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  (Source: Center for Environment and Commerce)
Vote is cheered by environmentalists, jeered by corn coalition

Don't like the price of your shopping cart at The Kroger Comp. (KG)?  Blame corn ethanol.

I. Corn Ethanol is Rolled Back

That's what a government sponsored study says [PDF].  The 2008 study found corn ethanol demand was responsible for jacking up food prices on some corn heavy items an estimated 20 percent or more.  What's more, automakers say that the use of higher ethanol blends will shorten the life of engines, causing hundreds of millions in warranty claims.  And several studies have even indicated that ethanol increases atmospheric carbon emissions, when one of the key goals of alternative fuels is to go "carbon neutral".

Yet the alternative fuel's proponents claim that it’s tantamount to defending the nation.  They point to instability in top U.S. oil supplying regions like the Middle East and Venezuela, and hoist corn ethanol as the U.S. sole alternative to trade with these dangerous parties.  They also say that ethanol is boosting a core sector of the U.S. economy -- the farming industry.

But as public support for the fuel wanes, for better or worse it appears the critics are winning.  A key vote (H.R. 3199; PDF) in the House has silence a bid by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to put more ethanol at the pump -- for now.

Corn ethanol handouts
The federal handouts are finally ending for corn ethanol. [Image Source: AP]

The recent rollbacks began with a back and forth game of political theater; the House and Senate finally killed the multi-billion dollar ethanol subsidy [1][2][3].  That left only the EPA's fuel-blending mandates, which have promoted ethanol by mandating that gasoline at the pump be blended with a certain level of ethanol.

The EPA hoped to roll out E15 this year, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.  This is the highest ethanol blend that has ever been pushed out on the mass market.  Today most of the fuel sold in the U.S. is E10 -- a lower ethanol blend of 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gas.  The EPA claims that it knows more about cars that the companies that designs them, insisting that the automakers don't know what they're talking about and the high-ethanol blend would be harmless to engines.

II. House Vote Derails E15

But the House Science Committee on Wed. passed a proposal by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) to defund the EPA's push for E15, leaving it essentially dead.
  

The resolution was supported by(19: 0 Dem., 19 Repub.):
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.) [contact]           Rep. James Sensenbrenner [contact]
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) [contact]       Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) [contact]
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Mary.) [contact]    Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) [contact]
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) [contact] Rep. Michael McCaul, Sr. (R-Tex.) [contact]
Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R-Geor.) [contact]   Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Flor.) [contact]
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) [contact]         Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) [contact]
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virg.) [contact]         Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alab.) [contact]
Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-Mary.) [contact]    Rep. Randy Hultrgren (Ill.) [contact]
Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) [contact]   Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) [contact]
Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) [contact]

And opposed by (7: 6 Dem., 1 Repub.):
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.) [contact]
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) [contact]
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) [contact]
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Mary.) [contact]
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) [contact]
Rep. Ben Luján (D-N.M.) [contact]
Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.) [contact]

[source -- votes]

While the bill shoots down the E15 blending, it does leave the door open to ongoing research by the National Academy of Sciences.  It orders evaluating ethanol's benefits versus risks as a priority for the government research funder.

III. Passage Earns Praise, Condemnation

Rep. Sensenbrenner cheers the passage, stating:

I am pleased that the Committee voted today to put science before politics.  When it comes to a decision of this magnitude that would impact every American who owns a car, boat, or lawnmower, we must base our decisions on sound science, not political expediency.  The Administration has fast tracked E15 without considering that increasing the percentage of ethanol in our gasoline will cause premature engine failure, lower fuel efficiency, and void vehicle warranties.  In small engines, E15 is downright dangerous and the EPA has no credible plan to stop mis-fueling.  If ethanol is going to be the ‘fuel of the future,’ then there should be no problem conducting independent, comprehensive scientific analysis of its effect on American drivers.

The bill earned the Republicans praise from an unlikely ally -- environmentalists.  The group Friends of the Earth opposed the bill, which it saw as pushing a dirty fuel.  The group, which has referred to corn ethanol as a "con" in past press releases, wrote a letter of support [PDF] for the resolution to defund E15 and bump funding for E15 impact research.

