Ethanol plunders taxpayers again

Ethanol plunders taxpayers again

December 23rd, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

It is a painful testament to the enduring power of federal "green energy" subsidies that ethanol has long received billions of dollars in taxpayer funding.

Corn-based ethanol's problems are many. The fuel damages small engines. It reduces gas mileage. And it raises food prices by diverting large amounts of our nation's corn out of the food supply. And for all those supposed "benefits," American taxpayers are required to subsidize every gallon of ethanol produced to the tune of 45 cents!

That subsidy may end soon, but corn-based ethanol isn't the only problem, as shown by the recent foreclosure on a federally subsidized Georgia plant that produces ethanol made from wood chips.

A Colorado-based company, Range Fuels, got an $80 million loan to start the plant in Soperton, Ga. But $64 million of that loan was guaranteed by the federal government. And so now that the plant is being foreclosed, taxpayers are on the hook for that money, The Telegraph newspaper in Macon, Ga., reported.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a statement saying, "We are disappointed that this company did not succeed, and we will be working on behalf of the American people to protect the federal government's interest in the loan."

But it seems doubtful whether the government will recover that money, now that the plant is going under. And the company had previously received a $76 million federal grant as well -- most of which was spent before the plant's serious financial difficulties became apparent.

To quote The Telegraph, "[T]he plant ... never scaled up to full operation and shuttered early this year after making one test batch of fuel." Dozens of workers have been laid off.

So, do you feel you got a good "return" on the big investment of your tax dollars in this ethanol project -- not to mention countless others?