Pouring Biofuel on the Fire

Hunger. Corruption. Bankruptcy. Other than that, the green-fuel boom has been a smashing success.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


UPDATE: Join us for an expert-led reader forum April 13-17 on MotherJones.com around the question: Is organic and local so 2008?

 

Henry Ford envisioned ethanol as the “fuel of the future”; his Model T ran on ethanol and petroleum.

The International Energy Agency forecasts that conventional oil production will peak by 2020, with massive price increases preceding the peak.

Before Congress passed expanded ethanol subsidies in 2005, the US produced nearly 4 billion gallons of corn ethanol. In the first 9 months of last year, production reached nearly 7 billion gallons.

Archer Daniels Midland controls 10% of the US ethanol market.

Former adm ceo Dwayne Andreas, whose donations to Nixon were linked to the Watergate break-in, is one of the nation’s top political contributors. Since 2000, adm, its pacs, and its employees have given $1.4 million to Democrats and $2.1 million to Republicans.

As a senator, Barack Obama sponsored ethanol legislation and flew twice on adm‘s corporate jet.

Food prices have risen 130% since 2002. The World Bank estimates that up to 75% of the increase is due to demand for biofuels.

There were food riots in at least 30 countries in the past 2 years. More than 40 people were killed when Cameroonians protested rising prices.

The US government spent $9.2 billion on ethanol subsidies in 2008. It spent $1.5 billion on food aid.

Clearing grasslands to plant biofuel crops releases 93 times as much greenhouse gas as will be saved by the fuels grown on the land each year. Destroying Indonesian peat bogs releases 420 times as much.

New European Union guidelines limit subsidies for biofuels that don’t comply with environmental standards; Switzerland only subsidizes fuels that emit 40% less greenhouse gas than fossil fuels.

After ethanol prices fell by nearly half last year, several just-built plants filed for bankruptcy.

Obama’s staff has consulted the Renewable Fuels Association, an adm-led trade group, on how to craft an ethanol bailout.

WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

payment methods

WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate