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John McCain's About Turn on Ethanol

Posted on 1/8/2008 2:11:00 PM
Republican candidate John McCain has done a volte-face—this time on ethanol. McCain had always made his opposition to ethanol clear. While campaigning in 1999 and 2000, his message was clear: ethanol is not worth it.

During a republican debate in Iowa, a major corn growing state, he advocated doing away with subsidies for ethanol. "Ethanol subsidies should be phased out…we don’t need ethanol subsidies. It doesn’t help anybody.”

In 2003, he went even further. "Ethanol is a product that would not exist if Congress didn't create an artificial market for it. No one would be willing to buy it," he said. "Yet thanks to agricultural subsidies and ethanol producer subsidies, it is now a very big business—tens of billions of dollars that have enriched a handful of corporate interests—primarily one big corporation, ADM. Ethanol does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, nothing to increase our energy independence, nothing to improve air quality."

McCain's voting record has also consistently reflected his views on the subject. In 2003, McCain voted against the Energy Omnibus Bill. Later in 2005, he voted against the Environmental Effects Caused by Ethanol Amendment. He also voted against the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Then, around 2006, he changed his stance completely. Speaking, again in Iowa, he enthusiastically supported the use for ethanol. "I support ethanol, he said, "and I think it is vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects."

So far, while McCain has undoubtedly changed his tone, he has not backed it with any pledge for active support. However, the question arises, why this change of heart towards ethanol?
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