Archive for the ‘ethanol’ Category

CEI joins enviros and others in broad coalition to LOBBY against ethanol subsidies

November 20th, 2008 No comments

The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Conservative Union have joined with environmental groups such as the Earth Policy Institute and the Environmental Working Group and with meat growers, food processors and others in the Food Before Fuel” campaign, which on November 18 called on Congress and the incoming Obama Administration to repeal subsidies for ethanol in light of the harmful effects of such subsidies on “the environment, consumers and numerous industries”.   Thankfully, the press release also mentioned that the subsidies are a waste of taxpayers’ money.

This is the type of lobbying that ought to warm the hearts of libertarians of all stripes, even if it means getting into bed with environazis and other more run-of-the-mill rent-seekers.

Choice excerpts from the Food Before Fuel press release follow (emphasis added):

This November marks the 30th anniversary of the first government subsidies for ethanol. These subsidies now total nearly $5 billion annually.  In recent months, a wide number of independent voices have spoken out against ethanol subsidies as a failed policy that does more harm than good. This includes three Nobel Prize winning economists, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen, as well as international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, the UN, the International Food Policy Research Institute and others. …

Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation commented, “Ethanol has been on the government payroll for 30 years.  After three decades of government policies subsidizing and supporting the ethanol industry, we find ourselves at the end of 2008 with more questions than ever before about the wisdom of this course.”

On many issues, these groups gathered here today do not see eye to eye.  But we have come together because we all can agree that the government’s subsidization of the corn ethanol industry is a flawed policy that pits rural industries against one another, raises food prices for everyone and has failed to yield promised environmental benefits,” Brandenberger said.

Duane Parde, president of the National Taxpayers Union, was critical of the ethanol industry as a “demonstrative waste of taxpayer money in a time of economic hardship.”

”President-elect Obama and the 111th Congress have an opportunity to protect taxpayers and end business as usual,” Parde said. “We have spent 30 years and billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing the production of ethanol with little to show for it. Despite the subsidies, ethanol is not competitive in the marketplace and the industry only survives because politicians shovel our money into their pockets. We must end the bailouts and subsidies for industries that are unable or unwilling to stand on their own.”

Craig Cox, Midwest vice president of the Environmental Working Group, said that, “After 30 years of subsidies, ethanol is displacing only 3 percent of the gasoline we use each year, is likely increasing rather than decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and is threatening our soil,  water and wildlife. Yet ethanol gets $3 out of every $4 of tax credits the federal government gives to all renewable alternatives including wind, solar and geothermal. It is time we direct our tax dollars to renewable alternatives, including biofuels, based on how well they protect our climate, our environment and our energy security.”

Jason Clay, senior vice president for market transformation at the World Wildlife Fund, noted, “In its work with local communities and habitats across the globe, the World Wildlife Fund has seen the negative impacts of the biofuel policy not only on the environment, but on vulnerable populations throughout the world.”

Biofuels have a role to play in our response to energy independence and climate change, but the rush to produce them has been ill-considered. The United States must set an example to the rest of the world by pursuing sustainable agriculture and energy practices that meet scientifically based environmental performance standards,” Clay said.

Even the New York Times, in a November 17 editorial, has stood up against ethanol subsidies.

We’ll see if Obama and the Dems have the political will to say no to ADM and other ethanol subsidy recipients.  I’m not holding my breath, but am pleased to see such a broad effort nonetheless. 

H/T to David Zetland/Aguanomics.