We can’t repeal the laws of nature

(letter blogposted to Brainerd Dispatch)

Not content with two budget busting measures — extensions of tax cuts and unemployment benefits — in its latest compromise bill, Congress has included billions for ethanol from corn and cellulose. 

Corn-based ethanol blenders will receive about $6 billion in 2011 for blending the 12.6 billion gallons mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007(EISA). This is more than the market can use which led to EPA’s unpopular permission for blending 15% ethanol in gasoline.  EISA also requires 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2011. That has been lowered to 6.6 million by the EPA, as there are no effective production facilities for that product.

We have a Congress that has mandated more of one biofuel, corn ethanol, than the market can consume, and it has mandated 35 times more of a second biofuel, cellulosic ethanol, than industry can supply.

The Minnesota Legislature has enacted a similar energy pipe dream, requiring Xcel Energy to get 25 percent of its energy from wind in 2020. Texas has three times the wind capacity of any other state. It is forecasting 1 percent of Texas electric grid power from wind through 2015.

Passing legislative laws is easy. Repealing the laws of nature and physics is not so easy.

Our Take:
There is no law of nature that says cars driven by Minnesotans have to operate on oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, or even Canada.

While we would argue that free trade is often a great benefit in developing the global economy, and that it lifts up individual regions through participation in that competitive global economic environment, we think Americans are starting to wake up and realize we may have given away the store through this unrestrained approach to trade.

Energy is one of the worst areas of trade imbalance facing the United States and it’s one that not only puts our economy at risk, but our national security as well–the fact that every time we pull up to pump–even when we are buying Canadian-sourced gasoline, we are supporting the world oil market and enriching nations that are actively promoting our destruction.

Through incentives and EISA we are breaking the monopoly of oil and limiting the transfer of wealth to Russia, Iran, the Persian Gulf nations, and Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela.

We import nearly two thirds of our oil–that is dollars and jobs that are gushing out of our economy. By building ethanol and biodiesel we not only support two small industries, but we infuse the entire economy through the jobs and revenues in renewable energy production. Even more important we are building the intellectual and monetary capital to continue to invest in energy innovation.

Ethanol is the first building block in the foundation of a future of domestically produced, biomass-based renewable energy–sourced from the farm, from the forest and even from municipal waste streams. Not only does bioenergy obey the laws of nature, but it’s growing use and our decreasing dependence on fossil energy will continually reduce our adverse impact on nature, while creating jobs and economic activity that can’t be moved to Mexico or China.

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