Vilsack: I can't actually say for sure that ethanol is economical or environmental, but we're doing it anyway

Jazz and I have been covering what I like to call the Saga of Stupid that is the Renewable Fuel Standard and the definitely necessary, merciful push to abolish it on Capitol Hill, seeing as how the Standard is basically just another form of niche special treatment for so-called “green” energy that only succeeds in regressively jacking up food and gasoline prices and isn’t actually green.

The Associated Press has been working on a big investigation into just how not-green corn ethanol, the main beneficiary of the RFS, really is; I gather that their report has been published prematurely and pulled a couple of times but is finally scheduled for real-deal publication on Tuesday, but the AP apparently is not going to be particularly flattering for the Obama administration or their reckless, unaffordable infatuation with Renewable Fuel Standard and other subsidies — and the ethanol lobby was not pleased when they caught wind of the incoming report. Via the National Journal:

The story wasn’t out for long, but it has caused a firestorm of backlash from biofuels makers and corn producers upset at how they are portrayed. “There’s probably more truth in this week’s National Enquirer than there is in the AP story,” said the Renewable Fuels Association’s Geoff Cooper on a Monday press call. …

“Cropland is not expanding in the United States—certainly not expanding because of the RFS,” Cooper said, referring to the federal renewable-fuel standard that mandates an increasing amount of biofuels each year to be blended with the nation’s gasoline supply. Cooper insisted that corn-fueled destruction of wetlands “just isn’t happening.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol chimed in as well. “At best, the AP article is lazy journalism, but at worst, it appears purposefully designed to damage the ethanol industry,” ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings said in a release. “There was an incredibly reckless disregard for the truth in the handiwork of this hit-piece.”

“Hit piece”? …Mm hmm. I can hardly stress enough just how big a deal this is for Big Ethanol; a rumor that spread like wildfire last month that the EPA is considering partially rolling back the 2014 ethanol blending requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard was bad enough, and they can hardly handle the bad press as the push for ending/downsizing the RFS gains steam in Congress.

I’ll write more about the AP investigation when it’s released, but The Hill managed to grab a snippet that is sure to fill your hearts with confidence in the Obama administration and their many regulations:

Among the morsels in AP’s probe: Pro-ethanol Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack doesn’t try to make the case that the fuel helps battle climate change.

“I don’t know whether I can make the environmental argument, or the economic argument,” Vilsack tells AP. “To me, it’s an opportunity argument.”

A separate Agriculture Department official told AP he’s surprised at how much fragile land has been turned into cornfields – and then got an email ordering him to stop talking.

“[T]he ethanol era has proved far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today,” AP reports.

He can’t actually make an environmental or economic argument — just an “opportunity argument”? …That literally makes no sense.

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