Tom Buis, CEO of corn ethanol producer coalition Growth Energy, blasted the bill, though, stating:

This is a waste of time and a waste of taxpayer dollars. No fuel blend has been tested as thoroughly as E15. No fuel blend has undergone the level of scrutiny E15 has – and passed the tests like E15 did. They’ve been looking at E15 for more than three years. Now Rep. Sensenbrenner wants to move the goal posts again – a move that would only add more red tape and regulation. This would do nothing to help the American consumer, but only continues our reliance on the OPEC monopoly.

Domestic ethanol creates American jobs. Foreign oil drains American money out of our economy – and puts it to work in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Caracas. We want jobs in American cities. Only American industries – like U.S. ethanol – will create those jobs. Foreign oil costs American families more money at the pump, hurting the consumers. Let’s not create more hurdles and regulation that prevent those jobs from being created.

Ethanol jobs
Ethanol producers say the fuel creates "green" jobs, and that the new resolution hurts Americans. [Image Source: RFA]

Growth Energy claims that past studies indicating higher net life cycle carbon emissions were flawed.  It claims that the E15 enforcement would have created 136,000 jobs and cut carbon emissions by 8 million metric tons.  The group says the resolution adds "red tape", a slightly ironic phrasing, given that the resolution was a move to strike a piece of government regulation.

Sources: U.S. House, EPA, Growth Energy



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RE: ethanol
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2012 1:51:09 PM , Rating: 1
Santorum was defeated in a wave of "all Republicans are George Bush and evil". It says nothing about his electability. As was shown by his primary wins yesterday.


RE: ethanol
By kattanna on 2/8/2012 2:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"all Republicans are George Bush and evil". It says nothing about his electability


i beg to differ. winning in a primary where only republicans are voting is one thing, but if he cannot win in a general open election, then it most certainly says something about his electability.


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 2:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
GOP faithful may flock to Santorum just as they flocked to George Bush. But regardless if the blame is unfair, a good 60%+ of the US base does not have fond memories of the Bush years. Santorum's recorded positions will significant hurt his ability to sway the ~50% of moderates that any Presidential hopeful must be able to reach. Now with 4 more years of Obama, even the Bush years may take on a rosy glow for some.

As for his "wins", all non-delegate purely ratings exercises. I think less than 500,000 people voted and less than 250,000 of those for Santorum. (For example, in Colorado looks like 60,000 or so people bothered to show up. That's a fairly small slice of the ~2,200,000 who voted in 2008. And its almost certain very few of those 60,000 were the moderates that will be key in turning Colorado from a Blue State back to a Red State)


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/8/2012 3:34:53 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, no chance of him being elected, and no chance against the billion dollar Obama campaign juggernaut.

America has been steadily becoming younger, more minority oriented, and more disassociated with religion, which are all heavily democratic leaning, and it's getting more and more this way since the older white Republican base are simply dying off. Any Republican candidate HAS to appeal to the moderates to even get a chance and they can't do that by being the bible-thumping, abortion-banning warmongerers they are. That's why Mitt Romney has the greatest chance of competing with Obama as he's the most liberal Republican candidate.

This is the last chance for a republican to get elected while representing a socially conservative party, they will have to radically reinvent themselves for the next elections.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/12, Rating: -1
RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/8/2012 4:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to ask you the same question, given your beliefs on how the republican party isn't socially conservative. Maybe you haven't seen this report?
http://secular.org/content/2012-presidental-candid...


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/12, Rating: -1
RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/8/12, Rating: -1
RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 4:52:24 PM , Rating: 1
These discussions always end up getting dirty, as two immovable objects of opinion slam into each-other. I rather not get into that. Judging people of faith that harshly smacks of bigotry to me, however.

I will simply reaffirm my statement. The mainstream Republican party, those in Congress, are not social Conservatives. What you said about Romney is dead on, it also applies to the mainstream Republicans. They might be less Liberal than Liberal Democrats, but that doesn't make them true Conservatives.

I really don't feel like I have the luxury to be an idealist in the upcoming election. Not at the dire consequence of having Obama for another 4 years. I know you don't agree, you seem to be a typical Democrat from your postings. But there you have it.


RE: ethanol
By JediJeb on 2/8/2012 6:44:37 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
As far as being religious, it usually correlates with a lower IQ level according to studies, so I would want a smarter president.


Funny since most of the smartest people I know are religious and most of the ones that I know that fit the "dumb as a box of rocks" category are the non-religious ones.


