President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, creating renewable biofuel incentives that included a mandate that gasoline contains at least 10% corn-based ethanol.
In 10 short years, those ethanol policies — widely considered patronage for the politically pivotal Iowa corn growers — has devastated the western end of Lake Erie. This past summer, algae blooms were so pervasive that the City of Toledo’s drinking water was deemed contaiminated and unfit for human use,
Republican Congreessional nominee Kathy Weppner is calling out Rep. Brian Higgins, a ten year incumbant who has long championed the politically motivated ethanol policies that are causing excessive runoff of corn related phosphorus into Lake Erie’s watershed.
Weppner is now upset that taxpayers paid for the program that caused the problem, and now have to pay to remedy it. Weppner says this was all preventable, and points to various warnings offered by academics, environmental groups, and agricultural scientists.
Weppner writes on her campaign website:
After the 2005 Act was signed, both Democrats & Republicans promoted ethanol. Brian Higgins was an early supporter, promoting ethanol and subsidies to increase production.
With the Democrat majority ethanol became their major party priority.
Mr. Higgins is quick to cite Climate Change as the cause of the impairment while ignoring the primary reason cited in Lake Erie studies — federal ethanol policy that he has promoted for a decade.
Brian Higgins sponsored the House Ethanol Stimulus Act of 2006. The stated goal: “to encourage fuel ethanol production via Tax Credits for new ethanol plants, including on our WNY Waterfront.”
Thankfully for WNY, this bill failed.
“Ethanol is a real and safe fuel alternative,” Higgins has said repetedly in press statements for many years. “Western New York is prime for benefiting from the ethanol tax credits proposed in this bill because of our great access to crops needed to produce ethanol.”
The same ethanol policies have also been credited with increasing the cost of corn, including corn based livestock feed, which has considerably increased prevailing market prices for meats, including beef, pork, and poultry. That has increased the cost food remarkably over the same 10 years, including sharply increased costs to federal food aid programs.
The Higgins-backed policies are remarkable failures, Weppner concludes.