Ethanol as kryptonite

From Chris Clayton:
Thomas Shannon, who Reuters described as a "career diplomat," has learned the perils of being nominated to an administration post. Shannon, nominee to be ambassador to Brazil, slipped in his nomination hearing back on July 8 and stated that it would be "beneficial" if the 54-cent tariff on foreign ethanol were removed.

Well, Thomas Shannon, career foreign relations guy, meet the domestic ethanol industry and the senators who love it! You almost wonder how a career diplomat could so easily walk into his own little hornet's nest like that.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Iowa agricultural reporters on Tuesday that he had put a hold on Shannon's nomination vote until Shannon clarified his comments.
The power of the farm lobby is old news, but continues to impress in new ways.

Environmental Capital asks a probing question:
But the spat over ethanol tariffs revives an old question—what’s the priority behind U.S. energy policy, if there is one?

For Mr. Grassley, protecting U.S. biofuels producers means more energy security and fewer imports. For many environmentalists, Brazilian ethanol is preferable: It is made from sugarcane and according to most scientific studies has a more benign environmental footprint than U.S. ethanol. And for most U.S. drivers, the main concern is simply keeping pump prices in check.

The administration’s response might shed light on just where its priorities lie.
My own hunch is that Obama would be open to doing away with corn ethanol subsidies if it carried no negative implications for his broader agenda, but it would, so he won't.

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