Bipartisan common sense is no match for the inertia of a government subsidy.
The Ethanol Idiocy that Will Not Die
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By Rich Lowry, National Review
When Al Gore drops an environmental fad, it has truly reached its expiration date.
In his wisdom, the Goracle recently acknowledged what almost all disinterested observers concluded long ago: Ethanol is a fraud. It has no environmental benefits, and harmful side effects. The subsidies that support its use are an object lesson in the incorrigibility of Washington’s gross special-interest politics. It is the monster that ate America’s corn crop.
“It is not good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol,” the former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient said, referring to corn-based ethanol. He called the fuel “a mistake,” and confessed one reason he fell so hard for it is that he “had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa.” These farmers vote in the First in the Nation caucuses and practically insist that their favored presidential candidates drink ethanol at breakfast and hail it as the nectar of the gods.
Egyptian Riots Fueled by Ethanol Subsidies and Biofuel Mandates
by Hans Bader, Open Markets
As world food prices hit a record high, protests in Egypt demand the removal of the country’s pro-American dictator, Hosni Mubarak. No one can predict with certainty whether his removal after 30 years in power would lead to a constitutional democracy, or a theocratic despotism. The likelihood of an even worse regime replacing Mubarak is real, and has been increased by the widespread diversion of cropland to produce biofuels rather than food. That in turn has led to rising food prices that have fueled unrest among the poor in the teeming slums of Egypt’s capital city of Cairo.
Increased food prices have also led to increasing support for the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood, which has ties to the terrorist group Hamas: it provides relief and welfare services in the slums, increasing its popularity in times of economic distress, and it enjoys greater support among the country’s poor than among Egypt’s smaller and more Western-oriented middle class.
The Telegraph, a leading English newspaper, calls the recent unrest in Egypt and the Middle East “food revolutions.” It points out that “biofuel mandates” have “diverted a third of the US corn crop into ethanol for cars,” reducing food supplies and driving up food prices. “So instead of growing wheat, our farmers are growing corn in order to cash in on ethanol subsidies.”
Egypt’s unrest tied to high food prices
Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy-Tribune
WASHINGTON - Economists and experts in food security have warned repeatedly in recent years that an unbridled rise in food prices could trigger the very kind of explosion of citizen anger that’s now threatening to topple the Egyptian government. Such anger is likely to rise elsewhere, too.
One of those warning about the food prices was Hamdi Abdel-Azim, an economist and former president at the Sadat Academy for Social Sciences in Cairo.
Green-energy plant sucks up subsidies, then goes bust
By: Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner
To turn wood chips into ethanol fuel, George W. Bush’s Department of Energy in February 2007 announced a $76 million grant to Range Fuels for a cutting-edge refinery. A few months later, the refinery opened in the piney woods of Treutlen County, Ga., as the taxpayers of Georgia piled on another $6 million. In 2008, the ethanol plant was the first beneficiary of the Biorefinery Assistance Program, pocketing a loan for $80 million guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers.
Last month, the refinery closed down, having failed to squeeze even a drop of ethanol out of its pine chips.
The Soperton, Ga., ethanol plant is another blemish on ethanol’s already tarnished image, but more broadly, it is cautionary tale about the elusive nature of “green jobs” and the folly of the government’s efforts at “investing”—as President Obama puts it—in new technologies.