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Still Boondogglin'
Hillary Embraces Disastrous Biofuel Policy

Hillary Clinton cozied up to Big Corn this week in Iowa, seemingly endorsing America’s corn-based ethanol policy. The Hill reports:

Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, met with Iowa former secretary of agriculture and lieutenant governor Patty Judge and Bruce Rohwer, director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, among other Democrats. Judge is also a co-chairwoman of America’s Renewable Future, an ad-hoc group advocating for 2016 presidential contenders to endorse the federal ethanol blending mandate. […]

“Secretary Clinton was extremely receptive and I feel encouraged by her comments about the Renewable Fuel Standard,” [Judge] said…“I was able to thank Secretary Clinton for her past support of the RFS and I am confident future conversations will be just as positive,” [Rohwer] said in [a] statement.

Commenters have already highlighted Clinton’s “flip-flop” on the issue of ethanol. Back in 2002 she opposed a watered-down version of today’s ethanol mandates, as the Daily Beast reports:

[I]n 2002, Clinton opposed the mandated use of just two billion gallons of ethanol per year. But a mere five years later, after seeing that she had to go through Iowa — which produces more ethanol than any other state — to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, she was advocating the use of 18 times that quantity of biofuel.

On the surface this is yet another story of a politician changing tack to suit his or her campaigning needs, but beneath that is a very serious and very real problem: our nation’s biofuel boondoggle. Because, while Iowa corn growers may be supportive of the government quotas that keep their crops in high demand, nearly every other stakeholder loses out. Devoting corn to the production of biofuels raises global food prices, starving the world’s poor and potentially causing riots. It’s not an efficient fuel source, either, and mandating its use will end up costing American drivers a collective $10 billion this year.

Worst of all is that its chief purported qualification as a fuel source—being “green”—is bunk. Studies have shown that not only do corn-based biofuels not decrease emissions, they may actually increase them.

But while politicians may once have found it expedient to tout biofuels as an important domestic source of energy, the shale boom is watering down the energy security side to this argument while the aforementioned costs accrue. Given all that, Hillary may want to consider “flip-flopping” once more—she had it right in the first place.

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  • wigwag

    Until Iowa’s importance in the nominating process is downgraded by both political parties, GOP and Democratic candidates will continue to genuflect to America’s corn farmers. Along with physicians and college professors, corn farmers may be the biggest welfare recipients in the United States.

    The process by which Americans pick their presidents is terribly broken and in desperate need of repair.

  • Blackbeard

    Well said. (To Wigwag)

  • FriendlyGoat

    In a WSJ article back in January, an ag professor was quoted as saying ‘you can’t pay $3.75 a bushel for corn and sell ethanol wholesale at $1.50/gal. It doesn’t work.” Food for fuel only makes economic sense if the price of fuel is otherwise very high (and even then, it’s kinda nuts).

    Over time, the markets will be telling America what to do with the ethanol mandate. It really doesn’t matter at all what either Hillary Clinton or Scott Walker say to people in Iowa about it.

    • gabrielsyme

      America can ignore whatever “the markets” say for a very long time because (a) it is very wealthy, and (b) ethanol and corn is a tiny slice of the economy. Stupid, harmful policies have persisted for generations despite what the markets say both in the United States and elsewhere.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Yes, there was some financial guru who once said “The market can remain irrational longer than you (some persons) can remain solvent” (or something like that). He had a point.

  • gabrielsyme

    Hillary Clinton: in favour of killing unborn children at home and starving born children abroad. She’s all about equality.

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