The High-Octane Ethanol Lobby

Source: By MICHAEL J. WEISS, New York Times, APRIL 1, 1990 • Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The article as it originally appeared.

April 1, 1990, Page 006019 The New York Times Archives

WHEN WORD OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE Service decision came to Thomas Daschle’s Capitol Hill office the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving, the South Dakota Democrat was deep in debate on the Senate floor, and the celebration had to begin without him. On returning to his office, with its rustic decor of buffalo hides and Indian headdresses, he found the members of his staff literally jumping with joy.

For 18 months, Daschle had been the point man in the campaign to win tax breaks for a substance called ethyl tertiary butyl ether, or ETBE. When added to gasoline, its developers claim, the catalyst can reduce automotive carbon monoxide emissions by 20 to 30 percent.

Aside from its environmental promise, however, what gives ETBE its special political charm is that 40 percent of the catalyst consists of ethanol – and virtually all of America’s ethanol comes from corn. Over the past decade, a coalition of farm-state legislators, grain processors and trade groups has successfully fought to keep in place a generous, highly controversial ethanol tax credit. And the I.R.S. announcement is a giant step on the road to extending that tax credit to ETBE.

The campaign for the ethanol derivative illustrates how a little-known lobby for an obscure farm byproduct can deploy formidable clout in Washington. Tens of thousands of farmers called, wrote or faxed their support for the tax credit. Endorsements arrived from four Cabinet secretaries, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator and 75 senators. ”I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Douglas Durante, Washington representative of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, one of ETBE’s most active supporters. ”To get 75 senators to agree that it’s summer and not winter is nearly impossible.”

Yet the tax credit was not universally popular. Senator Bill Bradley attacked both the proposal itself and the notion that it should be accomplished by means of an I.R.S. ruling. ”This is an issue for Congress to decide here on the floor,” the New Jersey Democrat told his colleagues, ”under the clear-eyed scrutiny of the American taxpayers, who once again see the long arm of the Government reaching deeper and deeper into their pockets to benefit a handful of special interests.”

The Treasury Department’s support of ETBE is only the latest chapter in a political saga that dates back to the gas lines of the mid-70’s. Seeking to reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil, the Carter Administration touted gasohol – a mixture of gasoline and 10 percent ethanol – as one answer. But when the first plants went on-line in 1978, wholesale ethanol cost 80-cents-a-gallon more than wholesale gasoline. Federal and state tax exemptions – the Federal credit alone now equals 60 cents for each gallon of ethanol sold to gasoline blenders – helped make up the difference; gasohol now accounts for 8 percent of the 110 billion gallons of gasoline sold annually.

While public concern about imported oil has waxed and waned, gasohol producers have received more than $4.6 billion in Federal and state tax exemptions since 1980. A major benefactor has been Archer Daniels Midland Company, based in Decatur, Ill., which produces 75 percent of the nation’s ethanol. The company is the largest agricultural processor in the United States, with 1989 sales of $10 billion on products ranging from pasta to pet food. Over the years, critics have charged that the tax breaks amount to nothing more than ”corporate welfare” for A.D.M. and its chairman, Dwayne O. Andreas, a generous contributor to both political parties. But efforts to trim these favors have fallen victim to the ethanol lobby.

Today, the ethanol industry has reached a crossroads. The introduction of ETBE could expand the market for ethanol. On the other hand, state tax credits have been reduced in recent years, and the construction of new ethanol plants has halted. Even more critical, the Federal tax credit is due to expire in 1992, and without it the ethanol industry will die. With several tax bills being debated in Congress, and legislators seeking ways to reduce the nation’s deficit, the ethanol credit is coming under increased scrutiny.

There are even growing signs of dissension within the ethanol lobby itself, which has split into pro-A.D.M. and anti-A.D.M. factions. Says John E. Ford, director of Congressional relations for the American Corn Growers Association: ”It’s a nasty little war and it’s going to get nastier.”

THE TAX EXEMPTIONS GRANTED TO GASOHOL producers in 1979 were not the only steps taken to nurture the ethanol industry. Congress passed a series of bills providing protective tariffs as well as investment credits and loan guarantees for new ethanol plants. Another alcohol fuel, methanol – most of which comes from natural gas – had also been promoted as a gasoline alternative. But methanol made from natural gas received no tax credits or protective tariffs.

