Enviros Say U.S. Is "Addicted to Crystal Eth"—Then Propose Moral Equivalent of Ethanol Methadone Treatment


Better as HFCS

The Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment and the D.C.-based activist group Food & Water Watch has issued a new report, "Crystal Eth: America's Crippling Addiction to Taxpayer-financed Ethanol," [here to download] which according to the press release…

…concludes that corn-based ethanol is unlikely to significantly reduce America's dependence on imported oil, has a negligible ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to environmental degradation in coastal waters and has been an economic boon for agribusiness giants managed in absentia rather than small and medium-size, locally owned farms, farm cooperatives and ethanol refineries. …

The report examines the political contributions and lobbying efforts of some of the largest corporate ethanol refiners to garner ever-larger subsidies, and how the growth of corporate consolidation in the corn-based ethanol sector has been an unintended result of America's renewable transportation fuel politics, policies and subsidies. The report estimates that ethanol refiners have received at least $22.8 billion in total government financial support between 1999 and 2008.

It's better late than never I suppose. Reason has long understood the public choice dynamic (the iron circle of corporate lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats) that channels taxpayer dollars into subsidies and, of course, has been against subsidizing ethanol for quite some time now.

All too predictably, the activists behind the report immediately turn around and advocate mandates and subsidies for the biofuels they prefer:

Corn-based ethanol subsidies should be phased out completely over the next few years in favor of subsidies to biofuel alternatives that are more efficient, economically feasible and environmentally friendly, such as cellulosic and algae biofuel refiners. …

Renewable fuel standards [mandates] should be increased for second- and third-generation biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol and algae-based biodiesel, which should only receive support if they meet sustainability criteria to qualify for subsidies. These could include a net energy gain for cellulosic or other biodiesel fuels, reduced water utilization, limiting the indirect land use impact on food production and eschewing emerging higher-risk technologies such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

Sadly, the activists have a almost touching and truly naive faith that they are so smart that this time top/down centralized energy planning will avoid environmentally deleterious unintended consequences! Sigh.