Obama’s Enviro-Racketeering

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As I have noted on more than one occasion, in recent years the United States EPA has been acting more and more like a revenue-generating arm of the government than an agency that’s actually interested in protecting human health and the environment. A recent story published in the New York Times amply illustrates the point: fuel suppliers are being fined for failing to add a “green fuel” – cellulosic ethanol – that doesn’t actually exist into their gasoline blends.

Cellulosic ethanol has long been a particularly prized panacea among environmental groups. As any moonshiner knows, conventional ethanol has long been produced by fermenting naturally grown sugars. These sugars are readily available and relatively easy to get at in corn for example, which is why ethanol production plants commonly use corn as their feedstock.  However, even Al Gore eventually realized that it was rather idiotic to take millions of acres of farmland out of food and feed production in order to “grow” a fuel that (in many gases) actually ends up on the deficit side of the energy ledger. Cellulosic ethanol theoretically addresses those concerns.

There are sugars theoretically available in cellulose, a naturally-occurring polymer found in all sorts of plant life. If you can figure out how to get at those sugars, then you can make ethanol out of things that don’t have a lot of intrinsic value and that don’t compete with food and feed crops, like tree trimmings and corn cobs. Unfortunately, getting at those particular sugars is (for a lot of reasons that would bore the heck out of the average reader) extremely difficult. Like the Chevy Volt, the concept of cellulosic ethanol is very attractive, but the reality is expensive and impractical.

Expense and practicality are hardly matters of concern to environmentalists though. Environmentalists prefer the pixie dust approach to dealing with energy policy: if they believe hard enough, their wishes will come true. They wanted cellulosic ethanol and once Democrats took control of Congress after the 2006 elections, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid duly granted their wish. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated the use of certain minimum quantities of cellulosic ethanol that started at 100 million gallons in 2009 and ends at 16 billion gallons is 2022. (Annual US gasoline sales are about 130 billion gallons, by way of comparison). In 2011, oil companies were mandated to sell at least 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol.

This was a problem for oil companies, because there are no plants currently producing cellulosic ethanol. And so, using her authority under the Clean Air Act, USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson duly issued penalty demands of $6.8 million to oil companies for not using a non-existent fuel.  If the rallying cry in 1776 was “No Taxation Without Representation!”, perhaps the equivalent in 2011 ought to be “No Penalty Without Reality!”

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  • Ken

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. The ultimate goal is to have regulations for the average household to control energy use. Don't think so, look at the development of the electrical outlet with a lockout device on it developed with government subsidies.

  • Gamaliel

    The Obama administration appears to believe that if the oil companies wanted to they could produce cellulosic ethanol. Anyone who has done scientific research knows that you don’t know the difficulty in advance of developing a certain product, and that it’s almost always more difficult than appears on the surface and even if you can develop it, it may require more expense and energy to produce that it yields. Obama is throwing money at Solar energy boondoggles with the same ignorance. He thinks that by throwing money at these companies solar will become an energy alternative to gasoline. He is more likely to get more energy by simply burning the money.

  • Big Irish

    BHO (pissbeuponhim) should be tried for treason – what a disgraceful – pathetic – piece of slime this dirt bag is – GET RID OF HIM!!!!

  • pagegl

    There's an old Texas saying… wish in one hand and sh!t in the other, guess which one fills up first. Some folks just refuse to see the validity of that ol' truism.

  • Rifleman

    Hussein’s energy policy is the equivalent of a person jumping out of a plane without a chute with the assumption they’d find or make one before they hit the ground.

    • Rich Trzupek

      Dude – I'm going to be on "Fox and Friends" tomorrow morning talking about this story with the gang and I am SO stealing that line! Nice one.

      • Rifleman

        No prob, and you can't steal what's given to you. Anything good I write is always fair game. Seeing any terms, sayings, ideas and analogies I come up with go far and wide is the finest compliment, I don't care who gets credit for 'em.

        Crap I must have missed, I meant to thumbs up your reply.

      • Ken

        I saw the interview, Rich. Dead on as usual!!

  • tanstaafl

    "If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets." – Frank Hebert

  • phillyfanatic

    Obama is using class and race warfare in energy, in jobs, in corporation bashing and apparently the Stupid Party, is going along with him. When we conservs know that the EPA is killing free enterprise such as our eco. domestic energy outlets: why are conservs blasting free enterprise activities. It just gives Obama's class eco. warfare more cred. Stop it now Pubs and go after the real villains in our economy like the EPA, not legal corporations giving investors profits and producing products we all need.

  • Rick_in_VA

    Does this REALLY surprise anyone?

  • Jerome from Layton

    There is a consistent pattern to this administration:
    Spend gobs of money (borrowed from the Chinese fascists) on stuff that won't work.
    And prohibit, deny, or delay things that do work.
    I'm looking for a word…oh, yes,
    TREASON! It's the only one that explains it.

  • Flowerknife_us

    The notion that the government has no energy policy is absurd. They do have one and it is to have no energy It is bad enough to burn ones food. Burning somethin that does not exhist really takes the cake.

    Remember to say HI to the DHS.

  • truckwork

    If you're looking for a reason why the economy is in such bad shape this action takes the cake. What is the result that the fines ultimately cost:
    1. Higher prices at the pump.
    2. Higher prices at the pump means that all products that are transported by truck, train, plane and any other sort of hydrocarbon fuel will eventually be higher.
    3. Who pays those higher prices? The consumer, you and me. So who pays the fines? We all do, anyone who consumes these services and products.
    4. With less cash now available, we can't afford other consumer products/services and other businesses go out of business.
    Why is this so hard to understand in the Whitehouse. Businesses and corporations don't pay taxes!

    • johnnywoods

      The White House well understands what they are doing because they are doing it on purpose. Four more years of this bastard and we may not have a country left.

  • tarleton

    The origins of the enviromentalist movement lie in the wreaked political ideologies of the 20th C…the anti capitalism of communism and the anti-humanism of nazism …specifically , the german romanticist movement and the ''vandervogel'' of pre WW1 Germany
    Ever tried watchng the movie ''sound of music '' through nazi eyes ?…Hitler and Goebbles would have LOVED it as it was exactly the type of world they were trying to build ….young healthy german youth dressed in leaderhosen and white dresses /ponytails, out in the great oudoors enjoying the spectacular alpine sceenery , and all to the ''sound of music '' ….haha , I can just imagine Hitler squirming in his seat and nodding with approval at the wonderfully germanic humour and sentimentality …the movie would have dovetailed nicely with Himler's organic ''blood and soil'' ideology …the whole movie could have been screened around the Reich with the change of one single word ….nazi to communist ,; after all , the aristocratic Von Trapp family had a great deal more to fear from the Reds than their home grown Nazis