The oil companies, concerned that methanol and ethanol would steal market share, fought them both. They attacked methanol as being only half as fuel- efficient as gasoline. With ethanol, they raised an issue that would be repeated over the years – that it requires as much energy to produce a gallon of ethanol from corn as that gallon will yield as fuel. The oil industry also complained that ethanol was impractical for nationwide distribution since it could not be transported by pipeline. (Because ethanol would absorb water in a pipeline, gasohol must be ”splash-blended”; the ethanol is added directly to gasoline in a tank truck.) But ethanol provided corn growers with a new market for their crop. The farmers argued that it would reduce the need for commodity price supports that paid them either to leave their fields fallow or to stockpile surplus harvests. The corn growers had the enthusiastic support of large, grain-processing operations like Archer Daniels Midland, which were well-positioned to enter the market; the same wet-milling technology that produces high-fructose corn syrup can be used for ethanol.

In the political battle between oil and agriculture, the farmers won through sheer numbers. ”Give an ethanol lobbyist a sack lunch and a quarter and you’ll have 18,000 corn farmers generating telegrams within 24 hours,” says David E. Hallberg, founding president of the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol’s first trade group. Within two years, starting from scratch, A.D.M. and the other ethanol processors were turning out 75 million gallons of the alcohol fuel. Eighty-seven percent of that output was from A.D.M. facilities.

I WAS RAISED TO BELIEVE YOU’RE supposed to support your mayor and your Congressman and your politicians,” says Dwayne Andreas. In his sixth floor office at A.D.M.’s Decatur headquarters, the tanned, elfin Andreas, 72, works among the mementos of a lifetime spent rubbing shoulders with the power-elite. On the wall hang photographs of Andreas in the White House with Ronald Reagan. On the desk sits a recent letter from Richard Nixon. A glowing three-foot-wide globe has been marked with Andreas’s intinerary for a trip to the Soviet Union, where he has frequent business dealings with President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Since becoming a confidant of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey more than 40 years ago, Andreas has assiduously cultivated his political connections among Democrats and Republicans alike. ”The only people who have carried any weight,” Andreas says, ”are the ones who deal with both sides.” He has another rule for businessmen, based, he says, upon advice Humphrey gave him: ”Never suggest anything to a politician. They’re scared to death they’ll be caught doing something.”

In the 1970’s, Andreas met a young Kansas Republican Representative named Robert Dole, who would become A.D.M.’s staunchest ally on Capitol Hill – and today is the Senate Minority leader. Dole sponsored an amendment providing a Federal tax break for gasohol in 1978 and has since sponsored about a dozen other bills designed to promote and protect ethanol. In 1980, for example, Dole introduced and pushed through the Senate a trade bill amendment to impose a tariff on Brazilian ethanol. Five years later, he led the successful fight to reverse a Customs Service ruling that allowed certain blends of Brazilian ethanol to enter the United States without import duties. Explaining his position at the time, he told a reporter, ”I’m a farm-state Senator.”

Meanwhile, A.D.M.’s Political Action Committee, along with Andreas and his relatives, were contributing more than $130,000 to Dole campaigns. The company’s private plane has flown Dole to Midwest speaking engagements, and for a time A.D.M. sponsored Dole’s commentaries over the Mutual Radio Network. The Senator and his wife, Elizabeth Dole, currently Secretary of Labor, purchased an apartment from Andreas in 1982 at the Sea View, a Bal Harbour, Fla., hotel in which residents hold shares. They paid $150,000 – less than the apartment’s market value. Andreas was chairman of the Sea View Corporation and its largest shareholder. Also at the Sea View: Robert Strauss, a former chairman of the Democratic party; Tip O’Neill, the former speaker of the House, and Howard Baker, White House chief of staff in the Reagan Administration.

Andreas insists that his relationship with the Senate Minority Leader is strictly personal. ”I haven’t discussed ethanol with Bob Dole twice in 20 years,” he says today. ”There’s no reason for it. The farmers have been after him for years on end.” Senator Dole has declined to be interviewed for this article.

