Ethanol Loses Its Few Friends

Early in his campaign, now top-tier Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson supported ethanol—a position for which I called him out. It has long been thought that to win in Iowa, a candidate must support ethanol.

However, in a major policy reversal, during the CNBC GOP debate, Carson announced that he no longer supports subsidies for any industry, including U.S. ethanol producers: “I have studied that issue in great detail and what I’ve concluded, the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get the government out of our lives and let people rise and fall based on how good they are.”

The ethanol industry responded, saying it receives no government subsidies. But it neglected to mention a very important fact. Instead of subsidies, ethanol producers get something better: a mandate that orders refiners to blend ethanol into motor fuels and which forces consumers to buy their product. A federally guaranteed market beats a subsidy every time.

The ethanol industry also benefits indirectly from agriculture programs that support farmers who grow corn for ethanol. And recently, the Obama Administration announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering $100 million in grants to subsidize the installation of blender pumps at gas stations all over the country.

In attempting to push more ethanol into the motor fuel market, the Environmental Protection Agency admits it plans to “drive growth in renewable fuels by providing appropriate incentives.”

Carson, and a majority of Republicans and many Democrats, knows the ethanol mandate is a program that has gone horribly wrong. Enacted by a well-meaning Congress, in a different energy era, it is part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners to add biofuels to gasoline and diesel.

Ethanol-blended fuel provides fewer miles per gallon because ethanol contains only two-thirds as much energy as gasoline, forcing motorists to fill up more often.

The mandate puts at risk millions of vehicles owned and operated by private citizens and fleets. Ethanol is corrosive. In tests, it has been proven to eat engine components, including seals and gaskets, causing expensive repairs.

Likewise, marine engine makers also caution boat owners to avoid fuels with high percentages of ethanol. During winter storage, they suggest pouring a fuel stabilizer into built-in gas tanks to avoid problems. A survey of boat owners has shown ethanol-related repairs cost an average of about $1,000.

These are just some of the costs that impact consumers who buy fuel. Yet the RFS continues to stumble along because Congress has not mustered the will to repeal it.

By November 30, the Obama administration must finalize the amount of biofuels to be blended into motor fuels in the next couple of years. A pitched battle is developing on Capitol Hill. On one side are those who want an even larger market share for ethanol. On the other side are those who see the program for what it is—a massive payout to one allegedly “green” industry.

The latter group includes more than 180 Washington lawmakers who have sent a letter to the administration asking it to “limit the economic and consumer harm this program has already caused.”

Wisely, Carson has figured out that government meddling in the marketplace is a bad idea. Contrary to conventional wisdom, his rejection of special treatment for ethanol is not hurting his campaign. Polls conducted before and after the Oct. 28 debate, when he announced his revised view on ethanol, show Carson continuing to rise in popularity nationally.

Congress could learn from Carson’s positive poll numbers by once and for all ending the ethanol subsidies, er, mandates, without fearing political reprisal.


The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

On Climate Change, Catholic Leaders Must Believe In Miracles

For the first time, “Catholic leaders representing all regional and national bishops conferences” have come together in a “joint appeal.” According to reporting in the New York Times, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India, called the October 26 meeting at the Vatican a “historic occasion.”

What brought all these Catholic leaders together for the first time? Not the refugee crisis in Europe. Not the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Not a prayer meeting or a Bible study. It was climate change.

The leaders drafted a ten-point specific policy proposal for, as the document says, “those negotiating the COP 21 [United Nations climate conference] in Paris,” November 30December 11. Saying they are looking out for “the poorest and most vulnerable,” these church leaders want “a fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement.” They call for “a drastic reduction on the emissions of carbon dioxide.”

Within the ten points of the “joint appeal,” number four demands a goal of “complete decarbonisation by mid-century.”

Point five addresses bringing people out of poverty and calls for putting “an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions, including emissions from military aviation and shipping and providing affordable, reliable and safe renewable energy access for all.”

Calling climate change a “moral issue,” Thomas G. Wenski, archbishop of Miami, acknowledged: “We’re pastors and we’re not scientists.”

So, what do the “scientists” say about their proposal to phase out fossil fuel emissions and provide affordable renewable energy access for all?

With a similar goal, Google launched a project in 2007 known as RE<C (Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal)—which “aimed to develop renewable energy sources that would generate electricity more cheaply than coal-fired power plants do.” The two scientists responsible for Google’s effort, Ross Koningstein & David Fork, both Stanford PhDs, state: “At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope.”

