The Bio-fuels Boondoggle

If something’s desirable it ought not to be necessary to force people to buy it.

Chipotle, for instance, doesn’t need to spend millions in de facto bribes (“campaign contributions”) to wheedle Congress into passing burrito subsidies. Nor are you forced to eat at Chipotle if burritos and bowls are not your thing. The market has voted – freely, without being prodded or pushed – that Chipotle is a good place to eat and so people go there willingly, part with their money gladly.

Why doesn’t the same standard apply  to “renewable” fuels, specifically – ethanol and biodiesel? If, as we’re told, they are viable alternatives to gasoline, why must people be forced to subsidize them?

Required to buy them?

It’s a question that ought to be asked more often – which might result in crony capitalist hog-troughers  (this time dressed in “green” livery) shoving their hands in our pockets less often.    

But that’s probably just why it’s not asked.

You probably know all about the oceans of money ($6 billion annually; see here) diverted from taxpayers to a handful of massive agribusiness cartels – not mom and pop family farms –  to “encourage” the production of ethanol (corn alcohol) which is then mixed in with the supply of what used to be gasoline – but which is now 10 percent ethanol (E10).

The agribusiness cartels get rich. In return, American drivers get adulterated fuel that has less energy content per gallon, is corrosive to the fuel systems of older cars and power equipment such as lawn mowers – and causes newer cars to be less fuel-efficient than they’d be if they were fed pure gasoline.

The diversion of cropland to the production of ethanol feedstock has also madefood more expensive.

Corn that might have fed cattle – which would then feed us – instead goes to feed the ethanol stills.

Beef costs more to produce – and costs more to ship. 

Now it’s time for another cashing-in.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and several others in Congress are pressing for a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to require that bio-diesel (which is the diesel equivalent of ethanol) be produced in much greater quantity and (as with ethanol) shunted into the fuel supply in ever-upticking percentages. (See here for the PDF.)

The italics are important.

This is not a request or a suggestion. It is the regulatory gorilla of the federal government – EPA – laying down another edict with the binding force of law that will require the production of more bio-diesel. Which American taxpayers – and motorists – will then be compelled to pay for. 

And to use. 

First, their tax dollars will be directed into the apparently bottomless pockets of the bio-diesel “industry” (in quotes because an industry that can’t manage without government “help” is really just an arm of the government, with the same control over your wallet as the IRS). Then, they’ll enjoy the “benefits” of reduced mileage and mechanical issues in their diesel-powered vehicles, caused by using sub-par fuel. Finally – as is the case with ethanol – they’ll pay more for food. Because more cropland will be diverted to the production of feedstock for bio-diesel.   

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