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Story 1: Turkey Launches Strike Into Syria Against Kurdish YPG Fighters — Videos —

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Turkey launches a military offensive against Kurdish-led forces on Syrian border

Trump issues dire warning to Turkey over Syria invasion

Turkish adviser: ‘Clear understanding’ with US on Syria

Why Turkey is attacking Kurd forces in Syria, explained

Turkish troops to cross into Kurdish-held Syria ‘shortly’ | DW News

Turkey Syria offensive: What next for Syrian Kurds? – BBC Newsnight

President Trump on Syria: “I’m not siding with anybody.”

Erdogan’s war: Turkey dismisses NATO objections to Syria offensive

Turkey invades Syria: Who are the players and what do they want? | DW News

How the Kurds became a key player in Syria’s war

Analysis: Turkey’s new offensive against Syria’s Kurdish-led SDF forces

Trump’s pullout, Turkey’s war: Offensive against Syria Kurds follows withdrawal order

What does Turkey’s military action in northern Syria mean?

War in Syria: Can the Kurdish forces fight back?

[yotube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoMGhvLGtiY]

Analysis: The potential impact of Turkey’s offensive against the SDF

Heavy fighting as Turkey steps up push against Kurdish forces

Turkey says PKK, YPG and PYD not the same as Kurdish population

Who is the SDF that Turkey is fighting in northern Syria?

The PKK-YPG connection

Turkish president launches strike against Kurdish fighters in Syria

PBS NewsHour full episode October 9, 2019

Shields and Brooks on Trump’s Syria pullout, impeachment politics

European powers urge Turkey to ‘cease’ Syria operation

CrossTalk: Demystifying Syria

Watch: NATO leader, Turkey’s Cavusoglu discuss military action in Syria

US troops start pullout in Syria as Turkey prepares operation

Disappointment at Pentagon after surprise US troop withdrawal in Syria

People’s Protection Units

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People’s Protection Units
Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG)
‏وحدات حماية الشعب‎‎
People's Protection Units Flag.svg

Flag of the YPG
Active 2011–present
Allegiance  Kurdish Supreme Committee(2011–2013)[1]
Rojava (2013–present)[2]
 Democratic Union Party (2011–present)
Type Light infantry militia with several motorised battalions
Size 20,000–30,000 (Including YPJ, 2017 estimate)[3]
Part of  Syrian Democratic Forces
Motto(s) YPG dimeşe, erd û ezman diheje(YPG is marching, and the earth and sky [or heavens] tremble)
Engagements Syrian Civil War

Iraqi Civil War

Website Official website
Commanders
General Commander Sîpan Hemo
Spokesperson Nuri Mahmoud
Notable
commanders
Ciwan Îbrahîm
Insignia
Insignia YPG Insignia.svg

Military situation in the Syrian Civil War in November 2015

Military situation in January 2019

The People’s Protection Units or People’s Defense Units (Kurdishیەکینەکانی پاراستنی گەل‎, romanized: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel pronounced [jɛkiːnɛjeːn pɑːɾɑːstɯnɑː ɡɛl]Arabicوحدات حماية الشعب‎, Classical Syriacܚܕܝ̈ܘܬܐ ܕܣܘܬܪܐ ܕܥܡܐ‎, romanized: Ḥdoywotho d’Sutoro d’AmoYPG) is a mainly-Kurdish group in Syria and the primary component of the Syrian Democratic Forces.[4][5] The YPG mostly consists of ethnic Kurds, but also includes Arabs, foreign volunteers; it is closely allied to the Syriac Military Council, a militia of Assyrians. The YPG was formed in 2004 as the armed wing of the Kurdish leftist Democratic Union Party. It expanded rapidly in the Syrian Civil War and came to predominate over other armed Kurdish groups. A sister group, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), fights alongside them. The YPG is active in Northern and Eastern Syria.

In early 2015, the group won a major victory over ISIL at the Siege of Kobanî, where the YPG began to receive air and ground support from the United States and other coalition nations. Since then, the YPG has primarily fought against ISIL, as well as on occasion fighting other Syrian rebel groups.[6] In late 2015, the YPG founded the Syrian Democratic Forces upon the US’s urging, as an umbrella group to better incorporate Arabs and minorities into the war effort. In 2016–2017, the SDF’s Raqqa campaign captured the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital. Several western sources have described the YPG as the “most effective” force in fighting ISIL in Syria.[7][8] A light infantry force, the YPG has limited military equipment and few armoured vehicles.

The YPG has been criticized by Turkey for its alleged support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), especially since a rebellion in southern Turkey began in 2015.[9] According to United States Army Special ForcesCommander General Raymond A. Thomas at the Aspen Security Forum in July 2017, the SDF is a PR-friendly name for the YPG, which Thomas personally suggested because the YPG is considered an arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist group by the Federal government of the United States.[10][11] American Defense SecretaryAshton Carter confirmed “substantial ties” between the PYD/YPG and the PKK.[12] Testifying to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Congress, Director of National IntelligenceDaniel Coats, the top U.S. intelligence official, explicitly defined the YPG as the “PKK’s militia force in Syria”.[13][14] Turkey has designated the YPG as a terrorist organization,[9] and in 2018 Turkey captured most of Afrin Canton from the YPG.

Contents

History

2004: Early origins

Kurdish youth attempted to unify themselves following the 2004 Qamishli riots. The riots began as clashes between rivaling football fans before taking a political turn, with Arab fans raising pictures of Saddam Husseinwhile the Kurdish fans supposedly proclaimed “We will sacrifice our lives for Bush”. This resulted in clashes between the two groups who attacked each other with sticks, stones and knives. Government security forces entered the city to quell the riot, firing at the crowds. The riots resulted in around 36 dead, most of them Kurds.

They did not, however, emerge as a significant force until the Syrian Civil War erupted in 2011.[15][16]

2011: Establishment

Existing underground Kurdish political parties, namely the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC), joined to form the Kurdish Supreme Committee (KSC) and established the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia to defend Kurdish-inhabited areas in northern Syria.[17][1]

July 2012: Control of Kurdish areas

In July 2012, the YPG had a standoff with Syrian government forces in the Kurdish city of Kobanî and the surrounding areas. After negotiations, government forces withdrew and the YPG took control of KobanîAmuda, and Afrin.[1][18]

By December 2012, it had expanded to 8 brigades, which were formed in QamishloKobanî, and Ras al-Ayn (Serê Kaniyê) and in the districts of Afrinal-Malikiyah, and al-Bab.[19]

Late 2012: Islamist attacks make YPG dominant[

The YPG did not initially take an offensive posture in the Syrian Civil War. Aiming mostly to defend Kurdish-majority areas, it avoided engaging Syrian government forces, which still controlled several enclaves in Kurdish territory. The YPG changed this policy when Ras al-Ayn was taken by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. At first the YPG conquered the surrounding government-controlled areas: al-Darbasiyah (Kurdish: Dirbêsî), Tel Tamer and al-Malikiyah (Kurdish: Dêrika Hemko) in order to prevent the FSA from gaining more power in the area.[citation needed] The subsequent Battle of Ras al-Ayn started in earnest when on 19 November 2012, the al-Nusra Front and a second al-Qaeda affiliate, Ghuraba al-Sham, attacked Kurdish positions in the town. The battle ended with a YPG victory in July 2013.[20]

While many rebel groups clashed with the YPG, jihadist and Salafist groups did so the most often.[21] The YPG proved to be the only Kurdish militia able to effectively resist the fundamentalists.[22] While the YPG protected the Kurdish communities it was able to extract a price: it prevented the emergence of new, rival militias and forced existing ones to cooperate with or join the YPG forces on its terms.[23] This was how the Islamist attacks enabled the YPG to unite the Syrian Kurds under its banner[24] and caused[25] it to become the de facto army of the Syrian Kurds.[26][27][28][29]

2013: Kurdish control of al-Yaarubiyah/Til Koçer

In October 2013, YPG fighters took control of al-Yaarubiyah (Til Koçer) following intense clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The clashes lasted about three days, with the Til Koçer border gate to Iraq being taken in a major offensive launched on the night of 24 October.[30] PYD leader Saleh Muslim told Stêrk TV that this success created an alternative against efforts to hold the territory under embargo,[30] referring to the fact that the other border crossings with Iraq led to areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government, while al-Yaarubiyah led to areas controlled by the Iraqi central government.

2014: Fight against ISIL

YPG-controlled territory, February 2014

In 2014, the Syriac Military Council, a group of Assyrian units, was formally integrated into the YPG’s command structure.

The inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War led to open war between the Free Syrian Army and ISIL in January 2014. The YPG collaborated with FSA groups to fight ISIL in Raqqa province;[31] the group also formed an operations room with multiple FSA factions, called Euphrates Volcano.[32] However, the general outcome of this campaign was a massive advance by ISIL, which effectively separated the eastern part of Rojava from the main force of FSA rebels. ISIL followed up on its success by attacking the YPG and the FSA in Kobanî Canton in March and fighting its way to the gates of the city of Kobanî in September. The actual Siege of Kobanî approximately coincided with an escalation in the American-led intervention in Syria. This intervention had started with aiding the FSA against the government, but when the FSA was getting defeated by ISIL in eastern Syria, it escalated to bombing ISIL on Syrian territory.

With the world fearing another massacre in Kobanî, American support increased substantially. The US gave intense close air support to the YPG, and in doing so, started military cooperation with one of the factions. While it expected that ISIL would quickly crush the YPG and the FSA, this alliance was not considered a problem for the US.[33] The YPG won the battle in early 2015.

Meanwhile, the situation had been stable in Afrin and Aleppo. The fight between the FSA and ISIL had led to a normalization in the relations between FSA and YPG since the end of 2013. In February 2015, the YPG signed a judicial agreement with the Levant Front in Aleppo.[34]

Spring 2015: offensive operations with coalition support

YPG-controlled territory, June 2015

In the spring 2015, ISIL was close to capturing the Iraqi city of Ramadi.[relevant?] The YPG was able and willing to offensively engage and put pressure on ISIL and had built up a track record as a reliable military partner of the US. With American close air support, offensives near Hasakah and from Hasakah westward culminated in the conquest of Tell Abyad, linking up Kobanî with Hasakah in July 2015.

With these offensives, the YPG had begun to make advances into areas that did not always have a Kurdish majority. When the YPG and the FSA entered the border town of Tell Abyad in June 2015, parts of the population fled the intense fighting and the airstrikes.[35]

Autumn 2015: foundation of the SDF

The Syrian Democratic Forces was established in Hasakah on 11 October 2015. It has its origins in the YPG-FSA collaboration against ISIL, which had previously led to the establishment of the Euphrates Volcano joint operations room in 2014. Many of the partners are the same, and even the logo / flag with the Blue Euphrates symbol has common traits with that of Euphrates Volcano. The primary difference is that Euphrates Volcano was limited to coordinating the activities of independent Kurdish and Arab groups, while the SDF is a single organisation made up of Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrians.

The first success of the SDF was the capture of the strategic ethnically Arab town of al-Hawl from ISIL during the al-Hawl offensive in November 2015. This was followed in December by the Tishrin Dam offensive. The dam was captured on 26 December. Participating forces included the YPG, the FSA group Army of Revolutionaries, the tribal group al-Sanadid Forces and the Assyrian Syriac Military Council. The coalition had some heavy weapons and was supported by intense US led airstrikes.[36] The capture of the hydroelectric dam also had positive effects on the economy of Rojava.[37]

SDF-controlled territory (green), claimed territory (orange), Turkish-occupied Afrin (red) in October 2018

2016

In February, the YPG-majority SDF launched the al-Shaddadi offensive, followed by the Manbij offensive in May, and the Raqqa and Aleppo offensives in November. These operations extended SDF-controlled territory, usually at ISIL’s expense.

On 7 April 2016, the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsood in Aleppo was shelled with mortars that may have contained chemical agents (160 killed or wounded).[38][39] Spokesperson for the YPG said that Saudi Arabia-backed Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel group has attacked the Kurdish neighborhood of Aleppo with “forbidden weapons” many times since the war’s start.[40]

2018: Turkish military intervention

Women’s Protection Units

Women’s Protection Units in November 2014

The Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), also known as the Women’s Defense Units, is the YPG’s female brigade, which was set up in 2012. Kurdish media have said that YPJ troops became vital during the Siege of Kobanî.[41][42] Consisting of approximately 20,000 fighters, they make up around 40% of the YPG.[43][dubious]

Organization

Flags

Flags of the People’s Protection Units
Vertical red flag of the YPG, used since 2011 until early 2013
Horizontal red flag of the YPG, used since 2011 until early 2013
Variant of the horizontal red flag, also used until early 2013
Yellow flag of the YPG, first used since late 2012, widely adopted in 2013 and since then the official flag of the militia

Units[edit]

In 2017, the YPG began to form units called regiments in translation, though they are smaller than comparable units in standard militaries:

Canton Number Name Date Established Strength
Afrin 1 Martyr Xebat Dêrik 27 Feb 2017 236 in 4 battalions
Afrin 2 Martyr Afrin 20 April 2017 235
Afrin 3 Martyr Rojhilet Early June? 2017 236
Afrin 4 Martyr Mazloum 2 July 2017 234
Afrin 5 Martyr Alişêr 27 August 2017 303
Afrin 7 Martyr Jayan 23 Oct 2017 250
Afrin 8 Martyr Bahoz Afrin 18 Nov 2017 234
Canton Number Name Date Established Strength
Kobane 1 ? 13 Feb 2017 80
Kobane 2 Martyr Şevger Kobanî Regiment 18 Feb 2017 90
Jazira – al-Hasakah 1 Jian Judy and Dogan Fadel 20 July 2017 500
Jazira – Girkê Legê 3 Qereçox Martyrs 12 July 2017 200
Aleppo 1 Martyr Shahid Baqour 30 Sep 2017 55 (Martyr Abu Shayar battalion)
Tabqa (SDF) 1 Martyr Haboun Arab 14 Nov 2017 250

Tactics

According to a report in IHS Jane’s regarding the YPG,

Relying on speed, stealth, and surprise, it is the archetypal guerrilla army, able to deploy quickly to front lines and concentrate its forces before quickly redirecting the axis of its attack to outflank and ambush its enemy. The key to its success is autonomy. Although operating under an overarching tactical rubric, YPG brigades are inculcated with a high degree of freedom and can adapt to the changing battlefield.[44]

The YPG relies heavily on snipers and backs them by suppressing enemy fire using mobile heavy machine guns. It also uses roadside bombs to prevent outflanking maneuvers, particularly at night. Its lines have generally held when attacked by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces who have better equipment, including helmets and body armor.[45]

The YPG and HPG have also trained and equipped more than 1,000 Yazidis, who operate in the Mount Sinjar area as local defense units under their supervision.[45]

The YPG considers itself a people’s army, and therefore appoints officers by internal elections.[46]

A 20 year old female YPG fighter named Zlukh Hamo (Nom de guerre: Avesta Khabur) was reported to have carried out a suicide attack towards Turkish troops and a tank during the early phase of the Afrin Offensive, killing herself and several soldiers in the process.[47][48] The attack was commended by pro-SDF sources as a courageous attack against a tank using explosives, which killed her in the process.[49]

Equipment

Compared to other factions engaged in the Syrian Civil war, the YPG has not received significant foreign assistance in the form of weapons and military equipment. According to the YPG, circumstances led to their capture of less equipment from the Syrian Army than other opposition groups did. The figures below are estimates only based on the balance sheet that the YPG regularly publishes of its activities.[50]

International outreach

Foreign volunteers

GermanFrench, and Spanish fighters of the YPG in northern Syria.

