Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

McCain Urges EPA To Eliminate Biofuel Mandates, How About Wisconsin Too?

Energy, Ethanol, Going Green, Legislation, McCain 2008

Wednesday, I caught a few minutes from Mark Belling's last half hour on the radio. He read this Wall Street Journal piece, The Biofuels Backlash. It is yet another condemnation of the whole biofuel fiasco--the food crisis, pollution, excessive water use, price supports, etc. You know, the usual complaints... (Let them eat and drink ethanol).

The WSJ piece opened stating that for the past "30 years we...opposed ethanol subsidies. So imagine our great, pleasant surprise to see that the world is suddenly awakening to the folly of subsidized biofuels."

Belling also mentioned that McCain and other senators were asking the EPA to waive some of their standards that have been pushing biofuels. That brightened my spirits, since McCain has been chanting the ethanol mantra like most of the other politicians. I found the article, Senators call for EPA to reconsider ethanol output mandate. Here are a few highlights:

Twenty-four Republican senators, including presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona, sent a letter Friday to the Environmental Protection Agency suggesting it waive, or restructure, rules that require a fivefold increase in ethanol production over the next 15 years.

Congress passed a law last year mandating a ramp-up to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015 and 36 billion by 2022. But McCain and other Republicans said those rules should be suspended to put more corn back into the food supply for animal feed, and to encourage farmers to plant other crops.

"This subsidized (ethanol) program _ paid for by taxpayer dollars _ has contributed to pain at the cash register, at the dining room table, and a devastating food crisis throughout the world," said McCain, in a statement.

...Analysts say lawmakers are unlikely to roll back popular ethanol subsidies during an election year.

Congress will not "turn on the corn belt" because of the significant number of votes held by ethanol-producing states, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. analyst Kevin Book argued in a recent note to clients. Ethanol subsidies could face greater risks, however, in 2009 and going forward, according to Book.

The good news is political winds are changing a bit and promoting biofuel is no longer the slam-dunk it once was. Congressman Sensenbrenner just introduced his legislation, HR 5911, Remove Incentives to Produce Ethanol Act of 2008 against ethanol mandates. Wouldn't it be great to see some actual repeals? I hope people are contacting their senators and speaking out against S 2191, the Lieberman/Warner America's Climate Security Act of 2007.

The bad news is that, "Spokesman Jonathan Shradar said the Bush administration remains committed to ethanol as an alternative fuel because of its potential to 'get our nation off its addiction to foreign oil.' " (Good reason to start producing more domestic oil!)

Mark Belling expressed something to the effect that he wished Republicans* in our State Assembly would draft some sort of bill to state that Wisconsin wanted out of the ethanol mandates. It would have no teeth, but it would send a message.

It will be interesting to see how the presidential candidates adjust their positions on ethanol in the next 6 months. Do I dare hope the tide is turning?


*Maybe I should say Representatives who are anti ethanol since so many on both sides of the isle have sold their souls to King Corn. Since there are so many more food and fuel consumers than corn growers/ethanol processing plant owners, if the public would just bother to contact their representatives in all levels of government, maybe we could turn this around!

Links: Don't forget, Free Pass To Movie Preview of "The Enemy God" Saturday at 3pm

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