In keeping with his role as bipartisan benefactor, Andreas contributed $150,000 to Humphrey in the 1972 Presidential primaries and gave Nixon $122,000 in the general election. (Part of the Nixon gift – $25,000 in cash – ended up in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars.) Between 1975 and 1977, Andreas gave $72,000 in A.D.M. stock to the children of David G. Gartner, then Humphrey’s administrative assistant. When Gartner was appointed by President Carter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1978, word of the gifts came out. Carter urged Gartner to resign, but Gartner chose to stay on. After the brouhaha subsided, A.D.M. bought Carter’s peanut warehouse for $1.2 million and named Robert Strauss, who was Carter’s trade representative, to A.D.M.’s board. None of these A.D.M. activities were shown to violate Federal laws.

Andreas has not slowed his pace as a political contributor. According to the Federal Election Commission’s most recent records, during the 1987-88 elections Dwayne Andreas gave at least $31,000 to individual candidates and more than $100,000 to the National Republican Party. A.D.M.’s political action committee spent $160,550 on candidates ranging from Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch to Washington Democrat Thomas S. Foley, the Speaker of the House. The list of other donations by members of Andreas’s family, as compiled by the Federal Elections Commission, goes on for seven computer printout pages.

”If a fellow is willing to devote his life to public service, and a fellow like me has more money than I ever dreamed existed in the whole world, wouldn’t I be an ass if I didn’t respond to requests?” asks Andreas, who has likened campaign giving to tithing. ”Suppose a friend of ours at Coca-Cola is raising money for a Georgia senator. We have no choice. We don’t even ask who it is. This is the way business operates.”

ANDREAS ROSE TO THE C.E.O.’s OFFICE AT A.D.M. from modest roots. Born in Minnesota in 1918, he dropped out of Wheaton College in order to help with Honeymead, the family’s Iowa grain and feed elevator business. In 1945, he sold Honeymead to Cargill Inc., the Minneapolis-based grain processor, and soon became an executive in its oil-seed division. Nine years later, A.D.M. invited Andreas and his younger brother Lowell to join A.D.M.’s board.

Dwayne Andreas became C.E.O. in 1970 and, with his brother, transformed A.D.M. into one of the world’s largest soybean processors and flour millers, currently with 117 processing plants; subsidiaries in Europe and Canada; a shipping company and a commodity brokerage firm. (Lowell retired more than 10 years ago, but Dwayne’s son, Michael, and his nephew, Martin, are now executives in the company.) Dwayne Andreas sees the Government’s tax credits for farm products as a quid pro quo. ”We endeavor to be on the Government’s wavelength to see what they want done,” he explains. ”Some years they want more soybeans. Some years they want to do something big in China. Who can do it for them? We’re in 50 countries. We can do anything.”

A periodic guest at White House dinners during the Reagan Administration, Andreas has known the former President since ”Dutch” was a lifeguard at a swimming pool in Dixon, Ill. In 1984 Reagan, seeking to curry favor with farmers, paid a visit to A.D.M.’s Decatur headquarters. Soon thereafter Andreas erected a life-sized bronze statue of the President in the company parking lot.

Each year, A.D.M. budgets $7 million to $8 million for advertising. Much of that is devoted to ”Face the Nation,” ”Meet the Press” and ”This Week with David Brinkley” – shows that are de rigueur viewing for Washington lawmakers.

Such moves helped make ethanol a potent force in Washington. Between 1984 and 1986, when the demand for ethanol dropped as oil prices skidded from $30 to $10 a barrel, many ethanol producers feared they would have to shut down. They appealed to Richard Lyng, then Secretary of Agriculture, for the right to receive cut-rate corn, which was being offered to farmers to help them through the agricultural depression. Lyng balked at the notion.

Shortly thereafter, Andreas met with Lyng and Martin Sorkin, then an A.D.M. lobbyist, for breakfast at Washington’s Madison Hotel. When questioned later by reporters, Lyng described the men as ”personal friends.” To this day, Andreas maintains that the discount corn program was not discussed. But, two days after the breakfast, Lyng removed the restriction that would have kept ethanol processors from receiving corn. In early 1986, A.D.M. received $29 million worth of corn – more than half of the entire $54 million Federal program.