Ex–U.S. Army soldier Jordan Matson was among the first foreign volunteers of the YPG. Injured by an ISIL suicide bomb, he developed the “Lions of Rojava” recruitment campaign for foreign volunteers,[51] launched on 21 October 2014 on Facebook.[52][53] More than 400 volunteers from Europe, the Americas and Australia have joined the YPG as of 11 June 2015,[54] including at least ten U.S. volunteers, three of which were U.S. Army veterans.[55][56][57][58] People from both China and the Chinese diaspora have also joined.[59]

Other prominent foreign volunteers have included Brace BeldenMacer Gifford,[60] Ryan Lock,[61] Michael Israel,[62] Dean Evans[63] and Jac Holmes.[64]

Dozens of non-Kurdish Turks (from both Turkey and the European diaspora) have also joined.[55] The Turkish Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) has been sending volunteers to fight in the YPG since 2012. At least four have been killed in battle as of February 2015—one during the Battle of Ras al-Ayn and three during the Siege of Kobanî. The party released a video in late January 2015 showing several Spanish- and German-speaking volunteers from Europe among its ranks in Jazira Canton; they were reorganised into the International Freedom Battalion on 10 June 2015.[65]

Deaths

On 26 February 2015, the death of the first foreign volunteer to be killed in action with the YPG was announced.[66] Ashley Johnston, 28, of Canberra, with Kurdish nom-de-guerre Heval Bagok, had travelled to Syrian Kurdistan in October 2014, volunteered as a humanitarian aid worker, and later decided to serve as a front-line fighter with the YPG.[67][68][69] The official command of YPG paid tribute after his death in action against ISIL.[70] Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, a British former Royal Marine from Barnsley, was killed on 2 March 2015 near the north-east Syrian town of Tel Hamis.[71] The American Keith Broomfield, 36, was killed fighting against ISIS in Syria in August 2015. [72] One known Canadian was killed on 4 November 2015, who previously served with the Canadian Forces.[73][74] Six Western volunteers were killed in the battle for the town of Manbij from June to August 2016. A Portuguese fighter, Mário Nunes, was killed in June, Levi Jonathan “Jack” Shirley, from Colorado, US, was killed on 14 July, Dean Carl Evans, born in Reading, UK, was killed on 21 July, Martin Gruden, born in LjubljanaSlovenia, was killed on 27 July, Jordan MacTaggart, from Colorado, U.S., was killed on 3 August and William Savage, from Maryland, U.S., was killed on 10 August.[75][76][77][78]During the YPG and Arab allies assault on the IS held village of Erima on 24 November 2016, Michael Israel from California, U.S., a member of Industrial Workers of the World organization and Anton Leschek from Germany died in Turkish airstrikes.[79] Ryan Lock, 20, from ChichesterWest SussexUK, and Nazzareno Antonio Tassone, 24, from Keswick, OntarioCanada, were killed on the battlefield during an operation north of Raqqa on 21 December 2016.[80][81][82] The American Paolo Todd was killed in clashes against ISIS in the village of Little Swadiyah, north of Raqqa on 22 January 2017.[83] The U.S. citizen Albert Avery Harrington died on 25 January 2017 of injuries sustained seven days earlier by a car bomb attack in the village of Suwaydiya Al-Saghirah in Al-Raqqa.[84] 28-year-old Robert Grodt from Santa Cruz, California, was killed on 6 July 2017 and the 29-year-old Nicholas Warden, from BuffaloNew York, was killed on 5 July 2017, both the two U.S. citizens were killed while fighting for YPG against ISIL in the outskirts of Raqqa. Grodt was a former Occupy Wall Street protester and Warden was a veteran of the U.S. Army who had served in Afghanistan and reached the rank of sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division.[85][86] The 22-year-old Briton, Luke Rutter of BirkenheadU.K. was killed in the same IS ambush as Grodt and Warden in the suburbs of Raqqa on 6 July 2017.[87] A former Marine fighting for the YPG, the 25-year-old David Taylor who grew up in OcalaFlorida, was killed fighting ISIS on 16 July 2017 by an improvised explosive device in Syria.[88][89] Sniper Jac Holmes, a 24-year-old former IT worker and decorator from Bournemouth in southern England, who was fighting with YPG which he had joined in January 2015, was clearing mines in Raqqa, when he was killed on 23 October 2017, after an explosive device went off close to him.[90] The French national Olivier Francois Jean Le Clainche, 41, born in Malestroit, Spain in 1977, and the Spanish national Samuel Prada Leon, 25, born in Ourense, Spain in 1993, were killed in clashes with Turkish and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Armyforces at the Jandairis front in the south-western part of Afrin on 10 February 2018. The Dutch national Sjoerd Heeger, 25, was killed fighting IS in Syria’s eastern Deir el-Zour province on 12 February 2018.[91][92] The Icelandic Haukur Hilmarsson, aged 31, was killed on 24 February 2018 in an artillery attack by the Turkish army in the village of MabetaAfrin.[93] As a YPJ fighter, the British woman Anna Campbell, 26, from Lewes in East Sussex, was killed in a Turkish airstrike in Afrin on March 15, 2018.[94][95] In the battle of Al-Baghuz Fawqani, an Italian man fighting for the YPG, Lorenzo Orsetti, was killed on Sunday, March 17, 2019.[96]

Politics[

While most countries do not object in principle to their citizens joining the ranks of the YPG, Turkey has been vocal against YPG’s foreign recruits.[97]

Several Australians, including former trade unionist and politician Matthew Gardiner,[98] have been involved with the YPG despite threats by Australia to prosecute any citizens involved in the Syrian Civil War.[67] Under Australian law it is a criminal offence to fight with any side in a foreign conflict.[99]

In 2017, Turkish court sentenced two Czech nationals to more than six years in prison for their alleged ties to the YPG.[100]

Foreign government support

Because the YPG operates in a landlocked territory, rival opposition groups as well as the Turkish and Syrian government were able to physically prevent foreign aid from reaching it. The YPG’s seizure of Til Koçer in October 2013 (cf. above) created an overland connection to more or less friendly groups in Iraq, but could not change the even more fundamental problem that the YPG had no allies willing to provide equipment.

United States

A US military officer and YPG and YPJ commanders tour an area hit by Turkish airstrikes in April 2017

U.S. Army M1126 Stryker armored vehicle in Al-Hasakah, May 2017

In August 2014 Mazlum Kobanî led negotiations with the USA in Sulaymaniya, which led to a military alliance against ISIL.[101] The United States provided the YPG with air support during the Siege of Kobanî[102] and during later campaigns, helping the YPG defend territory against attacks by the Islamic State.[103] Turkey has criticised US support.[104]

The YPG also received 27 bundles totalling 24 tons of small arms and ammunition and 10 tons of medical supplies from the United States and Iraqi Kurdistan during the Siege of Kobanî.[105]

On 11 October 2015, the US began an operation to airdrop 120 tons of military supplies to the YPG and its local Arab and Turkmen allies to fight ISIL north of Raqqa. The first airdrop consisted of 112 pallets of ammunition and ‘other items like hand grenades’, totaling 50 tons.[106] However, statements from the US that the aid did not contain TOW’s or anti-aircraft weapons made it clear that the U.S. continued to have serious regard for the interests of Turkey, which has warned against continued US support for the YPG. On the other hand, the US also supported Islamist rebel groups who fought the YPG. During the Battle of Aleppo, the US-backed Mountain Hawks Brigadebattled the YPG and the Army of Revolutionaries for control of the village of Maryamin.[107]

US aid to the YPG continued in late October with the deployment of up to 50 US special forces to assist the YPG, and an enhanced air campaign to support the YPG and local militia groups in their fight against ISIS.[108][109] Some of these special forces participated in the al-Shaddadi offensive (2016) and coordinated airstrikes against ISIL.[110]

During the Battle of Tabqa (2017)YPG special forces were equipped with US-supplied combat helmetsAN/PVS-7 night vision devicesflashlights, and were armed with M4 carbines equipped with AN/PEQ-2 laser sightsholographic weapon sights, and STANAG magazines.[111]

On 9 May 2017, it was announced by the Pentagon that American President Donald Trump approved of a plan that would have the United States directly provide heavy armaments to the major SDF component group, the YPG; the plan comes before a planned final offensive to capture Raqqa from ISIL.[112][113][114]

Russia

With Russia’s entrance into the war in late 2015 backing the Syrian government, some reports have alleged that the YPG coordinated with or received weapons from Russia, with rival opposition groups claiming that the timing and targeting of Russian airstrikes were “suspiciously advantageous” to the Kurdish militias.[115]

Despite this, YPG officials have denied any coordination with Russia.[116]

Diplomatic relations

Russia’s position towards the YPG is not clear, and the US actively supports it, but their diplomatic relations with the PYD are the opposite. In January 2016 Russia pushed for the inclusion of the PYD in the Geneva talks.[117] In February 2016 the PYD opened a branch representative office in Moscow.[118] In contrast to this the YPG denied any coordination with officials from the U.S. State Department. The YPG would like to open a representative branch in the US, but in March 2016 interview its leader implied that it was not allowed to do so.[119]

On 14 February, USA’s Director of National Intelligence described YPG as the Syrian wing of PKK in its new report.[120]

International media outreach

The YPG’s press office media operation has been a particular focus of its opponents, with Turkey bombing its premises in Cizire Canton in April 2017,[121] and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) singling out its premises in Raqqa for a raid during the late stages of the Battle of Raqqa in September 2017.[122]

Allegations concerning violations of international law

Ethnic cleansing

In June 2015 the Turkish government alleged that the YPG was carrying out an ethnic cleansing as part of a plan to join the Jazira and Kobanî cantons into a single territory.[123]

The U.S. State Department reacted by starting an inquiry into the allegations.[124] Its initial reaction to the report was quite skeptical, claiming it had to determine if there was “any veracity to the claims”, but showed concern by calling for any administrator in the area to rule “with respect for all groups regardless of ethnicity”. The fact that the report does not make any claim of the YPG targeting people based on ethnicity was probably one of the reasons why they did not take it seriously, especially when there were dozens of similar reports regarding the Syrian government, Al-Nusra Front and Free Syrian Army, who have all committed serious war crimes.

In a report published by the United Nations‘ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on 10 March 2017, the Commission refuted Amnesty International’s claims of ethnic cleansing, stating that “‘though allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing’ continued to be received during the period under review, the Commission found no evidence to substantiate claims that YPG or SDF forces ever targeted Arab communities on the basis of ethnicity.”[125][126][127]

Forced displacement

In October 2015, Amnesty International published a report[128] with claims that the YPG had driven at least 100 families from northern Syria and that in the villages of Asaylem and Husseiniya it had demolished resident homes. The report was made by Amnesty visiting the area contained in the report. It made local observations of destruction, and collected testimonies from former and actual residents of al-Hasakeh and Raqqa governorates. It found cases of YPG fighters forcibly displacing residents and using fire and bulldozers to raze homes and other structures.[129][130]

Forced displacement of civilians and destruction of civilian property is not a war crime per se. These acts only become a war crime when there is no “imperative military necessity” for them. Amnesty International claims the report documents cases in which there was no such justification.[131] It furthermore claims that “the circumstances of some of these displacements suggested that they were carried out in retaliation for people’s perceived sympathies with, or family ties to, suspected members of ISIL or other armed groups”,[132] thus constituting “collective punishment, which is a violation of international humanitarian law”.

In interviews, YPG spokespersons acknowledged that a number of families were in fact displaced. However, they placed the number at no more than 25,[133] and claimed military necessity. They stated that the family members of terrorists maintained communications with them, and therefore had to be removed from areas where they might pose a danger.[134] They further stated that ISIL was using civilians in those areas to plant car bombs or carry out other attacks on the YPG.[135] By describing the events in Hammam al-Turkman before the village was evacuated, the report itself inadvertently supports these claims of military necessity.[136]

Recruitment of minors

In June 2014, Human Rights Watch criticized the YPG for accepting minors into their ranks,[137] picking up on multiple earlier reports of teenage fighters serving in the YPG, with a report by the United Nations Secretary General stating that 24 minors under age of 18 had been recruited by YPG, with 124 having been recruited by the Free Syrian Army and 5 by the Syrian Arab Army.[138] In response, the YPG and YPJ signed the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination in July 2014,[139] and Kurdish security forces (YPG and Asayish) began receiving human rights training from Geneva Call and other international organisations with the YPG pledging publicly to demobilize all fighters under 18 within a month and began to enact disciplinary measures against commanders of the units that had involved in corruption and accepting recruit under age of 18 to their ranks.[140][141] In October 2015 the YPG demobilized 21 minors from the military service in its ranks.[142]

In response to reports issued by international organisations such as Human Rights Watch,[143] the general command of the SDF issued a military order prohibiting the recruitment of children.[144]

According to the annual UN report of 2018, there were 224 cases of child recruitment by the YPG and its women’s unit, the YPJ, in 2017, an almost fivefold increase from the previous year.[145]

See also

References …

Bibliography

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Protection_Units

Kurds

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Kurds
Kurd کورد
Roj emblem.svg

Kurdish sun
Total population
30–40 million[1]
(The World Factbook, 2015 estimate)
36.4–45.6 million[2]
(Kurdish Institute of Paris, 2017 estimate)
 Turkey est. 14.3–20 million[1][2]
 Iran est. 8.2–12 million[1][2]
 Iraq est. 5.6–8.5 million[1][2]
 Syria est. 2–3.6 million[1][2]
 Germany 1.2 million-1.5 million[3][4]
 France 150,000[5]
 Sweden 83,600[6]
 Netherlands 70,000[7]
 Russia 63,818[8]
 Belgium 50,000[9]
 United Kingdom 49,841[10][11][12]
 Kazakhstan 46,348[13]
 Armenia 37,470[14]
  Switzerland 35,000[15]
 Denmark 30,000[16]
 Jordan 30,000[17]
 Austria 23,000[18]
 Greece 22,000[19]
 United States 20,591[20]
 Georgia 13,861[21]
 Kyrgyzstan 13,200[22]
 Canada 16,315[23]
 Finland 14,054[24]
 Australia 10,551[25]
 Azerbaijan 6,100[26]
Languages
Kurdish and Zaza–Gorani
Minor: Turkish (in Turkey), Persian (in Iran), Arabic (in Syria and Iraq), Aramaic (in parts of Iraq and Syria)
In their different forms: SoraniKurmanjiPehlewaniZazaGorani
Religion
Majority Islam
(Sunni MuslimAlevi IslamShia Islam)
with minorities of YazidismYarsanismZoroastrianismAgnosticismJudaismChristianity
Related ethnic groups
Other Iranian peoples

Kurds (Kurdishکورد‎, Kurd) are an Iranian ethnic group native to a mountainous region of Western Asia known as Kurdistan, which spans southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria.[27][28] There are also exclaves of Kurds in central Anatolia and Khorasan. Additionally, there are significant Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in particular Istanbul, while a Kurdish diaspora has developed in Western Europe, primarily in Germany. Numerically, the Kurds are estimated to number between 30 and 45 million.[2][29]

Kurds speak the Kurdish languages and the Zaza–Gorani languages, which belong to the Western Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family.[30][31][32] A majority of Kurds belong to the Shafi‘i school of Sunni Islam, but significant numbers practise Shia Islam and Alevism, while some are adherents of YarsanismYazidismZoroastrianism and Christianity.

