Monday, July 15, 2013


Ethanol and Corn Subsidy Elimination and other Advice on Saving the Planet

By Mark Winkle

Financial, Environmental, and Legal Research Consultant

Founder of the Winkle Institute of Worldwide Economic Stability


          As an environmental Consultant, I have looked at and investigated every possible energy source available to mankind. These investigations have spanned several years. As a research consultant, I have read thousands of pages of minutiae on electric cars (still need more efficient batteries and a source other than Lithium); hydrogen fuel cells (still having minor containment issues to be used in automobiles (unless you like having no roof on your car); gasoline from oil (one of the least efficient means of generating energy on the planet) politicians hot air is the least efficient; switch grass (too high a ratio between energy produced and energy used to plant, harvest, and transport); and the main reason that food prices are continuing to increase around the world- Ethanol (too high a ratio between energy produced and energy used to plant, fertilize, harvest, and transport). Other disadvantages of Ethanol are- the fertilizers and pesticides used to increase the crop's production in the field, the government subsidies paid for by the taxpayers and consumers, as well as the mandate that Ethanol be added to every gallon of gas.

            Additionally, the requirement under Farm Bills that corn syrup be placed in nearly every food item (replacing sugar), corn syrup is disguised as a natural sugar or sweetener on most food labels. I was surprised that even some brands of potato chips have corn syrup used in their production. The number of food items that are in the supermarket that contain corn syrup is staggering.

            Who pushed through the wallet grabbing legislation to take money out of your wallet every time you fill up your gas tank or go to the store? The blame lies with factory farms, producers of Genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds, your politicians at the federal level in the EU and in the United States, and the corn conglomerates Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Monsanto, Aventis, and others including your local corn farmers.

            What can you do about it? In the United States, Emro Marketing in Enon, Ohio and BP British Petroleum own an ever increasing amount of oil refineries in the United States and around the world. Cargill is easy to find as is Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, and Aventis. I want you to swamp these five companies and their respective Boards of Directors with letters telling them to get their hands out of your pockets.

            Buy a share or two of each of these company’s stock (buy only shares with voting rights, these may be preferred or Class A or even Class I or II depending on how they are labeled by the company) and vote against the present Board of Directors at the next annual meeting. Register for updates and company emails on their corporate websites. Go to their annual Board meetings and speak your piece of mind. All of these companies need a systemic pesticide to remove the present infection of greedy corporate officers from their lofty positions of power. They can only be defeated from the inside like a virus is killed. Buy a share or more and sign up to be a cleansing white blood cell.

            Write your politician and demand that farm subsidies be removed from factory farms entirely. Demand that the Ethanol fuel mandates be eliminated by legislation this summer! Demand that fuel taxes be reduced across the board and that 25% of all fuel taxes will be invested in mass transit. Demand that Mass Transit agencies (MTA's) and Regional Transit Agencies (RTA's) provide service to every part of your county/ state/province. These are your tax dollars; make sure they are working for you. Ride your mass transit and regional transit trains and busses, or carpool with a neighbor.

            I find it amazing as I drive down the interstates here in the United States and Canada that 95% of all vehicles on the road at any time have only one occupant, the driver. Instead of decreasing the speed limits reduce wasting fuel; our states are increasing the speed limits.

            How do we get people to stop wasting so much fuel?

1. Tie miles driven annually to license tag fees. The less you drive, the less you pay for your vehicle license.

2. Provide reduced license fees and fuel costs to the type of vehicle that is being driven. Those vehicles that are rated at less than 25 mpg would pay a surcharge at the pump of 50 cents a gallon. Vehicles would be rated into four classes I- commercial (exempt from the surcharge), II- vehicles rated at 0-25 mpg (50 cents per gallon surcharge), III- vehicles rated at 25- 50 mpg (10 cents per gallon surcharge), and IV- vehicles rated at 50 mpg to 150 mpg (a 50 cent rebate per gallon).

3. As for legal issues, I suggest an environmental fee be added to every speeding ticket of $25 for wasting fuel. For speeding tickets in excess of 25 miles over the speed limit or repeat offenders, the environmental fee would be increased to $100. These environmental fees would be forwarded to state level environmental enforcement agencies.

            You might ask me, “Well smarty pants, what kind of car do you drive? Answer: I drive a 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier Convertible with almost 170,000 miles on it. My car averages 32 mpg because a) I plan my trips, b) I drive the speed limit, c) I drive 55 on the interstate instead of 65, d) I drive on the interstate as little as possible, and e) I don't drive unless I have to (the trip is longer than two miles away). Otherwise, I WALK.

            You say, “I'm too fat to walk.” Well, I have a FREE BOOK for you. It is titled “Get Your Lazy Buns Off of That Couch!” It is available at  . Walking is good for your wallet and your body.

            Investigate converting your vehicle to electric. The conversions are about $2,000 to $8,000 depending on your vehicle if you are not mechanically inclined and have a garage do the work for you. You could also convert your car to a dual fuel (gasoline and propane) for less than $2,000.

            Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) has some major issues considering the environmentally polluting way that most natural gas is being produced in the United States through fracking, I would not at this time recommend adding to the problem.

