Gee, I never knew “moderate” meant “dim-witted”

Using grain (grown with petroleum-derived fertilizer) as a source of motor vehicle fuel may not be the stupidest idea anyone will ever invent — surely someone, someday will propose dealing with California’s water shortage by growing more orange trees in the desert and then distilling the water out of the orange juice — but it has to be close. That current version of that scam is called “ethanol.” The updated version is called “soy biodiesel.”

Here’s the bad news: According to the Washington Times, Norm Coleman is planning to demonstrate that he’s a moderate by pushing this nonsense.

He opposes Republican efforts to allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, preferring, instead, to focus on alternative and renewable fuel sources, such as soy biodiesel made from soybeans, that “represent important economic growth opportunities” in agricultural states such as his.


Two readers point out that, as opposed to the stupid biodiesel proposal described above, there’s a perfectly sensible biodiesel idea: recycling the vegetable oil used in deep-frying. (I’ve always suspected that fast-food joints did their deep-frying in recycled crankcase oil, but that’s a different issue.) Apparently there are big environmental gains at the point of use as well as in production. I have no idea what the economics is like.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: