Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ed Rendell's failed "future of Pennsylvania energy" in the news again.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s “future of Pennsylvania energy”,  a $270 million ethanol plant in Clearfield, Pennsylvania that was subsidized by the state “with $27 million in grants and loans and by issuing $67 million in tax-free bonds” (Philadelphia Inquirer 8/28/2011), went bankrupt. Pennsylvania Grain Processing, that bought the failed Clearfield ethanol plant at the “fire sale” price of only $9.35 million, is requesting more of Pennsylvania tax payer’s money for the same ethanol plant!
This is happening as Governors, meat producers, environmentalists, global food security advocates, and academics are all calling for waiving the ethanol mandate to stop food insecurity/inflation and environmental destruction.

"Virginia Governor McDonnell Asks EPA for Ethanol Waiver" BloombergBussinessweek

"Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to suspend the nation’s ethanol requirement, citing high grain prices.
McDonnell follows lawmakers from both political parties who have called for a suspension of the mandate in the wake of the worst U.S. drought in 56 years, prompting the U.S. Agriculture Department to reduce its forecast for this year’s corn crop to 10.779 billion bushels.
The governors of North Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland, Texas, Delaware and Georgia have asked the Obama administration to halt the law, which requires refiners to use 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol this year and 13.8 billion in 2013."

"In Drought, Should Corn Be Food or Fuel?" NPR

"Jason Hill is a professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota. He says while roughly half of nation's corn supply this year will go to producing ethanol, that ethanol will make up only between 5 and 6 percent of the nation's fuel consumption. "So [it has a] very large impact on our corn market, a very small impact on our fuel market," he says."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"California law eliminates ethanol funding" Western Farm Press

"On Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 523 by Assemblyman David G. Valadao into law. AB 523 eliminates all future state funding for the production of ethanol derived from corn after July 2013. "

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Burning corn in a famine: The obscenity of the corn ethanol mandate" Washington Times

"The federal mandate that was instituted during the George W. Bush administration could claim as much as 40 percent of this year’s plummeting corn crop for fuel as this historic drought worsens.
The 2012 law calls for 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be combined with gasoline. The expected corn harvest is estimated at 14 billion bushels, but due to the drought, it could be far less.
Politics will determine where the corn ends up. There are calls for the mandate to be lifted for now, but we can’t underestimate the power of the special interests which look out for their own interests, not for ours."

Read more: Burning corn in a famine: The obscenity of the corn ethanol mandate | Washington Times Communities

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Romney's Energy Plan" Wall Street Journal

"The "independence" trope always polls well, but it is also dangerous because it opens the political field to rent-seeking dreams. Any energy source that can be sold as making the U.S. more "independent" is therefore a candidate for corporate welfare, and Mr. Romney's blueprint proves the point by endorsing the corn ethanol mandate."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"US Ethanol Requirements Could Cause a Global Food Crisis" The Take Away with John Hockenberry

Listen to interview with  Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam.....

"Researcher says rising corn prices could spark global food riots" PRI Public Radio International

"To avoid future global unrest, Bar-Yam says the U.S. government should reduce the ethanol mandate by at least half this year to help boost the world's food supply.

Bar-Yam admits its not an easy decision to make in the middle of an election year. Iowa, the largest ethanol-producer in the country, is also a swing state. Farmers there make more money as a result of the ethanol mandate than they would otherwise. But Bar-Yam says self-interest has no place in today's world.

"If we are concerned only about our own interests, we will suffer the consequences because our world is a connected world and we are all involved in the same system," he said."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Georgia, New Mexico join call for end to US ethanol rule" Reuters

" Two U.S. states that depend on the livestock industry are adding their voices to a string of states asking Washington to ease pressure on corn prices by suspending rules that send a large share of the crop to produce ethanol."

"Study: U.S. could put a big dent in food prices by relaxing ethanol rules" Washington Post

" A new paper (pdf) out from three agricultural economists at Purdue University finds that even a partial relaxation of the mandate could reduce corn prices by up to 20 percent next year."

"EPA seeks input on ethanol mandate waiver requests" Reuters

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said it has begun weighing requests to suspend the U.S. ethanol mandate, which requires refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline, and is seeking public feedback."