            The future is in carbon fiber technology. It is strong, lightweight, and durable. One person can lift an entire side panel of a car. As carbon fiber cars roll into increased production, mileage ratings will increase. Horsepower of cars must be decreased for safety however. Can you imagine something as light as a Smart Car with 350 horsepower traveling at 120 miles per hour towards you? Scary isn't it? Unless things change we won't have clean air, polar bears, open food choices, unpolluted waters, and a planet to call home. The choice is yours. What will you do?


Another point of view:

Ethanol Subsidies: Not Gone, Just Hidden a Little Better

| Thu Jan. 5, 2012 12:34 PM PST
  • A few years ago I called subsidies for corn ethanol "catastrophically idiotic." And why not? Corn ethanol, it turns out, is actively worse for the environment than even gasoline, farmers responded to the subsidies by reducing the amount of farmland used for food production, and this drove up the price of staple food worldwide. What's more, back when the subsidies were enacted corn farmers were already doing pretty well. We were shoveling $10 billion in ag welfare to a group of people who were already pretty rich.
    In fact, ethanol subsidies are such obviously appalling policy that it's one of the rare areas that both liberals and conservatives agree about. In theory, anyway. But that's never mattered. After all, lots of corn is grown in Iowa, and every four years Iowa holds the first presidential caucuses in the nation. And that has long made ethanol subsidies everyone's favorite pander.
    But guess what? At the end of last year, ethanol subsidies quietly expired and no one tried to extend them. On the campaign trail, ethanol subsidies became invisible. It was like a tiny miracle. The Economist's Erica Grieder marshals up several reasons that ethanol subsidies finally died a well-deserved death:
    The roaring tea-party movement opposed the subsidies on fiscally conservative grounds, and asked the 2012 Republican candidates to do the same…Then, the budget-cutting frenzy put the subsidies on the table…And concurrently, Midwestern farmers seemed to realise they weren't going to win this one and it might look greedy to keep clamouring…The burgeoning wind and solar industries are increasingly able to produce clean energy without requiring such whopping subsidies or distorting the agricultural markets. The rise of unconventional natural gas has also undercut any excitement around ethanol. And the opposition to ethanol subsidies has gotten more organised.
    This is enough to restore your faith in democracy, isn't it? And for that reason, I'd really, really like to end the story right there. But I can't. We're grown-ups, after all. We can handle the truth.
    And really, you're probably suspicious of this story anyway. Corn farmers were afraid of looking greedy? (That would be a first.) Tea partiers demanded an end to ethanol subsidies? (I must have missed the anti-corn rallies.) A bunch of politicians decided to stand up to a powerful special interest and do the right thing regardless of the consequences? (Uh-huh.) Maybe there's something we're missing here.
    There is. It turns out that corn farmers really don't care about ethanol subsidies all that much anymore, but there's a reason for that. Here is our own Tom Philpott writing in February 2010:
    After a flirtation with reason last spring, the Obama EPA has signed off on the absurd, abysmal Renewable Fuel Standard established under Bush a couple of years ago—ensuring that farmers will continue to devote vast swaths of land to GHG-intensive corn, of which huge portion will ultimately be set aflame to power cars—but not before being transformed into liquid fuel in an energy-intensive process.
    Tom's a liberal. Here is Aaron Smith, writing a couple of days ago for the conservative American Enterprise Institute:
    Deficit hawks, environmentalists, and food processors are celebrating the expiration of the ethanol tax credit. This corporate handout gave $0.45 to ethanol producers for every gallon they produced and cost taxpayers $6 billion in 2011. So why did the powerful corn ethanol lobby let it expire without an apparent fight? The answer lies in legislation known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which creates government-guaranteed demand that keeps corn prices high and generates massive farm profits. Removing the tax credit but keeping the RFS is like scraping a little frosting from the ethanol-boondoggle cake.
    The RFS mandates that at least 37 percent of the 2011-12 corn crop be converted to ethanol and blended with the gasoline that powers our cars…[As a result] the current price of corn on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is about $6.50 per bushel—almost triple the pre-mandate level.
    As the Congressional Budget Office wrote back in 2010, "In the future, the scheduled increase in mandated volumes would require biofuels to be produced in amounts that are probably beyond what the market would produce even if the effects of the tax credits were included." [Italics mine.] In other words, the mandates have grown so large that the tax credits barely made a difference anymore. Demand for ethanol is driven by the mandates, not by the tax credit. When you take away the tax credit, nothing happens: Demand stays high because the law says so, corn prices go up accordingly, and corn farmers stay rich. The subsidies were a nice little fillip on top of that, but at this point it's basically chump change.
    So there you have it. The fairy tale version of the story was nice, but it turns out that ethanol subsidies didn't go away after all. That's true both literally (most of the subsidy money was redirected to other, smaller-bore ethanol initiatives) and in the bigger picture, where mandates provide the same benefit without being quite so obvious about it. Corn farmers have learned what so many other special interests before them have learned: A nice, quiet subsidy is always better and safer than a garish, noisy one. Now that's what they have.

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