AP: Obama admin’s corn-ethanol policies are pretty terrible for the environment

posted at 11:51 am on November 12, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

As promised, the Associated Press has recently fallen out of favor with Big Ethanol (tragedy strikes!) over their big report released today that finally, earnestly picks up on what opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard and other biofuels subsidies have been insisting for ages now: That corn ethanol is not the helpful climate-change panacea that its advocates are incessantly, deliberately misrepresenting it as, and in fact, on net evaluation, the government’s wildly political biofuels push has brought about more long-term environmental harm than good.

The AP sets it up pertinently, noting that the window just before the Iowa caucuses in 2007 seemed like a mighty fine time for President Obama to make corn ethanol a central part of his much-vaunted plans for combating climate change, but it’s all been downhill since the federal government started artificially incentivizing farmers to bring marginal lands into production, with a vengeance:

But the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.

Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch.

Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.

Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive.

The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.

No kidding. I’d encourage you to read on for a pretty fair rundown of how we got into this egregious mess, and the AP has plenty of examples that attest to one big, overarching theme: Nobody likes ethanol except for the ethanol lobby. Not environmentalists, not oil companies, not car manufacturers, not consumers (remember: the RFS is a consumer mandate). The only politicians who can bring themselves to defend it are the really stubborn eco-minded Democrats and those on both sides of the aisle with regional corn interests in their respective districts. It’s high time to get rid of this boondoggle once and for all.


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Time for the media to dump obozo and clear the way for the 2016 candidate.

Flange on November 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Its been bad policy since its implementation.

Bmore on November 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Another corny story.

oldroy on November 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Policies have consequences.

22044 on November 12, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Nothing better to run up food cost than putting our food in the gas tank.

Wade on November 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

It’s high time to get rid of this boondoggle once and for all.

Yes, time to join all those other government boondoggles that have been scrapped or repealed …

Oh, wait!

[Government programs are the closest thing to immortality that we're likely to encounter in our lifetimes.]

ShainS on November 12, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Now if I could only find a light bulb…

2Tru2Tru on November 12, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Nothing better to run up food cost than putting our food in the gas tank.

Wade on November 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

A government system of food distribution would probably beat it.

Flange on November 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Another boondoggle of the ‘elite intelligentsia’.

GarandFan on November 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Rush: “Can you imagine being lectured about honesty & integrity from a convicted perjurer, Bill Clinton”?

faraway on November 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

You know what this means in Obamaland? Time to double down!

tdarrington on November 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Not exactly surprising news.
Dems’ economic policies are bad for the economy (and the people); their healthcare policies are bad for healthcare; their environmental policies area bad for the environment; their energy policeis are bad for energy; their education policies are bad for education; and on and on.
Face it – the Dems’ policies to supposedly help anything or anyone always make things worse, because they’re all bad, because the Dems have no clue about long-term effects and unintended consequences.

dentarthurdent on November 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Hillary is smart enough to hit Obama while he’s down.

RINOs… not so much.

RINO strategy – don’t fight… until you win!!!

faraway on November 12, 2013 at 12:14 PM

win-win for a democrat.

Murphy9 on November 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM

the price of farmland in upstate NY has been rising and rising. My friends up there just rub their hands together and count their money.

Maybe the gravy train is over?

tlynch001 on November 12, 2013 at 12:18 PM

When will the AP move on to the next boondoggle, “Wind Power”?

More energy goes into manufacturing and erecting those wind tubines than they will ever produce, especially when you consider all the transmission lines required. Plus they are unsightly, noisy, and potentially dangerous in rough weather. And they kill tens of thousands of birds and bats every day. There is nothing good about them, and yet here in Texas they put up more of them every day. And they would not exist without government subsidies.

iurockhead on November 12, 2013 at 12:21 PM

That was pretty evident from the get go, anyone with even a little knowledge of physics could see this was a bad idea. Seems environmental damage e.g. pollution, runoff erosion, killing of raptors are A-OK with this bunch at the EPA as long as they come from their pet projects.

major dad on November 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Ethanol, wind power: environmental disasters.

I wish I was in the irony meter repair business.

Bat Chain Puller on November 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Unicorns > ethanol > corn

See it? If you want unicorns, you have to make a lot ethanol.

BobMbx on November 12, 2013 at 12:34 PM

All those in favor of buying Obama a golf game a day coupon book for the next 3 years say aye! Lets get this guy away from any governing. He is the opposite of Midas, everything he touches turns to disaster. I figure that if hes on the golf course he isn’t in the Spitehouse and will leave us the he// alone!

neyney on November 12, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Dems ARE the children of the corn….

dentarthurdent on November 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM

They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.

ROFL. what now?