After World War One and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the victorious Western allies made provision for a Kurdish state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. However, that promise was nullified three years later, when the Treaty of Lausanne set the boundaries of modern Turkey and made no such provision, leaving Kurds with minority status in their respective countries.[33] This fact has led to numerous genocides and rebellions, along with the current ongoing armed guerrilla conflicts in TurkeyIran, and Syria / Rojava. Kurds have an autonomous region in Iraq named Kurdistan Region, while Kurdish nationalist movements continue to pursue greater cultural rightsautonomy, and independence throughout Greater Kurdistan.

Contents

Language

Kurdish-inhabited areas in the Middle East (1992)

Kurdish (Kurdish: Kurdî or کوردی) is a collection of related dialects spoken by the Kurds.[34] It is mainly spoken in those parts of IranIraqSyria and Turkey which comprise Kurdistan.[35] Kurdish holds official status in Iraq as a national language alongside Arabic, is recognized in Iran as a regional language, and in Armenia as a minority language.

Most Kurds are either bilingual or multilingual, speaking the language of their respective nation of origin, such as ArabicPersian, and Turkish as a second language alongside their native Kurdish, while those in diaspora communities often speak three or more languages.

According to Mackenzie, there are few linguistic features that all Kurdish dialects have in common and that are not at the same time found in other Iranian languages.[36]

The Kurdish dialects according to Mackenzie are classified as:[37]

  • Northern group (the Kurmanji dialect group)
  • Central group (part of the Sorani dialect group)
  • Southern group (part of the Sorani dialect group) including Kermanshahi, Ardalani and Laki

The Zaza and Gorani are ethnic Kurds,[38] but the Zaza–Gorani languages are not classified as Kurdish.[39]

Commenting on the differences between the dialects of Kurdish, Kreyenbroek clarifies that in some ways, Kurmanji and Sorani are as different from each other as is English from German, giving the example that Kurmanji has grammatical gender and case endings, but Sorani does not, and observing that referring to Sorani and Kurmanji as “dialects” of one language is supported only by “their common origin … and the fact that this usage reflects the sense of ethnic identity and unity of the Kurds.”[40]

Population

The number of Kurds living in Southwest Asia is estimated at close to 30 million, with another one or two million living in diaspora. Kurds comprise anywhere from 18% to 20% of the population in Turkey,[1] possibly as high as 25%;[41] 15 to 20% in Iraq;[1] 10% in Iran;[1] and 9% in Syria.[1][42] Kurds form regional majorities in all four of these countries, viz. in Turkish KurdistanIraqi KurdistanIranian Kurdistan and Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in West Asia after the ArabsPersians, and Turks.

The total number of Kurds in 1991 was placed at 22.5 million, with 48% of this number living in Turkey, 18% in Iraq, 24% in Iran, and 4% in Syria.[43]

Recent emigration accounts for a population of close to 1.5 million in Western countries, about half of them in Germany.

A special case are the Kurdish populations in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia, displaced there mostly in the time of the Russian Empire, who underwent independent developments for more than a century and have developed an ethnic identity in their own right.[44] This groups’ population was estimated at close to 0.4 million in 1990.[45]

History

Antiquity

“The land of Karda” is mentioned on a Sumerian clay tablet dated to the 3rd millennium B.C. This land was inhabited by “the people of Su” who dwelt in the southern regions of Lake Van; The philological connection between “Kurd” and “Karda” is uncertain but the relationship is considered possible.[46] Other Sumerian clay tablets referred to the people, who lived in the land of Karda, as the Qarduchi and the Qurti.[47] Karda/Qardu is etymologically related to the Assyrian term Urartu and the Hebrew term Ararat.[48]

Qarti or Qartas, who were originally settled on the mountains north of Mesopotamia, are considered as a probable ancestor of the Kurds. Akkadians were attacked by nomads coming through Qartas territory at the end of 3rd millennium B.C. Akkadians distinguished them as Guti. They conquered Mesopotamia in 2150 B.C. and ruled with 21 kings until defeated by the Sumerian king Utu-hengal.[49]

Many Kurds consider themselves descended from the Medes, an ancient Iranian people,[50] and even use a calendar dating from 612 B.C., when the Assyrian capital of Nineveh was conquered by the Medes.[51] The claimed Median descent is reflected in the words of the Kurdish national anthem: “We are the children of the Medes and Kai Khosrow.”[52] However, MacKenzie and Asatrian challenge the relation of the Median language to Kurdish.[53][54] The Kurdish languages, on the other hand, form a subgroup of the Northwestern Iranian languages like Median.[34][55] Some researchers consider the independent Kardouchoi as the ancestors of the Kurds,[56] while others prefer Cyrtians.[57] The term “Kurd,” however, is first encountered in Arabic sources of the seventh century.[58] Books from the early Islamic era, including those containing legends such as the Shahnameh and the Middle Persian Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan, and other early Islamic sources provide early attestation of the name Kurd.[59] The Kurds have ethnically diverse origins.[60][61]

During the Sassanid era, in Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan, a short prose work written in Middle Persian, Ardashir I is depicted as having battled the Kurds and their leader, Madig. After initially sustaining a heavy defeat, Ardashir I was successful in subjugating the Kurds.[62] In a letter Ardashir I received from his foe, Ardavan V, which is also featured in the same work, he is referred to as being a Kurd himself.

You’ve bitten off more than you can chew
and you have brought death to yourself.
O son of a Kurd, raised in the tents of the Kurds,
who gave you permission to put a crown on your head?[63]

The usage of the term Kurd during this time period most likely was a social term, designating Northwestern Iranian nomads, rather than a concrete ethnic group.[63][64]

Similarly, in AD 360, the Sassanid king Shapur II marched into the Roman province Zabdicene, to conquer its chief city, Bezabde, present-day Cizre. He found it heavily fortified, and guarded by three legions and a large body of Kurdish archers.[65] After a long and hard-fought siege, Shapur II breached the walls, conquered the city and massacred all its defenders. Thereafter he had the strategically located city repaired, provisioned and garrisoned with his best troops.[65]

Qadishaye, settled by Kavad in Singara, were probably Kurds[66] and worshiped the martyr Abd al-Masih.[67] They revolted against the Sassanids and were raiding the whole Persian territory. Later they, along with Arabs and Armenians, joined the Sassanids in their war against the Byzantines.[68]

There is also a 7th-century text by an unidentified author, written about the legendary Christian martyr Mar Qardagh. He lived in the 4th century, during the reign of Shapur II, and during his travels is said to have encountered Mar Abdisho, a deacon and martyr, who, after having been questioned of his origins by Mar Qardagh and his Marzobans, stated that his parents were originally from an Assyrian village called Hazza, but were driven out and subsequently settled in Tamanon, a village in the land of the Kurds, identified as being in the region of Mount Judi.[69]

Medieval period

Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, or Saladin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty in the Middle East

Early Syriac sources use the terms Hurdanaye, Kurdanaye, Kurdaye to refer to the Kurds. According to Michael the Syrian, Hurdanaye separated from Tayaye Arabs and sought refuge with the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus. He also mentions the Persian troops who fought against Musa chief of Hurdanaye in the region of Qardu in 841. According to Barhebreaus, a king appeared to the Kurdanaye and they rebelled against the Arabs in 829. Michael the Syrian considered them as pagan, followers of mahdi and adepts of Magianism. Their mahdi called himself Christ and the Holy Ghost.[70]

In the early Middle Ages, the Kurds sporadically appear in Arabic sources, though the term was still not being used for a specific people; instead it referred to an amalgam of nomadic western Iranic tribes, who were distinct from Persians. However, in the High Middle Ages, the Kurdish ethnic identity gradually materialized, as one can find clear evidence of the Kurdish ethnic identity and solidarity in texts of the 12th and 13th century,[71] though, the term was also still being used in the social sense.[72] From 11th century onward, the term Kurd is explicitly defined as an ethnonym and this does not suggest synonymity with the ethnographic category nomad.[73] Al-Tabari wrote that in 639, Hormuzan, a Sasanian general originating from a noble family, battled against the Islamic invaders in Khuzestan, and called upon the Kurds to aid him in battle.[74] However, they were defeated and brought under Islamic rule.

Kurdish Warriors By Frank Feller

In 838, a Kurdish leader based in Mosul, named Mir Jafar, revolted against the Caliph Al-Mu’tasim who sent the commander Itakh to combat him. Itakh won this war and executed many of the Kurds.[75][76] Eventually Arabs conquered the Kurdish regions and gradually converted the majority of Kurds to Islam, often incorporating them into the military, such as the Hamdanids whose dynastic family members also frequently intermarried with Kurds.[77][78]

In 934 the Daylamite Buyid dynasty was founded, and subsequently conquered most of present-day Iran and Iraq. During the time of rule of this dynasty, Kurdish chief and ruler, Badr ibn Hasanwaih, established himself as one of the most important emirs of the time.[79]

In the 10th-12th centuries, a number of Kurdish principalities and dynasties were founded, ruling Kurdistan and neighbouring areas:

The city of Piranshahr, center of Mokrian district, northwestern Iran

Due to the Turkic invasion of Anatolia, the 11th century Kurdish dynasties crumbled and became incorporated into the Seljuk Dynasty. Kurds would hereafter be used in great numbers in the armies of the Zengids.[87] Succeeding the Zengids, the Kurdish Ayyubids established themselves in 1171, first under the leadership of Saladin. Saladin led the Muslims to recapture the city of Jerusalem from the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin; also frequently clashing with the Hashashins. The Ayyubid dynasty lasted until 1341 when the Ayyubid sultanate fell to Mongolian invasions.

Safavid period

The Safavid Dynasty, established in 1501, also established its rule over Kurdish-inhabited territories. The paternal line of this family actually had Kurdish roots, tracing back to Firuz-Shah Zarrin-Kolah, a dignitary who moved from Kurdistan to Ardabil in the 11th century.[88][89] The Battle of Chaldiran in 1514 that culminated in what is nowadays Iran’s West Azerbaijan Province, marked the start of the Ottoman-Persian Wars between the Iranian Safavids (and successive Iranian dynasties) and the Ottomans. For the next 300 years, many of the Kurds found themselves living in territories that frequently changed hands between Ottoman Turkey and Iran during the protracted series of Ottoman-Persian Wars.

The Safavid king Ismail I (r. 1501-1524) put down a Yezidi rebellion which went on from 1506-1510. A century later, the year-long Battle of Dimdim took place, wherein the Safavid king Abbas I (r. 1588-1629) succeeded in putting down the rebellion led by the Kurdish ruler Amir Khan Lepzerin. Thereafter, a large number of Kurds were deported to Khorasan, not only to weaken the Kurds, but also to protect the eastern border from invading Afghan and Turkmen tribes.[90] Other forced movements and deportations of other groups were also implemented by Abbas I and his successors, most notably of the Armenians, the Georgians, and the Circassians, who were moved en masse to and from other districts within the Persian empire.[91][92][93][94][95]

The Kurds of Khorasan, numbering around 700,000, still use the Kurmanji Kurdish dialect.[96][97] Several Kurdish noblemen served the Safavids and rose to prominence, such as Shaykh Ali Khan Zanganeh, who served as the grand vizier of the Safavid shah Suleiman I (r. 1666–1694) from 1669 to 1689. Due to his efforts in reforming the declining Iranian economy, he has been called the “Safavid Amir Kabir” in modern historiography.[98] His son, Shahqoli Khan Zanganeh, also served as a grand vizier from 1707 to 1716. Another Kurdish statesman, Ganj Ali Khan, was close friends with Abbas I, and served as governor in various provinces and was known for his loyal service.

Zand period

Karim Khan, the Laki ruler of the Zand Dynasty

After the fall of the Safavids, Iran fell under the control of the Afsharid Empire ruled by Nader Shah at its peak. After Nader’s death, Iran fell into civil war, with multiple leaders trying to gain control over the country. Ultimately, it was Karim Khan, a Laki general of the Zand tribe who would come to power.[99] The country would flourish during Karim Khan’s reign; a strong resurgence of the arts would take place, and international ties were strengthened.[100] Karim Khan was portrayed as being a ruler who truly cared about his subjects, thereby gaining the title Vakil e-Ra’aayaa (meaning Representative of the People in Persian).[100] Though not as powerful in its geo-political and military reach as the preceding Safavids and Afsharids or even the early Qajars, he managed to reassert Iranian hegemony over its integral territories in the Caucasus, and presided over an era of relative peace, prosperity, and tranquility. In Ottoman Iraq, following the Ottoman–Persian War (1775–76), Karim Khan managed to seize Basra for several years.[101][102]

After Karim Khan’s death, the dynasty would decline in favour of the rival Qajars due to infighting between the Khan’s incompetent offspring. It wasn’t until Lotf Ali Khan, 10 years later, that the dynasty would once again be led by an adept ruler. By this time however, the Qajars had already progressed greatly, having taken a number of Zand territories. Lotf Ali Khan made multiple successes before ultimately succumbing to the rivaling faction. Iran and all its Kurdish territories would hereby be incorporated in the Qajar Dynasty.

The Kurdish tribes present in Baluchistan and some of those in Fars are believed to be remnants of those that assisted and accompanied Lotf Ali Khan and Karim Khan, respectively.[103]

Ottoman period

When Sultan Selim I, after defeating Shah Ismail I in 1514, annexed Western Armenia and Kurdistan, he entrusted the organisation of the conquered territories to Idris, the historian, who was a Kurd of Bitlis. He divided the territory into sanjaks or districts, and, making no attempt to interfere with the principle of heredity, installed the local chiefs as governors. He also resettled the rich pastoral country between Erzerum and Erivan, which had lain in waste since the passage of Timur, with Kurds from the Hakkari and Bohtan districts. For the next centuries, from the Peace of Amasya until the first half of the 19th century, several regions of the wide Kurdish homelands would be contested as well between the Ottomans and the neighbouring rival successive Iranian dynasties (Safavids, AfsharidsQajars) in the frequent Ottoman-Persian Wars.

The Ottoman centralist policies in the beginning of the 19th century aimed to remove power from the principalities and localities, which directly affected the Kurdish emirs. Bedirhan Bey was the last emir of the Cizre Bohtan Emirate after initiating an uprising in 1847 against the Ottomans to protect the current structures of the Kurdish principalities. Although his uprising is not classified as a nationalist one, his children played significant roles in the emergence and the development of Kurdish nationalism through the next century.[104]

The first modern Kurdish nationalist movement emerged in 1880 with an uprising led by a Kurdish landowner and head of the powerful Shemdinan family, Sheik Ubeydullah, who demanded political autonomy or outright independence for Kurds as well as the recognition of a Kurdistan state without interference from Turkish or Persian authorities.[105] The uprising against Qajar Persia and the Ottoman Empire was ultimately suppressed by the Ottomans and Ubeydullah, along with other notables, were exiled to Istanbul.

