We recently brought to you a post entitled The Ethanol Lie, in which we described the political machinations of the Carter, Bush 1 and Clinton administrations to support agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland by promoting, endorsing and funding the ethanol-from-grain industry of which they are a leader. Ethanol from corn is big business and good politics, but it’s bad for the environment, the economy, and the country.
On Monday, former Vice President, and would be President, Al Gore, admitted as much, as well as his role in furthering that endorsement for the sake of his political career.
The ethanol tax credit comes up for renewal on December 31. It exists because Al Gore cast the deciding, tie breaking vote in its favor in a 1994 Senate vote. At that time he defended his vote as a positive move to protect the environment in a manner that provided a sustainable, renewable energy source that was economically sound and good for the country.
“The more we can make this home-grown fuel a successful, widely-used product, the better-off our farmers and our environment will be,” he said back in 1998.
On Monday, speaking to a group of bankers in Greece, he admitted that he was only helping himself.
“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 pastor of the Church of Climate Change, former vice president, and presidential candidate said.
Gore’s self-serving vote resulted in a tax credit for the agricultural lobby that has already cost taxpayers $16billion, with increasing costs ahead. Recent EPA mandates call for increasing the ethanol content of gasoline from 10% to 15%, thus increasing the demand for this environmentally damaging product. Refiners make a profit by blending ethanol into gasoline though without taxpayer subsidies, ethanol costs more than gasoline.
There are consequences, often unintended, to all decisions. The ethanol tax credit motivated farmers to convert their crops to the strain of corn from which ethanol is made, and away from foodstuffs. Forty-one percent of the corn grown today goes to ethanol, not to your plate. Over fertilization results in a dead zone in the Gulf every year, food prices have risen, and higher levels of unburned hydrocarbons are being released into the atmosphere.
And this all because Al Gore, a self-serving politician who received a Nobel Prize for his advocacy of responsible environmental stewardship (as he defined it), voted to continue this destructive tax credit.
Let us hope that those facing that same decision again this year will put the people who elected them, and in many cases the people who unelected them, before special interest legislation that would further harm the environment and the economy.