• Jun 17th 2011 at 5:08PM
  • 22
In a remarkable vote earlier this week, the U.S. Senate voted to end ethanol subsidies which total about $6 billion each year. It's great progress to see our lawmakers finally bringing some pragmatic fiscal and environmental common sense to the rag tag elements of transport energy policy.
While it's not surprising that the normally electric vehicle-hating Wall Street Journal praises the vote in their editorial today as "An Ethanol Miracle," I was surprised to see the Journal's career advice to the army of ethanol lobbyists: update your resumes and send them to EV companies.

Are we seeing the beginnings of a change toward EVs at the Journal, or are they just lining up their next target for a cleaner shot? Regardless of motivation, the vote this week sends an important signal to all the players in the alternative fuels industry – whether they're pushing molecules or electrons as the energy source of the future.

By focusing the transport debate on near-term choices that really can help diversify our energy security (i.e. natural gas and electrics) and insisting that the environmental and financial facts can withstand scrutiny, sometimes even the Wall Street Journal and AutoblogGreen readers end up on the same page.

[Source: Wall Street Journal | Image: diaper – C.C. License 2.0]


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  • 22 Comments
      EVnerdGene
      • 4 Years Ago
      So far, ethanol is limited to 10% of fuel content. We've read they're trying to raise it to 15%. Local story - my neighbor told me he heard on the radio that spot checks throughout the county found ethanol content as high as 50%. Couldn't find a source for this story in regional or local newspapers. Yesterday, the tanker truck pulled-up while I was filling. Had a good conversation with the driver. "yeah, 2 stations in county, had to pump-out their tanks. It was in the premium tanks" (intentional - raises octane, but a real bummer for MPG). My 2 cents - probably did major damage to some older cars that are just bidding-time on E10, probably ate their seals - big time. Truck driver also said the high percentages of ethanol also ate the seals on their couplings. I argued, 'I'm sure you have the newer seal materials for your trucks that are resistant to being eaten by the ethanol." He smiled; 'you'd think so, but so far, the seals are the same as they were 20 years ago.' 'We lost half a load of gas in one shipment, after carrying all the ethanol. Had to replace the seals after that.' news found: local "ethanol-free" station closes. Can no longer sell ethanol-free gasoline. Sign seen on marine pump: "this fuel can only be used in marine products" - - - meaning not automobiles boys and girls - think about it - - - who is running this insane asylum ? freedom
      letstakeawalk
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm not sure that the WSJ was showing support of EVs as much as they were pointing out how Ethanol lobbyists' days might be numbered. The vote appears to signal the end of political support for ethanol; the WSJ is simply encouraging the rats (ethanol lobbyists) to flee their sinking ship.
        letstakeawalk
        • 4 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        "The 73-27 vote on an amendment sponsored by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein—33 Republicans, 38 Democrats and both independents in favor—was the kind of supermajority that usually waves through new subsidies for the fuel made from blending corn and tax dollars. Ending the annual $6 billion subsidy, along with the tariff on foreign ethanol, marks the first time in memory that the ethanol lobby has lost a major vote, as the left-right coalition that wants to eliminate its subsidies and mandates continues to grow. For now, this victory for energy and fiscal sanity is incomplete, because the underlying bill—a new engine for green subsidies—is unlikely to pass the Senate, let alone the House. Still, ethanol’s decades on the public dole appear to be numbered. The 27 “nays” were essentially the Farm Belt contingent, with the disappointing addition of Ohio Republican Rob Portman. The House also voted yesterday, 283-128, to bar public spending on the special blender pumps and tanks necessary for higher concentrations of ethanol. This is significant because the ethanol lobby has been counting on the pump and tank subsidy to replace the tax credits and tariffs. The Senate defeated a similar amendment from John McCain yesterday..."