"The EPA asked on Monday for public comment on the need for an ethanol waiver. The 30-day comment period will begin once the notice is published in the Federal Register."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Fuel Fight at the D.C. Circuit" Wall Street Journal

"The battle over ethanol came to a federal appeals court today, with prominent conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh saying the Environmental Protection Agency “ran roughshod” over the law when it permitted fuel refiners to bring gasoline blended with 15% ethanol onto the market.
Unfortunately for the petroleum industry, the food industry and a host of others who dislike E15 fuel, Judge Kavanaugh couldn’t persuade his two colleagues on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reach the merits of the issue. Instead, Judge David Sentelle and Judge David Tatel ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case."

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Experts warn of long-term climate change impacts on food" The Hills E2Wire

"The U.N. and global leaders have paid particular attention in recent weeks to U.S. biofuels policy as drought ravages corn supplies. They say the country needs to free up more of its corn for food to combat rising prices that heavily affect poor nations.
The United States, a major international corn exporter, reserves 40 percent of its corn acreage for biofuels production. U.S. corn has hit record highs of above $8 per bushel this summer.

"Region and nation brace for drought-driven rise in food prices" Philadelphia Inquirer

"Anticipating an imminent shortage of the grain that is integral to the production of meat, milk, and eggs - and, increasingly, fuel because of the ethanol mandate for gasoline - traders have sent the price of corn surging as much as 50 percent this summer.

Worries about rising prices for food and fuel at a time when individual income growth is weak could be trouble for the U.S. economy, which has failed to hit its stride. The drought could also be a wild card in the presidential election."

"Crop Damage Sparks Fuel Verus Food Debate" National Geographic (Tim Profeta of Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University)

"In Drought, a Debate Over Quota for Ethanol" New York Times

"The meat industry, backed by several governors, lawmakers and even international food agencies, argues that the quota has distorted grain markets by sucking up corn when ranchers can least afford it. "

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"How Ethanol Causes Joblessness" Wall Street Journal

"The MIT paper also documents the many ways in which the Iowa State authors mangle the basic economics of the oil industry, and it concludes that using better models suggests that the causal effects of ethanol on gas prices are "near zero and statistically insignificant." Something to remember when you see that next TV ad pushing ethanol as a free lunch."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"EPA should relax ethanol mandate" San Antonio Express-News

"The Environmental Protection Agency has the ability to issue waivers from the ethanol mandate under unusual circumstances. The drought and record corn prices qualify, and everyone from Texas ranchers to the director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is calling for the EPA to do just that."

Read more:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Examiner Editorial: To protect ethanol, Obama seeks to inflate meat prices" Washington Examiner

"Obama could solve this problem instantly by suspending the federal ethanol mandate -- something his EPA actually can do unilaterally and legally. Instead, Obama will buy up meat -- a move that meat producers say won't help them much anyway. "It doesn't solve the problem of having enough affordable corn next summer," industry analyst Steve Meyer told Reuters. "Without changing the ethanol program, nothing can be done," he said."

"But even environmentalists rejected ethanol long ago, when scientists established that it actually increases carbon and smog emissions."

"Arkansas, N.Carolina aks EPA to waive ethanol mandate" Reuters

"The governors of North Carolina and Arkansas joined two of their Northeast peers on Tuesday in asking the federal government to temporarily suspend the ethanol quota, piling pressure on President Barack Obama to make a tough choice months before the election."

"Jan Psaki, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, said the president, who campaigned in Iowa on Tuesday, has been a strong supporter of ethanol and cellulosic ethanol, which one day could be made in commercial levels from non-food crops.
"He absolutely believes in it, he thinks it's a driver of the economy here and a key component of renewable energy," Psaki told reporters before news broke of the new requests."

"Drought could emerge as sleeper issue in the presidential race" Chicago Sun-Times

"While voters are not blaming a political party for the drought, the shortage of corn and rising prices has triggered a debate over whether federal subsidies for ethanol should be suspended.
Under federal renewable fuel rules, gasoline producers in the U.S. are supposed to have 9 percent of the product made from ethanol. In normal times, that takes about 40 percent of the corn crop, keeping prices high — artificially so, some argue, because of the mandate. A political issue could develop over whether this should be continued during the drought emergency.
Asked about possible ethanol waivers, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at the Friday briefing, “Well, I would simply say that the EPA, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, is looking at this.”"

