Why Is HuffPo Pimping Ethanol?

by William Yeatman on February 18, 2009

Yesterday’s edition of the Internet news juggernaut, The Huffington Post, ran an ethanol love song written by Bob Dinneen, who is identified in his HuffPo biography as “the ethanol industry’s lead lobbyist before the Congress and Administration.”

Given that Mr. Dinneen is a professional shill, there’s no need to repeat his self-serving argument. Whatever is his case for ethanol, the bottom line is his bottom line.  But it is worth saying a few things about the reality of ethanol.

Ethanol is touted as a solution to America’s dependence on foreign oil.  It is true that ethanol—an alcohol distilled from corn—can be used to run cars.  “Can,” however, does not mean “should.”  Indeed, ethanol is a bad idea both economically and environmentally.

For starters, ethanol is twice as expensive as gasoline, so filling your car with ethanol raises your fuel bill. Also, by turning corn, which is usually used food, into fuel, demand for food increases.  So, increased ethanol use raises your food bill too. Finally, ethanol is awful for the environment—it results in increased corn cultivation, which leads to greater nitrogen runoff, which causes massive, oxygen-depleted “dead zones” in our streams, lakes, rivers and oceans.

Yet Americans are forced to buy ethanol thanks to laws written by the ultra-powerful corn and agribusiness lobbies.  Ethanol makes corn growers and ethanol producers rich, so they have spent millions lobbying legislators to pass (1) generous taxpayer subsidies for ethanol production, and (2) a Soviet-style production quota that forces Americans to use a certain percentage of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply (last year, Americans were forced to buy 9 billion gallons of corn fuel).

So why is the Huffington Post pimping the ethanol boondoggle when so many others have stopped supporting these corrupt programs?

King corn and its agribusiness allies could never convince Americans to buy ethanol; instead, they convinced Congress to force ethanol on consumers. The industry’s existence is a powerful testament to lobbyists’ ability to rig the rules of the game to enrich their clients at the expense of everyday Americans—a tacit endorsement from the Huffington Post can only help the ethanol lobby continue to do so.

Huff Po is generally a well-done publication, so why run a pitch by a guy who is trying to get rich by screwing the consumer? Since when are greedy lobbyists palatable to the left?

280zman February 20, 2009 at 5:26 am

Yo, they've already started cramming more down our throats! In November, the EPA quietly upped the "blend mandate" from 10% up to 10.2%. Now, USDA Vilsack (former govenator of Iowa, corn king) and Sec Chu, Browner, et al. are shilling for further blend mandate increases to offset reduced gasoline consumption and resulting ethanol over-supply (what's that quote, "If you want more of something . . ."). Currently the industry has idled 2 billion gallons of production capacity, leaving almost 11 billion gallons, for a market that will even when forced use only 8-8.5 billion gallons. So . . . The ethanol/corn lobby want a blend mandate of 15% so they all don't lose their shirts on bad ethanol plant "investments."

I'm betting they get awfully close to 15% mandate when all the dust settles. Perhaps ramped up over the next 1.5 to 3 years.

Irony: EPA has clear scientific evidence that higher ethanol blends lead to greater NOx air pollution. Which will the EPA choose? Liberal pseudo-eco/energy-politics or the actual environment?

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