Cut the corn: Energy bill should not put any money into corn ethanol

This is an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune today.

Congress is currently considering a big energy bill. It could end up as bad as what the Republicans proposed (different from a bad Republican bill, but bad just the same).

There should be no subsidies for corn ethanol which takes your tax money instead of your pocket money as you fill up. Corn-based ethanol (alcohol) produces almost no NET energy and it has many negative side-effects such as soil erosion and an increase in the price of food.

Big wind farms and solar farms are going to have a huge effect on the land and wind turbines on birds (they will knock them out of the sky).

The quickest, cheapest method of addressing the energy problem is energy conservation technology. When conservation is done that way it is relatively painless.

Here is more from the Washington Post. On Capitol Hill, a Warmer Climate for Biofuels. By Steven Mufson. Washington Post Staff Writer. Biofuels mostly means ethanol made out of corn. They have a powerful lobby. Lots of rural towns are getting ethanol plants, which will provide years of employment in what amounts to running in circles as far as the production of more energy goes.

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  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    Don’t forget that ADM is very much involved in this scam and stands to benefit mightily from it. They have been convicted of price fixing for various raw products on a few occasions and have been required to pay some of the biggest fines in history.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Like most farm subsidies, the benefits will go to those doing very well and “thank you for another check.”

  3. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    The costs to make ethanol far outweighs any benefits. It makes no sense to use more energy resources to produce a product that yields far less than it takes to produce. The most inexpensive way to remedy the energy situation is by conservation. And until someone takes away the enormous tax breaks and subsidies these massive businesses like coal and oil recieve, it is only going to get worse. In the current situation, while they are raking in unimaginable profits, all of America’s citizens are hanging over a “long drop”.

  4. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    I find it interesting that America has the lowest fuel efficiency of just about every developed nation. Even China’s cars are much more fuel efficient than ours.

    It’s all about money…

  5. Eric Avatar

    Great points about ethanol. They’re really pushing it (corn) here. I don’t know how switchgrass bodes in the equation. I’ll look it up and do some writing to my representatives here in Illinois.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Other sources of ethanol make much more sense because you are not turning your food into fuel, not to mention the net energy problem.

    One small problem . . . they don’t know how to turn switchgrass, ag waste, trees, etc. into ethanol except in complicated ways that are even less efficient than corn-to-ethanol.

    Mike Wolf is right. American vehicles have the lowest fuel efficiency in the world. Energy conservation is the cheapest source of new energy. . . and we have the auto executives saying if they don’t get to make and sell gas guzzlers their profits will sink . . . . no wonder their stocks will soon be penny stocks.

    This story is in this morning’s New York Times. Politics Forcing Detroit to Back New Fuel Rules

  7. Eric Avatar

    That’s really a shame. My grandpa (RIP) used to work for Standard Oil and I remember him saying that, if they wanted to, the automakers could make a vehicle that could get great gas mileage.

  8. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I don’t know about today’s fuel injected cars but when I went through Automotive Technology course work years ago the guy who taught the carburetor class said that all the patents for carburetors were owned by oil companies……

  9. Eric Avatar

    I think that’s what I meant to say. The fact that he worked for the top of the food chain, so to speak, would have something to do with the opinion. Automakers, big oil: I kind of lump them together.

  10. Eric Avatar

    And that’s what I think he was saying too, ‘that the oil companies owned the patents for the technology, so the automakers’ hands were tied’ or something like that. Good point Jeff.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan