Posting in Energy
The U.S. House may be slashing spending to address the government's revenue problem, but new corn ethanol subsidies have avoided the fray.
Austerity is the new watchword in Washington, but expensive corn ethanol subsidies -- long criticized as being economically dubious and even environmentally harmful -- are still moving forward.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is slated to being issuing grants and loan guarantees for gas stations to install corn ethanol ready pumps, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said today.
Coincidentally, most of the pumps are located in the Midwest, a region that is economically dependent on corn cultivation. Its Congressional delegation is widely known for fighting to maintain corn related subsidies.
Corn ethanol is also supported by the Obama administration, which is seeking to a marked reduction in oil importation within the next decade. That plan requires subsidies for ethanol fuel sources, and its logical that the Midwest's regional mix would include corn.
Congress spends tens of billions of dollars on corn ethanol subsidies alone, and there have been recent bipartisan efforts to suspend the payments, along with mounting evidence that runoff from increased corn farming harms fragile downstream ecosystems.
Meanwhile, the government continues to encourage its adoption. The EPA’s 2011 Renewable Fuel Standards require 8 percent of all fuel used in the U.S. this year to be from renewable sources, and corn ethanol is the clear winner.
From a policy perspective, cellulose from native perennial grasses like switchgrass is more sustainable, does not affect food prices, and yields better fuel. But anything that would displace corn is anathema to Midwestern Senators who are beholden to the local interests that get them reelected.
Politics trumping science - what else is new?
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Apr 8, 2011
The country owns millions and millions of acres of land!! Why not let companies lease the land for a dollar to grow corn! Or better yet! Have the prisoners of the country grow, maintain, and harvest the corn crops, on Government land! We should have plenty of land and labor at much lower over head!
The breaking point for most in Tunisia and Egypt was the rise in food prices. Corn and soy prices have gone up and less available. Changing the ethanol source from food items to switch grass or algae would work better than increasing the use of corn based fuel. I saw a demonstration of a system that takes the exhaust output of a gas engine and feeds it to algae, the algae absorbs some of the CO2 and the algae can be processed for biofuel.
Obviously! The poor, who require corn for food, have a much smaller lobbying budget than ADM! Strange policy--using our food for transportation fuel...