One More Reason to Get Rid of Farm Subsidies
Taken from the Downsizer Dispatch:
The politicians want us to burn more ethanol in
our cars. Like most plans concocted by politicians, this one is a terrible idea
that is having devastating consequences. Here are the facts about ethanol . . .
Ethanol consumes more energy than it produces. A study by Cornell and UC
Berkeley found that corn converted to ethanol consumes 29% more energy than it
creates. Most of these energy losses come from the burning of extra fossil
fuels. Energy losses from other sources of ethanol, such as switch grass (45%) and
wood (57%) are even
Strike one for ethanol.
Burning ethanol in our cars emits less carbon dioxide (CO2) than burning
gasoline, but this hardly matters given the net energy loss involved in
ethanol’s production. Burning extra fossil fuels to create ethanol adds more
carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than we save by using ethanol as a partial
substitute for gasoline. Overall, ethanol increases CO2 emissions, raising the
risk of global warming.
Strike two for ethanol
When farmers use their land to grow crops for ethanol production, instead of
food, the food supply drops and the price of food rises. Increased food prices
create an incentive to plow new land to replace the missing food crops.
Expanding the acreage used for agriculture also adds extra CO2 to the
A study reported in the journal “Science” indicates that, depending
on the crop used to create the ethanol, it could take tens or even hundreds of
years for ethanol to make up for the CO2 surge caused by plowing more land for
Strike three for ethanol. If we were playing baseball ethanol would now be on
its way back to the dugout, but we aren’t done yet . . .
Ethanol increases the cost you pay for food. A University of Iowa study
indicates that ethanol production increased the average food bill by about $47
over the last six months of 2007. This increase in food prices is also having
knock-on effects on food prices around the world, devastating
consumers in under-developed nations.
Strike four for ethanol.
Ethanol also makes your fuel prices rise. Politicians mandated that refineries
add 4 billion gallons of ethanol to your gasoline in 2006, in spite of the fact
that ethanol is twice as expensive as gasoline. This is part of the
reason it costs you so much to commute to work.
Strike five for ethanol.
Ethanol has also been sold as a way to make our fuel supply more secure, but an
examination of this claim by scholars from the Cato Institute (published in the
Washington Post) indicates that corn crops are far more variable than the world
oil supply. The more
we depend on ethanol the more likely we are to have fuel shortages after a bad
Strike six for ethanol. Having struck out twice, you might think that it’s time
for ethanol to retire from the field, but there’s still more to come . . .
Ethanol has also been sold as an important part of achieving energy independence,
but this is another myth. Even if we used ALL the corn produced in the U.S. to
make ethanol, and NONE of it for food, U.S. gasoline consumption would drop by
only about 12%. This
wouldn’t even make us independent of the oil we import from the Middle East
(which is about 14% of our total consumption), let alone the oil we import from
other parts of the globe.
Strike seven for ethanol.
Ethanol makes it more likely that you will burn to death in your car. Neither
water nor conventional foams work on ethanol fires. Ethanol fires require
special materials and training to extinguish.
Strike eight for ethanol.
The ethanol program is really a government program of corporate welfare. In
“Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study In Corporate Welfare,” James
Bovard shows how big agri-business corporations have used government subsides
and tax breaks, like those for ethanol, to loot billions of dollars from
taxpayers and consumers. Our government’s ethanol policies are a major culprit.
Bovard estimates that every
$1 of profit earned by ADM from its ethanol operation has cost taxpayers $30.
Strike nine for ethanol. We have now retired the side.
The case is clear. All government mandates, subsidies, and tax breaks for
ethanol production must end, immediately. If we can achieve this goal we will
improve the environment, reduce government spending, and make it easier to
balance the federal budget. Better yet, all of this can be achieved while also
lowering your fuel and food prices.
Please send Congress a message instructing them to end all subsidies and
mandates for the production and use of ethanol. You can do so here.
This conversation is over.