ELECTIONS AND ETHANOL
We have an election next week.
People around the world are starving this week and every other week, too.
We have a drought this year, but we still take 40% of our corn crop and convert it for ethanol use.
Midwest corn growing states are important states electorally and ethanol subsidies are good for corn growers.
POLITICS SUCKS ... TALK'S CHEAP
The Ethanol Election Delay is subtitled 'Why the U.S. burns 40% of its corn, despite a global food shortage:'
"This summer's once-in-a-half-century Midwestern drought caused global
prices for staple food products to soar by 10%—and corn in particular
to jump by 25%, according to the World Bank. The food shortages across
Africa, the Middle East and South America are the worst since the 1980s
and have produced hunger and political instability, according to the
So perhaps this emergency is the time
to relax the U.S. ethanol mandate, which diverts four of every 10
domestic bushels of corn into gas tanks. That's equal to 15% of
international corn production, burned in internal combustion engines
that could run on another fuel. But this obvious solution is evidently
not obvious to the Environmental Protection Agency, which, despite
studying the question for more than a year, says it needs more time.
Last October, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Action Aid
petitioned the EPA to review the so-called renewable fuel standard that
mandates that 13.8 billion gallons of corn ethanol be blended into the
gasoline supply next year. The free-market think tank and global hunger
charity argued that the EPA's technical regulations implementing the
mandate did not meet "basic standards of quality."
That basically applies to all EPA rule making, though in this case
the EPA was supposed to answer in 90 days. But last Thursday the agency
took another 90-day extension, the third so far. "We would like to
assure you that we are working diligently to provide you with a
substantive response," the EPA claimed.
Specifically, the Competitive Enterprise and Action Aid folks noted
that the EPA failed to consider multiple peer-reviewed studies
documenting the link between ethanol and world hunger in its public
health literature review, as required by law. That includes one paper
that concludes that biofuel mandates are responsible for at least
192,000 premature deaths every year. Overall more people die from
chronic hunger world-wide than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined.
President Obama declared in May that "As the wealthiest nation on
Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the
fight against chronic hunger and malnutrition, and to partner with
others." He saluted U.S. global food programs but noted with
characteristic understatement that "when tens of thousands of children
die from the agony of starvation, as in Somalia, that sends us a message
we've still got a lot of work to do. It's unacceptable. It's an
outrage. It's an affront to who we are."
This sentiment did not trickle down to the EPA, which is less
concerned with feeding the world than feeding the ethanol lobby and
buying Farm Belt electoral votes. The EPA will now rule on the hunger
A favorite expression of mine is the following: What you DO speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying.
Elections matter. So do people.