Hog Farmers and Hippies, Unite! You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Ethanol Subsidies!

Reader Val E. sends news of Businessweek's interesting take on "Ethanol's Growing List of Enemies," a crew that includes "ranchers and environmentalists, hog farmers and hippies, solar-power idealists and free-market pragmatists":

They have different reasons for opposing ethanol. But their common contentions are that the focus on corn-based ethanol has been too hasty, and the government's active involvement-through subsidies for ethanol refiners and high tariffs to keep out alternatives like ethanol made from sugar-is likely to lead to chaos in other sectors of the economy....

Economists argue that making ethanol from corn wouldn't make any sense without the government's help. The mix of federal and state subsidies to corn ethanol amounted to a conservative estimate of $5 billion to $7 billion in 2006, says [Doug] Koplow of Earth Track. A considerable chunk of that money comes from the 51¢ tax refund for each gallon of ethanol refiners blend with gasoline to make fuels that can power flexible-fuel cars.

Whole thing here.

Reason's Ron Bailey poured cold water (?) on Brazil's supposed sugar-cane-based ethanol miracle here and took on U.S. ethanol policy here.

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  • Guy Montag||

    C8H18 the organic hydrogen alternative fuel! Grab a tank full today!

    Too bad we can't get that 51¢ tax refund on this stuff. It has a lot more octane that ethanol too.

  • ||

    Economists argue that making ethanol from corn wouldn't make any sense without the government's help.

    That pretty much says it all right there.

  • ||

    You know we put a tarriff on ethanol from South America, where sugar-based processes have proven to be economically viable?

  • ||

    You know we put a tarriff on ethanol from South America, where sugar-based processes have proven to be economically viable?

    Do YOU know that the US imposes a tariff on foreing made sugar, whether it comes in powdery form or not? Please, do not lose the scope of things - it is GOVERNMENT intervention, ANY KIND, which is bad, not just on a particular case.

    There is nothing wrong with the idea of corn-growers trying to make and market ethanol - if that is their choice and if the market lets them know it is viable. It is the fact that government SUBSIDIZES them for doing so which is immoral, unethical and economically UNSOUND.

  • ||

    joe is a True Believer in regards to the efficacy of central planning in energy markets. The irony is that he is a fierce critic of the magical thinking that others engage in.

    To be fair, this human trait is so common as to be nearly universal, at least to some degree.

  • ||

    joe,

    Friggin' corn lobby. They took away the sugar from my Coke, too. If we could disconnect ethanol from Big Corn, perhaps we could get a little more energy efficiency from our ethanol. This is yet another illustration of why free--or, at least, freer--trade is a net good.

    I'm dubious about the U.S. getting much good out of ethanol, but I'm all for trying competing energy alternatives. We're more likely to go completely electric or to some sort of hydrogen/electric hybrid than to really dive into ethanol, the way things look today, but who knows? Aside from pollution, global warming, and the political issues associated with oil, I just don't like the idea of aliens landing here and seeing us burn stuff to turn turbines and engines. It's undignified.

  • biologist||

    just don't mention high fructose corn syrup. please. I'm begging you.

  • ||

    "A considerable chunk of that money comes from the 51¢ tax refund for each gallon of ethanol refiners blend with gasoline to make fuels that can power flexible-fuel cars."

    I hate it when tax refunds are called "subsidies." "The government is taxing me, but not you, so you are therefore getting a 'subsidy.'"

    The problem is that government keeps spending, and then does tax some extra hard to make up for any "breaks" it gives to others. The myth is perpetuated that some level of taxation is the necessary price we pay for society, and that anyone who gets a break is not pulling his fair share of the weight. Rarely is the question asked, "Do we need to pull all this weight to have a desirable civilization?" In the meantime, Congress insures that the collective burden becomes heavier and heavier, and political partisans point to decreased tax liability for some as evidence of "subsidy."

    This is so much horse crap that we could use it to produce enough methane to power Washington DC.

  • ||

    GOOD: End sugar tarriffs so that corn prices drop and ethanol gets cheaper.

    BETTER: Adopt european standards (or none at all) for passenger-car diesel engines, switch some of the focus to soybean and biomass diesel fuel manufacturing. Legalizing hemp might help here, as well.