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/8/2012 6:56:52 PM , Rating: 2
Unscientific anecdotal observations have no verifiability, and therefore hence no weight. For some real scientific analysis of the correlation on IQ and religiousity, you can start by reading this study:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S...


RE: ethanol
By Ringold on 2/8/2012 7:51:42 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
correlation on IQ and religiousity


I'm not sure how relevant IQ is to the White House. When I was in school, I saw a great number of slightly less bright kids excel far beyond brighter peers due to sheer force of personality and drive. I see it every day in the work force. It helps, certainly, but more important (as history has shown on occasion) is leadership personality, the ability to get people together, and the ability to have the right group of advisers at ones side. Once the advisers have spoke, they also need the ability to make a firm decision and stick with it.

Sometimes I get the sense there's an IQ elitism of sorts. Guess it's been too long since we've had a Hoover; an otherwise smart president who still manages to bumble from one mishap to the next. Even Obama is extremely intelligent I'd say, just blinded by certain articles of faith.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 8:57:00 PM , Rating: 4
Anyone saying they can scientifically prove that a religious belief reflects on IQ, as a blanket statement, is a bigot. And by parroting this, so are you.

There were real scientific studies done, not so long ago, that "proved" members of the African race had smaller frontal lobes. Thus, were less intelligent and inferior to other races. Obviously this was racist garbage, but it's no different than what you're trying to do here. It's bigotry plain and simple.

You need to reevaluate your life cord. Big time.


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/9/2012 9:53:33 AM , Rating: 1
But it correlates according to multiple studies. I said correlation, nothing more. If reputable studies showed that being African correlated with less intelligence, it'd be an uneasy but still correct truth. I doubt that study would go anywhere though since IQ tests mostly depend on upbringing rather than innate abilities.

It's not bigotry to state that the invention of religion has affected humanity negatively overall. In fact, there was a debate about that in the UK between Dawkins/Fry and the Church, where the Church convincingly lost.

With all their other qualities being the same, a religious person is inferior to a non-religious person. Simple as that.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/9/2012 10:37:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
With all their other qualities being the same, a religious person is inferior to a non-religious person. Simple as that.


It's amazing that you can say that and think you aren't a bigot. I'm just blown away. And no, I'm not a "religious person", but I'm genuinely amazed how you can make that statement and think it's not bigoted and xenophobic in any way.


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/9/2012 1:58:03 PM , Rating: 2
I just don't see how it's any different than saying that amongst two otherwise identical people, the one who thinks the earth is flat, or denies the holocaust, or believes the aliens are coming to take them in their spaceship, etc. is inferior. A deluded person does not make healthy decisions.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/9/2012 4:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
Are you seriously trolling now?

I think you need to look up the term "inferior". Having a religious belief doesn't make someone a sub-human.


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/9/2012 11:23:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
correlation


This is an dreadful basis for making judgments about people. You know what also correlates? TV watching and IQ. Those that watch more TV have higher IQ (on some sample basis). So should we elect a couch potato based on this correlation study?

quote:
In fact, there was a debate about that in the UK between Dawkins/Fry and the Church, where the Church convincingly lost.


While I agree in that specific incident, one might also argue that there have been debates where fundamentally held scientific principles today convincingly lost... A debate proves nearly nothing and is more a tool of changing opinions through clever marketing than a presentation of facts and data.


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/9/2012 2:01:26 PM , Rating: 2
IQ should never be the sole consideration of who's being elected president. However, history has shown us that overtly religious leaders have never benefited their people.

Science does not lose to religion in any argument based on facts by the way, and it never will by definition.


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/9/2012 3:56:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Science does not lose to religion in any argument based on facts by the way, and it never will by definition.


You changing the nature of the debate quite dramatically Corduroygt.

Science and Religion are not really on opposite sides of a spectrum. Faith and Questioning are. Its entirely possible to be a Questioning person overall with a Religious Faith and its equally possible to be entirely faith based person without religious intentions.

I think there are a number of people who have strong Faith that the world is heating up to dramatic levels and drastic action is need now. The accuracy is not so much important as the method by which they came to these conclusions... which was mainly faith based.

quote:
However, history has shown us that overtly religious leaders have never benefited their people.


Wow, thats a tough one to prove. I think Constantine was overall a pretty good ruler of Rome! Here was pretty overtly religious however.

I'd stay away from making such definite statements. Absolutes are rarely ever that well absolute.