"Global Food Crisis May Hit Us ‘Very Soon,’ IFPRI’s Fan Says" Bloomberg Businessweek

"Governments must act to prevent the crisis, Shenggen Fan, director-general of the institute, said today. The U.S. should end its biofuel program that uses 40 percent of its corn output, to boost supplies to meat producers, Fan said. The Washington- based institute, supported by governments and international organizations, is part of the Agricultural Market Information System formed by the United Nations to monitor food costs.
“The major problem is policy,” Fan said today in an interview with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television’s “First Up”. “Biofuel production has to be stopped. That actually pushed global food prices higher and many poor people, particularly women and children, have suffered.” "

"UPDATE 5-World powers eye emergency food meeting; action doubted" Reuter

"Instead, it must intervene through influence, perhaps urging
the United States to relax its ethanol policy in response to the
crisis - difficult only months before a presidential election
that may be won or lost in Midwest farm states - or urging
Russia not to impose an export ban, as it did two years ago."

" The United States uses 40 percent of its corn crop to
produce ethanol, drawing criticism for using food for fuel when
hunger is widespread in some poorer countries."

" The European Commission has also faced extensive criticism
of its biofuel policy for using land otherwise devoted to food
crops. Scientists have also argued that the policy fails to
achieve its environmental goals. "

" Charity Oxfam is among the groups campaigning for ministers
to agree on beginning to abolish mandates and targets for
biofuel production both in the EU and in the United States.
    "In 2011, 11 intergovernmental agencies produced a report to
the G20 where it unequivocally said there was a link between
increasing biofuels production and food price rises and
recommended quite clearly that biofuels mandates and targets
should be scrapped," said Hannah Stoddart, head of economic
justice at Oxfam Great Britain."

"G20 Plans Response to Rising Food Prices" CNBC

"G20 countries are to step in to try and co-ordinate a response to surging food prices, after the worst US drought in half a century devastated crops in the world’s largest agricultural exporter."

"The UN is likely to use the meeting to push for a global debate about biofuel policies, particularly asking the US, the EU and other countries to scrap government-mandated production targets."

"Arif Husain, deputy head of vulnerability assessment at the World Food Programme in Rome, said: “This is the third price shock in the last five years.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Drought crop damage worsens, ethanol waiver urged" CNBC

"Hours after the Department of Agriculture said the corn yield would likely fall to its lowest since 1995, worse than forecast, the governors of two poultry-producing states asked the Obama administration to waive the ethanol requirement, the first formal request for relief.

Pressure is also building internationally, as poorer countries bear a larger burden of rising food costs. The top United Nations food official, José Graziano da Silva, wrote in the Financial Times that an "immediate, temporary suspension" of the mandate could help head off another world food crisis.
Bill Lapp, president of Advanced Economic Solutions, said U.S. food inflation would reach 4.5 percent next year, adding about $30 billion to domestic costs.

"Globally it's a much more direct impact, a more immediate impact," he said. "A greater deal of the food consumption is done without further processing so you can have a much more dramatic impact in global prices. That's what's compelling the United Nations to ask for some relief on the biofuel mandates."

"Vilsack fears farm aid will be ‘embroiled’ in tax, sequester fight" The Hill

“As American consumers continue to cope with a period of pro-longed economic turmoil, and U.S. food, beverage and consumer products makers from farm to fork struggle with record high commodity prices, we believe it is EPA’s duty to grant a waiver for the applicable volume of corn ethanol required by the RFS,” states a letter to EPA Friday from over two-dozen food industry groups.

Groups signing the letter include the American Bakers Association, the American Beverage Association, the American Dairy Products Institute, the American Feed Industry Association, the American Frozen Food Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the National Restaurant Association."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Obama administration looking at ethanol rules, as drought spurs corn prices" Washington Post

ETHANOL is the one environmental issue that all political ideologies agree is globally problematic.

