Paul Krugman Gets It Right On Biofuels

by John Hawkins | April 9, 2008 5:16 am

I don’t have a lot of respect for Paul Krugman and think he gets almost everything wrong, but this excerpt from his latest column[1] proves that even a blind squirrel stumbles across a nut every once in a while,

“The subsidized conversion of crops into fuel was supposed to promote energy independence and help limit global warming. But this promise was, as Time magazine bluntly put it, a “scam.”

This is especially true of corn ethanol: even on optimistic estimates, producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains. But it turns out that even seemingly “good” biofuel policies, like Brazil’s use of ethanol from sugar cane, accelerate the pace of climate change by promoting deforestation.

And meanwhile, land used to grow biofuel feedstock is land not available to grow food, so subsidies to biofuels are a major factor in the food crisis. You might put it this way: people are starving in Africa so that American politicians can court votes in farm states.”

There are biofuels that show some promise, but ethanol is not among them. Yet, we have politicians, both Democrats AND Republicans, relentlessly pushing this useless biofuel along with equally unproductive forms of “clean energy” like wind farms and solar power?

Why? Because it’s the perfect political scam. These politicians get to funnel tax dollars to their supporters, who pay them back with donations, and as an added bonus, they get to claim that they’re big supporters of the environment because they support biofuels, solar, and wind power.

Meanwhile, it’s the much demonized oil, coal, and natural gas companies that power our economy and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, barring some sort of unforeseen technological breakthrough.

  1. his latest column:

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