As food prices soar, and international experts as well as media members call for action, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, took to the Senate floor Tuesday calling for a Congressional review of biofuel policy, and for the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the current ethanol mandates.
Coincidentally, this occurred minutes after President Bush told reporters that he believes ethanol and biofuels are key to solving the nation's long-term energy problems.
With that in mind, given the amount of press coverage biofuels have been given in the past few weeks, it will be interesting to see which side of this story media will report this evening and in the days to come.
After all, what Inhofe called for today was for Congress to "revisit the recently enacted biofuel mandate," and for the EPA to exercise its waiver provision granted in the 2007 Energy Bill "that offers protection to consumers if corn prices or availability become unsustainable."
What follows is the full prepared text of Inhofe's speech (fvideo embedded upper-right):
In the past couple of weeks, NewsBusters has reported the media's sudden negative opinion of ethanol as a result of rising food prices and rationing of rice by certain retailors.
You can now add NBC to the list, and, in particular, the host of CNBC's "Mad Money," Jim Cramer, who on Friday's "Today" show actually blamed ethanol for the current crisis while stating emphatically, "You drop the mandate, prices plummet."
With this in mind, strap your seatbelt tightly across your waist, and prepare yourself for an alternate ungreen reality (video embedded upper right, use scroll bars to properly center):
Regardless, the good news is that press outlets continue to recognize this unholy connection, and that someone, even at the conservative New York Sun, would deign to report it (emphasis added throughout):
As food prices soar, and rationing of such things as rice begin, America's media are finally starting to wake up to the inconvenient truth that ethanol is not the energy panacea folks like Nobel Laureate Al Gore proclaim.
Leading the charge is conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck, who invited the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Iain Murray on his program Tuesday to discuss the looming crisis.
As the international disaster of ethanol begins taking its toll on the planet -- and, maybe more important, as press outlet after press outlet finally begins recognizing it -- will media remember that Vice President Al Gore cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate requiring this oxygenate be added to gasoline?
Monday's NBC Nightly News kicked off “Earth Week” by trumpeting Sweden as an environmental and economic paradise that could point the way for the United States. Anchor Brian William contended Swedes “always seem to be so happy and beautiful” and now “there's another reason to be green with envy about the Swedes. We're told they are living green lives, showing kindness to the planet, and saving a ton of energy in the process.” Sweden certainly enchanted reporter Anne Thompson who rode a bicycle in Stockholm and gushed:
Sweden's official colors are blue and yellow, but it lives green -- from the citizens who can eat the fish from waterways in Stockholm to King Carl XVI Gustaf, who rules the land and drives an ethanol-powered car.
Thompson focused on how the nation is researching “gasified wood” and putting people onto bicycles. Plus, “alternatives like the fuel made from organic waste that powers this train.” Highlighting that “to reduce traffic, Swedes pay to drive in the business district,” Thompson concluded by touting how “Sweden's most important export” is “real world ways to live green.”
Gainor told viewers of the Saturday morning broadcast April 19, "Time magazine basically tried to co-op an icon of American heroism to push their global warming agenda. They're trying to claim that their war against global warming is similar to what our veterans endured during WWII."
He went on to say that there were 28,000 casualties and more than 6,000 people killed at Iwo Jima, exclaiming, "That's real war."
For years, NewsBusters has made the case that foreign press outlets do a far better job of covering both sides of the manmade global warming debate than American media.
Friday was a perfect example as New Zealand television's "Nzone Tonight" broadcast an interview with Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University, Queensland, Australia.
As you watch the video embedded to the right, notice the respect and courtesy Carter is given by host Allan Lee as he calmly and methodically explained the position of climate realists without being insulted or referred to as a "denier."
Compare that to the disgraceful job ABC's Dan Harris did last month when he interviewed Dr. S. Fred Singer on "World News" in a segment entitled "Welcome to 'The Denial Machine'" that actually began:
For years, NewsBusters has reported on the absurdity of the global warming "solution" known as biofuel whereby agricultural products such as corn are converted into a gasoline additive supposedly to reduce the usage of oil.