NickelAndDime on November 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Unfortunately, we don’t need another example of the clusterfark that results when the government decides to monkey around with marketplaces in the guise of some other ‘greater good’. But, like with the entire ‘green eco’ drive, we have one.

Once again, we can look to other nations and see the results that they have obtained (as bad as they are) with these initiatives, but rather than learn from those examples, there remains the stubborn belief that the reason they fail is not because they are bad ideas and bad policies, but because they were improperly implemented.

If only we had a GOP that actually learned how and was willing to communicate in a clear concise manner as opposed to trying to go along to get along.

Athos on November 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

The most important thing to remember is that Green Science is neither.

Veeshir on November 12, 2013 at 1:17 PM

During his fleeting tenure there, obama was known as “Senator Ethanol”

paul1149 on November 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM

As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.

Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch.

I don’t know how many times I have pointed out to Sierra Club style environmentalists that socialism hurts the environment. I feel like a broken record. Why is this simple concept so hard for these idiots to get?

thuja on November 12, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Death to America!
– BO

maryo on November 12, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Ahhhh. The future looks so bright with switchgrass ethanol and fusion power. Only 20 years away! /sarc

tdarrington on November 12, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Not only that, the damn ethanol in your gasoline engine is inferior to regular gasoline. In some engines it will destroy certain parts. In smaller engines like lawnmowers they gum up carburetors. Have you ever wondered why your lawnmower doesn’t start in the Spring? The gas has turned bad.

SC.Charlie on November 12, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.

Can we hit Obama and the Dems with a huge carbon tax now?

oldernwiser on November 12, 2013 at 1:57 PM

SC.Charlie on November 12, 2013 at 1:52 PM

StaBil is your friend.

tdarrington on November 12, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Man, I can’t wait until something like this to come along and make energy issues moot. Hopefully, anyway.

The Nerve on November 12, 2013 at 2:05 PM

‘Good vs bad’ for the environment is irrelevant, to the people at the very top of the “environmental movement”.

listens2glenn on November 12, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Not only that, the damn ethanol in your gasoline engine is inferior to regular gasoline. In some engines it will destroy certain parts. In smaller engines like lawnmowers they gum up carburetors. Have you ever wondered why your lawnmower doesn’t start in the Spring? The gas has turned bad.

SC.Charlie on November 12, 2013 at 1:52 PM

.
StaBil is your friend.

tdarrington on November 12, 2013 at 1:59 PM

.
Uhhh, ‘Charlie … I don’t believe that’s an ethanol problem you’re describing, as far as gasoline “turning bad” over winter, in a lawnmower.
But I totally agree that it is very hard on certain engine parts and doesn’t burn as well as gasoline.

listens2glenn on November 12, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Looking at some old calculations I find that the process of using ethanol as a ‘substitute’ for gasoline was an economical LOSER.
(Assuming the compression ratios of the ICE’s in our systems.)
For every pound of fuel you consume to plant, harvest, transport, process, ferment, refine, redistribute, etc. you only get about 0.6 pounds of fuel (equivalent) recovered. In other words you must expend two pounds of a petroleum based energy source and to get 1.2 pounds of equivalent energy in return.
Not even the casinos have that kind of gleaning factor on their customers.
Stupid Americans, seriously stupid and if you need any proof of this statement, I give you King Putt, TWICE.

Missilengr on November 12, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Uhhh, ‘Charlie … I don’t believe that’s an ethanol problem you’re describing, as far as gasoline “turning bad” over winter, in a lawnmower.
But I totally agree that it is very hard on certain engine parts and doesn’t burn as well as gasoline.

listens2glenn on November 12, 2013 at 2:21 PM

It ‘goes bad’ because the ethanol over time absorbs water because ethanol has an affinity for water. The shelf life of ethanol/gasoline mixtures in a tank is only a few months. Stabil helps that.

Rubber parts are another problem, older cars and yard tools, generators etc, that were designed for gasoline might not be able to tolerate ethanol. Ethanol in gasoline turned the fuel line on my mower into a black stickey gel. Stabil doesn’t help this.

For yard tools use gasoline-in-a-can that you can get at Lowes and HD. For older vehicles, research pure-gas.org

slickwillie2001 on November 12, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Uhhh, ‘Charlie … I don’t believe that’s an ethanol problem you’re describing, as far as gasoline “turning bad” over winter, in a lawnmower.
But I totally agree that it is very hard on certain engine parts and doesn’t burn as well as gasoline.

listens2glenn on November 12, 2013 at 2:21 PM

messes with the nylon floats in 2 rototillers here, eats them up. stabil doesn’t help so I have to drain carb fully.

dmacleo on November 12, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Money talks.

schmuck281 on November 12, 2013 at 9:46 PM

What’s next for Obama meth subsidies?

kregg on November 13, 2013 at 7:12 AM