national corn growers association

Post image for Support for Ethanol is Still Unfortunately Bipartisan

The Washington Times today has an editorial chiding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to proceed with approval and support for higher blends of ethanol (E15) to be sold nationally. There are still a number of complications that seem likely to get in the way of (i.e., the lack of price competitiveness) of widespread use of E15, but recent decisions by the EPA are unfortunately steering the country down that path. However, the editorial makes one comment that doesn’t seem quite right:

This issue highlights the danger of allowing liberal zealots to set public policy. They are so obsessed with micromanaging the lives of others and fulfilling their environmental fantasies that they give no thought whatsoever to the real-world consequences of their schemes.

As a fuel, ethanol is highly corrosive. The E15 gasoline blend reduces gas mileage by 6 percent compared to real gasoline. That adds up to about $150 a year for the average vehicle owner. This expense and the mechanical danger serve absolutely no purpose beyond filling the pockets of wealthy farming giants. Congress needs to repeal the ethanol mandate to protect American pocketbooks – and the car warranties of millions of motorists.

Assuming they are using ‘liberal’ in the liberal versus conservative sense,  ethanol has (both historically and to this day) been supported by both liberals and conservatives alike. Indeed, true market-oriented politicians oppose interventions in our energy markets. However, those politicians are few and far between as politicians from both sides rarely have issue with sacrificing their alleged principles in order to support local constituencies or interest groups. [click to continue…]

Post image for Corn/Cellulosic Ethanol Infighting

A blog post at the National Corn Grower’s Association, which has since been taken down, was titled: “If the Government Could Mandate Unicorns…” A cached version is here.

When a two year-old throws a temper tantrum because he cannot have a pet unicorn, it can seem confusing, annoying or possibly endearing.  No matter which gut reaction a parent has, they universally understand the need to explain the concept of “nonexistent.” When the Environmental Protection Agency continually demands the impossible, why are they treated any differently?

The issue is simple.  The updated version of the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates usage of 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol this year and 500 million gallons by 2012.  As of June 2011, zero gallons of qualifying cellulosic ethanol were produced.  The target is, under current conditions, an impossible demand.

It is a demand based on promises.  Much as parents may tell stories about unicorns and fairies, some players in the ethanol and environmental industries pushed a product which they were not prepared to deliver.  In both scenarios, optimism created a beautiful vision of a world that does not exist.  Once the story was sold, neither party could meet the unrealistic expectation that they had created. [click to continue…]

Post image for Corn Growers’ Association CEO on Ethanol Subsidies

On E&E TV. The title mistakenly claims that the NCGA supports ending ethanol subsidies, which they don’t. They are willing to give up a specific tax credit in exchange for different government subsidies or incentives to continue lining their pockets with taxpayer dollars by encouraging ethanol production.

Rick Tolman, the CEO, discusses the reasons the corn industry has come under attack, noting that they have moved into selling a lot of corn for ethanol production. He kind of hides the whole reason for this, which are the corn ethanol production mandates, preferring to vaguely refer to “productivity improvements” which allowed them to also begin exploring additional markets. Unfortunately, markets are blind to everything except prices, so if the mandates had been stringent enough, corn would be converted to ethanol even if we weren’t producing enough additional corn to meet other needs.

He also notes that the oil industry is very upset that the ethanol industry has taken about 10% of their market. Well of course they’re upset, as they should be. There’s no other industry (energy) in America that I can think of which is so heavily reliant on government policies for their existence. Imagine if the government began requiring that 10% of your daily calories come from Starbucks? Isn’t it reasonable that every other food industry (to say nothing of citizens) in America would be justifiably furious? Note that ethanol already has its own E-85 market through flex-fuel vehicles, and its very small, because ethanol is more expensive than gasoline. [click to continue…]