The ethanol boondoggle is one of the most costly of American government subsidies. It’s a case where clueless and naive greens were taken to the cleaners by greedy farm interests. And it looks like the ag lobby’s powers of enchantment over environmentalists are as strong as ever.
Faced with a crippling drought which has devastated this year’s corn crop, state governors and poultry producers petitioned the EPA to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates that a certain percentage of the U.S. gasoline supply be ethanol-based. The EPA has turned down the call:
Corn prices peaked at $8.43¾ a bushel in August after extreme dryness and temperatures above 38°C (100°F) gripped grain states such as Illinois and Indiana. Record prices have pressured farm operations dependent on corn for animal feed.
The government is allowing up to 13.2bn gallons of corn-based ethanol to meet the renewable fuel mandate this year. The ethanol industry will consume 42 per cent of the latest US corn crop, or 4.5bn bushels, the US Department of Agriculture estimates.
The ethanol mandate is nothing more than green lipstick on a Big Agriculture pig. Ethanol does nothing for the environment and contributes nothing to the country’s energy security. It contributes to human suffering around the world by driving up the price of basic foodstuffs. It only lines the pockets of big agriculture lobbyists who make sure to spread their ill gotten wealth around the political classes.
The EPA is claiming that waiving the mandate would have no discernible effect on corn prices in this particular situation. Perhaps they are right. Maybe the drought was so severe that fiddling with the Renewable Fuel Standard would only have marginal effects on prices.
But the broader point remains: serially clueless greens are being played for suckers by yet another smart and unscrupulous corporate lobby. The ethanol subsidy is terrible policy that only serves to ensure we are all forced to shovel more money into the bank accounts of the ag lobby and the lack of intellectual and political clarity among so many green groups today means that “green” policies are almost always lightly disguised special interest giveaways.
This needs to change.