    BEST: Do both and top it off with a dollop of urban light rail.

  • ||

    biologist,

    I could, you know. I don't care about that substance except insofar as it has resulted in the reduction of my Coke-drinking pleasure. As I've set down hereabouts in the past, my eyes were opened when I consumed sugar-fortified Coke in Malaysia. Yum!

    As for the whole sweetener debate, I have no horse in that metaphor-mixing race. I don't like Nutrasweet, though. It kills :)

  • ||

    just don't mention high fructose corn syrup. please. I'm begging you.
    ===============================================
    Too late. HFCS is really bad for you. If it was right to make things illegal just because they tear up the human body, HFCS would be right there at the top of my list.

  • Guy Montag||

    hydrogen/electric hybrid than to really dive into ethanol

    Way ahead of you with the C8H18 and 12V system!

  • ||

    "joe is a True Believer in regards to the efficacy of central planning in energy markets"

    wayne is a child molester who buys Japanese girls' underwear over the internet.

  • Samauri Ronin Viking||

    (actually, joe, he ordered one of the vending machines (veritas, via internet) so he can drop a few yen in the slot, watch it drop, have the eager, breathless anticipation as he tears away the plastic, then snifs away to his charred, blackened heart's content!)

  • ||

    Hey, joe, who's wayne?

    As to matters of Faith, you have asserted that it is possible for the oil of the Persian Gulf to become less than vital to the U.S. economy in less than several decades, via Congressional central planning in energy technology. May as well chew on a wafer, and take a sip of wine.

  • ||

    I have the perfect solution:

    Cut all federal funding for highways, and roads. Most federal highways are really just commuter roads so that city workers can commute to the suburbs.

    At one time, the U.S. had the best rail system in the world, despite the huge land mass and no government subsidies (except for grants of land to build the tracks on of course - but those subsidies where very low cost to taxpayers).

    Get rid of federal highways, let the municipalities pick up the costs of suburbanization and long distance commuting, and people will be desperate for alternatives. Companies can actually start making a profit from running rail service, the government will collect more taxes and have less costs, and CO2 emissions will be drasticly reduced.

  • ||

    joe is a True Believer in regards to the efficacy of central planning in energy markets

    wayne is a child molester who buys Japanese girls' underwear over the internet.



    Its been settled....

    central planning in energy markets = Japanese girls' underwear over the internet :)

  • ||

    May as well chew on a wafer, and take a sip of wine.

    There's no need to slander joe with Catholicism, as I'm sure has his own mystical rituals that he goes through. Maybe he has some fung shui candles and "consciousness-expanding" substances, such as ritualized LSD. He might even buy some carbon offset indulgences if he's rich, which for "progressives" usually means that he's spending his parents' money. In that case, he probably also enjoys rock-climbing and other such expensive hobbies that people who claim to eschew materialism and worldly possessions often flock to. Rock-climbing is perfect because being outside with all your rich, white, "progressive" friends then becomes some kind of Gaia-loving ritual in and of itself. Isn't the scenery here beautiful?

  • ||

  • ||

    Loundry, I actually have less of a problem with the polemicist who overtly appeals to Faith, as opposed to those, typically the worshipers at the Temple of Central Planning, whose belief in the supernatural comes with a gloss of rationalism.

  • ||

    Will Allen,

    I completely agree with you. At least the Christian will be up-front that "it takes faith", whereas the environmentalist will pretend that "this is all SCIENCE!" (and get really uppity and snotty about it) when it is not science at all. In that sense, the Christiain is a much more honest and less slimy liar than is the "progressive" who is no less mystical than is the Christian -- he just has faith in different god(s).

    Furthermore, the Christian right seems really emasculated recently. They've gone into retreat and defend mode, and that's good to see. This is one of several reasons why the "progressive" priests are a much greater threat, since they seem to be having much more success at getting their life-destroying and property-destroying programs implemented recently.

    "American Taliban?" Oh, please. Nowadays, Christians have to do damage-control when someone accuses them of being anti-gay!

    (I **love** the Reason without Wiegel pipe. Can't we have reason without joe as well? Isn't the Protocols of Daily Kos your ideological home, joe?)

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