          letstakeawalk
          • 4 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          "If the ethanol industry withers and dies..." That's a huge assumption. Why do you think the ethanol industry is going to fail without subsidies? The same for the farmer comment. If they can't make money raising corn, they'll just have to raise a crop that does generate a profit. I suppose if you believe that ethanol raises the price of corn (something Carney will dispute) then there will be a drop in corn prices, OTOH, that means the price of many food products will also be able to fall to lower levels. I read one article that claims that oil refiners and blenders who use ethanol with take the hardest hit: “Among the refiners, VLO could potentially experience the biggest negative impact, in our view, given its dual role as one of the largest ethanol producers as well as one of the largest ethanol blenders,” he writes. Cheng evaluated the possible fallout from a few different legislative and market scenarios. He concluded that the loss of the tax credit along with a resulting dropoff in the prices of ethanol and gas would decrease Valero’s earnings by 62 cents a share. If ethanol and gas prices stayed the same following the elimination of the credit, the hit would come out to 82 cents a share." http://www.valero.com/default.aspx Likewise, weather events seem to have more effect on the price of corn: "“Farmers will decide what they want to do based on how the weather unfolds from here onward,” he said. “Without coming to a specific number, I think there will be substantial prevented planting acres in corn – or switched to soybeans.” Good pointed out that corn prices have generally moved higher since June 30, 2010, when the USDA revealed smaller than expected planted acres of corn and smaller than expected June 1 stocks. Strong demand coupled with lower than expected production in 2010 kept prices strong. “June 30, 2011 is also setting up to be a pivotal day for corn prices,” he said. “The USDA reports will reveal stock levels and acreage and summer weather prospects will be clearer.” http://www.theprairiestar.com/news/markets/corn-market-takes-prices-higher-based-on-late-planting-limited/article_7d1df806-8bfd-11e0-b756-001cc4c002e0.html
          Marco Polo
          • 4 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          Not being American this doesn't effect me, but I can't see how gloating over a great many farmers and rural communities in the US becoming impoverished, to save a relatively small sum of money, can be considered a victory for anything. If the ethanol industry withers and dies, surely the consumption of foreign oil must increase? Or am I missing something?
        Dave D
        • 4 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        LTAW, I'm just happy any time the WSJ can print the letters "EV" without adding in tirades of socialism, communism, nazi-ism, muslim terrorist, and throwing up a few pictures of Beezlebub. One small miracle at at time.
        Marco Polo
        • 4 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        @ LTW. "If they can't make money raising corn, they'll just have to raise a crop that does generate a profit."- Obviously, you are not a farmer! It isn't that easy. US farm prices spent many years at uneconomic levels. For many rural areas and communities, ethanol was the one crop making money! Farming isn't like any other industry. It takes generation to build a farm and train good and productive farmers.Ethanol utilised a lot of marginal land. I hope I'm wrong, but in recent years, the rural sector and primary produce has endured great hardship, I am concerned that this may also become a disaster.
          letstakeawalk
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Well, I'm just going to have to disagree with your prejudice. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/13/is-becoming-a-farmer-the_n_258961.html Perhaps we should remember there's a huge difference between corporate-scale farming (like the sort that produces corn for ethanol) and the smaller farms that generate profits by providing edible products to their communities.
          letstakeawalk
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          "It takes generation to build a farm and train good and productive farmers." Or, a good four-year education at an Ag school.
          Marco Polo
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          @ 'A good 4 year education at agri school!'! " "Farmers,can estimate net revenue to analyse their own situations under different price and yield conditions. A management tool (in Microsoft Excel) developed by extension economist Bill Lazarus is available ". ROTFL! I have no wish to seem disrespectful, but you, like so many others, make the mistake of believing that farming is a sort of scientific or industrial type of operation and can organised as such. Scientific or business aspects of farming can be taught, and will improve farm profits. But basic farming, can only be taught by practical experience, and can only be learned from someone who has accumulated that knowledge, and possesses real connection with both the land and farming. Farming requires thousands of small skills which take a lifetime to learn. Science and education can make a good farmer better, but without a real vocation for the land, no education will make a good farmer. Perhaps this is more obvious in livestock farming than crops, and it's hard for small farmers to make up for the capital expenditure by big outfits, but nothing can replace the lifetimes of precious accumulated knowledge, stored in the heads and hearts of farming generations. I say this as someone who left the farm to seek his fortune in the city!
