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November 24, 2010
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

Al Gore’s admission that ethanol subsidies are bad for just about everything may reverberate into the coming Congressional debate over whether to extend the tax advantages and/or expand the mandate to 15 percent in gasoline.

Earlier this week, Gore confessed to an environmental conference in Greece that ethanol had been a bad idea all along. "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first generation ethanol," Gore told the gathering. "First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.” 

Moreover, he admitted that his real motivation in plugging ethanol was to curry favor with farmers.  “One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

The matter may not end there. On yesterday’s American Spectator website, Andrew Cline, editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader, chronicles the long history about how, as Vice President, Gore cast tie-breaking votes several time to keep ethanol subsidies alive.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Scientific opinion had turned against ethanol well back in the 1990s but the lobbying pressure from farmers only became so intense. Gore played a big part in succumbing to this pressure. It was only after rising world corn prices set off riots around the globe in 2007 that the case against ethanol began to gain political punch. Even former oil man and President George W. Bush succumbed to the ethanol mystique, promising to double U.S. capacity by 2012.

The Obama Administration proposed the 15 percent standard and is locked into ethanol subsidies. With 189 ethanol distilleries already operating in the Midwest and 16 more under construction, it will take a powerful coterie of politicians to stand up to the ethanol lobby. But the incoming Tea Party Congress may just be that group.

Read more about it at the American Spectator

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