Al Gore cries crocodile tears over ethanol

Al Gore admitted today that corn ethanol was “not a good policy,” according to Reuters — but that’s not the end of the story.

Though he campaigned for ethanol in the past, Gore said,

“It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol… 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… 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… 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 then went on to support so-called second generation technologies which do not compete with food, for example cellulosic technologies which use chemicals or enzymes to extract sugar from fiber in wood, waste or grass. He said,

“I do think second and third generation that don’t compete with food prices will play an increasing role, certainly with aviation fuels.”

Is this a genuine mea culpa on the part of Gore or crocodile tears?

If we turn to the investment portfolio of the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers (KPCB) where Al Gore is a partner, we find that KPCB has invested in Mascoma Corporation, whose business is cellulosic ethanol. Here’s how KPCB’s web site describes Mascoma,

Leading in the development of bio and process technology for cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol, an inexpensive and source of renewable energy. Cambridge, MA

In 2008, Mascoma received $61 million in financing from a group that included KPCB. In 2006, KPCB was part of a $30 million financing package for Mascoma.

And who knows what other cellulosic ethanol ventures KPCB and Gore have going?

The Reuters reporters didn’t ask Al Gore about his cellulosic ethanol business interests and, of course, Honest Al Gore didn’t volunteer those revealing tidbits either.

So while Al Gore appears to be lamenting bad policy that he supported, instead he is really just trashing corn ethanol in hopes of advancing cellulosic ethanol and his investment in Mascoma.

13 thoughts on “Al Gore cries crocodile tears over ethanol”

  1. Crocodile indeed ! How could anyone fail to know that ethanol if it must be subsidized is not economically viable and any subsidy has to go to someone first? Take money from someone and give it to someone else? Wrong on its face. Waste the money on an uneconomic venture? Contemptible.

  2. Not to ention the damage to rubber seals on my truck. It cost me over $500 to replace the plumbing on my gas tank (GMC Safari)after the Province of Ontario mandated wood alcohol in regular gas. I guess Al Gore could call this an unintended consequence along with raising the price of food for the poor.

    I’m still waiting for Ralph Nader to write a book about ethenal and the smart (dangerous) car.

  3. Ethanol has always been a bad bet. It takes ten times as much energy to make as you get out of it in an engine, which then wastes 72% of it!

    My patent on butanol production is to be awarded in January (see http{//fuelfarm.i8.com ) and if you want to learn to speak conservative and drive liberals bonkers see: http://adrianvance.blogspot.com “The Two Minute Conservative” also on Kindle.

  4. I had recently heard on the news in passing that Gore and his big money partner (I want to say one of the big banks, but can’t remember which one) pulled quietly out of his carbon trading business. So hummmmmm………

  5. New definition of terrorists. Environmentalists are our home growns ones
    and Algore is would be leader of the pack.

  6. There are two stories within this story. The first is that when Algore makes a mistake, it’s no big deal. But if anybody producing anything REAL makes a mistake, they get attacked by Algore and his ilk ad nauseum. (Steve has dealt with the second, and very well.)

    It’s a wonder Algore can GET any press, his credibility is so close to zero.

    In this battle between increasing centralised control (call it what you will…fascism, communism, socialism) and individual freedom and responsibility, the producers of the world had better recognise that the knife does not cut both ways when dealing with terrorists (oops, I mean, environmentalists).

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