Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stop Government Subsidies for "Green" Jobs!

There are many who promote ethanol as the biofuel green savior of the world's fuel needs. The solution seems particularly attractive to mega farms, who receive substantial subsidies for corn-ethanol production.

It appears that most legislators see growing corn as simple as pumping oil or gas from the ground, not realizing the amount of energy and chemicals needed for its production. Expert opinions claim a 1-to-1 ratio (or worse), achieving no positive energy outcome from the input. While ethanol may be somewhat kinder on the environment than petroleum, its production is not so, with the nitrogen needs being most problematic. Those high-nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides used in corn production are never completely absorbed by the plants and the rest goes into our underground water supply. The runoff eventually accumulates in rivers, like the Mississippi, which empties this leftover nitrogen soup into the gulf of Mexico, enlarging the already New Jersey State sized "dead zone" where aquatic life no longer exists.

The US goal for biofuel by 2017 is 35 billion gallons, and yet if achieved would only displace 3.5 percent of gasoline use. To meet this goal, the entire US corn crop would need to be used, taking away from the world's poor a food source that will triple in need by 2050. The price of corn recently doubled due to the demand for corn for ethanol production.

While being applauded as a green solution, its promotion as an answer to our energy needs only brings about greater destruction of land cleared of carbon absorbing trees, the destruction of animal habitats, and ignoring the water intensive needs for growing on the scale proposed. The idea that biofuel can be an overall solution is masked and made palatable by its allegedly green nature and promotion as a green answer for use in our allegedly green cars and in our allegedly green homes, when in fact it is a concept that will only become more unwieldy and detrimental in the future.

This grasping at straws approach will only eventuate in the straw that will break the proverbial camel's back. Morris Berman notes that, "An idea is something you have; an ideology is something that has you." At this time, it would seem the biofuel fad has a hold on consumers and politicians, all acquiescing with a green fervor. And the farmers are exploiting this fervor at the expense of the taxpayer, the environment, and future generations.

If something is so impractical and expensive (ie ethanol and other biofuels, solar- and wind-powered electricity, hybrid and electric cars, etc.) that it must be federally mandated or subsidized, it is not worth pursuing! In fact, these allegedly green technologies are very anti-green, having serious adverse economic and environmental effects, and must be abandoned. If a crop or product or service (ie ethanol, solar/wind power, public transit, wages, etc.) cannot succeed without government subsidies or price/wage supports, it is not inherently viable and must be allowed to fail in the market place. (In 2007, American taxpayers subsidized government-preferred energy sources to the tune of nearly $17 billion!)

I am unalterably opposed to politicians using my tax money to support marketplace failures! Congress must take immediate and aggressive steps to eliminate subsidies and mandates for all technologies that are not viable in a free market. And, of course, if a technology is viable in a free market, it needs no subsidies nor mandates.

1 comment:

  1. Another of Obama's dream "green" investments collapsed this month -- exactly in the month some experts predicted. Solyndra, a manufacturer of solar panels, closed its doors after obtaining a half-billion dollar infusion of taxpayer money. See Jon Stewart's analysis at

    Government central planners must immediately stop using taxpayer money to force products and services into the marketplace. Only free-market forces can introduce new products and services efficiently and wisely. Politicians, bureaucrats, and other central planners cannot.