Gasohol’s tax subsidy, which goes to companies that buy ethanol to blend with gasoline, comes out of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. During the first five of President Reagan’s eight years in office, Elizabeth Dole, then the Secretary of Transportation, proposed that the ethanol tax exemption should be ended. Each time, the tax break was restored in the Senate Finance Committee by her husband.

”We often wondered whether they ever talked about that in the evening,” says Francis Francois, director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. ”It’s the Secretary of Transportation doing things the way she thinks they should be done and a powerful Senator doing what he thinks is right for his people back home. But it makes an interesting situation where Mrs. Dole says ‘no’ and Mr. Dole says ‘yes.’ And they both come out looking like heroes.”

AMONG THE FARM GROUPS that have labored on ethanol’s behalf are the National Corn Growers Association with members in 22 states, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Agriculture Movement. The National Farmers’ Organization has conducted regular ”legislative fly-ins” to bring farmers from 30 states to Capitol Hill to promote ethanol and other agricultural issues.

These groups argue that the $500 million Federal subsidy for ethanol creates new markets for corn. But some agricultural economists believe that the subsidies are counterproductive. A 1986 report issued by the U.S.D.A.’s Office of Energy said that the subsidies, by driving up the demand for corn, increase consumer food costs. (In 1989, ethanol production consumed 350 million bushels of corn, or about 5 percent of the total harvest. That demand raised the price of corn by 15 to 20 cents, to $2.60 a bushel.) The report further stated that any benefits to corn growers would come at the expense of soybean farmers, whose prices would drop because livestock feed, a byproduct of ethanol production, competes with soybean meal. ”Direct cash payments to corn growers,” the report concluded, ”would be more economical than attempting to boost farm income through ethanol subsidies.”

The report set off a furor in the ethanol industry. ”There were significant attempts to have me removed from office,” says Earle E. Gavett, the director of the U.S.D.A.’s Office of Energy and the author of the report.

In response to the Gavett report, Dole led a Congressional campaign to urge the U.S.D.A. to set up a special task force on ethanol. Eighteen months later, the task force, consisting primarily of ethanol industry representatives, issued its own report. Its conclusion: it cost less to subsidize ethanol than to subsidize corn. The report did not address the impact on consumer costs and soybean farmers. Ethanol lobbyists declared that the two contrary reports amounted to ”a wash.”

In 1988, with the ethanol tax credit due to expire four years later, A.D.M. increased its support of congenial trade groups such as the National Corn Growers and the Renewable Fuels Association, which share office space on Capitol Hill. Dues for the R.F.A. are based on the amount of ethanol a company produces, and A.D.M. is far and away the largest producer. A.D.M. is also the major contributor to a foundation run under the auspices of the R.F.A. to provide technical information on fuels. How closely entwined are A.D.M. and the R.F.A.? A 1984 invoice to the R.F.A. from William McMurtrie (a former Andreas son-in-law and a lobbyist), requesting a $2,000 fee and reimbursement for a $240.85 dinner with three Congressmen, was forwarded to Archer Daniels Midland for payment. David Hallberg, who departed the R.F.A. to become executive vice president of Revolution Fuels of America, says he left the trade group in large part because of interference by A.D.M.

What constitutes a registered lobbyist in Washington is spelled out by law. But according to Ann McBride, the senior vice president of program operations for Common Cause, many people lobby who are not technically lobbyists. She says, ”The law was passed in ’47. Everybody knows that it’s a joke.”

The law office of Robert Strauss and Covington & Burling, the city’s largest legal firm, are both listed under the heading for A.D.M. in ”Washington Representatives,” a directory of Washington lobbyists. But A.D.M., which produces many agricultural products, claims that none of its Washington representatives lobbies for ethanol – despite reports to the contrary.

According to C. Boyden Gray, who was Vice-President Bush’s counsel, Robert Strauss talked with George Bush before the Presidential primaries of 1988 and suggested that the candidate would win extra farm-belt votes if he would tone down his support of methanol and imported ethanol. Bush held fast. Gray also recalls running into Dwayne Andreas at a dinner in early 1988 at which Andreas offered advice on winning votes for candidate Bush. Gray quotes Andreas as saying, ”You know, you really ought to tap the environmental benefits of ethanol.”

