The U.S. government was shocked that people didn't follow the law
Industrial alcohol wasn't safe to drink, and the government made it worseSource: Vox
Industrial alcohol of the 1920s was full of nasty stuffSource: Atlas Obscura
It was like a chemists' war at this point. Bootlegger chemists trying to take things out, and government chemists trying to find a way to keep them in. But the bootlegger chemists had not been able to find a good way to get methanol out. People knew this was going to kill people. They were warning the government in advance. Charles Norris, who was the chief medical officer in New York City, and Alexander Gettler, who was the chief toxicologist in the city, told the government not to do this.
A lot of people died because of the chemical increase, but it's hard to know how manySource: Time
This program wasn't a secretSource: Vox
[The dries were] running the Treasury Department, which is the department that primarily enforces the liquor laws. The president at the time, Calvin Coolidge, is a dry politician; Herbert Hoover, who also came in later, was a dry politician. They announce the plan as a big warning message from the government: 'Quit drinking, because we're going to make this a lot more poisonous.' They even had moments when they would call in reporters to make sure everyone knew.