What’s good for the corn belt and politicians isn’t necessarily good for New Mexico and other parts of the country.

Big government, i.e. the Environmental Protection Agency, has denied some states waivers from a renewable fuels law that requires that 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol be produced by this year and 15 billion gallons be produced by 2015.

Midwest farmers enjoy billions of dollars in subsidies to grow corn that is used to produce ethanol for fuel. But removing corn from the food stream, both for livestock and humans, has driven up the price of feed and food products that contain corn — while creating its own pollution problems.

This year’s drought has made the situation worse for poultry, hog and cattle farmers and ranchers. Not only does ethanol take fertile land out of food production, it takes a lot of water to produce it.

In addition to Gov. Susana Martinez, the governors of Arkansas, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Utah and Wyoming have asked for the waiver. So did members of Congress and a coalition of farm groups and other industries that oppose increased ethanol production.

“(Martinez) is disappointed the EPA denied the waiver at a time when ranchers and livestock producers are already facing record-high prices for the cost of doing business,” a statement from the governor’s office said. “Unfortunately, the EPA’s decision also passes on increased costs to New Mexico families, who could see a higher grocery bill as a result.”

Ethanol subsidies haven’t proven to be good for Americans overall, even though they please Midwest farmers who keep sending ethanol supporters back to Congress to keep the subsidies coming.

Against a backdrop of booming U.S. oil and natural gas production, Washington lawmakers should take a hard look at whether the ethanol political payoff is the best use of borrowed money from China.

Meanwhile, the EPA should reconsider its poor decision on the ethanol waivers.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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