Strauss, for his part, admits he did have a meeting with Bush before the primaries, but says that he never discussed ethanol. He maintains that he has never lobbied on behalf of A.D.M., that other lawyers in the firm work on A.D.M. projects. ”I’m not above it,” he says, ”but I don’t represent them.”

Referring to the ethanol-A.D.M. relationship, Douglas Durante, the Washington representative of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, says, ”There’s no industry in the world that’s so dominated by one company.” Durante’s group was formed in 1988 to promote the expansion of the industry outside of A.D.M.’s traditional Midwest territory. Another trade group – the American Corn Growers Association, created by disgruntled members of the National Corn Growers Association – has begun organizing for the same purpose.

Washington policy makers have occasionally expressed some impatience with the ethanol tax breaks. When a drought hit the nation’s farm belt in 1988, and pushed up the price of corn, Senator Dole asked that ethanol producers be allowed to participate in another Agriculture Department corn giveaway. Bill Holmberg, former director of the Energy Department’s Office of Alcohol Fuels and now a C.F.D.C. consultant, recalls standing in a Capitol corridor during the debate and hearing Congressmen walk by whispering, ”Nothing for A.D.M. Nothing for A.D.M.”

House and Senate conferees decided to provide limited aid to small producers and allow nothing for the two largest ethanol producers, A.D.M. and A. E. Staley, also of Decatur. But U.S.D.A. Secretary Lyng had discretionary authority over whether to implement the program, and he never did. In short order, 18 ethanol plants shut down. ”If A.D.M. wasn’t going to be a part of the program, the industry was going to have no program,” observes Frederick Potter, president of Information Resources Inc., a consulting firm that covers the alcohol fuels industry.

WITH ETHANOL LOSING ITS allure as an agricultural commodity, industry lobbyists began to trumpet its environmental benefits. Ever since 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency mandated the removal of lead additives from gasoline, the oil companies had sought other octane-producing additives to replace lead. MTBE, a methanol-based additive developed in 1978, was competitively priced, but it derived primarily from imported fuels and was toxic. In 1988, ethanol researchers at American Eagle Fuels Inc., in Lincoln, Neb., announced the development of ETBE, an additive that has an ethanol content ofabout 42 percent.

Unlike ethanol, ETBE could be mixed with gasoline at the oil refineries and moved through pipelines to gasoline distributors. Like ethanol, however, ETBE would be expensive. While MTBE cost 60 cents per gallon to produce, and was in plentiful supply, ETBE’s price tag was 30 percent higher, and the additive was still experimental. What was needed, proponents said, was a tax break.

Although ETBE was not invented when the original ethanol subsidy was passed in 1978, ethanol lobbyists claimed that Congress would have approved the application of the credit to ethanol derivatives. And ETBE had some surprising new supporters. Oil companies, under increasing pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency to improve emission levels, jumped on the bandwagon. Arco Chemical was the original petitioner to the Treasury department for ETBE.

For a time, however, Archer Daniels Midland held off endorsing the new product; more than twice as much ethanol goes into gasohol as into gasoline with ETBE. The Clean Fuels Development Coalition asked Senator Dole to lead the battle for ETBE on the Hill, but he declined. Senator Tom Daschle took on the role, circulating a ”Dear Colleague” letter.

While ETBE supporters worked Capitol Hill, C. Boyden Gray urged first the Reagan, then the Bush administrations to back the cause. Gray, who drives a methanol-powered Chevrolet, believes that using alcohol fuels like ethanol and methanol is preferable to ”the regulatory nightmares that would cascade around us if we don’t clean up our air.”

Gray says he discussed ETBE with ”every Cabinet Secretary.” The ETBE tax break – whose impact would be felt not by the Highway Trust Fund, as is the case with gasohol, but by the Treasury Department – eventually won endorsements from five Cabinet-level officials: Nicholas F. Brady, the Secretary of the Treasury; William K. Reilly, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Samuel K. Skinner, the Secretary of Transportation; James D. Watkins, the Secretary of Energy, and Clayton K. Yeutter, the Secretary of Agriculture.

