2011 Biofools Nominees
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It has been a good year for Biofools of all shapes and sizes: ethanol subsidies were slipped into the December tax cut deal, EPA approved a 15 percent ethanol blend for cars up to a decade old, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico covered up that region’s other ecological disaster — a dead zone the size of Massachusetts caused by agricultural runoff from the Midwest. Once you have read the Biofool Bios, make sure you Vote for the Biofool of the Year!
2011 Biofool Nominees
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Honestly, we expect more out of Senator Amy Klobuchar, who represents one of the bluer states in the Midwest. But Sen. Klobuchar’s actions are all yellow. It is clear that she has been Biofooled by this dirty special interest, corn ethanol. Last year, Sen. Klobuchar tried to “pull a Peterson” and introduced a bill that would greatly expand subsidies for dirty ethanol while also deregulating environmental performance safeguards in current biofuels policy in a bid to bring agricultural state senators onto the failing Senate climate bill. Her legislation would have labeled corn ethanol as an “advanced” biofuel, exempt biodiesel from global warming emissions thresholds and provide new subsidies for ethanol pipelines, among other things. Despite widespread opposition from the environmental community, Sen. Klobuchar re-introduced this bill again early in March 2011.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Senator Chuck Grassley is blinded by his love for corn ethanol – and perhaps the campaign contributions that he receives from the industry. Last year, we found that Sen. Grassley was one of the top five recipients of biofuel industry campaign contributions over the last two election cycles. Despite increased national attention to the serious environmental and economic problems ethanol causes Sen. Grassley declared from the Senate floor last year, “Everything about ethanol is good, good, good!” Sen. Grassley is a big fan of subsidies for corn ethanol. These subsidies go directly into the hands of the oil industry and don’t actually benefit farmers. Last year, Sen. Grassley used his role on the Senate Finance committee to extend $6 billion in expensive and wasteful tax subsidies for dirty corn ethanol, despite growing, bi-partisan opposition to this proposal. And, when he couldn’t get the subsidies extended in broad day light, Sen. Grassley snuck it in the Bush Tax Cut package — the very same package that gave big tax breaks for billionaires.
General Wesley Clark
Retired Four Star General and now Co-Chairman of the ethanol lobby group Growth Energy, Gen. Clark is a surprisingly staunch supporter of anything the biofuel industry says it wants. Gen. Clark uses his former military role to drum up fear about continued use of oil and pivots directly to the false notion that only ethanol can save us. Most recently, Gen. Clark used the example of the protests in Egypt as a reason to switch to ethanol – despite the fact that Egypt doesn’t produce oil and outrage over the price of food was one of the predominant factors that caused the protests. It is well understood that increased biofuel consumption is a contributor to higher food prices globally – and that it would be utterly impossible to displace our oil consumption with ethanol. Almost makes you wonder what Gen. Clark’s retainer is for being a Growth Energy stooge?
Cindy and Chuck Zimmerman
This dynamic duo are a pair of bloggers who lead the group ZimmComm New Media and provide a big platform for the ethanol industry’s talking points. Each day, on a series of blogs – hosted by the Zimmermans (DomesticFuel, AgWired ) or by the corn ethanol industry itself (CornCommentary) – Cindy and Chuck critique anyone who may disagree with the ethanol industry’s line while practically cutting and pasting press releases from industry lobby groups. The Zimmermans are unabashedly pro-industry, with clients such as Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Biodiesel Board and Syngenta. What’s more, many of their employees are previous employees of the biofuels industry lobby groups like Growth Energy. Now — Friends of the Earth has nothing against a pro-industry website (in principle), but the problem with the Zimmermans is that on the surface they pretend to be “reporters,” when in fact they act as industry hacks.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
We know that Secretary Vilsack is a smart man, so it is always a surprise to see how easily he is Biofooled. Rather than intelligently answering questions about increased food prices and their relationship to US biofuels policy, Sec. Vilsack goes on the defensive and pits hunger advocates against farmers, and ignores the reality that food price volatility ultimately hurts all farmers — no matter where they live. While corn farmers in the U.S. benefit when prices rise, they are also the first to take the hit when the prices fall dramatically. The people hardest hit by high food prices are poor and vulnerable communities globally that buy whole foods in local markets, not heavily processed foods found in modern grocery stores. We don’t know why Sec. Vilsack thinks people are upset at our farmers. No one here thinks that farmers are to blame for food prices — but we do blame the policies that encourage corporate agribusiness to act in ways that are not helpful to the planet or its people.
Now that you have read the Biofool Bios, make sure you Vote for the Biofool of the Year!