Kurdish nationalism of the 20th century

Provisions of the Treaty of Sèvres for an independent Kurdistan (in 1920).

Kurdish nationalism emerged after World War I with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, which had historically successfully integrated (but not assimilated) the Kurds, through use of forced repression of Kurdish movements to gain independence. Revolts did occur sporadically but only in 1880 with the uprising led by Sheik Ubeydullah did the Kurds as an ethnic group or nation make demands. Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II (r. 1876–1909) responded with a campaign of integration by co-opting prominent Kurdish opponents to strengthen Ottoman power with offers of prestigious positions in his government. This strategy appears to have been successful, given the loyalty displayed by the Kurdish Hamidiye regiments during World War I.[106]

The Kurdish ethno-nationalist movement that emerged following World War I (1914-1918) and the end of the Ottoman Empire (1922) largely represented a reaction to the changes taking place in mainstream Turkey, primarily to the radical secularization (which the strongly Muslim Kurds abhorred), to the centralization of authority (which threatened the power of local chieftains and Kurdish autonomy), and to rampant Turkish nationalism in the new Turkish Republic (which obviously threatened to marginalize Kurds).[107]

Jakob Künzler, head of a missionary hospital in Urfa, documented the large-scale ethnic cleansing of both Armenians and Kurds by the Young Turks.[108] He has given a detailed account of the deportation of Kurds from Erzurum and Bitlis in the winter of 1916. The Kurds were perceived[by whom?] to be subversive elements who would take the Russian side in the war. In order to eliminate this threat, Young Turks embarked on a large-scale deportation of Kurds from the regions of DjabachdjurPaluMuschErzurum and Bitlis. Around 300,000 Kurds were forced to move southwards to Urfa and then westwards to Aintab and Marasch. In the summer of 1917 Kurds were moved to Konya in central Anatolia. Through these measures, the Young Turk leaders aimed at weakening the political influence of the Kurds by deporting them from their ancestral lands and by dispersing them in small pockets of exiled communities. By the end of World War I, up to 700,000 Kurds had been forcibly deported and almost half of the displaced perished.[109]

Some of the Kurdish groups sought self-determination and the confirmation of Kurdish autonomy in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, but in the aftermath of World War I, Kemal Atatürk prevented such a result. Kurds backed by the United Kingdom declared independence in 1927 and established the Republic of AraratTurkey suppressed Kurdist revolts in 1925, 1930, and 1937–1938, while Iran in the 1920s suppressed Simko Shikak at Lake Urmia and Jaafar Sultan of the Hewraman region, who controlled the region between Marivan and north of Halabja. A short-lived Soviet-sponsored Kurdish Republic of Mahabad (January to December, 1946) existed in an area of present-day Iran.

Kurdish-inhabited areas of the Middle East and the Soviet Union in 1986.

From 1922–1924 in Iraq a Kingdom of Kurdistan existed. When Ba’athist administrators thwarted Kurdish nationalist ambitions in Iraq, war broke out in the 1960s. In 1970 the Kurds rejected limited territorial self-rule within Iraq, demanding larger areas, including the oil-rich Kirkuk region.

During the 1920s and 1930s, several large-scale Kurdish revolts took place in Kurdistan. Following these rebellions, the area of Turkish Kurdistan was put under martial law and a large number of the Kurds were displaced. The Turkish government also encouraged resettlement of Albanians from Kosovo and Assyrians in the region to change the make-up of the population. These events and measures led to long-lasting mutual distrust between Ankara and the Kurds.[110]

Kurdish officers from the Iraqi army […] were said to have approached Soviet army authorities soon after their arrival in Iran in 1941 and offered to form a Kurdish volunteer force to fight alongside the Red Army. This offer was declined.[111]

During the relatively open government of the 1950s in Turkey, Kurds gained political office and started working within the framework of the Turkish Republic to further their interests, but this move towards integration was halted with the 1960 Turkish coup d’état.[106] The 1970s saw an evolution in Kurdish nationalism as Marxist political thought influenced some in the new generation of Kurdish nationalists opposed to the local feudal authorities who had been a traditional source of opposition to authority; in 1978 Kurdish students would form the militant separatist organization PKK, also known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in English. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party later abandoned Marxism-Leninism.[112]

Kurds are often regarded as “the largest ethnic group without a state”.[113][114][115][116][117][118] The Kurdish claim of “statelessness” is rejected by some researchers such as Martin van Bruinessen[119] and some other scholars who seem to agree with the official Turkish position. They argue that while some level of Kurdish cultural, social, political and ideological heterogeneity may exist, the Kurdish community has long thrived over the centuries as a generally peaceful and well-integrated part of Turkish society, with hostilities erupting only in recent years.[120][121][122] Michael Radu, who worked for the United States‘s Pennsylvania Foreign Policy Research Institute, notes that the claim of Kurdish “statelessness” comes primarily from Kurdish nationalists, Western human-rights activists, and European leftists.[120]

Name

The exact origins of the name Kurd are unclear.[123] The underlying toponym is recorded in Assyrian as Qardu and in Middle Bronze Age Sumerian as Kar-da.[124] Assyrian Qardu refers to an area in the upper Tigris basin, and it is presumably reflected in corrupted form in Classical Arabic Ǧūdī, re-adopted in Kurdish as Cûdî.[125] The name would be continued as the first element in the toponym Corduene, mentioned by Xenophon as the tribe who opposed the retreat of the Ten Thousand through the mountains north of Mesopotamia in the 4th century BC.

There are, however, dissenting views, which do not derive the name of the Kurds from Qardu and Corduene but opt for derivation from Cyrtii (Cyrtaei) instead.[126]

Regardless of its possible roots in ancient toponymy, the ethnonym Kurd might be derived from a term kwrt- used in Middle Persian as a common noun to refer to “nomads” or “tent-dwellers,” which could be applied as an attribute to any Iranian group with such a lifestyle.[127]

The term gained the characteristic of an ethnonym following the Muslim conquest of Persia, as it was adopted into Arabic and gradually became associated with an amalgamation of Iranian and Iranicised tribes and groups in the region.[128][129]

It is also hypothesized that Kurd could derive from the Persian word gord (see Shahrekord), because the Arabic script lacks a symbol corresponding uniquely to g (گ).[citation needed]

Sherefxan Bidlisi in the 16th century states that there are four division of “Kurds”: KurmanjLurKalhor and Guran, each of which speak a different dialect or language variation. Paul (2008) notes that the 16th-century usage of the term Kurd as recorded by Bidlisi, regardless of linguistic grouping, might still reflect an incipient Northwestern Iranian “Kurdish” ethnic identity uniting the KurmanjKalhur, and Guran.[34]

Kurdish communities

Turkey

Two Kurds From Constantinople 1899

According to CIA Factbook, Kurds formed approximately 18% of the population in Turkey (approximately 14 million) in 2008. One Western source estimates that up to 25% of the Turkish population is Kurdish (approximately 18-19 million people).[41] Kurdish sources claim there are as many as 20 or 25 million Kurds in Turkey.[130] In 1980, Ethnologue estimated the number of Kurdish-speakers in Turkey at around five million,[131] when the country’s population stood at 44 million.[132] Kurds form the largest minority group in Turkey, and they have posed the most serious and persistent challenge to the official image of a homogeneous society. This classification was changed to the new euphemism of Eastern Turk in 1980.[133] Nowadays the Kurds, in Turkey, are still known under the name Easterner (Doğulu).

Several large scale Kurdish revolts in 1925, 1930 and 1938 were suppressed by the Turkish government and more than one million Kurds were forcibly relocated between 1925 and 1938. The use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under martial law until 1946.[134] The Ararat revolt, which reached its apex in 1930, was only suppressed after a massive military campaign including destruction of many villages and their populations.[135] By the 1970s, Kurdish leftist organizations such as Kurdistan Socialist Party-Turkey (KSP-T) emerged in Turkey which were against violence and supported civil activities and participation in elections. In 1977, Mehdi Zana a supporter of KSP-T won the mayoralty of Diyarbakir in the local elections. At about the same time, generational fissures gave birth to two new organizations: the National Liberation of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Workers Party.[136]

Kurdish boys in Diyarbakir.

The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan“, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[137] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[138] Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[139] The Kurds are still not allowed to get a primary education in their mother tongue and they don’t have a right to self-determination, even though Turkey has signed the ICCPR. There is ongoing discrimination against and “otherization” of Kurds in society.[140]

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK (Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê) is Kurdish militant organization which has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for cultural and political rights and self-determination for the Kurds. Turkey‘s military allies the US, the EU, and NATO label the PKK as a terrorist organization while the UN,[141] Switzerland,[142] Russia,[143] China and India have refused to add the PKK to their terrorist list.[144] Some of them have even supported the PKK.[145]

Between 1984 and 1999, the PKK and the Turkish military engaged in open war, and much of the countryside in the southeast was depopulated, as Kurdish civilians moved from villages to bigger cities such as DiyarbakırVan, and Şırnak, as well as to the cities of western Turkey and even to western Europe. The causes of the depopulation included mainly the Turkish state’s military operations, state’s political actions, Turkish Deep state actions, the poverty of the southeast and PKK atrocities against Kurdish clans which were against them.[146] Turkish State actions have included forced inscription, forced evacuation, destruction of villages, severe harassment, illegal arrests and executions of Kurdish civilians.[147][148][149][150]

Since the 1970s, the European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for the thousands of human rights abuses.[147][151] The judgments are related to executions of Kurdish civilians,[148] torturing,[152] forced displacements[153] systematic destruction of villages,[154] arbitrary arrests[155] murdered and disappeared Kurdish journalists.[156]

Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish female MP from Diyarbakir, caused an uproar in Turkish Parliament after adding the following sentence in Kurdish to her parliamentary oath during the swearing-in ceremony in 1994: “I take this oath for the brotherhood of the Turkish and Kurdish peoples.”[157]

In March 1994, the Turkish Parliament voted to lift the immunity of Zana and five other Kurdish DEP members: Hatip Dicle, Ahmet Turk, Sirri Sakik, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak. Zana, Dicle, Sadak and Dogan were sentenced to 15 years in jail by the Supreme Court in October 1995. Zana was awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights by the European Parliament in 1995. She was released in 2004 amid warnings from European institutions that the continued imprisonment of the four Kurdish MPs would affect Turkey’s bid to join the EU.[158][159] The 2009 local elections resulted in 5.7% for Kurdish political party DTP.[160]

Officially protected death squads are accused of the disappearance of 3,200 Kurds and Assyrians in 1993 and 1994 in the so-called “mystery killings”. Kurdish politicians, human-rights activists, journalists, teachers and other members of intelligentsia were among the victims. Virtually none of the perpetrators were investigated nor punished. Turkish government also encouraged Islamic extremist group Hezbollah to assassinate suspected PKK members and often ordinary Kurds.[161] Azimet Köylüoğlu, the state minister of human rights, revealed the extent of security forces’ excesses in autumn 1994: While acts of terrorism in other regions are done by the PKK; in Tunceli it is state terrorism. In Tunceli, it is the state that is evacuating and burning villages. In the southeast there are two million people left homeless.[162]

Iran

The Kurdish region of Iran has been a part of the country since ancient times. Nearly all Kurdistan was part of Persian Empire until its Western part was lost during wars against the Ottoman Empire.[163] Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 Tehran had demanded all lost territories including Turkish KurdistanMosul, and even Diyarbakır, but demands were quickly rejected by Western powers.[164] This area has been divided by modern TurkeySyria and Iraq.[165] Today, the Kurds inhabit mostly northwestern territories known as Iranian Kurdistan but also the northeastern region of Khorasan, and constitute approximately 7-10%[166] of Iran’s overall population (6.5–7.9 million), compared to 10.6% (2 million) in 1956 and 8% (800 thousand) in 1850.[167]

Yellow areas are Kurdish inhabited regions of Iran.

Unlike in other Kurdish-populated countries, there are strong ethnolinguistical and cultural ties between Kurds, Persians and others as Iranian peoples.[166] Some modern Iranian dynasties like the Safavids and Zands are considered to be partly of Kurdish origin. Kurdish literature in all of its forms (KurmanjiSorani, and Gorani) has been developed within historical Iranian boundaries under strong influence of the Persian language.[165] The Kurds sharing much of their history with the rest of Iran is seen as reason for why Kurdish leaders in Iran do not want a separate Kurdish state[166][168][169]

The government of Iran has never employed the same level of brutality against its own Kurds like Turkey or Iraq, but it has always been implacably opposed to any suggestion of Kurdish separatism.[166] During and shortly after the First World War the government of Iran was ineffective and had very little control over events in the country and several Kurdish tribal chiefs gained local political power, even established large confederations.[168] At the same time waves of nationalism from the disintegrating Ottoman Empire partly influenced some Kurdish chiefs in border regions to pose as Kurdish nationalist leaders.[168] Prior to this, identity in both countries largely relied upon religion i.e. Shia Islam in the particular case of Iran.[169][170] In 19th century IranShia–Sunni animosity and the describing of Sunni Kurds as an Ottoman fifth column was quite frequent.[171]

During the late 1910s and early 1920s, tribal revolt led by Kurdish chieftain Simko Shikak struck north western Iran. Although elements of Kurdish nationalism were present in this movement, historians agree these were hardly articulate enough to justify a claim that recognition of Kurdish identity was a major issue in Simko’s movement, and he had to rely heavily on conventional tribal motives.[168] Government forces and non-Kurds were not the only ones to suffer in the attacks, the Kurdish population was also robbed and assaulted.[168][172] Rebels do not appear to have felt any sense of unity or solidarity with fellow Kurds.[168] Kurdish insurgency and seasonal migrations in the late 1920s, along with long-running tensions between Tehran and Ankara, resulted in border clashes and even military penetrations in both Iranian and Turkish territory.[164] Two regional powers have used Kurdish tribes as tool for own political benefits: Turkey has provided military help and refuge for anti-Iranian Turcophone Shikak rebels in 1918-1922,[173] while Iran did the same during Ararat rebellion against Turkey in 1930. Reza Shah‘s military victory over Kurdish and Turkic tribal leaders initiated a repressive era toward non-Iranian minorities.[172] Government’s forced detribalization and sedentarization in 1920s and 1930s resulted with many other tribal revolts in Iranian regions of AzerbaijanLuristan and Kurdistan.[174] In particular case of the Kurds, this repressive policies partly contributed to developing nationalism among some tribes.[168]

Iranian Kurds celebrating Newroz, 20 March 2018

As a response to growing Pan-Turkism and Pan-Arabism in region which were seen as potential threats to the territorial integrity of Iran, Pan-Iranist ideology has been developed in the early 1920s.[170] Some of such groups and journals openly advocated Iranian support to the Kurdish rebellion against Turkey.[175] Secular Pahlavi dynasty has endorsed Iranian ethnic nationalism[170] which seen the Kurds as integral part of the Iranian nation.[169] Mohammad Reza Pahlavi has personally praised the Kurds as “pure Iranians” or “one of the most noble Iranian peoples“.[176] Another significant ideology during this period was Marxism which arose among Kurds under influence of USSR. It culminated in the Iran crisis of 1946 which included a separatist attempt of KDP-I and communist groups[177] to establish the Soviet puppet government[178][179][180] called Republic of Mahabad. It arose along with Azerbaijan People’s Government, another Soviet puppet state.[166][181] The state itself encompassed a very small territory, including Mahabad and the adjacent cities, unable to incorporate the southern Iranian Kurdistan which fell inside the Anglo-American zone, and unable to attract the tribes outside Mahabad itself to the nationalist cause.[166] As a result, when the Soviets withdrew from Iran in December 1946, government forces were able to enter Mahabad unopposed.[166]

