A piece of business advice in the Internet era: Try many things, determine as quickly as possible if they work and, if not, shut them down and move on.
Ten years ago, adding ethanol to gasoline was one of those bright ideas intended to help the environment and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
It has now failed and it is time to move on.
Continuing to force the stuff upon unwilling customers is nothing more than a handout from U.S. consumers to corn farmers and ethanol producers.
Unfortunately, stopping the federal government from wasting money is always harder than it looks.
A bill introduced last month by state Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, would cut the percentage of ethanol in Maine gasoline from 10 percent to 5 percent.
A companion bill by Timberlake would allow Maine to join other New England states to eliminate ethanol from gasoline.
The move comes after concerns that the U.S. EPA has begun allowing gas stations in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska — in other words, in the heart of the corn belt — to sell E15 blend. The goal of the ethanol industry is to gradually push E15, a 15 percent blend of ethanol, onto the rest of the U.S. market.
That makes about as much sense as the feds forcing Midwesterners to buy lobsters or blueberries.
Timberlake, a farmer and owner of a hardware store, calls ethanol one of the worst "government boondoggles" of his life.
The problems with ethanol are well-known and reach into every household in one way or another.
The stuff plays havoc with small motors, such as those in lawnmowers and weed-whackers, eventually resulting in expensive repairs.
Ethanol reduces the fuel mileage of vehicles, which offsets its purported environmental benefit. Even environmentalists don't defend its production any more.
Finally, the U.S. is no longer nearly as reliant on foreign, particularly Middle Eastern, sources of oil.
Ethanol is also suspected of pushing up food prices by driving up the cost of corn. A host of food products contain corn or corn byproducts, while corn is also fed to both dairy and beef cattle.
Jamie Py of the Maine Energy Marketers Association told the Bangor Daily News his dealers support a ban.
"We don't want to sell something that people can't use and that people wouldn't want to use," he said.
Unfortunately, Maine alone cannot eliminate ethanol without increasing fuel prices because we are part of a regional supply chain. Plus, a state ban would violate the federal government's ethanol edict.
So, Congress would have to act, and there New England would be up against half a dozen large states determined to sell more ethanol, not less.
But there are small-motor users and food consumers in every part of the country.
Perhaps New England's regional congressional delegation can light a fire under the rest of Congress to get us out from under the ethanol "boondoggle."
If Midwestern states want to use it, fine. But there is no reason people in the rest of the country should be forced to use a bad product they don't want, don't need and which serves no public purpose.