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Opening Arguments

Can the corn

What do you know -- some common sense from a Washington Post editorial:

The feds give companies that combine corn ethanol with gasoline a 45-cent tax subsidy for every gallon of corn ethanol added to gasoline. That's on top of a tariff on imported sugar cane ethanol from Brazil and federal mandates requiring that steadily increasing amounts of these biofuels be produced. The Congressional Budget Office this month estimated that, all told, the costs to taxpayers of replacing a gallon of gasoline with one of corn ethanol add up to $1.78. The tax incentives alone cost the Treasury $6 billion in 2009.

How about the environmental benefits? The CBO calculates that it costs a huge $750 to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by one ton using corn ethanol. And that figure relies on assumptions extremely favorable to the industry.

[. . .]

At this point, the question should not be whether to allow corn ethanol's tax incentives and trade protections to expire. The debate should be about why corn ethanol deserves any federal protection at all. There are certainly more effective ways to reduce oil consumption and greenhouse emissions.

Corn-based ethanol is a green fantasy that disrupts the food chain, can't be sustained without massive government spending and doesn't help the environment. Politicians who still support it have no sense or no shame or neither. Via Peter Suderman at hit & run, who notes the only reason "to continue to support ethanol subsidies is onstituent favortism," which "seems to be reason enough for Congress."


Steve G
Tue, 07/27/2010 - 11:40am

Which proves that the tax code is not to actually finance government, but modify consumer behavior as the government so desires.

Tue, 07/27/2010 - 11:58am

There are a lot of green fantasies. I think Corn-ethanol is subsidized because of the disproportionate influence of the prairie states in the Senate and Presidential primaries.

Lewis Allen
Tue, 07/27/2010 - 6:21pm

Let's use ethanol as the old master intended... as a mood stabilizer and head leveler. Let's keep it out of the gas tanks, and keep it in our bellies.

tim zank
Tue, 07/27/2010 - 6:27pm

I'm with Lewis on this one, even though I only paid $1.99 a gallon today to fill up with E-85.

It's cheaper for me at the pump but in the bigger scope of things it's costing us all a sh%tload.

Tue, 07/27/2010 - 10:38pm

It may be cheaper at the pump but corn ethanol burns less efficiently than gasoline an it will forever be an incredible burden on American taxpayers. When the Poet commercials play on WOWO, I turn down the sound. Rent-seekers never do impress me.

In conjunction with Leo's post, y'all might find my piece "Corn Ethanol's Sordid History" interesting. No, Lewis, it is not a story about Moonshine.