(Photo credit: Flickr user Spencer T.)

Here’s an interesting tidbit from a 2008 interview with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. The Walworth County Week asked Ryan about alternative energy, and the congressman blasted ethanol:

RYAN: On ethanol, and that’s, you’re going to hear a lot about this. Turning food into fuel is not a good long-term energy policy. I think there are better renewable energy policies like cellulostic ethanol, where you turn corn stalks, switch grass, into fuel instead of food into fuel. Because if you turn food into fuel as your energy policy that makes both more expensive. Food and fuel become more expensive. And I’m also fearful that this is going to produce a backlash against our farmers. You’re already seeing this. [...]

INTERVIEWER: Now in the last, it was the farm bill or the energy bill they kept the subsidies for corn ethanol, but haven’t been able to pass subsidies for wind –

RYAN: Congress quintupled the ethanol mandate. I did not support that. Because I thought that’s what happening now was going to happen when we were goin to have dramatic price increases.


Watch the interview (the relevant section is at 3:13)

Both conservatives and progressives have good reason to be skeptical of ethanol. The lobby for this fuel has invested well in politicians and has worked to downplay the potential disastrous consequences on food prices. As former vice presidential nominee Al Gore admitted, politicians of both parties have pandered to the lobby and put aside legitimate concerns.

But while Ryan deserves some credit for his ethanol skepticism in 2008, it’s ironic his running mate Mitt Romney is a huge supporter of the mandate the congressman opposed. Romney supports the Renewable Fuel Standards that include ethanol, “a mandate several U.S. governors want to suspend as the worst drought in more than 50 years sends corn prices to record levels.”

“By working to remove barriers to market access for renewable fuels, as Governor Romney suggests, America can help spur an economic recovery while securing our energy future,” exclaimed Bob Dineen, the CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, in response to Romney’s plan. The ethanol lobby has aggressively courted by the Republican presidential nominees, who competed first in ethanol-heavy Iowa.

Given these facts, it’s unlikely we’ll see Ryan spouting the same words he spoke in 2008 any time soon.