          letstakeawalk
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          "It takes generation to build a farm and train good and productive farmers." LOL. Farmers can switch crops quite easily. They do it now, based on price projections. Less corn, more soybeans. Farmers look at a number of variables (weather, expected demand) before finalizing on each year's specific crops. Farmers are a little better organized than you seem to give them credit for, and can make major changes in their planting plans when they need to. "Farmers, lenders and others can estimate net revenue to analyze their own situations under different price and yield conditions. A management tool (in Microsoft Excel) developed by extension economist Bill Lazarus is available at http://z.umn.edu/3lk." http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/18506/group/Crops/ "U.S. corn farmers are running out of time to plant this year’s crop after wet weather swamped fields from North Dakota to Ohio, signaling higher costs for livestock and ethanol producers as growers switch to soybeans." http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-05-27/corn-crop-delays-signal-price-gain-as-farmers-switch-to-soybeans.html Again, I must point out, there seems to be no reason why corn prices would fall substantially if ethanol subsidies were eliminated. It's the ethanol producers that will have reduced profits, because they will still have to pay market price for corn, they just won't be getting any federal funding to help pay for it.
      Dave D
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh. My God. I think hell just froze over
      carney373
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can't be everyone at once to tamp down nonsense on the internet. I just can't. ABG, your anti ethanol agenda is appalling and ridiculous.
      Spec
      • 4 Years Ago
      "or are they just lining up their next target for a cleaner shot?" This. WSJ tends to be against all subsidies except for those to companies big enough to buy lots of ad space from them like Oil companies.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The WSJ is the mouthpiece for the $1.5 quadrillion ponzi scheme that many like to call "the US economy". It serves its masters, the banks and oil companies and the overseers pulling the strings. Somehow this slip got through the filters. It will be corrected and will not happen again. You will buy gasoline until there is none left.
        Ford Future
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Koch Brothers have destroyed Wind projects in the Lake Region of WI, they've funded the "Indian" protests in Nantucket against wind, now they've targeted Ethanol. This country is run by fools, rich fools, who you make richer very year you pay 25%-39% tax rates, and they pay 15-20% capital gains tax, plus you allowed the slashing of inheritance tax which allows the dumb idle rich to have more political power. The Rupert Murduch WSJ can dress it up so that it's got lipstick, but it's still a pig.
        Bill Fracalossi
        • 4 Years Ago
        Call me a cynic, but it seems "the banks and the oil companies" ARE our government, and the politicians are just full time employees of them, with boldly unhidden agendas and ties. Goldman equals the Fed, with folks floating back and forth depending on their needs. Between this site and the financial sites I frequent, your answer applies to a great percentage of the comments. We are a mock democracy (a deMockracy??)
          Nick
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Bill Fracalossi
          Fully agreed. The real power is in the hands of money.
      Smith Jim
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm a little confused. 99.9% of conservatives deny climate change so they tend to block any progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But their hatred for all Muslims has been motivating them to want to get the US off of foreign oil. From a greenhouse gas emissions point of view I can understand the difference between electrification of our transportation and biofuels. I can't understand why conservatives would favor EVs but not ethanol because their only motivation for advocating alternative fuels is getting us off of oil imported from predominately Muslim countries. In this respect it would seem biofuels and EVs would be equally attractive. I don't understand conservatives. Wait a minute, I just went and read the whole article. Now I understand. The notion of ethanol lobbyists switching to EVs was made in jest. WSJ is suggesting that congress go after EV subsidies and this is an opportunity for lobbyists. In other words, WSJ favors the elimination of anything that protects the environment. There is some consistency to the conservative way of thinking. Nevermind.
        letstakeawalk
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        "The notion of ethanol lobbyists switching to EVs was made in jest." That's how I read it. One subsidy is dying, so why not chase after the subsidies we know the government is planning on keeping. It's all about chasing the $$ - not about promoting one form of energy over another.
          Nick
          • 4 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          Yep, I see no indication that the WSJ is promoting EVs in any way.
        carney373
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        I'm a conservative and I switched over to favoring getting off of oil primarily for geostrategic, war on terror related reasons.
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