Obama/Dems on Ethanol :-(
by markjay, Mon Jun 23, 2008 at 09:01:23 AM EDT
Barack Obama is proving himself to be one of the most talented political leaders in decades. He defeated the heavily favored Hillary Clinton and is on his way to possibly leading a landslide Democratic victory in November. I agree with most of Obama's political positions and look forward to a Democratic victory.
However, there are things about the Democrats (in general) and Obama (in particular) that make me cringe. And one of them is ethanol policy.
Here's an article from MSNBC today, reprinted from the New York Times, on Obama's ethanol policy. Though I single his policy out for attention, as he is our presidential candidate, my guess is that his position is pretty similar to that of much of the rest of the Democratic Party.
As the article makes clear, Obama is strongly in favor of subsidies for corn ethanol production (and in fact has close ties to the corn ethnanol industry). I think such subsidies are a disaster. Corn ethanol is very energy-intensive to produce and thus is not so great for the environment, while the emphasis on converting corn to energy also raises food prices for the poor in the U.S. and around the world.
The article points out that one unit of corn produces less than two units of energy. But one unit of sugar cane produces eight units of energy. Sugar cane is much more energy efficient. And it is much less expensive to produce, especially in Brazil. Sugar cane ethanol has some problems as well, but it is much more promising than corn ethanol as a path to curtail petroleum use.
Unfortunately, not only is Obama wrong on corn ethanol policy, he's also wrong on sugar cane ethanol policy, He supports tariffs on sugar cane ethanol, which dramatically drives up its price. That's bad for the environment, bad for American consumers, and bad for Brazil.
As for John McCain, I think he gets it right on both counts--opposing subsidies for corn ethanol and opposing tariffs on sugar cane ethanol.
I won't vote for McCain, because there is lots of other stuff that I disagree with him on, but as a Democrat I am focusing on improving the Democratic Party. And I wish that Obama -- and the rest of the Democratic Party -- would stop supporting subsidies for corn ethanol and stop supporting tariffs on sugar cane ethanol.