A little extra credit is due to Democratic Congressman Peter Welch, who just stared down the corporate spin doctors of the corn lobby.
You may recently recall hearing some rumblings from the peanut gallery, about the Congressman having betrayed his environmental base by collaborating with Big Oil. That peanut gallery should more accurately be described as a “corn crib,” because the chief complainant, Brooke Coleman, turns out to be the executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council. Big surprise.
If you, considered the source as I did, it may have caused barely a flutter in your consciousness.
Nonetheless, he deserves a quiet hand of applause for his articulate response.
What Congressman Welch had the temerity to do was to seize an opportunity for meaningful reform to the misguided ethanol mandate. That bill of goods, sold to the American public amid the confused messaging of the early Bush years, (kind of like weapons of mass destruction), stubbornly refuses to die, despite its exposure as having been based on faulty assumptions.
In Welch’s own words:
In addition to being costly to farmers, small-engine operators and families, ethanol is inflicting significant damage on the environment. Studies indicate that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 28 percent higher than gasoline. Also, it takes 170 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol as opposed to the five gallons it takes to produce a gallon of gas.
Welch has essentially denounced corn-based ethanol for the environmental Trojan Horse that it actually represents…and this has the corn lobby incensed!
When you step on Monsanto’s toes, you’d better be packing a posse of heavy-weights.
In this case, that posse happens to consist of a couple of Congressman Welch’s Republican colleagues.
As Republicans in general have a far warmer relationship with big oil and big corn than do Democrats, it is helpful when some opportunity for movement is made possible by an odd intersection of interests.
So far, we have successfully repealed two of the three industry subsidies, the tax break and special trade preferences. Our work will not be done until we reform the ethanol fuel blending mandate.
On another occasion, Welch has been quoted as characterizing his approach to working with his Republican colleagues:
“You treat them with respect, you try and focus on the common ground.”
…And that, folks, is how it’s done.
‘Just ask President Obama who is attempting to find some common ground with Iran in order to more effectively tackle our shared enemy, ISIS. That doesn’t mean that he endorses anything else on Iran’s “to do” list.
Both are examples of judicious pragmatism; something that’s become dangerously rare.
So, here’s to those who dare sit down at the grown-ups table.