Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Al Gore comes clean about his political opportunism

Al Gore admitted yesterday that he advocated and voted for ethanol subsidies because it was good for Tennessee and good for his race for the presidency when he campaigned in the Iowa caucuses. IBD reminds us of what government subsidies, pushed for by Al Gore, have wrought.
Gore's vote drove food prices higher, trashed the environment, and drew American capital into inefficient energy sources over efficient ones. This should be an object lesson in the importance of not trusting politicians on the environment.

Start with what it is — a tax credit for special interests that has cost U.S. taxpayers $16 billion. And costs are rising. The centrally planned ethanol mandate has risen from 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 to 35 billion by 2022. In the last year alone, it's cost $7 billion.

From the tax credit, refiners make a profit on blended ethanol even when it costs more than gasoline, an unfair price distortion.

No wonder refiners told farmers they could buy all the corn they could grow — Uncle Sam was picking up the tab. Today, 41% of all corn grown in America goes to ethanol — not to the dinner table.

Among the unintended consequences, farmland that had been efficiently planted with multiple crops ended up as monolithic cornfields, using 1,700 gallons of water to make a gallon of ethanol. Food prices surged as the government's ethanol monster got fed.

As corn exports fell, inflation soared abroad. In Mexico, riots broke out over rising tortilla prices. Inflation hurts the poor most.
But hey, it helped Gore win Iowa so what's the harm?

The irony is that ethanol is not better for either the environment or our energy needs.
Then there was the product itself, ethanol, a fuel that's been around since the days of Henry Ford. It burns 30% less efficiently than other forms of energy, such as oil, clean coal, shale and natural gas. As IBD wrote earlier this month, ethanol "has never made much sense economically or environmentally." Gore confirms this.
So will we continue to have these tax credits and ethanol policies that make no sense unless you're a corn farmer or a potential presidential nominee.