al gore mistakeAl Gore admitted at a green energy conference in Athens, Greece that ethanol and ethanol subsidies were a bad idea–and candidly admitted that he was motivated by a desire to be elected.

“One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee,” he said, “and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”

He also admitted it would be tough to get rid of the subsidies–which total at least $7.7 billion.

The issue of subsidies is expected to be taken up by the lame duck Congress because the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), is set to expire on December 31, 2010.

The best article we found on the issue is in Reason Magazine, which points out that ethanol is not “green” at all and that the subsidized industry has created obnoxious externalities (increased corn/food prices hurting the poor and livestock farmers and deforestation/pollution) while failing to acheive its goals:

Even the so-called “green” community has cooled toward ethanol, though its enthusiasm for “Renewable Portfolio Standards” or “RPS” remains strong. Minnesota passed a “25 by 25” law in 2007 ( ) that requires 25% of energy to come from so-called “renewable” or “clean” sources such as ethanol or wind. It seems clear that the “25×25” commitment needs to be reviewed and repealed here in Minnesota and around the nation. Once government interferes with a market by offering our tax dollars as subsidies, it is difficult to rid ourselves of that tax even if the policy behind the decision is widely viewed as flawed.

You can read more about Gore’s mea culpa here:

Here is an article from Fort Wayne, Indiana

And here is commentary from Rachel Marsden in the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Marsden is an international political and communications strategist and writer who teaches at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris:

“Mr. Gore’s “mistake” wasn’t an error. It was, by his own admission, a calculated decision that no longer benefits him. The problem is that by taking so long to correct himself, he has already done astronomical damage: Corn is scarcer for those who really need it. Investors who believed the hype now might lose money. Taxpayers have been bilked for billions. The farmers who saw their product subsidized and overvalued risk the fallout of a bubble burst. Even Lexus had to recall 214,500 vehicles last year when their pipes couldn’t take certain ethanol blends.”