This is a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal about Al Gore and his about-face on the wisdom of supporting ethanol subsidies:
Welcome to the college of converts, Mr. Vice President. "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Al Gore told a gathering of clean energy financiers in Greece this week. The benefits of ethanol are "trivial," he added, but "It's hard once such a program is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."
No kidding, and Mr. Gore said he knows from experience: "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for President."
We recently wrote about the EPA's involvement in setting educational policy, which includes teaching about the benefits/drawbacks of using ethanol. I pulled up some Internet information on the EPA, its stance on ethanol and how it was being taught in the public school setting. Searching "EPA and public school curriculum", this appeared from from The NEED Project (National Energy Environmental Development Project), page 9:
Using ethanol as a fuel helps farmers by providing additional uses for their crops. Ethanol is a cleaner fuel than gasoline; it makes the air healthier to breathe. Using ethanol also means we don't have to import as much petroleum from other countries; Ethanol is good for the economy, the environment, and the country.
What is NEED? This is from its website:
In 1980, the NEED Project began as a one-day celebration of energy education. A Joint Congressional Resolution established National Energy Education Day. A Presidential Proclamation from President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the need for comprehensive energy education in our nation’s schools, a reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels, and increasing use of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. As NEED celebrates its 30th Anniversary, it continues to make an impact on energy knowledge of students, teachers, and the public. NEED is successful. The vision and goals established by the Board of Directors ask that the NEED staff, teachers, students, partners and sponsors work to provide energy education curriculum and training to every appropriate classroom in the nation.
The curriculum on the website is dated 2008-09 so it is probably the most up to date information teachers use to teach about ethanol. Do you think the curriculum will be amended and denote a current philosophy about ethanol as noted by the WSJ?.....
Meanwhile, the greens have slowly turned against corn ethanol, thanks to the growing scientific evidence that biofuels increase carbon emissions more than fossil fuels do.
Maybe not. Review the NEED National Sponsors and Partners (pg 24). The vast majority are lobbying groups. Let's revisit Gore's words:
"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Al Gore told a gathering of clean energy financiers in Greece this week. The benefits of ethanol are "trivial," he added, but "It's hard once such a program is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."
Do you think the educational programs funded by the lobbyists for NEED will change anytime soon? Why are lobbyists helping to form educational policies? Perhaps this needs to be in the revised ethanol curriculum:
Mr. Gore's mea culpa underscores the degree to which ethanol has become a purely political machine: It serves no purpose other than re-electing incumbents and transferring wealth to farm states and ethanol producers. Nothing proves this better than the coincident trajectories of ethanol and Mr. Gore's career.