As predicted, grain costs are skyrocketing around the world causing so much political and social unrest that the British Telegraph published a headline Tuesday declaring "Global Warming Rage Lets Global Hunger Grow" (picture courtesy AP).
For a man who gets better press than virtually any person walking the planet, one has to wonder why Nobel Laureate Al Gore would ever want to bar media representatives from one of his speeches.
After all, it's not like anyone is going to ask him a tough question, or write something that might expose him as the charlatan most folks not drinking the Kool -- er, I mean Global Warming-Aid understand him to be.
However, that's exactly what happened Friday afternoon when the Global Warmingest-in-Chief spoke at the RSA Conference with specific instructions for no press members to be allowed through the doors of the Moscone Convention Center.
As reported by C/Net News.com (emphasis added, h/t NBer Gary Hall):
“[P]rices are rising across Africa, pushed up by the cost of oil and demand for biofuels,” ABC correspondent Jim Sciutto said.
“Those biofuels are in fact a large part of the equation,” ABC correspondent David Muir added. “Many farmers around the world, who once grew wheat and rice, now grow corn and sugar cane instead, to produce ethanol a more lucrative market.”
CNN's senior business correspondent Ali Velshi let viewers in on an underreported fact about rising commodities prices: the government mandate for ethanol production is making corn and other agricultural products more expensive-making inflation a top priority for Americans.
"Several years ago, we made some decisions about how corn is going to be used to make ethanol, which is added to our gasoline," said Velshi on "American Morning" April 4. "A number of people think that that was meant to reduce our dependency on crude oil. What is does is it takes what is fundamentally a food source and makes it into a gasoline source. That's caused corn to go up."
The roundtable segment of Tuesday's The Situation Room offered CNN viewers opposite takes on the Bush administration's culpability in the rise of oil prices with Jack Cafferty and David Gergen on opposite ends. Cafferty, who has a history of blaming high oil prices on President Bush, argued that the administration's "idea of an energy policy is to put Dick Cheney in a closed, locked room out of sight of the public with some guys from Enron and some oil company guys, hammer out some kind of a deal, and then sit back and watch oil prices go from $28 when Bush was inaugurated to $111 now."
But Gergen later jumped into the discussion to explain the true origin of oil prices: "I think it's wrong to argue or suggest that somehow the oil companies have been manipulating these prices upward. These prices have not been, you know, rising sky high because of the Bush administration. They've been rising sky high because world demand is up so significantly."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday April 1 The Situation Room on CNN:
They're starting to get it. The media are figuring out government meddling in U.S. energy policy is taking a toll on the American economy.
On February 20, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation reading, rose 0.4 percent in January, matching December's rise. Why? Increased food costs because corn is being used for ethanol.
"Farmers are replacing wheat fields with corn to meet the demand for alternative fuel, but that means higher flour prices - and in one Pennsylvania pizza shop, more expensive pies," NBC News correspondent Chris Jansing said on the February 27 "NBC Nightly News."
"Blame it on the price of wheat," said ABC correspondent Sharon Alfonsi. "Demand for alternative energy has farmers planting less wheat and more corn - the key ingredient of ethanol. Add the growing appetite for wheat from developing countries and the supply is strained.
Admission: over the course of my NewsBusting, I've actually developed a certain admiration for Bob Herbert. Not that I agree with virtually anything the NY Times columnist has to say, but that I appreciate his directness and the absence in his work of the superfluous sarcasm that marks that of a number of his colleagues.
That said, I offer up Herbert's lament of this morning, "Where Are the Big Ideas?", as the epitome of wrong-headed liberal thinking. Herbert's complaint is that when it comes to the role of government, the presidential candidates aren't thinking big enough. Hillary and Obama's proposals to subject 1/7th of the nation's economy [or whatever the current proportion that health care represents] to government control are small beer in Bob's eyes. He dismisses their plans as "masterpieces of minutiae."
Herbert says that "the essential question the candidates should be trying to answer — but that is not even being asked very often — is how to create good jobs in the 21st century." The columnist gives us an idea of the kind of big-government thinking he has in mind to answer his question:
Reporting what global warming skeptics have been saying for years, several media outlets on Friday acknowledged that biofuel production could do more harm than good when it comes to fighting "global warming."
