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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An honest (ex) politician

Corn-based ethanol makes no sense from the stand point of economics, food policy, energy policy or land use policy. Monday, former senator and presidential hopeful Al Gore admitted this reality: even as a former politician, it puts him in a select group who will admit this Emperor Has No Clothes. (It also confirms the speculation at the time of his divorce that he never plans to run for president again).

As Reuters reported:
"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first generation ethanol," said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens, Greece. First generation ethanol refers to the most basic, but also most energy intensive, process of converting corn to ethanol for use in vehicle engines.

"First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small," he said, referring to how much energy is produced in the process.

The U.S. ethanol industry will consume about 41 percent of the U.S. corn crop this year, or 15 percent of the global corn crop, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.
Alas, half of the GOP senate thinks they’ll be a presidential nominee in 2012 — about the same number of Democrat senators assume it’s possible for 2016; pandering to foolish farm state subsidies is a bipartisan effort. (Perhaps the GOP House members will live up to their budget-cutting claims.)

So while it would be nice to end the ethanol craziness, it seems like things are going to get worse before they get better.

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