CHICAGO - If you're aggravated by Illinois' outrageous gas prices - some of the highest in the nation - Crain's Joe Cahill suggests that those high prices are due to corn farmers, ethanol lobbyists, cooperative lawmakers and anyone else in the ethanol business. Really, he says, anyone that pushed for car fuel to hike the inclusion of 10 percent ethanol should anger drivers because they all contributed to Illinois' current high $4 plus gas prices.
The mandate exists because of the politically powerful ethanol industry, which stretches from Illinois cornfields through executive suites at giant corporations like Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. to the corridors of Capitol Hill. Its lobbyists convinced Congress and the Bush administration about a decade ago that subsidizing an alternative fuel would help assure energy independence and reduce pollution. Ethanol makers needed the mandate because their product can't compete profitably in energy markets where prices are based on the cost of a barrel of oil, which is cheaper to produce than ethanol.
All that, plus the fact Cahill doesn't focus on - that Illinois' gas tax system allows budget windfall the higher gas prices go. Illinois drivers effectively pay sales tax on taxes. Cahill says it will take gas price rage to make things change.