As ethanol continues to insinuate itself into the fuel supply — propelled by a slew of government goodies — ordinary folks are getting fed up, The New York Times reports:

Many consumers complain that ethanol, which constitutes as much as 10 percent of the fuel they buy in most states, hurts gas mileage and chokes the engines of their boats and motorcycles.

In Oklahoma, some vendors are refusing to sell ethanol-spiked gasoline. And they’re winning customers with signs like “No Corn in Our Gas” and “Why Do You Put Alcohol in Your Tank?” the Times claims. In Oregon, new rules requiring the state’s fuel supply be E10 — a mix of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol — are being associated with sputtering boat engines and failing weed whackers.

If ethanol offered any significant environmental benefit, these complaints might seem trivial. However, as I reported last year, estimates of greenhouse gas reductions range from minuscule to non-existent.

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Meanwhile, taxpayers are shelling out billions for the troubles they perceive at the pump. Consider that in one of many, many government handouts to ethanol makers, tax payers surrender 51 cents in revenue for every gallon of ethanol that gets mixed into the fuel supply. This year, government mandates dictate that we mix in 9 billion gallons, a level that will climb to 15 billion gallons by 2015.

That means the amount we pony up for ethanol will rise from $4.5 billion for this year to $7.5 billion in 2015. What if we diverted that flow to something that would actually benefit consumers and the environment — like building out the pathetically neglected rail transit system?

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