What’s happening in Washington and St. Paul right now goes way beyond muddying waters, both in the literal sense of what is flowing into our waters and in the metaphoric sense of how politicians talk about protection and pollution. Both in Washington and in St. Paul, politicians are shutting down water protection. They are ditching regulations that protect lakes, rivers and drinking water and slashing funds for enforcement. Continue reading
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News Day: Subsidizing corn for a sacred cow / The professor is a man / MN Job Watch / Around the world in 90 seconds, more
Subsidizing corn for a sacred cow A 107-page report (PDF) from the state legislative auditor’s office says the state should stop subsidizing ethanol and questions the potential for increased environmental benefit from increasing production of corn-based ethanol.
The recommendation to end public subsidies for ethanol producers is based on strictly economic analysis that shows increased profitability for ethanol producers has eliminated the justification for subsidies. The state program, begun in 1987, is a producer payment program. The Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) program has also provided subsidies for recently-built ethanol and biodiesel facilities. According to the report, “the producer payment program has paid $93 million over the last five years to companies that have earned profits of $619 million” during the past five years, and “about $44 million is scheduled to be spent on the producer payment program from fiscal year 2010 through 2012.” The report recommends ending the subsidy and “redirecting the funds to programs designed to further reduce fossil fuel energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.” That, of course, is not going to happen because the ethanol industry has a lock on legislative support, as well as the support of the governor.