Several nationalist and Marxist insurgencies continued for decades (196719791989–96) led by KDP-I and Komalah, but those two organization have never advocated a separate Kurdish state or greater Kurdistan as did the PKK in Turkey.[168][183][184][185] Still, many of dissident leaders, among others Qazi Muhammad and Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, were executed or assassinated.[166] During Iran–Iraq War, Tehran has provided support for Iraqi-based Kurdish groups like KDP or PUK, along with asylum for 1,400,000 Iraqi refugees, mostly Kurds. Kurdish Marxist groups have been marginalized in Iran since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2004 new insurrection started by PJAK, separatist organization affiliated with the Turkey-based PKK[186] and designated as terrorist by Iran, Turkey and the United States.[186] Some analysts claim PJAK do not pose any serious threat to the government of Iran.[187] Cease-fire has been established in September 2011 following the Iranian offensive on PJAK bases, but several clashes between PJAK and IRGC took place after it.[121] Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, accusations of “discrimination” by Western organizations and of “foreign involvement” by Iranian side have become very frequent.[121]

Kurds have been well integrated in Iranian political life during reign of various governments.[168] Kurdish liberal political Karim Sanjabi has served as minister of education under Mohammad Mossadegh in 1952.[176] During the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi some members of parliament and high army officers were Kurds, and there was even a Kurdish Cabinet Minister.[168] During the reign of the Pahlavis Kurds received many favours from the authorities, for instance to keep their land after the land reforms of 1962.[168] In the early 2000s, presence of thirty Kurdish deputies in the 290-strong parliament has also helped to undermine claims of discrimination.[188] Some of the more influential Kurdish politicians during recent years include former first vice president Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Mohammad Bagher GhalibafMayor of Tehran and second-placed presidential candidate in 2013. Kurdish language is today used more than at any other time since the Revolution, including in several newspapers and among schoolchildren.[188] A large number of Iranian Kurds show no interest in Kurdish nationalism,[166] particularly Kurds of the Shia faith who sometimes even vigorously reject idea of autonomy, preferring direct rule from Tehran.[166][183] The issue of Kurdish nationalism and Iranian national identity is generally only questioned in the peripheral Kurdish dominated regions where the Sunni faith is prevalent.[189]

Iraq

The President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, meeting with U.S. officials in Baghdad, Iraq, on 26 April 2006.

Kurds constitute approximately 17% of Iraq’s population. They are the majority in at least three provinces in northern Iraq which are together known as Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurds also have a presence in KirkukMosulKhanaqin, and Baghdad. Around 300,000 Kurds live in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, 50,000 in the city of Mosul and around 100,000 elsewhere in southern Iraq.[190]

Kurds led by Mustafa Barzani were engaged in heavy fighting against successive Iraqi regimes from 1960 to 1975. In March 1970, Iraq announced a peace plan providing for Kurdish autonomy. The plan was to be implemented in four years.[191] However, at the same time, the Iraqi regime started an Arabization program in the oil-rich regions of Kirkuk and Khanaqin.[192] The peace agreement did not last long, and in 1974, the Iraqi government began a new offensive against the Kurds. Moreover, in March 1975, Iraq and Iran signed the Algiers Accord, according to which Iran cut supplies to Iraqi Kurds. Iraq started another wave of Arabization by moving Arabs to the oil fields in Kurdistan, particularly those around Kirkuk.[193] Between 1975 and 1978, 200,000 Kurds were deported to other parts of Iraq.[194]

Kurdish children in Sulaymaniyah

During the Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s, the regime implemented anti-Kurdish policies and a de facto civil war broke out. Iraq was widely condemned by the international community, but was never seriously punished for oppressive measures such as the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the wholesale destruction of thousands of villages and the deportation of thousands of Kurds to southern and central Iraq.

The genocidal campaign, conducted between 1986 and 1989 and culminating in 1988, carried out by the Iraqi government against the Kurdish population was called Anfal (“Spoils of War”). The Anfal campaign led to destruction of over two thousand villages and killing of 182,000 Kurdish civilians.[195] The campaign included the use of ground offensives, aerial bombing, systematic destruction of settlements, mass deportation, firing squads, and chemical attacks, including the most infamous attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988 that killed 5000 civilians instantly.

Pro-independence rally in Erbil in September 2017

After the collapse of the Kurdish uprising in March 1991, Iraqi troops recaptured most of the Kurdish areas and 1.5 million Kurds abandoned their homes and fled to the Turkish and Iranian borders. It is estimated that close to 20,000 Kurds succumbed to death due to exhaustion, lack of food, exposure to cold and disease. On 5 April 1991, UN Security Council passed resolution 688 which condemned the repression of Iraqi Kurdish civilians and demanded that Iraq end its repressive measures and allow immediate access to international humanitarian organizations.[196] This was the first international document (since the League of Nations arbitration of Mosul in 1926) to mention Kurds by name. In mid-April, the Coalition established safe havens inside Iraqi borders and prohibited Iraqi planes from flying north of 36th parallel.[61]:373, 375 In October 1991, Kurdish guerrillas captured Erbil and Sulaimaniyah after a series of clashes with Iraqi troops. In late October, Iraqi government retaliated by imposing a food and fuel embargo on the Kurds and stopping to pay civil servants in the Kurdish region. The embargo, however, backfired and Kurds held parliamentary elections in May 1992 and established Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).[197]

The Kurdish population welcomed the American troops in 2003 by holding celebrations and dancing in the streets.[198][199][200][201] The area controlled by Peshmerga was expanded, and Kurds now have effective control in Kirkuk and parts of Mosul. The authority of the KRG and legality of its laws and regulations were recognized in the articles 113 and 137 of the new Iraqi Constitution ratified in 2005.[202] By the beginning of 2006, the two Kurdish administrations of Erbil and Sulaimaniya were unified. On 14 August 2007, Yazidis were targeted in a series of bombings that became the deadliest suicide attack since the Iraq War began, killing 796 civilians, wounding 1,562.[203]

Syria

Kurdish YPG and YPJ fighters in Syria

PYD militiaman manning a checkpoint in AfrinSyria, during the Rojava conflict

Kurds account for 9% of Syria‘s population, a total of around 1.6 million people.[204] This makes them the largest ethnic minority in the country. They are mostly concentrated in the northeast and the north, but there are also significant Kurdish populations in Aleppo and Damascus. Kurds often speak Kurdish in public, unless all those present do not. According to Amnesty International, Kurdish human rights activists are mistreated and persecuted.[205] No political parties are allowed for any group, Kurdish or otherwise.

Techniques used to suppress the ethnic identity of Kurds in Syria include various bans on the use of the Kurdish language, refusal to register children with Kurdish names, the replacement of Kurdish place names with new names in Arabic, the prohibition of businesses that do not have Arabic names, the prohibition of Kurdish private schools, and the prohibition of books and other materials written in Kurdish.[206][207] Having been denied the right to Syrian nationality, around 300,000 Kurds have been deprived of any social rights, in violation of international law.[208][209] As a consequence, these Kurds are in effect trapped within Syria. In March 2011, in part to avoid further demonstrations and unrest from spreading across Syria, the Syrian government promised to tackle the issue and grant Syrian citizenship to approximately 300,000 Kurds who had been previously denied the right.[210]

On 12 March 2004, beginning at a stadium in Qamishli (a largely Kurdish city in northeastern Syria), clashes between Kurds and Syrians broke out and continued over a number of days. At least thirty people were killed and more than 160 injured. The unrest spread to other Kurdish towns along the northern border with Turkey, and then to Damascus and Aleppo.[211][212]

As a result of Syrian civil war, since July 2012, Kurds were able to take control of large parts of Syrian Kurdistan from Andiwar in extreme northeast to Jindires in extreme northwest Syria. The Syrian Kurds started the Rojava Revolution in 2013.

Kurdish-inhabited Afrin Canton has been occupied by Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army since the Turkish military operation in Afrin in early 2018. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people were displaced due to the Turkish intervention.[213]

In October 2019, Turkey and the Syrian Interim Government began an offensive into Kurdish-populated areas in Syria, prompting about 100,000 civilians to flee from the area fearing that Turkey would commit an ethnic cleansing.[214][215]

Transcaucasus

Between the 1930s and 1980s, Armenia was a part of the Soviet Union, within which Kurds, like other ethnic groups, had the status of a protected minority. Armenian Kurds were permitted their own state-sponsored newspaper, radio broadcasts and cultural events. During the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, many non-Yazidi Kurds were forced to leave their homes since both the Azeri and non-Yazidi Kurds were Muslim.

In 1920, two Kurdish-inhabited areas of Jewanshir (capital Kalbajar) and eastern Zangazur (capital Lachin) were combined to form the Kurdistan Okrug (or “Red Kurdistan”). The period of existence of the Kurdish administrative unit was brief and did not last beyond 1929. Kurds subsequently faced many repressive measures, including deportations, imposed by the Soviet government. As a result of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, many Kurdish areas have been destroyed and more than 150,000 Kurds have been deported since 1988 by separatist Armenian forces.[216]

Diaspora

Hamdi Ulukaya, Kurdish-American billionaire, founder and CEO of Chobani.

According to a report by the Council of Europe, approximately 1.3 million Kurds live in Western Europe. The earliest immigrants were Kurds from Turkey, who settled in GermanyAustria, the Benelux countries, the United KingdomSwitzerland and France during the 1960s. Successive periods of political and social turmoil in the region during the 1980s and 1990s brought new waves of Kurdish refugees, mostly from Iran and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, came to Europe.[96] In recent years, many Kurdish asylum seekers from both Iran and Iraq have settled in the United Kingdom (especially in the town of Dewsbury and in some northern areas of London), which has sometimes caused media controversy over their right to remain.[217] There have been tensions between Kurds and the established Muslim community in Dewsbury,[218][219] which is home to very traditional mosques such as the Markazi. Since the beginning of the turmoil in Syria many of the refugees of the Syrian Civil War are Syrian Kurds and as a result many of the current Syrian asylum seekers in Germany are of Kurdish descent.[220][221]

There was substantial immigration of ethnic Kurds in Canada and the United States, who are mainly political refugees and immigrants seeking economic opportunity. According to a 2011 Statistics Canada household survey, there were 11,685 people of Kurdish ethnic background living in Canada,[222] and according to the 2011 Census, 10,325 Canadians spoke Kurdish language.[223] In the United States, Kurdish immigrants started to settle in large numbers in Nashville in 1976,[224] which is now home to the largest Kurdish community in the United States and is nicknamed Little Kurdistan.[225] Kurdish population in Nashville is estimated to be around 11,000.[226] Total number of ethnic Kurds residing in the United States is estimated by the US Census Bureau to be 20,591.[20] Other sources claim that there are 20,000 ethnic Kurds in the United States.[227]

Religion

As a whole, the Kurdish people are adherents to a large number of different religions and creeds, perhaps constituting the most religiously diverse people of West Asia. Traditionally, Kurds have been known to take great liberties with their practices. This sentiment is reflected in the saying “Compared to the unbeliever, the Kurd is a Muslim”.[228]

Islam

The Shahadah – “I testify that there is no god (ilah) but (the) God (Allah)”, the creed of Islam.

Today, the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslim, belonging to the Shafi school. The Kurdish following of the Shafi legal code has caused some tension when pushed up against Sunni Turks and Sunni Arabs who subscribe to the Hanafi legal code.

The majority of Sunni Muslim Kurds belonging to the Shafi school speak the Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) dialect.[229]

There is also a significant minority of Kurds who are Shia Muslims. A side of sources mention that most of Kurds in Iran are Shias,[230][231][232] who primarily living in the IlamKermanshah and Khorasan provinces of Iran; the other Shia Kurds are (often) in eastern Iraq (Feyli Kurds) as well as Shia Kurds who are in Syria and especially in Turkey.[96][233] Amongst Shia Muslim Kurdish communities, in particular the practitioners of Alevism in Anatolia, the Zaza language is found more commonly.[229]

Mystical practices and participation in Sufi orders are also widespread among Kurds,[234] with prominent Kurdish Sufi saints including Piryones.

The Zulfiqar, symbol for the Shia Muslims and Alevis.

Alevism

The Alevis (usually considered adherents of a branch of Shia Islam with elements of Sufism) are another religious significant minority among the Kurds, living in Eastern Anatolia in Turkey, meanwhile, with somewhere between 10 and 40% of Kurds in Turkey Alevis.[235] Alevism developed out of the teachings of Haji Bektash Veli, a 13th-century mystic from Khorasan. Among the Qizilbash, the militant groups which predate the Alevis and helped establish the Safavid Dynasty, there were numerous Kurdish tribes. The American missionary Stephen van Renssalaer Trowbridge, working at Aintab (present Gaziantep) reported[236] that his Alevi acquaintances considered as their highest spiritual leaders an Ahl-i Haqq sayyid family in the Guran district.[237]

Ahl-i Haqq (Yarsan)

Ahl-i Haqq or Yarsanism is a syncretic religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran. Most of its adherents, estimated at around 500,000[238] or 1,000,000,[239] are found primarily in western Iran and eastern Iraq and are mostly ethnic Goran Kurds,[240][241][242] though there are also smaller groups of PersianLoriAzeri and Arab adherents.[243] Its central religious text is the Kalâm-e Saranjâm, written in Gurani. In this text, the religion’s basic pillars are summarized as: “The Yarsan should strive for these four qualities: purity, rectitude, self-effacement and self-abnegation”.[244]

The Yarsan faith’s unique features include millenarismnativismegalitarianismmetempsychosisangelology, divine manifestation and dualism. Many of these features are found in Yazidism, another Kurdish faith, in the faith of Zoroastrians and in ghulat (non-mainstream Shia) groups; certainly, the names and religious terminology of the Yarsan are often explicitly of Muslim origin. Unlike other indigenous Persianate faiths, the Yarsan explicitly reject class, caste and rank, which sets them apart from the Yazidis and Zoroastrians.[245]

The Ahl-i Haqq consider the Bektashi and Alevi as kindred communities.[237]

Yazidism

Yazidi new year celebrations in Lalish, 18 April 2017

Yazidism is another syncretic religion practiced among Kurdish communities, founded by Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir, a 12th-century mystic from Lebanon. Their numbers exceed 500,000, with some estimates numbering them at 1.2 million worldwide.[246][247][248] Its central religious texts are the Kitêba Cilwe and Meshaf Resh.

