American Elephants


And Now The Hard Two-Month Slog to the Election. by The Elephant's Child
September 1, 2012, 6:49 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Election 2012, Freedom, Media Bias, Taxes | Tags: , ,

O.K. I’m done. I hope the videos are helpful to those who didn’t watch the convention, and I know many didn’t.  You can tell how successful it was — by the response from the Democrats— who have gone ballistic. DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz did not watch. She is out excoriating the Republicans for having a party for the rich, while people are drowning in Louisiana. If she had watched, she would have seen a plea for donations for the Red Cross before every segment. If you didn’t watch the convention, Why? Sick of politics? I’m just interested. I’ve seen so many comments, all over the map.

Mitt Romney was off, Friday, to Louisiana to see the flood victims and how the effort against the results of Hurricane Isaac was going. The president noticed, and he will stop campaigning and get to Louisiana on Monday. The above image is from Sidell. Louisiana. Louisiana seems to be far better prepared than they were when Katrina struck.

Hard to realize that what is a disaster for Louisiana is a blessing for the drought-stricken areas of the Midwest. If only Isaac could just pass over the coast quietly and dump the moisture where it’s needed. I don’t know if the rains are coming too late in the year to do much good. The farmers will let us know. and the prices at the grocery store will, as well.

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18 Comments so far
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Regarding rain and the Midwest, it is too late (and too far south) for most growers.

Meanwhile, the madness of biofuel mandates continues. Because of the high cost of feed, livestock producers are culling their herds, sending meat prices down. What’s the Obama administration’s response? First it refuses to waive the mandates. Then, in a sop to the livestock farmers, it has promised to buy up hundreds of millions of dollars of meat, so as to firm up prices.

But neither can we look to the Republican Party for an end to this madness: in their call for Energy Independence (a liberal idea? Yeh, right), Romney/Ryan have called for the continuance of the Renewable Fuel Stanard, and for more home-grown biofuels.

The next time somebody blames “lefty greens” for this policy I’m going to scream.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

Start screaming (warm up a little first… I use tongue twisters and vocal stretching exercises so I don’t give myself a sore throat).
Romney/Ryan campaign may have called for the continuance of the renewable fuels standard, but Ryan is pushing for a repeal of the current standard and Romney has said if congress passes a repeal he will sign it.

And won’t THAT tick off the Lefty-greens who force the whole thing into existence!

(not so loud! you’ll wake the baby!)

Comment by Lon Mead

I won’t take the bait. If you knew ANYTHING about the history of the policy you would know that it was pushed and maintained by Midwest politicians, including and in particular the honorable senior Republican senators from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, etc. In addition, it had no greater cheerleader than George W. Bush.

I hope you are right about the future repeal. But you will be very surprised, once that happens, by the sigh of relief that will be uttered by most greens and many “lefties”.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

You don’t have to take the bait. You don’t even have to believe me. But I DO know about the history of the policy, and it’s the green left that’s pushing for it’s continuation now.

And GWB’s contribution to the policy had to do with the elimination of chemical oxygenates for fuel, and he was sold that corn ethanol was a viable substitute. When it didn’t do all that was advertised, he let it be known that he would likely let it lapse (that he didn’t repeal it immediately is one of many disappointment I have with his Presidency). It was the environmental lobby, with a little help from the ethanol lobby, that pushed the Dems in congress to extend the subsidy. That extension is what is due to expire next year.

Comment by Lon Mead

But I DO know about the history of the policy, and it’s the green left that’s pushing for it’s continuation now.

Evidence, please?

I was recently speaking with several environmental NGOs, and those that didn’t abandon their support for crop-based biofuels long ago have been back-tracking madly from any association with their previous positions. There are a few that still place hope in biofuels made from trash, wood waste and algae, but their support is much more muted.

Your attempt to rewrite the history of Bush’s position on biofuels is breathtaking. Here he is in his 2006 SOTU address:

[T]onight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

In his 2007 SOTU address, Bush went even further, calling on Congress to quintuple the Renewable Fuels Standard, to
35 billion gallons by 2017. In the event, Congress established a target of 36 billion gallons (to include 1 billion gallons a year for biodiesel), but put back the date of achieving it by five years, until 2022.

