profitable with even more misbegotten policies.

Corn-based ethanol is a big mess we never should have gotten into. Ethanol production using other "waste" products remains a pipe dream.

But lawmakers insist on confounding the marketplace, making us buy a product we don't want with rules we can't escape.

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