Farm-Belt Voters Favor Eliminating or Scaling Back Corn Ethanol Mandate, New Poll Finds

76% of Americans Want Ethanol Law Changed; 41% Want Mandate Repealed Entirely

Washington, DC – Most Americans – including those in the Farm Belt – want Congress to reduce or eliminate the corn ethanol mandate, according to a new poll released today by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

The poll, published by the Public Opinion and Policy Center of the National Center for Public Policy Research, found that 41% of Americans want Congress to repeal the corn ethanol mandate entirely, while 35% want Congress to repeal the law it passed last December to double it.  Just 6% want the mandate to increase as planned while 5% want it to be even expanded further.

“With grocery prices up 1.5% in April alone, or 18% on an annualized basis, Americans don’t appear to be in the mood for anything that would push food prices up even further,” said David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research.  “While there is more than one reason that food prices are rising, diverting one-third of the U.S. corn crop to produce fuel rather than food is a significant factor and the American people know it.”

The survey also found a majority in the Farm Belt want Congress to change the ethanol policy.  Twenty-five percent want it repealed entirely while 30% want it scaled back.

“Senator Charles Grassley recently called on Iowans to protest what he called a ‘smear campaign’ against ethanol,'” said Ridenour.  “Don’t look for that massive protest any time soon.  Ethanol is drawing criticism from the Senator’s own backyard.”

Farm belt support for scaling back or eliminating the corn ethanol mandate was even higher once respondents were informed that two studies, one from Princeton University and another from the University of Minnesota, found that ethanol contributes more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than does conventional gasoline.  It does so, in part, because it encourages the clearing of so-called carbon sinks, such as rainforests, which absorb carbon dioxide, to produce crops for ethanol production.

“We shouldn’t sacrifice food for fuel, nor should we sacrifice carbon sinks for fuel,” said Ridenour.  “Ethanol is costing us as taxpayers, it is costing us as consumers, and it is costing us important environmental resources while providing little-to-no benefit for most of us in return.  Ethanol is the fuel to nowhere.  Like the infamous ‘bridge to nowhere’ earmark, ethanol mandates mean we all pay enormous costs so a few can benefit.”

Respondents to The National Center’s survey were informed that Congress approved a law in December that doubles the amount of corn ethanol required in our gasoline.  They were then informed that ethanol production is expected to use one-third of the U.S. corn crop this year and more through 2015 unless the ethanol mandate is scaled back.

They were then provided with the arguments of both proponents and opponents of the ethanol mandate.

The full survey questions may be found here Omnibus_MQ_Ethanol Questions_080516.pdf.

The poll was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, which surveyed 802 people who are likely to vote in the 2008 general elections.  It included 37% registered Democrats, 30% independents and 29% Republicans.  It has a margin of error of +-3.46% at 95% confidence interval.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation based in Washington, DC and established in 1982.  The National Center has not received funding from any source specifically to support its research into corn ethanol.  The National Center received less than 1% of its 2007 budget from corporations, has received no corporate funding in 2008, and receives approximately 99% of its funding from some 72,000 active individual donors.


For more specific information about the poll: The text of the questions asked in the poll can be found here (pdf). The cross-tabs can be found here (pdf).

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.