Monday, November 22, 2010

Al Gore: Hey, sorry about that whole ethanol thing

Alternate headline: I pimped corn ethanol for the votes, otherwise corn ethanol is a complete loser.

Maybe it's the fact that the man has no designs of ever getting back into politics or perhaps it's because he has now made millions off of taxpayer-subsidized green investment - because whatever it is, this recent bout of truth-spasming, though, quaint is too little, too late.

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore said support for corn-based ethanol in the United States was "not a good policy", weeks before tax credits are up for renewal.

U.S. blending tax breaks for ethanol make it profitable for refiners to use the fuel even when it is more expensive than gasoline. The credits are up for renewal on Dec. 31.

Total U.S. ethanol subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year according to the International Energy Industry, which said biofuels worldwide received more subsidies than any other form of renewable energy.

"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol," said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank.

"First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

"It's hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."
He explained his own support for the original programme on his presidential ambitions.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

Wishing to drive up the price of food worldwide in return for an alternative energy that you know is bad policy is just what a man has to do in order to be President, we suppose.

A food-versus-fuel debate erupted in 2008, in the wake of record food prices, where the biofuel industry was criticised for helping stoke food prices.

Gore said a range of factors had contributed to that food price crisis, including drought in Australia, but said there was no doubt biofuels have an effect.

"The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices.

"The competition with food prices is real."

A slow clap for this tool is definitely in order.

He supports 2nd generation biofuel technologies, however, as it does not compete with food. 2nd generation technologies such as cellulosic technologies which use chemicals or enzymes to extract sugar from the fiber in wood, waste or grass, as examples.

As we will take a look at later, however, these 2nd generation technologies are just as energy intensive or even more so to produce than corn ethanol. Forgive us for thinking then, that this supposed "come to Jesus" moment is less that than Big Al signaling he's merely moving on to the next big taxpayer-subsidized gravy train.

H/T: Hot Air


Harrison said...

Nice. Gore probably wants to shift those billions someplace else.

steve said...

No one wants to touch this or ag subsidies as long as Iowa has the first primary. We need to rotate the first primary to other states.


Dean said...

Steve, spot on.

My ribbing of Al Gore aside, perhaps if this high priest of the AGW movement comes out against corn ethanol, it might be the first move towards scrapping the ethanol subsidy and thus our ill-fated pursuit of burning food as an alternative energy policy.

Road Dawg said...

Where did we pick up Steve? Good job! Hope he comments on earmarks back a few days.

steve said...

LOL. You wont like half of what I write.