Tuesday, March 29, 2011

US policy makes biofools of us all

UPDATE: No surprise, Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack wins it going away.

As food prices rise in America and around the world, Secretary Vilsack does not seem to think it matters that almost 40 percent of U.S. corn production goes to manufacture ethanol for guzzling cars.1 U.S. and EU biofuels policies contribute to food price volatility. By supporting these policies, Secretary Vilsack is helping industrial farmers make a few extra bucks per bushel.

Secretary Vilsack says his support for ethanol subsidies is justified by his concern that farmers are under-appreciated.3 However, ethanol subsidies go to refiners, not farmers, and less than 20 percent of America’s ethanol is produced in farmer-owned refineries.3 The other 80 percent is produced by conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Big Oil companies. Secretary Vilsack could advocate for changes to our agricultural policies that help small, sustainable family farms grow healthy and nutritious food, but instead he supports Band-Aid policies that ultimately serve the interests of corporations.

Tell Secretary Vilsack just how much the industrial biofuels manufacturers appreciate his support… and just how much his shilling hurts our climate and the push for truly clean energy.

And we won’t even get into the fact that biofuels do nothing to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Converting all American corn acreage to ethanol production would only produce enough fuel to displace 12 percent of gasoline consumption -- and by even less if production costs are included.4 We may never know why Secretary Vilsack loves the ethanol industry so much, but we do know that he is a Biofool!

1. Kripke, Gawain. Defiant ethanol support weakens US case on food. Financial Times. 3/25/2011. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2c7637d0-566d-11e0-84e9-00144feab49a.html#axzz1ICiDB9YL

2. Klein, Ezra. Vilsack: “I took it as a slam on rural America.” 3/8/2011. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/03/vilsack_i_took_it_as_a_slam_on.html

3. “ACE Commends Farmer-Owned Ethanol Plants for Contributions to U.S. Ethanol Industry.” 3/18/2010. http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/ACE_commends_farmer_plants_Natl_Ag_Week_31810.pdf

4. Meyer, Patrick E. Biofuel Review Part 3: Land Availablity, Conversion and Deforestation. 1/2010. http://www.todaysengineer.org/2010/Jan/Biofuels-pt3.asp

Finally! A dawning recognition that the biofuels subsidy system is simply driving up hunger in America and around the world, while making climate destabilization worse.

The only thing we do by making hungry people compete with gas tanks for the energy content is to prop up the liquid-fueled vehicle paradigm a tiny bit longer, at an extraordinary cost.
Dear Friend,
Biofool of the year
Who wil be the 2011 Biofool of the Year? Cast your vote now!

It’s almost that time of year again: Biofools Day!

For the last two years, we have asked you to vote for the biggest Biofool to be announced on Biofools Day, April 1. A Biofool is a person who has bought the biofuel industry’s corny story, ignoring the growing evidence that biofuels are not-so-awesome after all.

Last year, thousands of you selected Representative Colin Peterson (D-Minn.) as 2010 Biofool of the Year. Rep. Peterson won for holding the Waxman-Markey climate bill hostage until he could get a provision inserted to repeal a law that directed the EPA to account for all greenhouse gas emissions related to the production of biofuels. In the contest's inaugural year, activists voted for Chairman Hugh Grant of Monsanto. He won because by supporting the biofuel boon, Monsanto stood to rake in billions from its genetically engineered products.

This year, we're calling out five major biofuel proponents, including government representatives and industry spokespeople, as this year's top Biofools.

Take a look and see who made the grade. Then vote to select this year’s biggest Biofool.

Contrary to what the industry says, the production of industrial biofuels releases significant amounts of carbon and greenhouse gases into the air. The majority of biofuel used in the United States today is corn ethanol, which produces more global warming pollution than gasoline. Like other industrial agricultural products, biofuel production is harmful to the land, water, and wildlife. To make matters worse, biofuel subsidies and handouts hinder food security and cost taxpayers billions.

Who will be this year's biofool? Vote now and have your say.

Despite huge environmental, social and economic concerns, biofuels still enjoy the fierce backing of industries -- like agribusiness, biotech, and oil -- that make billions by selling the myth that biofuels are clean, efficient, and reduce American dependence on foreign oil. Somehow, these powerful corporations are able hoodwink influential people to support their dirty industry – and these Biofools then use their different soap boxes to promote policies that in turn support dirty biofuels.

By voting today, you are sending the message that you are not fooled by the industry's propaganda.

Once the votes are in, we'll send you the results and announce this year’s winning Biofool to the public on April 1, Biofools Day.

But we won't stop there. We'll continue to put pressure on the biggest Biofools and we'll need your help to do this. We want you to be part of our work to end subsidies for Biofools -- ahem, biofuels --and ensure these subsidies expire like they should have done last year.

Click here to see the nominees and vote. Then get your friends to vote too.

Kate McMahon
Biofuels Campaign Coordinator, Friends of the Earth

Note: Our neighbor blog to the south, "Goal One Coalition," has a great post on this subject.