More recently, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, made a similar acknowledgement. In an interview with The Atlantic magazine, he said wind has “grown super-fast, on a very subsidized basis” and that solar “has been growing even faster—again on a highly subsidized basis,” yet solar photovoltaics are “still not economical.” Gates admitted: “we need energy 24 hours a day,” but “the primary new zero-CO2 sources are intermittent.” He says that due to “the self-defeating claims of some clean-energy enthusiasts” that are often “misleadingly meaningless statements,” the public underestimates how difficult moving beyond fossil fuels really is—saying it will take an “energy miracle.”

Surely the Catholic leaders really do care about “the poorest and most vulnerable.” If they do, rather than calling for the unrealistic “end of the fossil fuel era,” they’d call on the “climate aid” to be spent on “improved public health, education and economic development,” as recommended by noted economist Bjorn Lomborg.

Lomborg, in the Wall Street Journalstates: “In a world in which malnourishment continues to claim at least 1.4 million children’s lives each year, 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, and 2.6 billion lack clean drinking water and sanitation, this growing emphasis on climate aid is immoral.” Yet, the Catholic leaders call climate change “a moral issue.”

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, who advised Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, has called for the church’s influence on public policy to be “grounded in realities, not ideas”—yet clearly what the church leaders are calling for will require not reality, but a miracle.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Keystone Decision Is About Obama’s Position On The World Stage

On Friday, in finally denying the Keystone pipeline, President Obama showed his true colors. We now know, as we’ve long believed, that those colors are the green of the anti-fossil fuel crowd, rather than the color of jobs resulting in economic growth in the hard-hit heartland of the United States. For seven years, he has tried to appease both his union supporters who want the good jobs Keystone would have provided, and his environmental allies who declared it a “dirty” project that would add to global CO2 emissions. Now, before the United Nations climate conference, he can wave his green credentials and claim to be a world leader in the fight against global warming—which, I believe, was the whole purpose of the decision and subsequent announcement.

Obama’s statement was less about the Keystone pipeline and more of a brag session on America’s supposed conversion to a clean energy economy. He stated: “Thanks, in part, to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirty conventional power.” Yet, his climate change ally Bill Gates, in the November issue of The Atlantic magazine, makes clear that this is a “misleadingly mindless statement.” Addressing the “self-defeating claims of some clean-energy enthusiasts,” Gates says: “What they mean is that at noon in Arizona, the cost of that kilowatt-hour is the same as a hydrocarbon kilowatt-hour. But it doesn’t come at night, it doesn’t come after the sun hasn’t shone, so the fact that in that one moment you reach parity, so what?” Additionally, Gates calls the growth in wind “very subsidized,” and solar “highly subsidized.”

During the announcement, Obama said the clean energy economy is “booming.” He’s conveniently ignored Abengoa—the Spanish solar company that received the biggest single award from his 2009 stimulus package, yet today is under investigation from several federal agencies and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy after stock prices plunged more than 30 percent..

The President also made the “misleading” statement that the growth in wind and solar will help America’s “energy security”—when in fact, wind and solar produce electricity, while oil powers America’s transportation fleet. America is already, and has been, electricity secure. Wind and solar do nothing to reduce our need for oil.

His closing comment: “America’s prepared to show the rest of the world the way forward,” proves that his position on the world stage is more important than policy positions that would provide jobs for Americans.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

The March To Paris Has Begun

Less than one month from now, the nations of the world will meet in Paris for the 21st United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP21).

President Obama is “cautiously optimistic” that a global climate agreement will finally be reached. As stated during the October 11 edition of 60 Minutes, he sees this as more important than fighting ISIS: “My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”

This “accord” will not be an enforceable “treaty” as was The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change negotiated in 1997 and signed by President Clinton but never ratified by the U.S. Congress. The Kyoto Protocol expired at the end of 2012. Supporters have since been scrambling to reach a new deal. Once again, however, Congress will not ratify any such agreement—leaving the President to “lead by example” through executive and regulatory actions that have little chance of Congressional success.

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is, as stated by NPR: “the centerpiece of President Obama’s broader climate agenda.” NPR continues: “he’s urging other big countries to take similarly aggressive action in advance of an international climate summit in Paris.”

