Getting It Wrong Regarding Biomass

Despite a growing need for sustainable markets for ag products, the old way (direct payment to farmers and agribusinesses from the US Treasury) is still preferred:

The first phase of the program involved payments for the collection, harvest, storage and transportation of renewable biomass delivered to local plants. The next phase will pay farmers to grow the crops in areas close to biorefineries. People have about two months to comment on the proposed rule.

Thune says biofuels can help the U.S. reach energy independence while at the same time creating economic opportunities for growers.

Biofuels might be able to help us–but we’ll never know as long as we continue using taxpayer’s funds to prop up the system, since the incentive to get off such life support is not part of the equation. I’m sorry to see that Senator Thune is pushing this–while understanding that he is very popular with agribusiness and alternative fuels folks for doing so.

The issue is simple: Government has no business taking taxes from one person and then turning around and handing them to another (unless some one has been convicted of a crime and the monies are being used for restitution) no matter how beneficial the activities of the receiving person or entity may be to the community. There are legitimate uses for taxes by a government, but this is not one of them.

When it comes to new uses for biomass, I believe that the market can figure out if it is feasible and viable–without putting the taxpayers on the hook for subsidies which never seem to die.

Here’s more detailed look at the context of the proposed rule (though not the rule itself).

A quick search at http://www.regulations.gov did not turn up the particular rule, though I understood it to be accessible via that site. I’ll look again later when I have more time.

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