Two new scientific studies suggest clearing land to produce biofuel ingredients will contribute more to warming than sticking with fossil fuels because of the removal of carbon-consuming trees for farmland.
That's not a shock to anyone who's been paying attention. Biofuel has been criticized as an inefficient pollutant that negatively affects even grocery prices. The shocker is that some in the media are actually paying attention to it!
The findings "could force policymakers in the United States and Europe to reevaluate incentives they have adopted to spur production of ethanol-based fuels," The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin reported February 8.
The Democrats were finally able to get something passed in Congress, a new energy bill that mandates car gas mileage and bans the incandescent light bulb, and on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen described it as, "Congress's historic move to get rid of gas guzzlers." Co-host Harry Smith began the "historic" theme at the top of the show:
Later this morning, the president will sign a new energy bill, that will radically change the way we drive, the fuel we burn, and the way we light our homes...This morning for the first time in 32 years we will have a new energy bill. The Energy Independence and Security Act.
No one objected to the idea that everyday light bulbs would be banned with this new legislation. Instead Smith joked holding up a light bulb: "So guess what, will we see the end of the incandescent light bulb? Remember, was it Uncle Fester who put it in and it lit up?"
"[I]f you look at the history of this substance, ["American Morning" co-anchor] Kiran [Chetry] - I think this is very important - we subsidize a lot of corn production in this country," Gupta said. "We've been subsidizing it for a long time to support the corn farmers, which is a good thing. If there is a problem in all of this, it is that maybe we make too much corn and some of that corn gets turned into this high-fructose corn syrup."
Following up on Al Gore’s reception of the Nobel Peace Prize, Carolyn Washburn of the Des Moines Register asked the Republican candidates several questions on the issue of "global climate change" and related topics. At the beginning of the debate, Washburn stated "we won't talk a lot about issues like Iraq or immigration. They're important issues, no doubt, but Iowans say they know where the candidates are coming from on those." But Washburn gave no indication that Iowans actually wanted to hear more about the Republican candidates’ stance on climate change.
As NewsBusters reported, ABC's John Stossel bravely presented a skeptical view of manmade global warming on the October 19 installment of "20/20."
As a follow-up, Stossel published an op-ed at Townhall Tuesday that should be must-reading for alarmist media members and policy makers around the country.
Marvelously titled "Don't Look to Government to Cool Down the Planet," the article summarized much of what Stossel presented weeks prior on "20/20," while challenging the closed-minded to allow for greater scientific discussion and debate before hasty and capricious policy decisions are enacted that will harm the economy as they do nothing to solve the so-called problem (emphasis added throughout):
“Say Goodbye to Baseball The ash tree – from which all baseball bats are made – is in danger of disappearing, thanks to a combination of killer beetles and global warming.”
“Say Hello to Bulgarian Hooker Shortages ‘Brothel owners in Bulgaria are blaming global warming for staff shortages. They claim their best girls are working in ski resorts because a lack of snow has forced tourists to seek other pleasures.’”
Say goodbye to the Great Green Hope. Biofuels are on the endangered list, although the media in America won't tell you that. Reuters reported in its September 26 article that Jane Goodall, the internationally famous primate scientist and environmental icon who presented at Al Gore's Live Earth, added her criticism of vegetable-based biofuels to a growing list experts.
On Wednesday, Goodall, best known for her chimpanzee research and media appearances, said “on the sidelines” of the Clinton Global Initiative that growing crops for vehicle fuels is endangering rain forests in Asia, Africa and South America and adding to anthropogenic global warming (bold mine throughout):
A new study published in the journal Science last Friday concluded that the continued burning of oil-related energy products combined with the planting of additional forests is better for the environment than the manufacture and use of biofuels such as ethanol.
In fact, the authors suggested that governments across the globe move away from biofuels as a global warming solution completely, and instead focus moneys and energies on reforestation and increasing the efficiencies involved with the burning of fossil fuels.
Of course you didn't hear about this because no major American press outlet thought it was newsworthy despite media's fascination with anthropogenic global warming.
Fortunately, several British outlets covered this interesting study, including the Guardian (emphasis added):