Hugh Pickens writes: "Federal ethanol subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year and the bio-fuel industry faced criticism in 2008 as food prices rose with ethanol consuming ever more of the corn crop and drawing down feedstocks. Now Al Gore says his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies while serving as vice president was a mistake that had more to do with his desire to cultivate farm votes in the 2000 presidential election than with what was good for the environment. "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Gore said at a green energy conference in Athens, Greece adding that the energy conversion ratios — how much energy is produced in the process — "are at best very small." Gore now favors second-generation ethanol, using farm waste and switchgrass. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, representing ethanol producers, responded that "the contributions of first generation ethanol to our nation's economy, environment and energy production are not a mistake, but a success story.""