Last June, President Bush lent his support to ETBE with a swing through Lincoln, Neb., where he visited American Eagle Fuel’s ETBE research facility and was photographed driving a demonstration car powered by E85, an experimental mix of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. But five months after the trip, the Treasury Department still had not made a decision on ETBE. According to a legislative aide, the Treasury Department’s tax attorneys initially opposed extending the credit, given the steep Federal deficit. But in early October, Daschle proposed an amendment to a budget bill to extend ethanol’s credit to ETBE legislatively, and the Senate Finance Committee passed the provision by a margin of 12 to 8.

Meanwhile, Dole was active on behalf of ethanol itself. In late November, during Senate floor debate on the unrelated Steel Import Bill, he blocked further action on the measure. With a recess looming, Dole offered to lift his hold on the steel bill . . . if ethanol’s excise tax credit, mandated to expire in 1992, were extended to the year 2000. ”Without hearings, publicity and on just about the last day of a session,” says a methanol lobbyist, ”Dole was trying to push through a seven-year multi-billion-dollar tax expenditure. It was shameless.”

Eventually, Dole agreed to a compromise: he would lift the hold on the steel bill if hearings were scheduled for the next legislative session on ETBE and extending the tax break to the year 2000. At the same time, he expressed sudden interest in supporting Daschle’s ETBE amendment to the House-Senate budget bill. But before Congress could act, the Treasury Department announced its decision in favor of ETBE. The resistance within Treasury had been overwhelmed, a legislative aide says, ”by ethanol politics.”

TODAY, WITH THE 101st CONGRESS back in session, the various ethanol lobbies are engaged in new Washington battles. The House and the Senate are considering a measure to strengthen the 1970 Clean Air Act, which calls for support of alcohol fuels such as ethanol and methanol to help combat air pollution. Legislators are also debating a new farm bill that could extend ethanol’s tax credit until the turn of the century. A vote on the farm bill is expected before Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, schisms remain in the ranks of ethanol supporters. The A.D.M.-backed Renewable Fuels Association is against expanding the industry through new plant construction, the importation of ethanol and through methanol development. Not so the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, which wants to see a broader ethanol industry. Publicly and privately, members of both lobbying groups continue to snipe at each other. ”The ethanol industry is probably the best in the city at circling up every morning and shooting at one another,” says Eric Vaughn, the current R.F.A. president.

Most ethanol trade groups see ETBE as the natural successor to gasohol. Says Bill Holmberg, the ethanol lobbyist: ”Ten years from now, ethanol in gasoline will only be 10 percent of production, ETBE will be 75 percent and 15 percent will be for other industrial uses.” Proponents hold that ETBE, as a new product, deserves its turn at the tax subsidy trough.

A.D.M. continues to brew ethanol. Ironically, considering the ethanol lobby’s efforts on behalf of tariffs against imported ethanol, A.D.M. signed a contract in January to sell 100 million gallons to Petrobras, the state oil company of Brazil. And, anticipating that Treasury’s ETBE decision will become final, Andreas has been in touch with oil executives. ”The oil companies will become our allies,” he predicts.

Yet opposition to the ETBE tax break continues. C. Eugene Steuerle, an economist and senior fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, feels that the I.R.S. is making a costly mistake. ”The whole alcohol fuels credit is just a very inefficient form of subsidy,” Steuerle says. ”For the amount of money we’re spending, we don’t get much benefit at all.”

Some Congressmen are openly hostile. ”The Treasury Department says that if these subsidies continue and expand to include ETBE,” Senator Bradley says, ”we’re looking at another $5.5 billion in the 1990’s. At a time of huge deficits, when worthy programs that enjoy broad public support are going begging, spending $10 billion on the ethanol industry – in which a single company accounts for over 66 percent of the operational capacity in the U.S. – is frankly unconscionable.”

For his part, Andreas says he will not lose any sleep if A.D.M.’s ethanol plants simply shut down. After 12 years in the business, he insists that A.D.M. has made less than a 6 percent return on its investment – ”less than all our other divisions” – and that ethanol represents less than 10 percent of A.D.M.’s business. ”If they cancel ethanol,” he says, ”do you think I’m worrying?”