(See today's Wall Street Journal article "Ethanol vs.The World"

Enchanting Ethanol is a fun adventurous eco-screenplay that people of all political persuasions will love.

The screenplay, Enchanting Ethanol, is all about a community finding out that green is not always green. Veronica and Nick buy a dilapidated cottage in an enchanting Chesapeake Bay community. They imagine spending their weekends hanging on the beach with their two little kids, watching wildlife and drinking beer. But their dream is interrupted when a phony green investor, in cahoots with the local trash mafia, sees the community as an easy target for an ethanol plant.

The phony environmentalists envision collecting green government subsidies, when the local bumpkins greet the ethanol plant with open arms, but they are surprised. In a comedic series of town hall meetings, the proud local stewards of the environmentally fragile Chesapeake Bay area are tough and resourceful. This is not some preachy documentary. This is kid-centered adventure that features Veronica and Nick’s young family. Things become dangerous when their boy, enthralled with a bottle picturing a one-eyed man he believes to be a pirate, takes that bottle that contains stolen cellulose-eating beetles. The gun-totting trash mafia who own the stolen beetles, they hope to use to produce ethanol, hunt down the family while they are hiking. As the family runs the tension builds each time the bottle which is in the boys backpack is bumped, for if the beetles escape all the Bay woodlands and marshes could be eaten by the bugs. The quirky locals rescue the family and, to protect the Chesapeake Bay, expose the ethanol scam.


"In 2007 and 2008, food prices spiked, resulting in much higher U.S. grocery bills and far more hunger in the poorest countries as the global supply chain buckled. The world may now be on the cusp of a 2012 reprise amid the drought in the Midwest farm belt, the worst in 50 years. Luckily, there are plenty of simple, modest things Washington can do to alleviate and even prevent another crisis.
The problem is that these fixes are opposed by a minor industry that adds little if any value to the economy, even counting its prodigious Beltway operations. Yup, the ethanol lobby strikes again. It can't succeed without a mandate that forces consumers to buy its product every time they fill up the tank, and if the resulting corn shortages drive food prices up in a way that punishes consumers around the world, so be it."

"Natural disasters can't be controlled. Ethanol is a man-made disaster that could be stopped if the EPA or others in Washington cared for human health as much as they do power politics."

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Ethanol: How government is making your food more expensive" Washington Examiner

"Common sense tells you that if you burns food for fuel, eventually you will run out of food. Now, thanks to another clumsy government intrusion, both food and fuel will rise in upcoming months."

"Two governors ask US to forego use of corn ethanol in fuel" Reuters

"Asked whether President Barack Obama was considering an exemption to the ethanol requirement, White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, "The EPA, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, is looking at this. I don't have a statement one way or the other predicting what the experts are going to say."

"Dismal crop forecast fuels ethanol battle" The Hill's E2-Wire

"“If the U.S. only produces 10.8 billion bushels of corn and 5 billion bushels still goes to make ethanol, a shrinking percentage of corn is left for food and feed. It is time to rethink ethanol mandates that ensure that cars eat before people,” Marie Brill, senior policy analyst with international anti-poverty group ActionAid USA, said in a statement Friday. "

" A United Nations official said Friday that the country must suspend biofuels production to soften the blow the drought is dealing corn supplies. He said that could help restore some stability to international food prices."

"Bills in both chambers would also alter the RFS. Some would let states opt out of meeting the corn ethanol target; another pair of bills would let EPA revise the quota when corn supplies are low; and others would end the RFS altogether."

"Ethanol Waiver Might Not Crack Corn" Wall Street Journal

"Christina McGlone-Hahn, head of agriculture research at Deutsche Bank, says that unless the Environmental Protection Agency outright bans the use of corn for ethanol, it will take time for high prices to destroy demand from refiners. "It seems the weakest link will be the livestock sector—meaning they will ration first," she writes. Animal feed and residual use account for 38% of the projected corn crop.
Regardless of the mandate, therefore, high corn prices could mean busy slaughterhouses rather than idled refineries."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"As food prices spike, how close in the world to another crisis?" Washington Post

 ”World leaders must snap out of their lazy complacency and realize the time of cheap food has long gone,” said Oxfam’s Colin Roche in a statement. He argues, among other things, that the U.S. and E.U. should scrap their biofuels programs that divert food for fuel and should also start preparing more forcefully for climate change, which is expected to increase the frequency of drought and could provoke similar food price spikes in the years ahead."