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 7:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Funny since most of the smartest people I know are religious and most of the ones that I know that fit the "dumb as a box of rocks" category are the non-religious ones.


Perception of people's intelligence is often more dependent on agreement with their beliefs than rational assessment of abilities. I am unaware of any studies performed with a sufficient level of rigor that would say one way or the other.

Logically speaking however, the less constraints one places on their thought patterns the more variety of pathways exists. The greater than number of pathways, the more likely information and data will be absorbed and combined into unique combinations. I would think this would lead to an experimental bias where less religious people scored higher on many types of IQ testing. I would think this effect would exist for -ANY- deeply held belief system. (For example, some people so passionately believe in Global Warming, they are in fact reducing their ability to think rationally about a wide range of topics) The resulting testing bias would vary based on the difference between the test writers and subjects beliefs. To truly isolate one variable such as religious belief, a test would need to be conducted on a relatively large sample using multiple different assessment methods over the course of years. As I have said, I am unaware of a study with this type of rigor. (The linked article by another poster was unfortunately conducted with significant testing bias and did not include a wide range of IQ testing procedures)


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/8/2012 7:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am unaware of any studies performed with a sufficient level of rigor that would say one way or the other.

Study 1: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S...
Study 2: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/26/liberals....


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 7:44:00 PM , Rating: 3
Potential reading would help you a significant deal Corduroygt. Especially after the gaff where you not only did not understand how the US Constitution is amended, but were willing to shoot off without performing even the most basic research.

The CNN article refers to a study done by a "Evolutionary psychologist". One who by the way is currently being disciplined for poor research methodology and what appears to be out and out fabrication of his final conclusions. (Not connected to the IQ study) It is of note that he did not conduct any IQ testing himself, but relying of databases for both IQ level and level of religious thought. His study, while potentially providing an accurate result, was in no way conducted with the type of rigor that should be the foundation of such sweeping generalizations as your attempting to use it for..

I have seen significant studies that empirically high achievement in certain fields is negatively correlated with religious belief. But that's really the best that can be said..
"People with significant religious beliefs have a statistically smaller chance of having had achieved success in scientific and engineering fields"
Correlation is not causation. It might be true that another factor (such as number of children) has a greater affect on success on these fields.


RE: ethanol
By Jedi2155 on 2/9/2012 4:27:04 AM , Rating: 2
Funny...same here. I have regular discussions with them, and they are filled with deep convictions, and tons of logic behind it, although in my opinion still misguided by faith rather than real world causes.

Still there are a lot of very good aspects that Christianity can bring to people, but there also many bad aspects that causes people to believe in certain completely illogical things blindly....


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/10/2012 9:08:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Still there are a lot of very good aspects that Christianity can bring to people, but there also many bad aspects that causes people to believe in certain completely illogical things blindly....

There are no good aspects that would ONLY be possible with Christianity and couldn't be possible with a non-religious substitute. It's been shown that the Catholic Church has been a net negative on human history by a large margin.

Therefore humanity would be better off if it, or any other religion did not exist.


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 4:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Secular values under attack"? First off, secular is the opposite of "values".


WTF. For this statement to be true. Values must be the same or indistinguishable from religious activities or activities directly inspired by religion.

But the truth is quite the opposite. Many of the values you yourself hold dear are created/established by a mainly secular document (the Constitution).

quote:
The greatest modern Democrat of our time was a Roman Catholic. I mean, come on. Did it hurt America one bit?


Potentially not. But to think that all "religious" people have the same level of observation of religion is flawed assumption in that statement.

Rick Santorum is on record saying he views George Bush as the "First Catholic President of the United States" and that he considers a distinction between "private religious conviction and public responsibility" of public elected officials as causing "much harm in America"

I think that's an indication that Santorum at least would bring significantly more acknowledged religious thought process into governing that JFK.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 5:11:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But the truth is quite the opposite. Many of the values you yourself hold dear are created/established by a mainly secular document (the Constitution).


Yes and the Constitution makes it pretty clear what a President can and can't do. Maybe if we got back to that, we wouldn't have to worry about someone's religious beliefs.

I just don't buy all the fear mongering from the atheist's that it's some terrible thing if a President has religious beliefs. Last time I checked, this was America. And you have a right to religion.

I've seen many many President's come and go, and not once can I recall a time where their religious beliefs impacted anything. Certainly not me personally. But every time a Republican candidate comes along, it's the same old fear mongering tactics from the left about religion.

