Marshall Urges Gov. Kaine to Seek Biofuels Waiver to Help Economy
I can't agree more with the following article. I support Bob Marshall for the nomination for the Senate because he sees clearly how ill considered mandates from government has serious consequences. I didn't take a genius to know the increased production of corn would lead to lower production of other crops. Yet Congress is perplexed by the rising food prices. I do not expect the Governor or mant other legislators other than Del. Marshall have a clue either.
Del. Bob Marshall is urging Gov. Tim Kaine to petition the federal Environmental Protection Agency for a temporary biofuels waiver in order to cut rising food prices for Virginians, reduce pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, save state budget funds, and help Virginia’s farm and watermen families.
Marshall (R., Manassas), in a letter e-mailed to the governor today (April 9), said “the inflationary federal biofuels mandate,” which requires that 9 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels be substituted this year for other types of fuel in Virginia, “has created a food-versus-fuel conflict in our economy.”
Kaine, Marshall wrote in his letter, has authority under the federal 2005 Energy Policy Act and the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act to seek such a temporary waiver if maintaining the biofuels mandate would “severely harm the economy or environment of a state, a region or the United States.”
“Inflationary prices of food are directly traceable to the diversion of corn from food and feed to fuel, and they affect milk, cheese, other dairy products, beef, cereal, bread and even candy prices,” Marshall, who is seeking the 2008 Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, wrote.
“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that food prices are at their highest level since 1990, and has doubled the average of the past 10 years. Milk and eggs have logged double-digit increases in late 2007 and early 2008, with higher prices forecast.”
Marshall noted that Virginia’s current net expenditures for the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) have “increased by $6.5 million – more than twice the rate for the previous two years” – and account for about 40 percent of the program’s vouchers reimbursing parents for the cost of buying milk and cheese. This cost, he contends in his letter, “will grow considerably faster in fiscal 2008 given current food inflation projections.”
“The cost of school lunches to Loudoun and Prince William County schools over the past two years, since the biofuels mandate has been in place, have seen high school lunch prices increase by 18 percent,” Marshall wrote. “The school breakfast program costs in Loudoun County have increased 44 percent over the same period for elementary, middle and high school.”
Marshall wrote that Virginia’s farming sector also “is struggling economically” because corn and soybeans, needed for poultry and livestock feed, is being diverted to produce biofuels.
“While food inflation soars at the retail level,” Marshall wrote, “production costs are increasing even faster at the farm level – squeezing Virginia’s livestock producers in the middle.”
Corn and soybean prices have peaked more than double their historic average, Marshall pointed out, and are projected to increase even higher. High feed costs are “decimating Virginia’s agricultural base of broilers, turkeys, eggs and dairy and beef cattle,” which he wrote “is an important economic engine in many parts of the state, including the Shenandoah Valley.”
“Overall,” Marshall wrote, “these sectors account for a more than $1.5 billion industry in Virginia, yet many producers in this sector are on the brink of financial collapse.”
Ecologically, Marshall pointed to “some evidence that the artificial economic structure created by the congressional biofuels mandate has disrupted the normal crop rotation on the Eastern Shore, leading to more nutrient runoff which is compromising water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.” This, he wrote, “can frustrate Virginia’s efforts to clean up the Bay and preserve our watermen’s livelihood and Bay food sources.”
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