According to Yazidi beliefs, God created the world but left it in the care of seven holy beings or angels. The most prominent angel is Melek Taus (Kurdish: Tawûsê Melek), the Peacock Angel, God’s representative on earth. Yazidis believe in the periodic reincarnation of the seven holy beings in human form. Yazidis who marry non-Yazidis are automatically considered to be converted to the religion of their spouse and therefore are not permitted to call themselves Yazidis.[249][250]

They live primarily in Iraq’s Nineveh Governorate. Their holiest shrine and the tomb of the faith’s founder is located in Lalish, in northern Iraq.[251]

Zoroastrianism

Faravahar (or Ferohar), one of the primary symbols of Zoroastrianism, believed to be the depiction of a Fravashi (guardian spirit)

The Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism has had a major influence on the Iranian culture, which Kurds are a part of, and has maintained some effect since the demise of the religion in the Middle Ages. The Iranian philosopher Sohrevardi drew heavily from Zoroastrian teachings.[252] Ascribed to the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster, the faith’s Supreme Being is Ahura Mazda. Leading characteristics, such as messianism, the Golden Ruleheaven and hell, and free will influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple JudaismGnosticismChristianity, and Islam.[253]

In 2016, the first official Zoroastrian fire temple of Iraqi Kurdistan opened in Sulaymaniyah. Attendees celebrated the occasion by lighting a ritual fire and beating the frame drum or ‘daf’.[254] Awat Tayib, the chief of followers of Zoroastrianism in the Kurdistan region, claimed that many were returning to Zoroastrianism but some kept it secret out of fear of reprisals from Islamists.[254]

Christianity

Although historically there have been various accounts of Kurdish Christians, most often these were in the form of individuals, and not as communities. However, in the 19th and 20th century various travel logs tell of Kurdish Christian tribes, as well as Kurdish Muslim tribes who had substantial Christian populations living amongst them. A significant number of these were allegedly originally Armenian or Assyrian,[255] and it has been recorded that a small number of Christian traditions have been preserved. Several Christian prayers in Kurdish have been found from earlier centuries.[256]

Segments of the Bible were first made available in the Kurdish language in 1856 in the Kurmanji dialect. The Gospels were translated by Stepan, an Armenian employee of the American Bible Society and were published in 1857. Prominent historical Kurdish Christians include the brothers Zakare and Ivane Mkhargrdzeli.[257][258][259]

Culture

Kurdish culture is a legacy from the various ancient peoples who shaped modern Kurds and their society. As most other Middle Eastern populations, a high degree of mutual influences between the Kurds and their neighbouring peoples are apparent. Therefore, in Kurdish culture elements of various other cultures are to be seen. However, on the whole, Kurdish culture is closest to that of other Iranian peoples, in particular those who historically had the closest geographical proximity to the Kurds, such as the Persians and Lurs. Kurds, for instance, also celebrate Newroz (March 21) as New Year’s Day.[260]

Education

A madrasa system was used before the modern era.[261][262] Mele are Islamic clerics and instructors.[263]

Women

YPG‘s female fighters in Syria

In general, Kurdish women’s rights and equality have improved in the 20th and 21st century due to progressive movements within Kurdish society. However, despite the progress, Kurdish and international women’s rights organizations still report problems related to gender equalityforced marriageshonor killings and in Iraqi Kurdistan also female genital mutilation (FGM).[264]

Folklore and mythology

The fox; a widely recurring character in Kurdish tales

The Kurds possess a rich tradition of folklore, which, until recent times, was largely transmitted by speech or song, from one generation to the next. Although some of the Kurdish writers’ stories were well known throughout Kurdistan; most of the stories told and sung were only written down in the 20th and 21st century. Many of these are, allegedly, centuries old.

Widely varying in purpose and style, among the Kurdish folklore one will find stories about nature, anthropomorphic animals, love, heroes and villains, mythological creatures and everyday life. A number of these mythological figures can be found in other cultures, like the Simurgh and Kaveh the Blacksmith in the broader Iranian Mythology, and stories of Shahmaran throughout Anatolia. Additionally, stories can be purely entertaining, or have an educational or religious aspect.[265]

Perhaps the most widely reoccurring element is the fox, which, through cunningness and shrewdness triumphs over less intelligent species, yet often also meets his demise.[265] Another common theme in Kurdish folklore is the origin of a tribe.

Storytellers would perform in front of an audience, sometimes consisting of an entire village. People from outside the region would travel to attend their narratives, and the storytellers themselves would visit other villages to spread their tales. These would thrive especially during winter, where entertainment was hard to find as evenings had to be spent inside.[265]

Coinciding with the heterogeneous Kurdish groupings, although certain stories and elements were commonly found throughout Kurdistan, others were unique to a specific area; depending on the region, religion or dialect. The Kurdish Jews of Zakho are perhaps the best example of this; whose gifted storytellers are known to have been greatly respected throughout the region, thanks to a unique oral tradition.[266] Other examples are the mythology of the Yezidis,[267] and the stories of the Dersim Kurds, which had a substantial Armenian influence.[268]

During the criminalization of the Kurdish language after the coup d’état of 1980, dengbêj (singers) and çîrokbêj (tellers) were silenced, and many of the stories had become endangered. In 1991, the language was decriminalized, yet the now highly available radios and TV’s had as an effect a diminished interest in traditional storytelling.[269] However, a number of writers have made great strides in the preservation of these tales.

Weaving

Modern rug from Bijar

Kurdish weaving is renowned throughout the world, with fine specimens of both rugs and bags. The most famous Kurdish rugs are those from the Bijar region, in the Kurdistan Province. Because of the unique way in which the Bijar rugs are woven, they are very stout and durable, hence their appellation as the ‘Iron Rugs of Persia’. Exhibiting a wide variety, the Bijar rugs have patterns ranging from floral designs, medallions and animals to other ornaments. They generally have two wefts, and are very colorful in design.[270] With an increased interest in these rugs in the last century, and a lesser need for them to be as sturdy as they were, new Bijar rugs are more refined and delicate in design.

Another well-known Kurdish rug is the Senneh rug, which is regarded as the most sophisticated of the Kurdish rugs. They are especially known for their great knot density and high quality mountain wool.[270] They lend their name from the region of Sanandaj. Throughout other Kurdish regions like KermanshahSiirtMalatya and Bitlis rugs were also woven to great extent.[271]

Kurdish bags are mainly known from the works of one large tribe: the Jaffs, living in the border area between Iran and Iraq. These Jaff bags share the same characteristics of Kurdish rugs; very colorful, stout in design, often with medallion patterns. They were especially popular in the West during the 1920s and 1930s.[272]

Handicrafts

A Kurdish nobleman bearing a jambiya dagger

Outside of weaving and clothing, there are many other Kurdish handicrafts, which were traditionally often crafted by nomadic Kurdish tribes. These are especially well known in Iran, most notably the crafts from the Kermanshah and Sanandaj regions. Among these crafts are chess boards, talismans, jewelry, ornaments, weaponry, instruments etc.

Kurdish blades include a distinct jambiya, with its characteristic I-shaped hilt, and oblong blade. Generally, these possess double-edged blades, reinforced with a central ridge, a wooden, leather or silver decorated scabbard, and a horn hilt, furthermore they are often still worn decoratively by older men. Swords were made as well. Most of these blades in circulation stem from the 19th century.

Another distinct form of art from Sanandaj is ‘Oroosi’, a type of window where stylized wooden pieces are locked into each other, rather than being glued together. These are further decorated with coloured glass, this stems from an old belief that if light passes through a combination of seven colours it helps keep the atmosphere clean.

Among Kurdish Jews a common practice was the making of talismans, which were believed to combat illnesses and protect the wearer from malevolent spirits.

Tattoos

Adorning the body with tattoos (deq in Kurdish) is widespread among the Kurds; even though permanent tattoos are not permissible in Sunni Islam. Therefore, these traditional tattoos are thought to derive from pre-Islamic times.[273]

Tattoo ink is made by mixing soot with (breast) milk and the poisonous liquid from the gall bladder of an animal. The design is drawn on the skin using a thin twig and is, by needle, penetrated under the skin. These have a wide variety of meanings and purposes, among which are protection against evil or illnesses; beauty enhancement; and the showing of tribal affiliations. Religious symbolism is also common among both traditional and modern Kurdish tattoos. Tattoos are more prevalent among women than among men, and were generally worn on feet, the chin, foreheads and other places of the body.[273][274]

The popularity of permanent, traditional tattoos has greatly diminished among newer generation of Kurds. However, modern tattoos are becoming more prevalent; and temporary tattoos are still being worn on special occasions (such as henna, the night before a wedding) and as tribute to the cultural heritage.[273]

Music and dance

Kurdish Musicians 1890.

Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish classical performers: storytellers (çîrokbêj), minstrels (stranbêj), and bards (dengbêj). No specific music was associated with the Kurdish princely courts. Instead, music performed in night gatherings (şevbihêrk) is considered classical. Several musical forms are found in this genre. Many songs are epic in nature, such as the popular Lawiks, heroic ballads recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes such as SaladinHeyrans are love ballads usually expressing the melancholy of separation and unfulfilled love, one of the first Kurdish female singers to sing heyrans is Chopy Fatah, while Lawje is a form of religious music and Payizoks are songs performed during the autumn. Love songs, dance music, wedding and other celebratory songs (dîlok/narînk), erotic poetry, and work songs are also popular.

Throughout the Middle East, there are many prominent Kurdish artists. Most famous are Ibrahim TatlisesNizamettin ArıçAhmet Kaya and the Kamkars. In Europe, well-known artists are Darin ZanyarSivan Perwer, and Azad.

Cinema

Bahman Ghobadi at the presentation of his film Nobody Knows About Persian Cats in San Sebastián, 2009

The main themes of Kurdish Cinema are the poverty and hardship which ordinary Kurds have to endure. The first films featuring Kurdish culture were actually shot in Armenia. Zare, released in 1927, produced by Hamo Beknazarian, details the story of Zare and her love for the shepherd Seydo, and the difficulties the two experience by the hand of the village elder.[275] In 1948 and 1959, two documentaries were made concerning the Yezidi Kurds in Armenia. These were joint Armenian-Kurdish productions; with H. Koçaryan and Heciye Cindi teaming up for The Kurds of Soviet Armenia,[276] and Ereb Samilov and C. Jamharyan for Kurds of Armenia.[276]

The first critically acclaimed and famous Kurdish films were produced by Yılmaz Güney. Initially a popular, award-winning actor in Turkey with the nickname Çirkin Kral (the Ugly King, after his rough looks), he spent the later part of his career producing socio-critical and politically loaded films. Sürü (1979), Yol (1982) and Duvar (1983) are his best-known works, of which the second won Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival of 1982,[277] the most prestigious award in the world of cinema.

Another prominent Kurdish film director is Bahman Qubadi. His first feature film was A Time for Drunken Horses, released in 2000. It was critically acclaimed, and went on to win multiple awards. Other movies of his would follow this example,[278] making him one of the best known film producers of Iran of today. Recently, he released Rhinos Season, starring Behrouz VossoughiMonica Bellucci and Yilmaz Erdogan, detailing the tumultuous life of a Kurdish poet.

Other prominent Kurdish film directors that are critically acclaimed include Mahsun KırmızıgülHiner Saleem and the aforementioned Yilmaz Erdogan. There’s also been a number of films set and/or filmed in Kurdistan made by non-Kurdish film directors, such as The Wind Will Carry UsTriageThe Exorcist, and The Market: A Tale of Trade.

Sports

Eren Derdiyok, the most famous contemporary Kurdish footballer, striker for the Swiss national football team

The most popular sport among the Kurds is football. Because the Kurds have no independent state, they have no representative team in FIFA or the AFC; however a team representing Iraqi Kurdistan has been active in the Viva World Cup since 2008. They became runners-up in 2009 and 2010, before ultimately becoming champion in 2012.

On a national level, the Kurdish clubs of Iraq have achieved success in recent years as well, winning the Iraqi Premier League four times in the last five years. Prominent clubs are Erbil SCDuhok SCSulaymaniyah FC and Zakho FC.

In Turkey, a Kurd named Celal Ibrahim was one of the founders of Galatasaray S.K. in 1905, as well as one of the original players. The most prominent Kurdish-Turkish club is Diyarbakirspor. In the diaspora, the most successful Kurdish club is Dalkurd FF and the most famous player is Eren Derdiyok.[279]

Another prominent sport is wrestling. In Iranian Wrestling, there are three styles originating from Kurdish regions:

Furthermore, the most accredited of the traditional Iranian wrestling styles, the Bachoukheh, derives its name from a local Khorasani Kurdish costume in which it is practised.[280]

Kurdish medalists in the 2012 Summer Olympics were Nur Tatar,[281] Kianoush Rostami and Yezidi Misha Aloyan;[282] who won medals in taekwondoweightlifting and boxing, respectively.

Architecture

The Krak des Chevaliers, originally a Kurdish dwelling place known as Hisn al-Akrad (Castle of the Kurds), west of Homs

The traditional Kurdish village has simple houses, made of mud. In most cases with flat, wooden roofs, and, if the village is built on the slope of a mountain, the roof on one house makes for the garden of the house one level higher. However, houses with a beehive-like roof, not unlike those in Harran, are also present.

Over the centuries many Kurdish architectural marvels have been erected, with varying styles. Kurdistan boasts many examples from ancient Iranic, Roman, Greek and Semitic origin, most famous of these include Bisotun and Taq-e Bostan in Kermanshah, Takht-e Soleyman near Takab, Mount Nemrud near Adiyaman and the citadels of Erbil and Diyarbakir.

The first genuinely Kurdish examples extant were built in the 11th century. Those earliest examples consist of the Marwanid Dicle Bridge in Diyarbakir, the Shadaddid Minuchir Mosque in Ani,[283] and the Hisn al Akrad near Homs.[284]

In the 12th and 13th centuries the Ayyubid dynasty constructed many buildings throughout the Middle East, being influenced by their predecessors, the Fatimids, and their rivals, the Crusaders, whilst also developing their own techniques.[285] Furthermore, women of the Ayyubid family took a prominent role in the patronage of new constructions.[286] The Ayyubids’ most famous works are the Halil-ur-Rahman Mosque that surrounds the Pool of Sacred Fish in Urfa, the Citadel of Cairo[287] and most parts of the Citadel of Aleppo.[288] Another important piece of Kurdish architectural heritage from the late 12th/early 13th century is the Yezidi pilgrimage site Lalish, with its trademark conical roofs.

In later periods too, Kurdish rulers and their corresponding dynasties and emirates would leave their mark upon the land in the form mosques, castles and bridges, some of which have decayed, or have been (partly) destroyed in an attempt to erase the Kurdish cultural heritage, such as the White Castle of the Bohtan Emirate. Well-known examples are Hosap Castle of the 17th century,[289] Sherwana Castle of the early 18th century, and the Ellwen Bridge of Khanaqin of the 19th century.

Most famous is the Ishak Pasha Palace of Dogubeyazit, a structure with heavy influences from both Anatolian and Iranic architectural traditions. Construction of the Palace began in 1685, led by Colak Abdi Pasha, a Kurdish bey of the Ottoman Empire, but the building wouldn’t be completed until 1784, by his grandson, Ishak Pasha.[290][291] Containing almost 100 rooms, including a mosque, dining rooms, dungeons and being heavily decorated by hewn-out ornaments, this Palace has the reputation as being one of the finest pieces of architecture of the Ottoman Period, and of Anatolia.

