It’s another slight economic curveball. Part of what’s pushed down gasoline prices in the last few weeks has been the ethanol equation.

At the beginning of the year, the state began requiring that all gasoline sold in the state have at least 10 percent ethanol. E10, as it’s sometimes call, is supposed to help wean us off foreign oil, although if you do the math with all of the petroleum inputs for corn production – chiefly fuel and fertilizer – it’s hard to make the case that we’re coming out ahead. The requirement is also supposed to help farmers, and it no doubt has.

There is a catch. Gas only has to have the 10 percent blend as long as ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. Right now it’s not, and it’s come to light this week that retailers have switched back to the straight stuff for the past three or four weeks. Even E85 – mostly ethanol – has become more expensive than regular in some places.

Gas prices aren’t expected to stay this low – $1.349 at some places in Independence today – forever. No doubt the ethanol mandate will kick in again soon enough. It is, however, a lesson is how governments can think and act in one way while markets do something entirely different.