Environmental groups gave his proposal mixed reviews, pointing out that Bush’s goal for ethanol would require big advances in cellulosic ethanol, which at the time (and still) had yet to be produced at anything close to competitive prices … and massive changes to U.S. farmland. Here is the immediate reaction from Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust:

Producing 35 billion gallons of ethanol a year would require putting an additional 129,000 square miles of farmland –- an area the size of Kansas and Iowa –- into corn production, which is not very likely.

Bush was undaunted, however. Here he is again in October 2007:

First of all, I’m guilty on promoting ethanol. And the reason is, is because I think it’s in our interests to diversify away from oil. And the reason why it’s — I know that’s hard for a Texan to say. But the reason why we’ve got to diversify away from oil is that we end up with dependency on oil from certain parts of the world where people don’t particularly like us. And secondly, given the globalization of the world today, and disruption of oil, you know, in one part of the world is going to cause the price of your gasoline to go up. And so, I promoted ethanol, and still believe it’s important for the future.

I’m also promoting research that will enable us to make ethanol out of something other than corn, because I fully understand the constraints on corn. I mean, I hear it everywhere I go that the people like yourself who rely upon reasonable feed prices know full well that demand for corn as a result of the demand for ethanol going up is costing your — making it harder for you to make a living. One of these days we’re going to be able to make ethanol out of wood chips or switchgrass. It’s called cellulostic [sic] ethanol. And we’re spending a lot of money to develop the technologies that will enable us to use something other than corn.

About that time, I met personally with Bush’s political appointee in the Rural Affairs office of the USDA. The guy was a former corn-and-soybeans farmer. You know what his main belief in corn-ethanol drove from? His certainty that it would reduce the price of gasoline in middle America, thus reducing the cost of farmers and their spouses to drive into town to purchase groceries.

I was astonished. I asked him again: so, you are willing to subsidize and force this fuel on ALL of America, because you believe that ethanol will make it a bit cheaper for Midwestern farmers to drive to town. His answer: “Yes”.

When the corn-ethanol subsidy was most recently up for renewal, who fought the hardest to retain it? None other than the senior Republican Senator from Iowa, Charles (“Chuck”) Grassley. Here he is again, in August, showing his usual sensitivity to the plight of livestock farmers, poor households, and taxpayers:

I would suggest that those claiming the sky is falling withhold their call for waiving or repealing the Renewable Fuels Standard. It’s a premature action that will not produce the desired result. And it would increase our dependence on foreign oil and drive up prices at the pump for consumers.

Oh, and by the way, Grassley has also been a big supporter of the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit.

Have there been Democratic Party politicians who have voted for biofuel subsidies and the Renewable Fuels Standard? Of course. Apart from the usual Midwest suspects, like DINO Ben Nelson, for the most part (not a good excuse) they have done so out of the usual horse trading by which one side reasons that “if we vote for something important to that region, they’ll vote for something important to ours.”

But I suggest you examine the roles of former Senator Bob Dole, and current Republican Senators Richard Lugar, John Thune, and Chuck Grassley in championing ethanol.

So, after all that Republican support, you are expecting people to believe that, despite the Romney/Ryan campaign publicly calling for the continuance of the renewable fuel standard, they are secretly pushing for its repeal. Besides putting their whole plan into question (how much of it can we really believe they will stick to?), history does not suggest that we can count on the White House bucking the industry and its farm-state friends.

To quote George W. Bush, “fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … You can’t get fooled again.”

Comment by Subsidy Eye

I wish there were a facility to preview or edit comments. I did not mean to indent all of the first half of my previous comment.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

S’alright. You good kid.

Comment by Lon Mead

From the Friends of the Earth website:

[T]he EPA has refused to follow even the limited environmental safeguards built into the RFS and as a result, the RFS is causing environmental degradation and making climate change worse. In addition, we are concerned about the impact that increased biofuel production driven by the RFS is having on global food prices. For these reasons, Friends of the Earth believes that the RFS must either be fixed or ditched.

Much of the RFS’s biofuel consumption mandate is being met with non-cellulosic fuels that harm the environment. Because of this, Friends of the Earth has supported states’ applications for waivers from the RFS’s consumption requirements.

So, if the RFS is ditched, “lefty greens” will be upset? Yeah, right.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

Ah, I wasn’t fully aware that Friends of the Earth represented the “lefty green” environmental movement. Thanks for clearing that up.

