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Splash and Dash: The perils of subsidy

"Absolutely not," says Doug Koplow of the Cambridge, Mass.-based group Earth Track. He pointed to the fact that biofuel plantations often require the destruction of rainforests, causing greater net carbon emissions and destroying animal habitats. “You can say we’re growing crops for biofuels from pre-existing farmland, but then the offsetting food production begins to cut into natural habitat," he added.

BIOFUELS - AT WHAT COST? Government support for ethanol and biodiesel in China

According to government data commissioned by the GSI, China provided a total of RMB 780 million (US$ 115 million, roughly US$ 0.40 a litre) in biofuel subsidies in 2006. These comprised support for ethanol in the form of direct output-linked subsidies paid to the five licensed producers, as well as tax exemptions and low-interest loans for capital investment. Further support is provided through mandatory consumption of ethanol-blended fuel in ten provinces (a ten per cent blend with gasoline, E10).

Towards a Common Methodology for Measuring Irrigation Subsidies

Irrigation accounts for 70 to 90 percent of total water use in developing countries and for more than one third of water use in many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The significance of irrigation in increasing agricultural production and in meeting the food-grain requirements of the world has been well recognized.

Biofuels – At What Cost? Government support for ethanol and biodiesel in Canada

This study aims to reduce this complex debate to two simple questions: how much money are Canadian federal and provincial governments spending to support liquid biofuels—fuel-grade ethanol and biodiesel—and does it represent good value-for-money to Canadian taxpayers?

It is one of a series of reports undertaken by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) examining government support for biofuels in selected countries.

Nuclear Loan Guarantees: Another Taxpayer Bailout Ahead?

Advocates of nuclear power are promoting a “nuclear renaissance,” based on claims that a new generation of reactors will produce relatively cheap electricity while solving the threat posed by global climate change. As of October 2008, U.S. utilities and power producers had already proposed building about 30 new nuclear reactors. And some analysts have called for building 300 new plants by mid-century.

A Boon to Bad Biofuels: Federal Tax Credits and Mandates Underwrite Environmental Damage at Taxpayer Expense

Federal Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) were nearly quintupled in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, mandating use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels per year by 2022.  Because key federal subsidies scale linearly with production without limit, biofuels will receive more than $400 billion in cumulative subsidies between 2008 and 2022; nearly 40% of this will flow to corn ethanol.  Should proposals advanced by the Obama campaign to boost the mandate to 60 billion gallons per year by 2030 be implemented by the Obama administration, cumulative subsidie

Nuclear Power as Taxpayer Patronage: A Case Study of Subsidies to Calvert Cliffs Unit 3

A case study of the proposed new reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Lusby, MD provides a useful window into the dynamics and implications of federal nuclear policy today. The analysis demonstrates not only that the taxpayer ends up as the largest de facto investor in this project, but also that while we bear most of the downside risk, we share little of the upside should the plant ultimately be successful.

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