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Opening Arguments

Corn rows

It's finally sinking in that ethanol isn't the magic solution for our energy problems and that pushing it has brought unintended, if not unforseeable, consequenses:

The shine is off corn ethanol, and oh, what a comedown it has been. It was only in January that President Bush was calling for a yet a bijillion more gallons of the wonder-stuff in his State of the Union address, and Iowa's Chuck Grassley was practically doing the Macarena in his seat. And why shouldn't Mr. Grassley and fellow ethanol handmaidens have boogied? They'd forced their first mandate through Congress, corn farmers were rolling in dough, billions in taxpayer dollars were spurring dozens of new ethanol plants--and here was the commander-in-chief calling for yet more yellow dollars. All in the name of national security, too!

Corn ethanol seemed unstoppable, but a remarkable thing happened on the road from Des Moines. Just as the smart people warned, the government's decision to play energy market God and forcibly divert huge amounts of corn stocks into ethanol has played havoc with key sectors of the economy. Corn prices have nearly doubled, which means livestock owners can't afford to feed their animals, and food and drink manufacturers are struggling to buy corn and corn syrup. Environmentalists are sour over new stresses on farmland; international aid groups are moaning that the U.S. is cutting back its charitable food giving, and many of these folks are taking out their anger on Congress.

But things may have gone too far in Indiana for officials to be able to admit they erred. At least Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman seems to still be in a bragging mode:

As the state's first director of agriculture, she was particularly proud of Indiana's efforts to process corn into biofuel, what she called “Hoosier homegrown fuel.” Two years ago, Indiana had one ethanol plant and now has 20 facilities in various stages of development and operation.

Coal, anyone?

Posted in: Hoosier lore


Bob G.
Tue, 05/22/2007 - 8:08am

Funny thing is...I saw this coming years ago...and I wasn't even LOOKING for it...LOL!
(blog archives are wonderful)

Welcome to America's largest "knee jerk" in recent years!

How about some LNG to go with that coal?


Tue, 05/22/2007 - 11:28am

such as shrill Schills paid for by Exxon, et. al.
If we cut off the Middle East oil barons from our enegry dependence on our enemies, 2 things will happen: Our enemies in the middle east will starve.
and we will save billions in Military Industrial complex subsidies to protect us from our self financed enemies; and use the money for jobs, education, and health care for the rest of us. maybe even feed the hungry, and house the homeless too.

Ethanol for freedom! cheers!

Tue, 05/22/2007 - 1:53pm

Which means, what, that instant industrial wasteland has already been created at places such as Claypool, IN, Leipsic, OH, and Bluffton, IN?

Someone compared this to the interurban rails that were roughly a 40-50 year flash-in-the-pan. Will ethanol plants even last that long?

tim zank
Tue, 05/22/2007 - 4:10pm

Dave, I don't think they are doomed to become industrial wasteland necessarily. They can still produce corn ethanol for fuel, it just won't be the end-all for energy independence and efficiency it was touted to be. The important thing to do now is rollback the subsidies and un-queer the corn market.

How nobody saw the this coming is beyond me.

Wed, 05/23/2007 - 2:45am

I wish that when we had our energy crisis in the seventies that it had been taken seriously, there would surely be some wonderful innovations today, had the collective wills been set to it.

Good point, Tim, but there are a lot of them springing up, five I know of within 100 miles of Fort Wayne.

Wed, 05/23/2007 - 10:12am

With all the ethanol stills going up everywhere, why cant you or I buy our own back yard washer/dryer sized unit from wal-mart; and brew our own fuel? sell our excess to our neighbors in milk jugs? 1 gallon per 10 gallons times 100 million stills across america will save 10% of our fuel costs, and keep our fuel systems clean.

Of course, a gallon of 190 proof, drinking grade ethanol can also be sold for 10-20 a gallon, and fill your own gas tank with real gas...

Or what if America exported all this high-grade ethanol overseas, as "designer vodka'?
talk about a "whiskey rebellion"
ps- can you run a diesel motor on hemp oil?
just wondering..