[Update: Take a gander at the comments on this NYT article published on 5/8/09. Commenter # 43 was called on the carpet by the Times journalist for not divulging his relationship to an ethanol company.]
- I have always voted Democrat.
- A 10 percent blend of ethanol in your full tank of gas will use enough corn to feed an adult for 40 days.
- Obama wants to increase the amount of corn ethanol in your tank to 15 percent (enough corn to feed a person for two months).
- The world population is expected to increase by about 50 percent (ten times the present population of the U.S.) in the next forty years.
- The number of chronically hungry human beings is approaching one billion souls for the first time in human history (over 3 times the population of the entire United States).
- At least eight peer-reviewed studies published in the last two years have found that today's food-based biofuels are worse for global warming than the fossil fuels they replace.
I took the above photo with my cell phone while filling up our Prius. Your elected politicians are forcing you to fuel your car with food. Why aren’t you morally outraged?
The above cartoon was created last summer by Michael Ramirez. And he wasn't the only cartoonist covering the topic. There were food riots in over thirty countries that summer. Big Biofuel tells us their product had nothing to do with it, but think about it. Although the corn ethanol lobby would happily do so if they could get away with it, no sane politician would back a plan to turn all of America's corn and soybean crops into biofuels. Doing so would starve millions of impoverished children around the world and wreak havoc on our food system. If turning all of it into biofuels would wreak havoc, turning a quarter of it into biofuels (which we just did last year) wreaks one quarter of that havoc.
Attempts to get consumers to use corn ethanol as a fuel have a long history in our country. It has been marketed under the names Alcoline, Agrol, Gasohol, and finally, E-85. Gasohol, which is a 10 percent blend of ethanol, was sold in the eighties. You got to decide if you wanted it or not and most people decided they didn't as the above picture attests. The ag and biofuel lobbyists got together with our politicians and found a way to fix that. They simply blend it into our gas without our permission and charge us an extra dollar a tank to subsidize the biofuel industry that is forcing this crappy fuel down our throats. I say crappy because, in so many words, that is what Consumer Reports concluded it was when they tested it.
Five bills are pending in Oregon to to scale back ethanol use. Now, why would you limit use of a fuel that exacerbates global warming and hunger in the third world, costs taxpayers an extra dollar per tank of gas, an extra
The ethanol complaints tend to come from Republicans, but three of the bills have Democratic supporters. The politicians said they're hearing widespread complaints from voters.
The stereotypically well intentioned but math, science, and logic challenged local vocal environmentalists want to keep the ethanol blend. They think another 30 years of government support for this fuel will finally lead to a biofuel that isn't quite as destructive.
Just last week I met, along with two other people, with a local politician to lobby him to drop his city's use of a 40 percent blend of food-based biodiesel. He finally perked up when someone mentioned that dropping the biodiesel would save the city $350,000 annually. There was potential political gain to be had. As a politician, his next step should be to determine if banning of the biodiesel blend would make more political enemies than it would gain. The mayor of this city is a huge biodiesel proponent and the employee's retirement fund of this city invested ten million dollars last year in the largest biodiesel refinery on the West Coast, which is now on the edge of bankruptcy. All of the congress people in this State are huge proponents of biofuels.
A word of encouragement for this politician, as Washington State's King County Executive, Ron Sims stopped use of biodiesel in King County vehicles last year citing budgetary concerns. That move certainly didn't cost him any political points. He is now deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Maybe taking the moral high ground on this issue will be the politically smart thing to do in the future.
These fuels cannot make a dent in our fuel imports. Only high mileage cars and mass transit can do that. It took an area equal to all of the cropland in Indiana (almost a quarter of our corn crop) to replace a mere 4% of our fuel supply last year.
The real question is, will the Democrats cede that moral high ground to the Republicans?
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