"UN urges US to cut ethanol production" CNN

"The UN has called for an immediate suspension of government-mandated US ethanol production, adding to pressure on Barack Obama to address the food-versus-fuel debate in the run-up to presidential elections."

"Easing U.S. ethanol mandate would help prevent food crisis: U.N." Reuters

"Global pressure on the United States to relax its ethanol quota mounted on Thursday as the top World Bank food official said an "immediate, temporary suspension" of the mandate could help head off another world food crisis.
As the surge in corn prices revives a fierce food versus fuel debate, José Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization, wrote in the Financial Times newspaper that competition for a U.S. corn crop that has been decimated by drought was only going to intensify.
"Much of the reduced crop will be claimed by biofuel production in line with U.S. federal mandates, leaving even less for food and feed markets," he wrote in an op-ed just a day before the U.S. government issues a pivotal crop report that is expected to show U.S. corn output falling to the smallest in six years and stockpiles at near record lows."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Drought threatens world food price rises" euronews

"Some experts want to lessen the emphasis on producing ethanol. Corn to make biofuel, by its very definition, ends up feeding cars and not people."

"US Drought Affecting Global Food Security" Voice of America

“Here in the U.S., biofuel uses probably 30 percent of U.S. corn. And considering [the] very high maize price right now, it would be very wise to stop using maize or corn for biofuel production. The U.S. right now has a mandate for ethanol content in fuel. I think it should be very, very wise for [the] U.S. to stop doing that. And Europe should also stop doing that as well,” he said." ( Shenggen Fan, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute)

"The Silver Lining in the Drought" New York Times OP-ED

"The relentless promotion of corn-based ethanol through state quotas and federal subsidies must also be relaxed. The fact that the energy content of a gallon of corn-based ethanol is only slightly more than the energy required to produce it has always made the environmental argument for these programs dubious."

Monday, August 6, 2012

REPORT "Cereal Secrets: The world’s largest grain traders and global agriculture" (BIOFUELS PAGE 44)

"The four big commodity traders – Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, collectively referred to as „the ABCD companies. – are dominant traders of grain globally and central to the modern agri-food system. This report considers the ABCDs in relation to several global issues pressing on agriculture: the „financialization. of both commodity trade and agricultural production; the emergence of global competitors to the ABCDs, in particular from Asia; and some of the implications of large-scale industrial biofuels, a sector in which the ABCDs are closely involved. The report includes a discussion of how smallholders in developing countries are affected by these changes, and highlights some development policy implications, given the importance of the ABCD firms in shaping the world of food and agriculture. The report highlights the ways in which these four firms are decisive actors in the global restructuring of the overlapping food, feed, and fuel complexes that is now under way, and considers how the firms are evolving as they respond to and shape the new pressures and opportunities in the modern agri-food system."

"Congress’s wrongheaded approach to drought relief" Washington Post

"The broader lesson is that dictating a certain level of ethanol usage from Washington was bound to distort markets for food, land and energy. Federal mandates enrich the ethanol business and those who supply it, at the expense of all competing uses for cropland, water and capital. For all that, the environmental benefits are modest at best. When this crisis passes, Congress will still have work to do reforming the unwise system it created."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Food or fuel?" Baltimore Sun

"While we have had our differences with the poultry industry and their views on the EPA and the enforcement of Clean Water Act standards on poultry litter disposal, they are right on target on ethanol.",0,5879939.story

"We are teetering on the brink of another global food crisis" The Guardian

"Biofuels – which last year swallowed almost 40% of the US maize harvest – have also been highlighted as part of the problem. In the US, pressure is growing to abandon targets for biofuels in car fuel. Livestock farmers are warning they won't be able to afford to feed their animals."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Lawmakers urge EPA to lower ethanol target amid drought" The Hill

"A bipartisan group of 135 lawmakers signed a letter Wednesday asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adjust a rule that requires corn ethanol production for transportation fuel. "