In recent years, the KRG has been responsible for the renovation of several historical structures, such as Erbil Citadel and the Mudhafaria Minaret.[292]

Gallery

See also

Modern Kurdish-majority governments

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurds

 

 

Story 2: White House Letter To Congress Challenges Unfairness and Lack of Constitutionally Mandated Due Process of Single Party Behind Closed Door Baseless Impeachment Inquiry — “You seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen” — Go Pound Sand — American People Support Trump and Oppose Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist (REDS) — Videos

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Document reveals Ukraine had already reopened probe of Hunter Biden-linked firm months before Trump phone call

A newly unearthed document shows that Ukrainian officials had opened a new probe into the firm linked to Hunter Biden months before President Trump’s phone call with that country’s leader, Fox News contributor John Solomon reported late Tuesday.

Solomon said Tuesday on “Hannity” that the U.S. government knew Ukraine was planning to look again into activities at Burisma Holdings, an energy company that employed then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son as a member of its board of directors, early this year. The report is noteworthy because President Trump has been accused by Democrats of threatening in July to withhold foreign aid to Ukraine unless its new president pursued an investigation into the company and the younger Biden’s role there.

“The U.S. government had open-source intelligence and was aware as early as February of 2019 that the Ukrainian government was planning to reopen the Burisma investigation,” he claimed. “This is long before the president ever imagined having a call with President Zelensky,” he added, noting Petro Poroshenko was still Ukraine’s president at that time.

BIDEN’S CAMPAIGN LIKELY COMING TO AN END — THANKS TO CLINTON-LINKED UKRAINE BOMBSHELL, NUNES SAYS

“This is a significant shift in the factual timeline.”

Solomon said the information he obtained, including documents shown on “Hannity” Tuesday, was omitted from a U.S. intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint lodged against Trump last month.

 

Solomon said that NABU — an FBI-like anti-corruption agency in Ukraine — requested the probe into Burisma and owner Mykola Zlochevsky be reopened earlier this year. The investigation then went forward, Solomon said. The new probe later resulted in a “Notice of Suspicion” being filed, alleging the existence of “illicit funds” running through the firm, Solomon also claimed.

Since the initial story broke, presidential candidate Joe Biden has sought to play down allegations made by Trump against his 49-year-old son’s role with Burisma.

The Democrat also faced criticism from Trump and his allies after a video resurfacedshowing the ex-vice president appearing to brag about pressuring to get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired. That prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, also had been looking into Burisma.

 

On “Hannity,” Solomon said his reporting revealed the requested reopening of the probe into Burisma involved, in part, “unusual transactions” in the natural gas giant’s accounts.

Solomon said the timeline of the alleged “illicit funds” coincided in part with the time Hunter Biden held a place on the firm’s board. The younger Biden was reportedly paid as much as $1 million per year for his time on the board, but Solomon said investigators in Ukraine filed a 15-page “notice of suspicion” indicating they were “looking at the possibility that the $3.4 million paid to Hunter Biden’s firm may have been part of the illicit funds that were moving through the company.”

“A month later, in April, the prosecutor’s office — open-source intelligence, again — the U.S. government officials confirming they were aware of this — made a request of another investigative agency in Ukraine for assistance in going through these bank records,” Solomon claimed.

“That is a significant change in the timeline — it was omitted from the whistleblower’s complaint, and the question is did he not know it or did he exclude it because it didn’t fit the narrative he was trying to write,” he continued.

“That’s a question for Congress to answer.”

https://www.foxnews.com/media/john-solomon-says-new-hunter-biden-related-doc-shows-significant-shift-in-factual-timeline

Hunter Biden

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Hunter Biden
R. Hunter Biden at Center for Strategic & International Studies.jpg

Vice Chairman of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation
In office
July 26, 2006 – January 29, 2009
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Succeeded by Jeffrey Moreland
Personal details
Born
Robert Hunter Biden

February 4, 1970 (age 49)
WilmingtonDelaware, U.S.

Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)
Kathleen Buhle
(m. 1993; div. 2017)
Melissa Cohen (m. 2019)
Domestic partner Hallie Olivere (2016–2019)
Children 3
Relatives Joe Biden (father)
See Biden family
Education Georgetown University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Navy
Years of service 2013–2014
Rank US Navy O10 infobox.svg Ensign
Unit United States Navy Reserve

Robert Hunter Biden (born February 4, 1970) is an American lawyer and lobbyist who is the second son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. He is a partner at Rosemont Seneca Partners, an international consulting firm.

Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a major Ukrainian natural gas producer, from 2014 to 2019. In 2019, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that Joe Biden had sought the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to protect Hunter Biden from investigation.[1][2][3] However, Hunter Biden was not under investigation,[4] and there is no evidence of wrongdoing done by him in Ukraine.[5] Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens by withholding foreign aid[6][7][8] triggered an impeachment inquiry in September 2019.

Contents

Early life

Biden was born on February 4, 1970,[9] in Wilmington, Delaware. He is the second son of Neilia Biden (née Hunter) and Joe Biden, the latter of whom represented Delaware in the United States Senate from 1973 to 2009 and served as Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017.[2] Hunter Biden’s mother and younger sister, Naomi, were killed in an automobile crash on December 18, 1972.[10][11] Biden and his older brother, Beau, were also seriously injured in that crash.[2] Hunter and Beau Biden later encouraged their father to marry again,[12] and Jill Jacobs became Hunter and Beau’s stepmother in 1977.[2] Biden’s half-sister, Ashley, was born in 1981.[13]

Like his father and brother, Biden attended Archmere Academy, a Catholic high school in Claymont, Delaware. In 1992, he graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in history. During the year after he graduated from college, he served as a Jesuit volunteer at a church in Portland, Oregon, where he met and eventually married Kathleen Buhle. After attending Georgetown University Law Center for one year, he transferred to Yale Law School, graduating in 1996.[2]

Career

Early positions, 1996–2009

After graduating from law school, Biden took a position at MBNA America, a major bank holding company which was also a major contributor to his father’s political campaigns. By 1998, he had risen to the rank of executive vice president.[2] From 1998 to 2001, he served in the United States Department of Commerce, focusing on ecommerce policy.[14] Biden became a lobbyist in 2001, co-founding the firm of Oldaker, Biden & Belair.[15] According to Adam Entous of The New Yorker, Biden and his father established a relationship in which “Biden wouldn’t ask Hunter about his lobbying clients, and Hunter wouldn’t tell his father about them.”[2] In 2006, Biden and his uncle, James Biden, attempted to buy Paradigm, a hedge-fund group, but the deal fell apart before completion.[2] That same year, Biden was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of Amtrak; he was on the board of Amtrak from 2006 to 2009.[14]

Later career, 2009–present

After his father was elected as vice president in 2008, Biden resigned from his position on the Amtrak board of directors and left his career as a lobbyist.[2] Along with Christopher Heinz, stepson of John Kerry, and Devon Archer, Biden founded the investment firm Rosemont Seneca.[15]

He also became an attorney with the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP,[2] and founded Eudora Global, a venture capital firm.[13]

U.S. Navy Reserve

In May 2013, Biden was selected as a direct commission officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, receiving an age-related waiver and a second waiver due to a past drug-related incident.[16] Joe Biden administered the commissioning oath to Hunter Biden in a White House ceremony.[2]

The following month, Biden tested positive for cocaine during a urinalysis test and was subsequently discharged.[17] According to Biden, he had unwittingly consumed the cocaine after being given cigarettes he believed were surreptitiously laced with the drug.[2] He chose not to appeal the matter as it was unlikely that the panel would believe his explanation given his history with drugs, and also due to the likelihood of news leaking to the press, though it was ultimately revealed to The Wall Street Journal by a Navy official who provided information to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.[2][16]

BHR Partners

In 2013, Biden, Devon Archer, and Chinese businessman Jonathan Li founded BHR Partners, a business focused on investing Chinese capital in companies based outside of China.[2] In September 2019, President Trump falsely claimed that Biden “walk[ed] out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund” and earned “millions” of dollars from the BHR deal, while Trump was also accusing Biden of malfeasance in Ukraine.[18][19] Trump publicly called on China to investigate Hunter Biden’s business activities there while his father was vice president.[20][21]

Burisma Holdings

In the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolutionMykola Zlochevsky faced a money laundering investigation,[22][23] and his company Burisma Holdings, the largest natural gas producer in Ukraine,[2] assembled a “high-profile international board” in response.[24][23] Chris Heinz, John Kerry‘s stepson, opposed his partners Devon Archer and Hunter Biden joining the board in 2014 due to the reputational risk.[23] Among those who joined the board of directors in April 2014 were Biden, Archer and former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski.[25] Biden served on the board of Burisma until his term expired in April 2019,[26] receiving compensation of up to $50,000 per month in some months.[15][27][28] Because Vice President Biden played a major role in U.S. policy towards Ukraine, some Ukrainian anti-corruption advocates[3][29] and Obama administration officials expressed concern that Hunter Biden’s having joined the board could create the appearance of a conflict of interest and undermine Vice President Biden’s anti-corruption work in Ukraine.[2][23] While serving as vice president, Joe Biden joined other Western leaders in encouraging the government of Ukraine to fire the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin,[1][30] who was widely criticized for blocking corruption investigations.[31][32] The Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Shokin in March 2016.[33][34]

In 2019, President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that Vice President Biden had actually sought the dismissal of Shokin in order to protect his son and Burisma Holdings,[35][3] however, there is no evidence that this was what happened.[1]There has also been no evidence produced of wrongdoing done by Hunter Biden in Ukraine.[5] The Ukrainian anti-corruption investigation agency stated in September 2019 that their investigation of Burisma was restricted solely to the period of 2010 to 2012, before Hunter Biden joined Burisma in 2014.[4] Shokin in May 2019 claimed that he was fired because he was actively investigating Burisma,[36] but U.S. and Ukrainian officials have stated that the investigation into Burisma was dormant at the time of Shokin’s dismissal.[23][36][37]Ukrainian sources have maintained that Shokin was fired for failing to address corruption, including within his office.[29][38]

In July 2019, Trump ordered the freezing of $391 million in military aid[39] shortly before a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked Zelensky to initiate an investigation of the Bidens.[40][41] Trump falsely told Zelensky that “[Joe] Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution” of his son; Joe Biden did not stop any prosecution, did not brag about doing so, and there is no evidence his son was ever under investigation.[42] On September 24, 2019, the United States House of Representatives initiated a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump on the grounds that he may have sought to use U.S. foreign aid and the Ukrainian government to damage Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.[43][44]

Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko said in May 2019 that Hunter Biden had not violated Ukranian law. After Lutsenko was replaced by Ruslan Ryaboshapka as prosecutor general, Lutsenko and Ryaboshapka said in September and October 2019 respectively that they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.[1][45][46]

CEFC China Energy

Biden helped Chinese businessman Ye Jianming negotiate a deal for Ye’s company CEFC China Energy to make a $40 million investment in a liquefied natural gas project at Monkey Island, Louisiana. Ye gifted Biden a 2.8 carat diamond, which Biden said he gave away. Biden agreed to legally represent Ye’s deputy, Patrick Ho, for investigations in the United States. Ho was eventually arrested and jailed in the U.S. for bribery. In 2018, the CEFC deal collapsed after Ye was detained in China, reportedly for corruption.[2][15]

Personal life

Biden married Kathleen Buhle in 1993,[2] and they have three children, Naomi, Finnegan, and Maisy.[13] Biden and Kathleen separated in 2015 and divorced in 2017.[47] In 2016, he began dating Hallie Biden, the widow of his brother, Beau;[48] they ended their relationship by early 2019.[49] In May 2019, Biden married Melissa Cohen, a South-African filmmaker.[50][51]

Biden spent decades struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. He has described his experiences as so: “There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel—it’s a never-ending tunnel. You don’t get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it.”[52][53]

See also

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Biden

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The Pronk Pops Show 1276, June 18, 2018, Story 1: President Trump Orders Rounding Up The 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens In The United States Starting Soon — Trump Supporters Still Waiting For Trump’s Promise To Be Kept By Rolling Back The 33 Year Invasion of United States — Enforce Immigration Laws — Deport and Remove All Illegal Aliens — It Is The Law — Send Them Home — Videos — Story 2: Tension Mount Between United States and Islamic Republic of Iran — Neocons Banging The War Drums — Trump’s War? — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Press Opportunity on Way To Orlando, Florida Rally Starting 2020 Presidential Re-Election Campaign — Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan Resigns and Army Secretary Mark Esper Named Acting Secretary of Defense — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump Orders Rounding Up The 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens In The United States Starting Soon — Trump Supporters Still Waiting For Trump’s Promise To Be Kept By Rolling Back The 33 Year Invasion of United States — Enforce Immigration Laws — Deport and Remove All Illegal Aliens — It Is The Law — Send Them Home — Videos —

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President Trump outlines four-pillar immigration plan

Trump: Illegal immigrants must leave and apply for entry

Donald Trump on illegal immigration in the U.S.

Trump vows to deport criminal illegal immigrants

Dobbs: Illegal immigrants are a ‘preferred group’ in the US

Trump: Deport immigrants without ‘judges or court cases’

Trump Doubles, Triples Down on Immigration Plans

Trump: It is realistic to deport all illegal immigrants

Trump: Undocumented immigrants ‘have to go’

Donald Trump explains his immigration plan

How to solve the illegal immigration problem

 

 

Trump says US will begin deporting millions

Trump says US will begin deporting millions

an hour ago

President Donald Trump is threatening to deport millions of people living in the United States illegally, heralding a plan that could help energize his supporters just ahead of formally announcing his reelection bid .

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement next week will “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump said in a pair of tweets Monday night.

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he wrote.

An administration official said the effort would focus on the more than 1 million people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the U.S. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to explain the president’s tweets.

Other U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said the operation was not imminent, and that ICE officials were not aware the president would make public sensitive law enforcement plans on Twitter. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

It is unusual for law enforcement agencies to announce raids before they take place. Some in Trump’s administration believe that decisive shows of force — like mass arrests — can serve as effective deterrents, sending a message to those considering making the journey to the U.S. that it’s not worth coming.

Mexico deployed more troops to its southern border with Guatemala on Monday amid growing evidence that the heightened military presence was deterring some migrants from trying to cross the border. (June 18)

The acting head of ICE Mark Morgan said in an interview with journalists earlier this month that there would be enforcement action coming that would include deporting families, and that it would be done humanely.

Trump has threatened a series of increasingly drastic actions as he has tried to stem the flow of Central American migrants crossing the southern border, which has risen dramatically on his watch. He recently dropped a threat to slap tariffs on Mexico after the country agreed to dispatch its national guard and step-up coordination and enforcement efforts.

A senior Mexican official said Monday that, three weeks ago, about 4,200 migrants were arriving at the U.S. border daily. Now that number has dropped to about 2,600.

Immigration was a central theme of Trump’s 2016 campaign and he is expected to hammer it as he tries to fire up his base heading into the 2020 campaign.

Trump will formally launch his re-election bid Tuesday night at a rally in Orlando, Florida — a state that is crucial to his path back to the White House.

https://apnews.com/e32b4a65baf74afab5bb5b2aa061f734

 

 

Trump says U.S. agency will begin removing millions of illegal immigrants

President Donald Trump said on Monday that U.S. authorities would begin next week removing millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said. He did not offer specifics.

There are an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, mainly from Mexico and Central America.

