Considering that the incoming Obama administration's energy policy looks to favor second generation biofuels, wind, solar and geothermal power to a greater degree than previous policy, these statistics cited by the Environmental Working Group as much a reminder of things past as much as a warning on how not to do things in the future. Nonetheless, it is useful to, as the EWG puts it, "take a hard, clear-eyed look at...corn-based ethanol's stranglehold on federal renewable energy tax credits and subsidies. This how things looked in 2007:Ethanol Got $3 Billion in 2007
According to data EWG dragged up from EIA information released in April of 2008, in 2007 the ethanol industry received $3 billion in federal tax credits, which biodiesel received $180 million, and solar, wind and geothermal combined received $750 million. For those keen on percentages, that's 76% for ethanol and 19% for solar, wind and geothermal.
America Can Do Better
Saying that "America can do better" and citing oft-heard reasons for corn-based ethanol not being all it was once claimed to be (limited potential for offsetting meaningful amounts of fossil fuels, dubious carbon emission reduction claims), the EWG is calling for politicians to 1) "phase out tax credits for corn ethanol and subsidize biofuels only if they show clear promise to meet strict climate and environmental protection standards;" and 2) "rebalance the US renewable energy and energy conservation portfolio to favor options that do the most to reduce fossil fuel use, safeguard the environment, spur more widely-shared economic development and increase energy security."
While I'm right there with EWG in thinking that the US would do well to put corn ethanol behind it, move forward to better sources of renewable energy and concentrate even more on energy conservation, and stop being so beholden to Big Corn in general—so right on for the EWG in what they are advocating—is anyone else a bit tired of all the recommendations for what Barack Obama should or should not do? Let's all give the man until February 1 to get innaugurated and settle in to his new abode before again telling him what he ought to be doing.
More: Environmental Working Group
Corn Ethanol, US Energy Subsidies
40 Corn Ethanol Plants Could File for Bankruptcy by Early 2009
Corn Ethanol is Stupid: 13 Year Old Weighs In On Renewable Energy
Graphic of the Day: US Federal Energy Subsidies and Support, Fiscal Year 2007