Corn husks, failed fodder for a power plant

The Washington Examiner reports yet another renewable energy project gone broke.  Reporter Timothy Carney documents the short, two-year life of this corn lobby and political boondoggle.  Two years ago, Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley proudly christened this corn husk-to-ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa.  Biofuels have been promoted as the next, just around the corner solution to our energy needs.  Switchblade grass, algae, and corn husks all have failed to make the transition from laboratory curiosities to commercially viable and profit-making entities...federal and state subsidies notwithstanding.  This project continues the string of failures.

As Carney reports:

But it hasn't panned out. Reuters reports: "The EPA predicted in 2007 that U.S. cellulosic ethanol production could hit 1 billion gallons by 2020, but output this year is expected to reach only 7 million gallons, according to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a trade group."

Carney continues:

This week, two years later, DuPont shut down the plant. reports that this wasn't totally unexpected. There have been signs that the plant wasn't producing up to its potential. Last year, DuPont stopped collecting corn stover from farmers because the plant had run out of storage.

The chasm between cellulosic illusions and reality is shown by the accompanying chart from the Examiner.

What is real is the flood of federal subsidies funding vested farm and commercial interests, all at taxpayer expense.  It is a shame that hopeful employees lose their jobs when these schemes fail.

Charles G. Battig, M.S., M.D., Heartland Institute policy expert on environment, VA-Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment (VA-SEEE).  His website is