Now go check out the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund, Earth First!, Earth Island Institute, and the Comittee for a Constructive Tomorrow, all of whom favor a continuation of current ethanol policy

Comment by Lon Mead

You’re going to have to do better than that — like providing URLs reflecting current content.

I look at the Sierra Club‘s site, and all I find is a general description of the RFS, which by the way complains that it “exempted existing corn ethanol volumes, at least 12 billion gallons, from meeting any lifecycle greenhouse gas standards.”

At the World Wildlife Fund site, all I find is a blog article from somebody not on the staff of WWF (Jake Caldwell), originally posted by the Center for American Progress under the title Real Money for Farmers on 23 April 2010, re-posted by Climate Progress on 26 April 2010, and re-posted here on the same day. I can find no recent official policy statement on the RFS, either for or against.

Earth First! is hardly mainstream. Its web site does not provide a search function, and I can find nothing reflecting its policy on the Renewable Fuels Standard.

The Earth Island Institute is, fundamentally, a conservation organization. Again, looking at its website, I can find no references to the RFS.

I assume you threw in the Comittee for a Constructive Tomorrow as a joke. They, of course, steadfastly oppose the RFS.

There are other environmental groups that also oppose the RFS — e.g., the Environmental Working Group. I’ll let you explore among the others on your own time.

Moreover, are you really arguing here that these organizations, collectively, have more influence in Congress than the combined lobbying power of the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the American Corn Growers Association, the Governors’ Biofuel Coalition, and Archer Daniels Midland?

So, all I can conclude is that your comments in this string are your idea of a weird joke. So much for conservatives being interested in truth and facts.

And you still haven’t answered the question of why we should trust anything in the Romney-Ryan energy plan if, according to your own admission, they really don’t mean what they say when they support the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

Well, Earth First! may be on the radical fringe, but they sure are interesting. Here’s a selection from a blog posted on their web site from 2007:

The buzz about ethanol has grown tremendously in the past few years as oil prices skyrocket, racist right-wingers look for a way to be independent of the Middle East, and lefties look for a quick fix to global warming that doesn’t require them to reduce their level of consumption. This January, President Bush announced a plan to produce 35 billion gallons of biofuels (mostly ethanol) per year by 2017. Yet there has been little attention paid to the real social and environmental impacts of ethanol production.

In early March, Bush traveled to Brazil to secure massive imports of ethanol to the US. Bush’s visit was met not with praise for supporting Brazilian agriculture but with militant protests decrying the environmental devastation and neo-colonialism perpetrated by Brazil’s ethanol industry. In the region of Ribeirão Preto, 900 women took over an ethanol plant owned by the agribusiness cartel Cargill. They also decried the increased land consolidation that is occurring as wealthy landowners grab more and more land for monoculture sugarcane farms.

Written by one Skyler Simmons, who claims to “enjoy seeing liberals go into convulsions as they realize that biofuels aren’t going to save the world.” Would be hard to characterize this guy’s politics. Left of left?

Comment by Subsidy Eye

Subsidy, you bring up all these “environmental groups” as if they were primarily concerned with the environment.They are all wildly radical groups (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow excluded) who use environmentalism in pursuit of other goals and who represent huge amounts of funding and a lot of pressure on Congress and the administration. What they say on their websites is not necessarily representative of what they are doing. They may well represent more funding than the biofuel people, I don’t know, but these groups are far larger and more powerful than is generally recognized.

You go on about congressmen from corn states supporting corn ethanol, but if they want to be reelected from their states, they have little choice. If you are going to represent Washington state, you’d better support Boeing, trees, apples and cherries. When it has become clear to all that corn ethanol is bad, maybe they can switch their support.

George W. Bush was convinced that biofuels were a necessary answer to the problems of “foreign oil”, and was big on switchgrass. But this was before fracking and shale deposits were generally known.

Comment by The Elephant's Child

And so? What’s your point. I can go on and on about individual environmentalists and the key roles they are playing in attacking biofuels. But I assume you don’t know these people, so why bother? So I quote the better-known groups, especially those whose activists I know personally.

Yet the right continues to try to blame “lefty greens”, when in fact it is lefty greens who are doing all the heavy lifting (together with livestock producers and libertarians). That’s kind of insulting. Moreover, it suggests you refuse to acknowledge facts if they don’t fit you preconceived biases.

