Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 10:30 AM
Subject: Current Ethanol Policy a "Scam"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Nifty Doesn't Cut It

Just because something can be done doesn’t make it economical to do. There is a big difference between physics and economics.

Take ethanol. It might seem nifty to grow the fuel for our cars and trucks like we do our food, in fields. But niftiness alone is not enough. Nifty notions, like un-nifty ones, must prove out in terms of all the costs involved.

A growing amount of research shows that ethanol doesn’t cut costs at all.

The most recent ethanol debunker I’ve come across is Robert Bryce, author of a forthcoming book with a provocative title, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence.” Interviewed on ReasonOnline by Brian Doherty, Bryce offers some fascinating perspectives on energy economics and policies.

These and other considerations lead Robert Bryce to call current ethanol policy a “scam” and “the longest running robbery of taxpayers in American history.”

Some forms of bio-product may be more economically feasible than ethanol, like the biodiesel made from the unused parts of slaughtered animals. But we should wait to see how they cost out, too, without subsidy.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


Reason Magazine

The Impossible Dream of Energy Independence

Energy Analyst Robert Bryce Explains Why Trying to Make All Our Own Power is a Foolish Idea

Brian Doherty | February 20, 2008

In his forthcoming book Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence” (PublicAffairs) Robert Bryce, managing editor of Energy Tribune and author of Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron, grapples with what he detects as a growing belief, both among policy elites and the public, in “energy independence.”

That’s the notion that America should disengage from world energy markets and seek self-sufficiency in energy production. To Bryce, this is not only impossible, but dangerous to even attempt. As he writes in the book’s introduction, the quest for energy independence “means protectionism and isolationism, both of which are in opposition to America’s long-term interests.”

Some of the myths of energy independence Bryce takes aim at are summed up in this January Washington Post op-ed. They include the false belief that U.S. energy autarky can curb terrorism; that government investment in “alternative fuels” can end our use of foreign oil; that we can starve evil petro-regimes of money by refusing to buy their oil; and that less reliance on foreign energy sources can make our energy supply more secure.

Like any decision to isolate ourselves from the free international market, the search for energy independence would, Bryce demonstrates, lead us to waste our money and, yes, our energy doing things more expensively than they can be done by taking advantage of the international division of labor and flow of capital.

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