Watchdog- What follows is the story of one of the most thoroughly disgraceful special interest policies ever brought into being in these United States. It is also one of the most fiendishly intricate government programs ever conceived, and its name is Ethanol.
Back in the Nixon years scientists discovered that tetraethyl lead used to improve combustion in gasoline led to serious environmental and health damage. Adding lead to gasoline was banned. That was a good thing.
But gasoline needed an oxygenating additive to turn poisonous carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide. For a while a petroleum-based compound called MBTE filled the bill, but if it escaped into the water supply, it produced seriously negative effects.
Meanwhile the Arab oil embargo of 1973 raised the cry for “energy independence.” Let’s produce our own motor fuels! This cry combined with the need for an oxygenating compound other than MBTE focused attention on another compound, ethanol, also known as “grain alcohol” and, when produced by moonshiners, “white lightnin.” MORE