Huffpost Green
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Eric Holt Gimenez Headshot

The Biofuels Bailout: (M)ethadone for our Fuel Addiction?

Posted: Updated:

The recent announcement by the Obama Administration of renewed support to the bloated biofuels industry has the Brazilians jumping for joy.

The Brazilians? Wait a minute... Yep, here are the latest headlines from UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association:

Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Welcomes U.S. EPA's Renewable Fuels Rules
SAO PAULO, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that ethanol made from sugarcane is a low carbon renewable fuel, which can contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As part of today's announcement finalizing regulations for the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), the EPA designated sugarcane ethanol as an advanced biofuel that lowers GHG emissions by more than 50%."

The president warmed their heart when he called biofuels the road to "energy independence while building a foundation for a new clean energy economy, and its promise of new industries and millions of jobs."

Oh... you thought that the targets were about our energy independence?

Hardly. We can't even come close to meeting the 36 billion gallon renewable fuel targets. Even if we planted the entire U.S. corn crop to ethanol we would only substitute 12% of our gasoline use. Apparently, energy independence only means independence from a small fraction of oil coming from the Middle East. We can't wait to become dependent on Brazilian ethanol.

You thought the president was talking about jobs for our unemployed workforce?

Think again. The production of biofuels is not only high-tech and low labor, it isn't even in the hands of farmers. Archer Daniels Midland and POET at home, and now Shell Oil and Brazilian Cosan abroad, have taken over the refining.

Well, we should have seen it coming, what with over 70% of the economic stimulus for green energy being pumped into biofuels, the industry has become the new Wall Street, lining up at the trough for taxpayer bailouts.

Farmers in the U.S. have their hopes pinned on biofuels to bump up corn prices. (Mr. President, wouldn't guaranteeing them a fair price that covered costs be less expensive and more efficient? It worked for Roosevelt.)

Truth is, because grain companies monopolize grain, because farmers are encouraged to overproduce--and because we will likely be flooded with sugar cane ethanol from Brazil that is 8 times cheaper to produce--any increases in income to U.S. farmers will be ephemeral.

Either way, the president's support for biofuels will benefit another paragon of support for U.S. farmers: Monsanto corporation. This Monday the monopoly that controls 90% of all GM seeds announced they will be jumping into bed with the Brazilians:

"Monsanto Company to Invest in Technologies for Sugarcane With Acquisitions of CanaVialis and Alellyx

ST. LOUIS and SAO PAULO, Brazil, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In the face of long-term changes driving greater global demand for food and biofuel sources, Monsanto Company is investing in a new large-acre row crop, sugarcane, to diversify its existing core crop portfolio and to leverage its experience in bringing innovations to the agricultural marketplace through breeding and biotechnology. Monsanto announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Aly Participacoes Ltda., which operates the sugarcane breeding and technology companies, CanaVialis S.A. and Alellyx S.A., both of which are based in Brazil. Monsanto's $290 million (R$616 million) acquisition of Aly Participacoes Ltda. from Votorantim Novos Negocios Ltda. and its sister company, Votorantim Industrial S.A., will be consummated with existing excess cash."

(See, I wasn't being libelous, they said "consummated.")

Geez, if we are going to use "green energy" to kick our non-renewable fuel habit can we at least mainline our own home grown ethadone?

From Our Partners