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Sour Spot
Will Trump End Our Biofuel Boondoggle…or Double Down on It?
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  • Wayne Lusvardi

    With Trump appointing Betsy DeVos to Education Secretary there arises a similar issue of wind energy subsidies. Betsy DeVos is chairwoman of The Windquest Group, a wind energy developer. The DeVos family has reportedly been the biggest donor to Republican candidates and causes in the US.

    One way to tackle this issue might be to relinquish Federal fuel blending mandates and let each state decide to keep a policy of blending fossil fuel with bio-fuel to further clean air goals.

    A federal one-size fits all bio-fuels (and renewable energy) policy is counterproductive to achieving actual air quality improvements and a market based economy. The solution to pollution is dilution depending on topography. California is a Basin State with large valleys that serve as smog traps and has 9 of the worst US cities for air pollution. Conversely, Texas is a Plains State and even though it has used plenty of imported dirty coal fuel for energy production, its cities don’t have the smog traps because pollution dissipates in the wind. So each state should come up with its own fuel policy. Outside of California, clean energy may have offer very little advantage because it would not have the aesthetic blight and health concerns such as California.

    By the way, California has approximately the same lung cancer and asthma rates as Texas and countries with hotter weather located around the equator (hotter weather being a proxy for global warming). So the entire legitimization of clean energy mandates based on public health is specious and an artifact of more junk science. Smog is a nuisance and an irritant to pre-existing lung and breathing conditions whose etiology comes from digestion disorders in the human alimentary canal not from the environment per se (other than self induced heath disorders from smoking).

    Coincidentally, poor air quality is a by-product of indoor air quality building regulations because air-tight building trap pollutants resulting in such man made diseases as Legionnaire’s Disease arising from the Legionella Bacteria in air conditioning systems (e.g. Sick Building Syndrome). Older buildings without sealed windows are healthier than air-tight energy efficient buildings because they allow more exchange of fresh air and thus dilute any indoor pollution. Buildings with window air conditioners for each room also are more healthy than centralized air conditioning systems for the same reason. But there hasn’t been a counter movement to mandated building energy regulations by green health advocates because that would create cognitive dissonance that some health issues originate by clean energy regulations. California spends $15 billion per year on energy efficiency programs for example that have little or no public health or energy saving impacts because of the state’s moderate climate (i.e., “climate change”).

    • ——————————

      “Coincidentally, poor air quality is a by-product of indoor air quality building regulations because air-tight building trap pollutants resulting in such man made diseases as Legionnaire’s Disease arising from….”

      Not to mention all the off-gassing of many building materials used to construct homes, and the off-gassing of many of the things in a home. Even dryer sheets give off dangerous gasses.

    • Andrew Allison

      Given the overabundance of energy sources, ANY subsidies are unwarranted.

  • FriendlyGoat

    It was “hard” to imagine the present Congress and president doing anything to diminish the demand for corn in corn states. But it seems “impossible” now to imagine the incoming Congress and president doing any such thing. Whatever the ironies involved in how we got RFS to begin with, we have poured political cement around corn farming. Wayne points out here that one route might be dropping this at the federal level with states picking it up instead for region-specific needs, but that would only work and be done if Congress became convinced that the switch would not hurt corn farmers anywhere.

  • Pait

    He’ll maintain the wasteful aspects of the programs and try to take a cut off the expenses.

  • Angel Martin

    In case of war, corn ethanol is an important diversification of fuel sources. It’s cheap insurance – keep it.

    • Andrew Allison

      Oh, please. We’re up to our ears in oil, and ethanol is an environmental and socio-economic disaster.

  • markterribile

    Maybe the best solution is to back off on the RFS while also backing off on government regulations that hurt small farmers.

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