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Al Gore Mea Culpa: Support for Corn-Based Ethanol Was a Mistake

4 years ago
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Now he tells us. Al Gore says his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies while serving as vice president was a mistake that had more to do with his desire to cultivate farm votes in the 2000 presidential election than with what was good for the environment.

"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Gore said at a green energy conference in Athens, Greece, according to Reuters. First generation refers to the most basic, energy-intensive process of converting corn to ethanol for use as a motor vehicle fuel additive.

Former Vice President Al GoreOn reflection, Gore said the energy conversion ratios -- how much energy is produced in the process -- "are at best very small." "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee," he said, "and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

Federal ethanol subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year, Reuters said, and the bio-fuel industry faced criticism in 2008 as food prices rose with ethanol consuming ever more of the corn crop and drawing down feedstocks. Gore now favors second-generation ethanol, using farm waste and switchgrass to produce the fuel.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, representing ethanol producers, took issue with Gore on Tuesday. "The contributions of first generation ethanol to our nation's economy, environment and energy production are not a mistake, but a success story," he said in a statement.

On the political front, Gore said he was not optimistic that Congress would pass a clean energy bill or climate legislation over the next two years with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives.

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THis coming from a guy that wastes more energy than a small city in his huge home and fleet of cars. Another do as I say not as I do politician.

December 01 2010 at 1:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I love the little disclaimer at the bottom "civil dialogue". It is obvious to everyone that those days have passed in the US. Certainly when it comes to comments posted on the internet in the comment section of almost any article, on almost any topic. I will add only this not speaking to the merits of ethanol but rather how refreshing it is to see a former political figure/politician admit they were "wrong" about a certain policy agenda or idea...I voted for this man in 200 and am more happy today having done so than at the time, and it is my honest opinion that the course of history would have changed dramatically had he been in office, most probably for the better, of course in some ways perhaps for the worse. You'll never hear Our last President admit to any mistakes or misguided policy decisions, so in that sense I'm glad Gore can be honest with his supporters and those who respect his LARGE and INFLUENTIAL body of work during his time in office and his extensive climate-change related works since entering private life.

November 27 2010 at 12:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

A key ingredient to ethnol is corn. A key ingredient to the production of corn is water. Where does the water come from? Ground water...What happens after our ground water is consumed in the production of ethonol? We starve...what happends if we don't have ethonol? We eat and perhaps use more oil or use more wind farms... The choice is obvious unless you are a farmer...or a politician...

November 27 2010 at 9:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
willewillie bobi

Do we still subsidise farmers for not growing crops ??

November 27 2010 at 1:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am embarrassed I voted for this man in 2000. How can he think he has any credibility now regarding any enviromental issue after this? I just get more disgusted by our political "elite" on both sides every day. I don't know how, but the money has to get out of our politics somehow so those that want to run to actually serve We the People can afford to do so.

November 25 2010 at 12:33 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

When was the last time you heard a public figure admit he made a mistake? Oh, I'm sure folks on the right and left will ready to jump down his throat, assigning whatever sinister motives they care to attribute. But, the fact is that Al Gore has done more to raise the public consciousness on the issue of climate change than just about anyone else in recent years.

November 24 2010 at 3:55 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Every part of the process is used completely so the cost base they use is not correct !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and if truely was high cost to produce then why have the mid west farmers been using it for years to beat the higher cost fuels of the time, even back in the 50's????? why can they not give honest info at all about anything??? even the greenhouse gas issue is flawed

November 24 2010 at 2:36 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

You don't find it offensive that Gore's "excuse" for his mistake was that he was buying votes? "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee," he said, "and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president." Unbelievable! This is akin to saying one isn't to blame for a bad act because they were drunk. This is not an excuse. It's another serious problem! He's a powerful man and, I wish he hadn't told us how corrupt he is and how stupid we are for backing him. Why couldn't he just say he miscalculated? Instead he adds insult to injury by his in your face admission that votes were more important than good policy. Oh, well, okay then.

November 24 2010 at 2:15 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lolopuffin's comment

they all do votes with whatever the people need or want.....what is surprising? at least he admitted it!

November 25 2010 at 12:22 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

This is the problem with The American Political System.... just like the recent California election for governor. The various unions subsidized Brown's election to the tune of over $75M. While a substantial financial problem in California is imigration, the second biggest problem (or 1b if you will) is unfunded financial commitments to union employees; local, city, and state. A governor elected to office here needs to be on an adversarial basis with unions not beholding. Our government representatives are on the great taxpayer give away and, candidly, the citizens deserve it because of their complacency. Go Tea Party!!!!!

November 24 2010 at 12:27 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to prollandi's comment

SCOTUS has made it legal....when it is happening to the republicans they cry foul and forget the corporate donors who funneled billions into the last election

November 24 2010 at 7:15 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Every thoughtful, informed, and fair thinking person knew the whole ethanol production strategy was/is a sham. It's basically burning coal and diesel to produce another fuel that takes more energy to make than it produces and takes a chunk of farmland out of food production to boot. It has a negative enviromental impact. Gore new it then, it's not a revelation to him now. His true character on display.

November 24 2010 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +17 rate up rate down Reply

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