Saturday, August 11, 2012

John Carney: Let's pander by temporarily relaxing a horrible policy requirement

Regarding ethanol I completely agree with Liberalgeek of Delawareliberal:

Can we all agree that Ethanol is a failure and that we need to bail out on it before we tar all alternative energies as bad ideas?
I believe that we make mistakes.  Ethanol is one of them and the sooner we cut bait on it, the sooner we can get moving on good ideas that we have out there.

It's difficult to count the ways that ethanol is bad, because you run quickly out of fingers, but the main five would be

1.  Ethanol in gasoline is actually a worse pollutant than regular gasoline.
2.  Ethanol's use as a biofuel artificially drives up food and feed prices.
3.  Ethanol processing requires massive amounts of clean water that is not very clean afterward.
4.  Ethanol production leads to increased deforestation, erosion, and other neat environmental consequences.
5.  Ethanol does not increase mileage in the overwhelming majority of cars, thus actually increasing the amount of foreign oil we must import.

Last year, John Carney and the rest of Congress pretended to do away with ethanol subsidies, but--as Kevin Drum points out--that was a blind as they did not do away with ethanol mandates.

Now, with estimate for corn production down, Congressman Carney has decided to try to make political points with Delaware poultry producers:
America’s farmers need relief from one of the worst droughts of the last fifty years.  One option is to temporarily reduce the amount of the nation’s corn crop that goes into producing ethanol.  Last week, I signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking it to take the steps necessary to reduce the amount of corn mandated for ethanol production.  Congress created flexibility in the Renewable Fuel Standard to provide farmers some assistance in the case of a prolonged drought or severe economic hardship.  The EPA should respond accordingly.  It could make a difference for Delaware’s poultry industry and help keep prices affordable for American consumers.
This is pure pandering in its worst forms.  Again, let me count the ways:

1.  Ethanol subsidies and mandates have been systematically driving up feed prices for years, Congressman Carney.  Did you suddenly just discover this in an election year?

2.  A letter to the EPA asking it very nicely to temporarily suspend mandates?  Yep, that's decisive action, Mr. Carney.  Did you remember to say "pretty please"?  How about taking some long-term steps to defend the interest of Delaware poultry farmers by introducing legislation to eliminate ethanol mandates completely?  Oh, no, I forgot.  That would get in the way of important legislative priorities like keeping the excise tax on medical devices, or making it easier to import women's shoes.

Congressman Carney's statement has, of course, far more to do with his re-election than with saving the Delaware poultry industry.

Here's what Libertarian Scott Gesty would do:  End the EPA's ethanol requirements permanently, and stop having the government distort American and international food markets by requiring non-food corn production.

Simple, huh?

But since Scott Gesty won't be on the stage with John Carney in October at the UD debate, guess we'll never hear this question asked, either.

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