China is expected to become the world’s largest importer or corn, according to one investment bank. Rabobank predicts China’s appetite for corn will increase from 25 million metric tons a year by 2015 from 1.3 million metric tons this year.
This would be good for corn farmers, of course, but hard on those who use corn to feed livestock.
• The Texas Public Utility Commission won’t allow an electric transmission line to cross the Palo Duro Canyon (above), the second largest canyon in the country.
The line would have delivered wind power from the Texas Panhandle to eastern cities. It is one of several huge transmission projects in windy West Texas that are running into stiff local resistance from land owners, ranchers and environmentalists.
“The nation is about to confront a major infrastructure-transmission discussion,” Michael Webber, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Wall Street Journal. “And if it’s hard in Texas, where we’re good at it and we have experience and we’ve figured out funding models, what’s it going to be like in the nation? It might be a very bruising fight.”
• It appears that Congress will extend the 45 cent per gallon subsidy for ethanol for another year, as well as continuing a tariff on ethanol imports, according to the Des Moines Register. The proposal would also extend the $1 a gallon subsidy for biodiesel that had expired at the end of 2009.
Ethanol industry people told the Register that they “can’t live without that incentive today.”
• Meanwhile, the Freeport (Illinois) Journal-Standard argues in an editorial that, regardless of the merits of ethanol as an alternative fuel, the constant changing of policy is not fair to those making investments in alternative fuels. The paper says in an editorial:
Our concern is for the investors and agricultural interests that geared their operations and investments to this policy. As Stephenson County tries to carve itself a niche as a base for new energy technologies such as ethanol – note the Adkins Energy plant in Lena converting 15 million bushels of regionally-produced corn to ethanol annually – it would be tragic for the federal government to reverse its policy.
Ethanol’s days in the sun may be passing, but it’s not a good policy for disenchanted congressmen and senators to pull the rug out from Americans who threw their lot in with the old policy. Rural America has long benefited from generous farm subsidies and suffered the ravages of the risky nature of agribusiness. It’s a difficult balance to maintain and they do it well. But it seems shortsighted to hook an entire economic sector on a new policy only to reverse course at a whim.
• The Christian Science Monitor explores the backlash against Sarah Palin’s hunting video. (She killed a caribou in hunt in Alaska.) Hollywood producer Aaron Sorkin (of “West Wing” fame) called it a “snuff film,” for example. Sorkin compared the hunt to dog fighting.
Writer Patrik Jonsson reports: The rural-urban divide on issues of conservation and hunting “is an interesting sociological experiment you’re watching, the unfolding of a real debate going on,” says Gary Lawson, a spokesman for US Sportsmen’s Alliance, a pro-hunting group.
The idea that hunting and a pioneer mentality is morally wrong “is a mindset that’s gaining in currency as people move to the cities and try to impose new ideas on top of ideas that have been tried and true historically for as long as can ever be remembered.”
In that light, adds Lawson, “Palin has almost become a Rorschach test for how people feel about different kinds of cultural issues, which are often founded in the differences between where people live.”