Al Gore reverses position on corn ethanol

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Former Vice President Al Gore has reversed his support of corn-ethanol subsidies. He even went one step further by admitting his original endorsement of them was nothing more than political pandering. Or at least, that’s what he told a green energy conference sponsored by the Marfin Popular Bank in Europe.

In a display of unexpected candor, Gore told the audience, “It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol…First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at the best very small.”

He continued: “One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”

Ethanol is a biofuel in the United States that is made by extracting sugar from corn. In the past, it has been linked to rising food prices. Diverting corn – which is a standard ingredient for a wide variety of food products — from feeding livestock and producing food, to manufacturing ethanol has resulted in a trickle-down effect throughout supermarkets.

Now, Gore is citing that as his reason for his complete reversal on ethanol. “The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being [used for] first generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices,” said Gore. “The competition with food prices is real.”

Gore did express support for second-generation ethanol production since it uses chemicals to extract sugar from wood, grass and waste, and not corn. That production, he said, would not compete with food prices.

In 1994, however, Vice President Gore was the tie-breaking vote when the first bill to authorize ethanol production was in the Senate.

“So more than 10 years ago, Gore supported an expensive, ‘not good policy’ because he thought it would help him get elected president,” the Media Research Center’s Noel Sheppard told Fox News on Monday. “Yet the media don’t believe he’d misrepresent the threat of manmade global warming in order to become extremely rich.”

The corn ethanol tax credits are up for re-authorization on December 31.