The Onion, America’s Finest News Source (TM), once told of a special device for dealing with a lost TV remote: a remote you could use to make the other TV remote beep, so you could find it underneath the discarded pizza boxes and such.

Little did the Onion writers know that Big Coal and Corporate Agribusiness would apply that same principle to produce a horde of monsters, the so-called "biofuels plants," facilities with a voracious appetite for fossil fuels, particularly yummy coal.

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I spent yesterday at with a group of earnest environmentalists, nearly all of whom loudly applauded a set of proposed bills aimed at promoting and further perpetuating what is essentially a scheme for laundering fossil fuels like coal and turning them into liquid fuels so that no one ever need consider terrifying alternatives like driving less, teleconferencing, or using mass transit.

While I recognize that there’s no stopping a bad idea whose time has come, I still couldn’t resist offering this modest proposal: the proposed tax credits and subsidies should only apply to biofuels made with renewable energy.

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That is, no tax credits or development assistance for any of those 300-tons-of-coal-a-day ethanol monsters popping up throughout the Midwest. And for the fuels themselves, whether biodiesel or ethanol, any applicable tax credits and price subsidies only apply to the net gain in energy obtained over the total fossil fuel inputs.