With the Iowa caucuses just two weeks off, would-be Democratic presidential candidates have each paid their obligatory tributes to corn ethanol.
The biofuel’s intended uses for energy independence and greenhouse gas reduction have become matters of debate. But no one questions its political clout, economic importance or staying power, especially in the Midwest.
Virtually all politicians of all parties, whether they stand against climate change or for petrochemicals, must make the quadrennial pilgrimage to the throne of King Corn to succeed in the nation’s first formal contest of the presidential-nominating season.
Janet McCabe is a former assistant administrator of the air and radiation office at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She once oversaw the nation’s ethanol program. She believes the country will never reach its sustainable-energy goals without major policy changes. But McCabe also has “some sympathy for the agricultural community,” which got drawn into ethanol at the government’s behest.
“We said to farmers, ‘Please step up to end our reliance on foreign oil,’ ” she explained. “A lot of people in the farm belt stepped up.”