Former Vice President Al Gore made a candid admission about his past support for corn-based ethanol subsidies. According to a new Reuters article, Mr. Gore said that he only supported the subsidies in the past, a position he calls a mistake now, because he had presidential ambitions in 1999. In the the article Mr. Gore states:
“It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol,” said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank.
“First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.
“It’s hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going.”
He explained his own support for the original programme on his presidential ambitions.
“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 a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”
During the 1999 Democratic Presidential primaries, Mr. Gore went after former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley for previously voting against ethanol subsidies and later supporting them during the campaign.
He now supports, though, what is called “second generation technologies.” His reasoning is the second generation does not compete with food:
“The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices.
“The competition with food prices is real.”
Gore supported so-called second generation technologies which do not compete with food, for example cellulosic technologies which use chemicals or enzymes to extract sugar from fibre for example in wood, waste or grass.
In the meantime, the former Vice President predicted an energy bill would likely not be passed by Congress for
“at least two years.”