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Monday, September 27, 2004

Ethanol subsidies

Governor Pawlenty is pushing a plan to double the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10 to 20 percent by 2010. Ethanol producers and farmers like this, as probably do environmentalists. The auto industry does not.

Honestly, neither do I. The benefits of ethanol are debatable. It helps in some ways and hurts in others. Clearly, ethanol is a better oxygenate for gasoline than something like MTBE; MTBE is polluting water supplies, while you can drink straight ethanol and feel pretty good about it afterwards (which is why ethanol is denatured to prevent people from running both their cars and their minds on it). Critics do point out that you get less energy from ethanol than you put into making it. I don't know enough to say whether this is true or not.

I don't like corporate welfare, and that includes welfare for farmers. I'm a "freedom to farm" person. The elaborate system of price supports and guaranteed payments really annoys me. If ethanol is commercially feasible and valuable, it should be able to exist without subsidies and without pointless government mandates for use. This new program that the governor is pushing doesn't appear to have any environmental benefit at all; it simply looks like an attempt to create an artificial market for ethanol. If so, why is a conservative free-market governor doing this? Mainly to get votes, I imagine.

On the other hand, the part of the plan to get the state to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrids, is a great idea no matter how you look at it. With gas pushing $2 a gallon, the state should be looking to cut fuel consumption.


At 3:08 PM, October 01, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ethanol production stinks, is dangerous, produces toxic emissions, harms the health of those who live near its production, uses unbelievable amounts of water, does nothing to help pollution, and is pushed only because Monsanto et al. need a market for all that genetically modified corn they hooked the farmers on and now no one wants to eat. Ask anyone in St. Paul.

Boondoggle extraordinaire.


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