CPP—in case you haven’t been following the process that introduced draft rules in 2014, with finalized rules released in August and then, after more than three times the usual lag time, the 2000-page regulation was published in the Federal Register on October 23—“orders states to reorganize their energy systems from power plants to electric outlets,” says the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). It requires a cut in power-plant carbon emissions of 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Less than 12 hours after publication in the Federal Register, CPP became “the most heavily litigated environmental regulation ever”—with more than 15 separate cases from 26 states and countless industry groups filed against it in just two days. All the lawsuits have been consolidated into one case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

It is widely expected to, ultimately, be heard before the Supreme Court—which may not hear the case until 2018. By the time a final ruling is made, the Obama administration believes that, as was the case with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, industry will have already done so much to comply with the rule that the high court’s decision will be almost irrelevant.

It is this timeline that prompted lawsuits to not only overturn CPP, but to also ask for a stay of the rule while the court decides on the case. The Environmental Protection Agency offered its recommendations for scheduling legal arguments—which the federal appeals court signed off on.

Effectively kicking the can down the road, the last day for arguments will be December 23. So, no decision on whether to block implementation of the standards while the litigation plays out will be made until early 2016—saving Obama embarrassment in Paris.

The court’s decision won’t be made before COP21, but Congress’ will be.

Both chambers of Congress are working on resolutions of disapproval aimed at blocking the rule. The Congressional Review Act (CRA), according to WSJ, “allows Congress to nullify regulations within 60 days of their publication into the Federal Register with a simple majority of members.” The CRA resolutions of disapproval are not subject to a filibuster in the Senate—though they are subject to presidential veto. While the expected passage of the resolutions will not ultimately block CPP, it will send a signal to international negotiators that whatever agreement is reached in Paris will not receive support at home.


The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Tesla’s ‘Success’ A Great Example Of How Government Regulations Manipulate Markets

The American consumer resists marketing aimed at selling them electric and hybrid vehicles. For the first quarter of 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal, Chevrolet sold 1,874 Volts—its electric car introduced in 2010 with “high expectations.” That roughly equals the number of Silverado pick-up trucks sold in one day.

While demand for electric vehicles has dropped from 3.6% of sales in 2014 to 2.8% in 2015, investment in them hasn’t. Earlier this year, USA Today noted: “Automakers have already invested billions to offer a wide spectrum of vehicle choices and improve fuel efficiency with turbocharged engines, batteries and electric motors, multi-gear transmissions, more aerodynamic designs and lighter materials. Companies have also spent heavily to market eco-friendly vehicles and have no plans to stop developing them.”

“Why,” you might ask, “don’t manufacturers focus on building the vehicles consumers want?” The answer: government regulations in the form of the CAFE standard. The word CAFE here means “Corporate Average Fuel Economy,” and is the measure manufacturers must meet to sell cars in the U.S.

First enacted by Congress in 1975, CAFE standards sought to reduce energy use, thus preventing an over-dependence on foreign oil and improving national security. In 2009, under the Obama administration, the program morphed to include a higher focus on tailpipe emissions with a two stage implementation process. Phase One demands a 23% improvement in pollution standards and a CAFE target of 34.1 miles per gallon (MPG) by model-year 2016. Phase two calls for a further increase of roughly 35% in pollution standards, equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

While the exact calculations are complicated, these standards are not meant to be met by each vehicle, but by the entire fleet produced by each manufacturer. So a company that makes small, fuel-efficient cars, such has Honda, easily meets the requirements. While a company like Chrysler, known for its Ram trucks and American muscle cars, faces an uphill climb. In fact, it is the CAFE Standards that made the Chrysler/Fiat marriage attractive, as the Fiat fleet includes a 40-MPG car. It is also what makes the Volt a good option for Chevy—despite low sales.

Manufacturers who don’t comply with the regulations face fines—or they can buy credits. Either way, the costs ultimately get passed on to the consumer who dares to purchase a vehicle based on personal preference rather than the fuel-efficient vehicles the government wants automakers to produce.

These government regulations manipulate the markets and make winners and losers that would not be the case if we had a true free market.

Telsa is a case in point. It meets the requirements handily—so well, in fact, it has credits to sell because it produces only electric cars. Most U.S. car companies want the federal fuel economy mandates to be watered down. Tesla wants the targets to be tougher.

Companies that don’t meet the fleet standards can purchase compliance credits. CNN Money reported: “Since Tesla sells nothing but electric cars, it is rolling in the credits and is one of the few sellers.” The Los Angeles Times says: “Since 2008, the company has earned more than $534 million from the sale of environmental credits.” It adds: “Tesla has created a brisk market in credits, selling to automakers that either don’t produce electric cars or have made a strategic decision to buy credits and cap their own sales of such vehicles.”

With the American car-buying public resistant to doing what the government wants them to do, Tesla receives a huge windfall from its competitors while the standards drive up costs for consumers.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by