Every four years, presidential candidates make pilgrimages to Iowa and preach the gospel of ethanol, the corn-based fuel that pours nearly $5 billion into the state’s economy every year.This time, it looked like things might really be different.

In 2016, Ted Cruz won Iowa’s Republican caucus as a heretic, arguing that the Renewable Fuels Standard—the federal policy that requires billions of gallons of ethanol to be mixed into American gasoline—was a boondoggle.

Among Democrats, meanwhile, the incentive to kowtow to the rural Iowans who love ethanol has faded; the party has lost most of its support in farm country, and its new early state primary schedule could reduce Iowa’s importance in 2020.

And heading into the 2020 primaries, as the candidates rush to declare climate change an emergency and embrace an aggressive “Green New Deal” to fight it, ethanol has lost its luster as a green fuel, as scientific evidence mounts that it’s intensifying the climate problem rather than helping to solve it.

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