And well you may defend senators for supporting local products, but that kind of reasoning doesn’t extend to Veeps and presidential candidates.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

I am not “defending” senators for supporting local products, I’m simply saying that is human nature, and a senator voting as you expect them to, would not remain a senator. It will depend on others overruling them.. So what’s your point? You have used up paragraphs and paragraphs attacking Senator Grassley. Why don’t you use up that energy on writing to the Senator himself.

I know who the environmental organizations are, and I oppose them. They are rotten to the core and lie to the useless idiots who naively support them with their dues.

Comment by The Elephant's Child

I am not “defending” senators for supporting local products, I’m simply saying that is human nature, and a senator voting as you expect them to, would not remain a senator.

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — also a corn-producing state — has voted against biofuels. So has Dianne Feinstein, who represents a “lefty green” constituency.

But I began my comments talking about the Romney-Ryan energy plan, and its support of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Predictably, you and Lon Mead have tried to deflect attention to that glaring inconsistency with conservative principles, and once again tried to blame the whole business on “lefty greens”.

You have used up paragraphs and paragraphs attacking Senator Grassley. Why don’t you use up that energy on writing to the Senator himself.

I mention him because you and Lon keep blaming lefty greens, when in fact it is Senators like Grassley that have pushed through, and protected, biofuel mandates. I have written reports that I’m sure his staff have read. But, not being a voter registered in Iowa, I doubt he is going to pay a nanosecond of attention to what I say in a letter. So why bother?

I know who the environmental organizations are, and I oppose them. They are rotten to the core and lie to the useless idiots who naively support them with their dues.

Well, I guess there’s not much to say to that, is there? Fortunately, there are still conservatives who don’t share your absolutist opinion:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/24/121857/left-right-agree-for-big-debt.html

Comment by Subsidy Eye

A good article on this same topic by one of your (and my) favorite energy writers, Robert Bryce:

Democrats and Republicans Support Harmful Ethanol Subsidies for the Sake of Votes

Corn ethanol is the Franken fuel of American politics. Neither party, neither candidate dares question the program that requires motorists to buy a corrosive, low-heat-content, hydrophilic fuel adulterant—even though that program is now consuming 37 percent of all American corn production and driving up food prices.

The corn-ethanol boondoggle got a free pass in Tampa. The Republicans didn’t talk about biofuels during their hurricane-shortened convention; the GOP’s 2012 platform doesn’t even mention ethanol. And this long-running robbery of taxpayers will get another free pass from the Democrats during their wingding in Charlotte, N.C.

Romney’s clearly reluctant to admit that he supports the corn-ethanol boondoggle. The document says Romney favors “increased market penetration and competition among energy sources by maintaining the RFS.” RFS, of course, stands for renewable fuel standard. The standard, created by Congress in 2005 and enforced by the EPA, requires fuel retailers to blend ethanol into the gasoline supply.

While Romney tries to juke the ethanol question, President Obama has been helping the moonshiners since his days in the U.S. Senate.

etc.

Comment by Subsidy Eye

In this election, Subsidy, the priorities are bigger than the RFS. The economy is about to go off the cliff, and they must get the private sector functioning and hiring again. Restoring the energy sector will create millions of badly needed jobs. Repealing ObamaCare will save money, lives, and large parts of the economy.We need to restore Defense. The corn-ethanol boondoggle is a little farther down on the list of “must-do” things. Prioritizing is important, and these men aren’t going to go running off in all directions, but do first things first.

Comment by The Elephant's Child

Did you get to the bottom of Bryce’s article? Here is how he concludes:

So let’s summarize. International food agencies are asking the U.S. to suspend the ethanol mandates. Those same mandates are making our air quality worse and causing food prices to rise. Yet during the highest-profile quadrennial events in our political system, the most powerful politicians in our country won’t even mention the matter. And they wonder why people are tuning out the conventions.

I’d say that rising food prices is a pretty important issue for many voters. Perhaps not for well-off politicians, or for broad-acre crop farmers, but for a lot of other people.

And here’s another “lefty green” attacking biofuel mandates:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/economics-blog/2012/sep/05/cheap-food-stop-putting-it-in-cars

Comment by Subsidy Eye




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