Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Biofuel Strategies

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has completed a study of Saskatchewan’s ethanol strategy. It is claimed to be an expensive investment that has not yet benefited either the environment or rural Saskatchewan. The study was entitled “Biofuels: Bonanza or Boondoggle for Saskatchewan.” The study suggests the government has not met their policy objectives and failed to anticipate changes in the marketplace. Because of high grain prices and low inventories of world grain stocks the entire industry of ethanol production is likely to be marginal at best. The study also suggests that any gains in reducing harm to our environment are largely offset by the very production of ethanol.

It was believed that small-scale operations by farmers integrating both the production of ethanol and livestock would play an important role in the province’s production of environment. This hasn’t happened as livestock production is in the tank due to the high costs of feed grains. Either way you look at it the ethanol industry is not getting off to a very quick start and the CCPA sounds a concerning alarm regarding an industry wherein the government has the taxpayers dollars invested.

The opponents of the CCPA study simply take the same position as investors take regarding the failing investment climate. That position is to remind investors that you have to consider the long term. Many of us, who are paying for these grand schemes to protect our environment and have affordable fuel, will not be living in the long term.

Further, the federal government has invested $250 million in research to assist the auto industry to create more fuel-efficient vehicles. It seems to me the auto industry should have been doing that a long time ago at their expense. Why should the taxpayers help the auto industry to create fuel-efficient vehicles? Maybe the government will help me buy my next new fuel-efficient vehicle. Yes, I know the government has a little rebate for you if you buy a vehicle the government feels is fuel-efficient, but that is only a government subsidy to assist the auto industry to sell us these types of vehicles.

The government should stay out of the private sector. It reminds me of when the Trudeau liberals created Petro-Canada in the mid-1970s. It was a public enterprise in the midst of an energy crisis. How has this investment served the Canadian taxpayers on the long-term?

Either way, the high cost of fueling our vehicles will soon restrict us to going to our weekly Sunday service and maybe a trip to Tim Horton’s after for a cup of coffee. I suggest the government and private sector team up on these environmental issues and high fuel costs. It is time they both showed the taxpayers some true leadership.

Finally, don’t give me that argument that the price of a litre of bottled water is often more than the cost of a litre of gasoline. For the most part, people drink bottled water because they feel their government has failed to deliver quality water to their taps. Is there anything you can’t blame the government for?