Forner vice-president and noted environmental activist Al Gore issues a mea culpa of sorts when he admitted that his support fr corn-based  ethanol was a mistake.

From Reuters

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore said support for corn-based ethanol in the United States was “not a good policy”, weeks before tax credits are up for renewal.

U.S. blending tax breaks for ethanol make it profitable for refiners to use the fuel even when it is more expensive than gasoline. The credits are up for renewal on Dec. 31.

Total U.S. ethanol subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year according to the International Energy Industry, which said biofuels worldwide received more subsidies than any other form of renewable energy.

“It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol,” said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank.

“First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

“It’s hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going.”

He explained his own support for the original programme on his presidential ambitions.

“One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”

U.S. ethanol is made by extracting sugar from corn, an energy-intensive process. The U.S. ethanol industry will consume about 41 percent of the U.S. corn crop this year, or 15 percent of the global corn crop, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.

A food-versus-fuel debate erupted in 2008, in the wake of record food prices, where the biofuel industry was criticised for helping stoke food prices.

Gore said a range of factors had contributed to that food price crisis, including drought in Australia, but said there was no doubt biofuels have an effect.

“The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices.

“The competition with food prices is real.”

Gore supported so-called second generation technologies which do not compete with food, for example cellulosic technologies which use chemicals or enzymes to extract sugar from fibre for example in wood, waste or grass.

“I do think second and third generation that don’t compete with food prices will play an increasing role, certainly with aviation fuels.”

This is a little bit like a “Come to Jesus” moment for Hore as he admitted that not only was he mistaken in supporting corn-based ethanol but he largely did so because he was going to run for president and needed the farm vote.

Conservatives have been saying for years that corn-based ethanol is not cost effective only to be drowned out by environmentalists like Gore and the liberal media who jumped on every green energy scheme that crossed their path regardless of the facts.

Hopefully Gore’s statement will help kill the subsidy which amounted to $3 billion in credits in 2007 and was expected to reach $5 billion this year but the corn lobby will fight hard for the chance to continue feeding at the government trough.

the free market should decide what renewable energy sources succeed and fail but the problem with allowing that to happen is that mot of them would fail without heavy government subsidies which we all pay for so green energy isn’t as cheap as the left would have us believe.

For now I’m sticking to corn on the cob.

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