Prejudice and bigotry takes all forms.


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 5:55:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I've seen many many President's come and go, and not once can I recall a time where their religious beliefs impacted anything. Certainly not me personally. But every time a Republican candidate comes along, it's the same old fear mongering tactics from the left about religion.


Come now, this is sheer driven. One needs to look no further than President GW Bush to see a case where his religious views impacted governing choices. He vetoed several bills related to Stem Cell Research despite clear majorities for approval in both the public and both houses of Congress.

quote:
Prejudice and bigotry takes all forms.


Agreed.

quote:
But every time a Republican candidate comes along, it's the same old fear mongering tactics from the left about religion.


Maybe if nearly every Republican candidate didn't spend so much time courting the religious vote, there wouldn't be the scare tactic.

In the case of Santorum, he's pretty much said he intends to mix religion and politics on numerous occasions, so it seems well justified.

For Ginrich, "he has developed a greater appreciation for the role of faith in public life following his conversion, and believes that the United States has become too secular."


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/8/2012 6:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
The Government can't ban gay couples from marrying according to the constitution, but that's now how it is in practice isn't it? This is just one of the MANY dangers of electing a religious president...They can always amend the constitution according to their own beliefs.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 6:11:19 PM , Rating: 3
LOL A President cannot Amend the Constitution. He can't even propose an Amendment. At no point does the President have a role in the formal Amendment process.

See this is the kind of radical fear-mongering I'm talking about. There is NO "danger" of something like that happening.

You people sound no better than the "birthers" or those who said Obama was going to bring Islam to the White House. Can't you see that?


RE: ethanol
By Keeir on 2/8/2012 6:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They can always amend the constitution according to their own beliefs.


No. Read.

The Constitution amendments require ratification by 3/4 of existing states. This is of course after 2/3 of both Houses of Reps vote to propose the amendment.


RE: ethanol
By Spuke on 2/8/2012 5:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry Rec, but I'd rather have Obama than a bible thumper and Santorum is the closest candidate to that. Santorum will NOT get my vote. I'm open on Gingrich and Romney.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 5:25:46 PM , Rating: 2
Well of course he won't because he's not going to get nominated lol. I think that's pretty much a no-brainer at this point.

I'm not saying vote for Santorum. I'm not even saying I like him. He articulates Conservatism great, maybe the best of all three. Then he says things in other areas that are ill advised. Argh, this is why I hate when religion comes up on the Internet. People get SO freaked out.

Frankly I think the next President, hopefully, is going to have his hands full undoing all of Obama's crap. There just isn't going to be time for anything else anyway.


RE: ethanol
By N8SLC on 2/8/2012 7:29:21 PM , Rating: 2
I feel Huntsman was the Republican's only chance at getting the White House. Even living in Utah, the reddest state, I can see the difference from the last election in overall opinion regarding the current GOP candidates. They're all too extreme. It will be an easy choice for most moderates.


RE: ethanol
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2012 9:12:40 PM , Rating: 2
It comes all down to the head to head debates. Nothing happening now matters, no matter what the media wants you to think.

I don't honestly see Obama being able to win debates against Romney or Gingrich. He gets really nasty and defensive whenever people do anything besides kiss his ass. Have you noticed that? He can't handle criticism of any kind. And he has the absolute WORST poker face I've ever seen. It's like he doesn't even try to hide his disdain and frustration at someone. He's going to have a real hard time articulating, without a prepared speech or teleprompter, why people should vote for 4 more years of this in a straight up debate.

Romney is certainly no Bush when it comes to public speaking and debating. He articulates well, speaks with confidence, and can clearly get his position across to the audience.

It might be an "easy choice" now for moderates. But now doesn't count. It's going to be a much harder choice once the debates start.


RE: ethanol
By N8SLC on 2/10/2012 11:36:52 AM , Rating: 2
To be fair, Obama wasn't running against G.W. Bush. He was debating with John McCain, who is considerably more skilled.

I do agree that it will come down to the head to head debates. However, even if Romney is the nominee he'll need to pull a few mini-miracles out of his butt to win over an incumbent that hasn't really pissed off anyone but those who already hated him in the first place.


RE: ethanol
By corduroygt on 2/11/2012 3:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
all Republicans are George Bush and evil

That's really not much different from the actual truth. Democrats are just slightly less evil.


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