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Still Boondogglin'
A Hillary Flip-Flop Worth Cheering

Hillary Clinton may be changing her mind (again) on biofuel mandates, and this time that could be a good thing. Back in 2002 Clinton opposed a weaker version of today’s regime of ethanol mandates, yet last year she praised the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on the campaign trail in Iowa. Now, as Reuters reports, Clinton is looking to California regulators for advice on how to potentially revise our broken biofuel system:

Clinton advisers have contacted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to discuss whether a policy like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a market-based system rather than a mandate, could be applied at a national level to replace or augment the Renewable Fuel Standard, and other issues, CARB officials said. […]

The move is the clearest sign yet that, if elected, Clinton would seek to adjust the regulation, called the Renewable Fuel Standard, possibly hurting her chances in corn-growing states like Iowa where she faces a tough battle against Republican rival Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election.

This back and forth is enough to make your neck ache the way it might watching a tennis match, but it’s a step in the right direction to see a presidential candidate considering alternatives to this boondoggle. We won’t hold our breath for Trump or Clinton to issue the denunciation that the RFS deserves—neither wants to lose key votes in the corn belt.

But outside of the corn industry, a reform or even a full-fledged repeal of our biofuel mandates would make sense for every stakeholder. These mandates raise global food prices, starving the world’s poor. They raise gas prices, gouging American drivers. They hurt refiners, who are forced to pay sometimes exorbitant costs to comply with a system that doesn’t accurately track the supply and demand for ethanol in our national fuel supply. And maybe most damning of all, they’re bad for the environment.

Our current biofuels policy hits that rare sour spot, and you’d think more politicians would see the wisdom in working against it, but Big Corn still holds plenty of sway in the Midwest. We won’t bust out the pom-poms for Clinton’s reconsideration of the RFS just yet, but it is worth recognition as a good sign for the fight against this disastrous policy.

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  • Observe&Report

    Clinton’s (un)willingness to reform US biofuels policy will depend on how generously Big Corn donates to the Clinton Foundation.

  • Fat_Man

    CARB? Why doesn’t she consult middle of the roaders like Greenpeace. /sarc

    • Josephbleau

      Ho Ho Ho

  • FriendlyGoat

    “Big Corn” sounds like a few corporations in seed, fertilizer, farm equipment and ethanol distilling. But it’s really more than that. It’s a lot of people who grow it, towns which thrive on it, everyone with a concern about farmland values in those places, and their Congressional representatives. We could call all these folks “little corn”, or “medium-sized corn”, I guess, but they are the bigger force than even the corporations, I think.

    • Anthony

      Off topic but something to ponder (though quite in line with your advertised assessment):

      • FriendlyGoat

        Thanks. None of Trump’s intentional gaffes have been enough to disqualify him because the entire GOP has gotten used to its platform being a parade of more-profound falsehoods. With Trump’s failure to endorse Ryan, though, the Republicans are shocked,…..shocked.

        • Anthony

          Dionne underscores a position you have articulated from beginning of your Party comparisons (and that’s my initial point). Still sans partisanship and as an American, I think one cannot be but disappointed in the complicity of our standard bearers of the Red, White, and Blue in defending the indefensible.

          I have read a book titled “Deceit and Self-Deception which has a major point (idea) that people change their evaluation of something they have been manipulated into doing to preserve the impression that they are in control (avoiding cognitive dissonance). Pretty much, I think we see the behavior manifesting itself before our eyes – the emotions can be internal regulators.

          Finally, you’re welcome.

          • Josephbleau

            You two should get a room.

          • Anthony

            Big country over 320 million whether you opt to recognize or not (room for everybody).

        • Tom

          If that’s true, it would be wise to inquire as to why Clinton’s numerous misdeeds have failed to disqualify her.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Because she is center-left, actually appearing to be on the balanced sensible side of most issues and not “performing” weird monologues every other day.

          • Tom

            Other people who that applied to (if you, delusionally, think Clinton is a center-leftist): Martin O’ Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee.
            And yet…Clinton is your nominee.

          • FriendlyGoat

            O’Malley, Webb and Chaffee are good Dems who for whatever reasons simply could not and did not get traction. On the right this can be said of Bush, Walker, Jindal, Santorum and others.

            I have actually wondered what O’Malley must have thought to himself as he trudged through the early campaign. He had good looks, good presence, good articulation, a decent Dem record—–but, nooooo.
            Our party seemed to be all Sanders or all Clinton.

            In this light, some 15 Republicans are wondering why they fell out, some of them with virtually no support, while the process produced Donald Trump. It’s hard, I’m sure, for the also-rans to reconcile these outcomes to themselves. “What did I do wrong?” Maybe not much, but the wind blew some other way.

  • Josephbleau

    Corn is a sugary carbohydrate that requires CO2 spuming tractors to cultivate so poor Africans should be ashamed to sustain their lives through benefit of it’s chemical energy, because the Hollywood greens must be sated. The EPA demands that you use a sugary carbohydrate product that consumes more energy than it produces to make sure that the elites do well in the first Caucus. Grease from restaurant storage bins is stolen and resold to biofuel producers because refiners must have “Eco Fuel” to sell. Obama’s sensible non-partisan energy policy.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    As someone who worked in local government for decades and ran a solar hot water heating project for low income housing, I would not describe biofuels as a “flop” even though it never met any rational-economic criteria from the start.

    To “distributionists” it was a raving success at creating yet another make work jobs program, no matter how uneconomic. Applying the rationale and rationalism of Capitalism to government is an oxymoron. Max Weber defined Capitalism as: “…. identical with the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic enterprise.” (Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism, p. 17).

    All such government programs are “flops” by definition because they have no profit motive and possibility of renewable profit without perpetual subsidies such as solar power. Distributionists have a rationale and they may play and pretend that it is making a profit just as a child does with a lemonade stand.

    For example, California has $15 billion (that is with a ‘B’) of energy efficiency programs that the impartial Legislative Analysts Office says meet no economic criteria for being constantly renewed. Yet it is so culturally popular and so taken for granted that energy efficiency is an economic good that it is a sacred cow.

    For anyone interested I would suggest “California’s Legendary Energy Efficiency is a Statistical Myth”,, July 16, 2013.

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