Each year, an ever larger portion of the world's crops - cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil - is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running....
But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability.
Associated Press reports we should not hold farmers or the ethanol industry responsible for rising food prices. There are other contributing factors, such as inflation and fuel costs, but we certainly can also include those heavily subsidized ag-fuelers in the blame game, even though AP downplays it:
Ethanol producers acknowledge they've increased demand for corn but say it's not enough to affect food prices.
Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, said the ethanol industry only uses about 25 percent of the nation's corn supply.
Only 25 percent? So we're setting aside one-quarter of the core good we produce, which goes into so much of the food the world consumes (meat, dairy, eggs, Corn Chex), to instead burn it for no good reason. Blame also the lawmakers who think in their infinite wisdom that they are good at creating "markets."
More about this later in the week, but today the American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit against Colorado that claims the state's Renewable Energy Standard -- which requires major utilities to get 30 percent of their power generation from renewables by the year 2020 -- is unconstitutional. Because electricity is distributed to a grid that crosses state lines, the constraints put on power sales by the law affect several issues under the interstate Commerce Clause, which reserves those regulatory powers for the federal government, not states. You can read about our claims in the complaint we filed this morning.
Scrutinize the realities of costly and inefficient wind energy projects (and most alternative energy projects, for that matter) in public spheres where tough questions can be asked -- like in court -- and it's amazing what you will learn. Such was the case with California utility PG&E, which had a $900 million deal in place to purchase a wind farm from Iberdrola, until an administrative law judge wanted it nixed. From the court decision:
It's more than just his 180º on the incandescent light bulb. The representative from Michigan's 6th District really wants the Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship. Just look at what's posted on his Congressional web page:
POLITICO: Fortifying Our Energy Security
December 6, 2010
On 50th Anniversary of ANWR, Upton Urges President to Open Vast Reserves
December 6, 2010
THE DAILY CALLER: Rep. Upton urges President Obama to open ANWR
December 6, 2010
THE DAILY CALLER: Now is the time to slash subsidies (for renewables)
December 3, 2010
THE HILL: Upton probes Interior's offshore oil permitting, warns against delays
December 3, 2010
Upton Calls On EPA for Greater Transparency Over Potentially Devastating Cooling Water Regulations
December 3, 2010
DES MOINES REGISTER: Possible House energy chief slams subsidies
Dec 3, 2010
Cap-and-trade is said to be dead, and the general belief I'm hearing out of D.C. is that a national Renewable Electricity Standard (introduced in a bill co-sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas -- who is also the state's Governor-elect) isn't going to happen during a lame-duck session either.
But according to the Washington Times, Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus plans a last-gasp effort to get through a few more stimulus dollars for alternative energy schemers before the Senate makeup changes for the worse:
In last months of his successful campaign, Gov.-elect John Kasich -- in a statement that almost all politicians would deem risky due to fear of inflaming the Big Green lobby -- told the Dayton Daily News that he would seriously consider a repeal of Ohio's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. These mandates for utilities to generate minimum percentages of their power generation from expensive renewable sources drive up electricity rates for everyone.
Kasich, in an interview also attended by (defeated incumbent Gov. Ted) Strickland last week in Dayton, said he disagreed with the mandate "if it drives up costs to consumers. It will drive up utility bills because we don't have it ready and have to buy it somewhere else. I don't like that and you can't mandate invention."
Asked whether he'd seek to roll back the mandate as governor, Kasich said: "If I were to determine that it was unrealistic and would drive up prices."
Earlier this week I wrote in the Washington Times about the introduction of a national Renewable Electricity Mandate bill by New Mexico Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback. About 30 states already have them in one form or another, which require public utilities to generate a minimum percentage of their power from alternative energy sources (wind, solar, burning food). The theme of my piece was public fatigue over government mandating they buy things (health insurance, compact fluorescent light bulbs, windmill power, etc.).
So I was pleasantly surprised to read Tim Carney's column in the Washington Examiner today, where he reported that GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich said he might seek to end Ohio's renewable portfolio standard:
The Washington Post today has another of their "scientists say" articles (they're actually just wildlife advocates -- well, only certain wildlife, as you'll see) about how too many birds are falling prey because of excessive outdoor cats:
Scientists are quietly raging about the effects that cats, both owned and stray, are having on bird populations. It's not an issue that has received much attention, but with an estimated 90 million pet cats in the United States, two-thirds of them allowed outdoors, the cumulative effect on birds is significant, according to experts....
"Two-thirds of all bird species are in decline in the U.S.," said Steve Holmer, a policy adviser with the American Bird Conservancy in Washington. "Cats are a contributing factor."