Under a deal reached earlier this month, Mexico has agreed to take Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the United States until their cases are heard in U.S. courts.

The agreement, which included Mexico pledging to deploy National Guard troops to stop Central American immigrants from reaching the U.S. border, averted a Trump threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs.

Trump also said in the tweet that Guatemala “is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested last week that Guatemala could receive asylum seekers from its neighbors as a so-called safe third country.

Details of the plan have not been made public, and Guatemala has not publicly confirmed talks that the U.S. State Department said were taking place in Guatemala on Friday.

U.S. rights group Human Rights First said, however, it was “simply ludicrous” for the United States to assert that Guatemala was capable of protecting refugees, when its own citizens are fleeing violence.

Mexico has agreed that if its measures to stem the flow of migrants are unsuccessful, it will discuss signing a safe third country agreement with the United States.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney)

 

Story 2: Tension Mount Between United States and Islamic Republic of Iran — Neocons Banging The War Drums — Trump’s War? — Videos

 

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US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East as tensions escalate with Iran

The United States is sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The decision follows last week’s attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the U.S. blamed on Tehran, with the Pentagon releasing new images on Monday that officials said show Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members removing an unexploded mine from one of the ship’s hulls.

Interested in Iran?

Add Iran as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Iran news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

“In response to a request from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement on Monday.

The additional personnel are mostly part of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and force protection units, a U.S. official told ABC News.

PHOTO: Airmen conduct flight control checks during preflight of a Reaper drone launch at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Feb. 21, 2019.Staff Sgt. Arielle Vasquez/U.S. Air Force
Airmen conduct flight control checks during preflight of a Reaper drone launch at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Feb. 21, 2019.more +

The U.S. has already accelerated the deployment to the Middle East of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and sent B-52 bombers after what it said were credible threats by Iran against U.S. forces and interests in the region. Since then, the U.S. has sent an additional 1,500 troops and increased defensive capabilities to continue to help deter Iran.

“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said.

“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran,” the statement continued. “The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests. We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats.”

Iran attempted to shoot down a U.S. drone that was surveilling the attack on one of two tankers hit in the Gulf of Oman last week, CENTCOM said. The attempt missed the MQ-9 Reaper by “approximately one kilometer.”

The U.S. has also blamed Iran for an attack on four commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in May.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Congress must be briefed on the plans.

“Americans must have no illusions about the Iranian regime, and must remain committed to holding Iran accountable for its dangerous activities in the region. But we must be strong, smart and strategic – not reckless and rash – in how to proceed,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The Congress must be immediately briefed on the Administration’s decisions and plans”

“This deeply concerning decision may escalate the situation with Iran and risk serious miscalculations on either side. Diplomacy is needed to defuse tensions, therefore America must continue to consult with our allies so that we do not make the region less safe,” the statement added.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-send-1000-additional-troops-middle-east-tensions/story?id=63772858

 

 

Key events raising tensions in the Persian Gulf

FILE - In this May 29, 2019 file photo released by the U.S. Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force Desert Falcons fly in formation with U.S. F-35A Lightning IIs in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Tensions between the United States and IThe Associated Press
FILE – In this May 29, 2019 file photo released by the U.S. Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force Desert Falcons fly in formation with U.S. F-35A Lightning IIs in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared in recent weeks, with Washington dispatching warships and bombers around the Persian Gulf, and Tehran threatening to resume higher uranium enrichment. The tensions come a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers and restored crippling sanctions. (Staff Sgt. Chris Drzazgowski/U.S. Air Force via AP, File)more +

Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared in recent weeks, with Washington dispatching warships and bombers around the Persian Gulf, and Tehran threatening to resume higher uranium enrichment. The tensions come a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran‘s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers and restored crippling sanctions.

A timeline of recent events:

May 5: John Bolton, the White House national security adviser and a longtime Iran hawk, announces the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” without providing details. He threatens “unrelenting force” in response to any attack.

———

May 8: Iran vows to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels, starting July 7, if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its nuclear deal. The U.S. responds by imposing sanctions on Iran’s metal industry.

———

May 9: The European Union urges Iran to respect the nuclear deal and says it plans to continue trading with the country despite U.S. sanctions. Trump says he would like Iran’s leaders to “call me.”

———

May 10: The U.S. says it will move a Patriot missile battery into the Middle East to counter threats from Iran.

———

May 12: The United Arab Emirates says four commercial ships off its eastern coast “were subjected to sabotage operations,” just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets air false reports of explosions at a nearby Emirati port.

———

May 13: European foreign ministers urge the United States and Iran to show restraint, while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs his counterparts on the alleged threats from Iran. Trump warns that if Tehran does “anything” in the form of an attack, “they will suffer greatly.”

———

May 14: Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels launch a drone attack on Saudi Arabia, striking a major oil pipeline and taking it out of service.

— The New York Times reports the White House is reviewing military plans that could result in sending 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American forces or steps up work on nuclear weapons. Trump says it’s “fake news,” but that he would “absolutely” be willing to send troops if necessary.

— Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says “no one is seeking war,” but that it wouldn’t be difficult for Iran to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels.

— A senior military officer in the U.S.-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group says “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.” In a rare public rebuttal, U.S. Central Command says his remarks “run counter to the identified credible threats.”

———

May 15: The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad orders all nonessential government staff to leave Iraq immediately. The Netherlands and Germany say they are suspending their training of Iraqi forces.

———

May 16: Saudi Arabia blames Iran for the drone attack on its pipeline and an English-language newspaper close to the palace calls for the U.S. to launch “surgical” strikes in retaliation.

—Trump says he hopes the U.S. is not on a path to war with Iran amid fears that his two most hawkish advisers could be angling for a conflict with the Islamic Republic. Asked if the U.S. was going to war with Iran, the president replied, “I hope not” — a day after he repeated a desire for dialogue, tweeting, “I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.”

———

May 19: A rocket lands near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, without harming anyone. It’s not clear who is behind the attack, but after the initial reports, Trump tweets: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” Iran’s foreign minister responded by tweeting that Trump had been “goaded” into “genocidal taunts.”

———

May 20: Semi-official media in Iran report that it has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium, which is used for civilian applications but not nuclear weapons. Iran is allowed to enrich uranium to the low level of 3.67%, but increased production could lead it to exceed the stockpile limits in the nuclear deal.

———

May 24: Trump says the U.S. will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops. He says the troops will have a “mostly protective” role.

— Senior Pentagon officer Vice Admiral Michael Gilday says the U.S. has a high degree of confidence that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was responsible for the explosions of the four tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and that Iranian proxies in Iraq fired rockets into Baghdad.

———

May 31 and June 1: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman hosts three high-level summits in Mecca, drawing heads of state from across the Middle East and Muslim countries to present a unified Muslim and Arab position on Iran. The monarch calls on the international community to use all means to confront Iran and accuses the Shiite power of being behind “terrorist operations” that targeted Saudi oil interests.

———

June 12: Saudi Arabia says 26 people were wounded in an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeting an airport in kingdom’s southwestern town of Abha. The Houthis claim they’d launched a cruise missile at the airport.

———

June 13: Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz are hit in an alleged assault that leaves one ablaze and adrift as 44 sailors are evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushes to assist. America later blames Iran for the attack, something Tehran denies.

———

June 17: Iran says it will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/key-events-raising-tensions-persian-gulf-63758209?cid=referral_taboola_feed

THE NEOCONS

WAR WITH IRAN WOULD BECOME ‘TRUMP’S WAR’

Pat Buchanan identifies usual suspects pushing for military action against Tehran


Read more at https://www.wnd.com/2019/06/war-with-iran-would-become-trumps-war/#g2uQZVM20y58K1f0.99

President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran.

Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil travels. It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump’s reelection.

 

It would widen the “forever war,” which Trump said he would end, to a nation of 80 million people, three times as large as Iraq. It would become the defining issue of his presidency, as the Iraq War became the defining issue of George W. Bush’s presidency.

And if war comes now, it would be known as “Trump’s War.”

For it was Trump who pulled us out of the Iran nuclear deal, though, according to U.N. inspectors and the other signatories – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China – Tehran was complying with its terms.

Trump’s repudiation of the treaty was followed by his reimposition of sanctions and a policy of maximum pressure. This was followed by the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist” organization.

Then came the threats of U.S. secondary sanctions on nations, some of them friends and allies, that continued to buy oil from Iran.

U.S. policy has been to squeeze Iran’s economy until the regime buckles to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands, including an end to Tehran’s support of its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Sunday, Pompeo said Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman and that Tehran instigated an attack that injured four U.S. soldiers in Kabul, though the Taliban claimed responsibility.

The war hawks are back.

“This unprovoked attack on commercial shipping warrants retaliatory military strikes,” said Sen. Tom Cotton on Sunday.

But as Trump does not want war with Iran, Iran does not want war with us. Tehran has denied any role in the tanker attacks, helped put out the fire on one tanker and accused its enemies of “false flag” attacks to instigate a war.

If the Revolutionary Guard, which answers to the ayatollah, did attach explosives to the hull of the tankers, it was most likely to send a direct message: If our exports are halted by U.S. sanctions, the oil exports of the Saudis and Gulf Arabs can be made to experience similar problems.

Yet if the president and the ayatollah do not want war, who does?

Not the Germans or Japanese, both of whom are asking for more proof that Iran instigated the tanker attacks. Japan’s prime minster was meeting with the ayatollah when the attacks occurred, and one of the tankers was a Japanese vessel.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal Monday were Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a neocon nest funded by Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson.

In a piece titled, “America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran,” the pair make the case that Trump should squeeze the Iranian regime relentlessly and not fear a military clash, and a war with Iran would be a cakewalk.

“Iran is in no shape for a prolonged confrontation with the U.S. The regime is in a politically precarious position. The sullen Iranian middle class has given up on the possibility of reform or prosperity. The lower classes, once tethered to the regime by the expansive welfare state, have also grown disloyal. The intelligentsia no longer believes that faith and freedom can be harmonized. And the youth have become the regime’s most unrelenting critics.

“Iran’s fragile theocracy can’t absorb a massive external shock. That’s why Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has, for the most part, adhered to the JCPOA (the nuclear pact) and why he is likely angling for negotiation over confrontation with the Great Satan.”

This depiction of Iran’s political crisis and economic decline invites a question: If the Tehran regime is so fragile and the Iranian people are so alienated, why not avoid a war and wait for the regime’s collapse?

Trump seems to have several options:

  • Negotiate with the Tehran regime for some tolerable detente.
  • Refuse to negotiate and await the regime’s collapse, in which case the president must be prepared for Iranian actions that raise the cost of choking that nation to death.
  • Strike militarily, as Cotton urges, and accept the war that follows, if Iran chooses to fight rather than be humiliated and capitulate to Pompeo’s demands.

One recalls: Saddam Hussein accepted war with the United States in 1991 rather than yield to Bush I’s demand he get his army out of Kuwait.

Who wants a U.S. war with Iran?

Primarily the same people who goaded us into wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and who oppose every effort of Trump’s to extricate us from those wars.

Should they succeed in Iran, it is hard to see how we will ever be able to extricate our country from this blood-soaked region that holds no vital strategic interest save oil, and America, thanks to fracking, has become independent of that.

 

https://www.wnd.com/2019/06/war-with-iran-would-become-trumps-war/

Story 3: President Trump Press Opportunity on Way To Orlando, Florida Rally Starting 2020 Presidential Re-Election Campaign — Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan Resigns and Army Secretary Mark Esper Named Acting Secretary of Defense — Videos

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Tucker Carlson Tonight 6/18/2019 – FOX NEWS TODAY JUNE 18,2019

Patrick Shanahan drops out of running to be defense secretary

Shanahan out at Pentagon, Mark Esper named new acting defense secretary

Army Secretary Mark Esper on 2020 budget

Trump campaign gives sneak peek to official 2020 campaign ad

Ingraham: The president’s relaunch

Newt Gingrich breaks down Trump’s reelection chances in 2020

As Trump’s defense pick withdraws, he addresses violent domestic incidents

June 18 at 1:15 PM

Shanahan: ‘I’d be happy to serve’

Asked Feb. 12 if he would keep his post “for the long run,” acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan said he would act “in any capacity” Trump asked him to do. 

In the months that he has served as President Trump’s acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan has worked to keep domestic violence incidents within his family private. His wife was arrested after punching him in the face, and his son was arrested after a separate incident in which he hit his mother with a baseball bat. Public disclosure of the nearly decade-old episodes would re-traumatize his young adult children, Shanahan said.

On Tuesday, Trump announced in a tweet that Shanahan would not be going through with the nomination process — which had been delayed by an unusually lengthy FBI background check — “so that he can devote more time to his family.”

Shanahan spoke publicly about the incidents in interviews with The Washington Post on Monday and Tuesday.

 

“Bad things can happen to good families . . . and this is a tragedy, really,” Shanahan said. Dredging up the episode publicly, he said, “will ruin my son’s life.”

In November 2011, Shanahan rushed to defend his then-17-year-old son, William Shanahan, in the days after the teenager brutally beat his mother. The attack had left Patrick Shanahan’s ex-wife unconscious in a pool of blood, her skull fractured and with internal injuries that required surgery, according to court and police records.

Two weeks later, Shanahan sent his ex-wife’s brother a memo arguing that his son had acted in self-defense.

“Use of a baseball bat in self-defense will likely be viewed as an imbalance of force,” Shanahan wrote. “However, Will’s mother harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.”

Details of the incidents have started to emerge in media reports about his nomination, including a USA Todayreport Tuesday about the punching incident in 2010.

In an hour-long interview Monday night at his apartment in Virginia, Shanahan, who has been responding to questions from The Post about the incidents since January, said he wrote the memo in the hours after his son’s attack, before he knew the full extent of his ex-wife’s injuries. He said that it was to prepare for his son’s initial court appearance and that he never intended for anyone other than his son’s attorneys to read it.

“That document literally was, I sat down with [my son] right away, and being an engineer at an aerospace company, you write down what are all of the mitigating reasons something could have happened. You know, just what’s the list of things that could have happened?” he said.

As he wrote in an ongoing custody battle stemming from their divorce, Shanahan said Monday that he does not believe there can be any justification for an assault with a baseball bat, but he went further in the interview, saying he now regrets writing the passage.

“Quite frankly it’s difficult to relive that moment, and the passage was difficult for me to read. I was wrong to write those three sentences,” Shanahan said.

“I have never believed Will’s attack on his mother was an act of self-defense or justified. I don’t believe violence is appropriate ever, and certainly never any justification for attacking someone with a baseball bat,” he said.

Kimberley Shanahan, who has since changed her name to Kimberley Jordinson, has not responded to repeated efforts by reporters since January to contact her via email, text, phone and social media seeking comment about the incidents.

Patrick Shanahan’s response when his family was split by acts of domestic violence — including steps he took to manage his son’s surrender to police and attempt to keep him out of jail — is detailed in court filings that have not been previously reported. Court records also contain an earlier episode in which both Shanahan and his wife alleged they were assaulted by one another, and she was arrested.

The Defense Department has long struggled with its own responses to domestic violence, and it has faced a fresh wave of criticism since shortly after Shanahan became deputy secretary of defense in July 2017.

In November of that year, an airman who had been court-martialed for assaulting his wife and stepson killed 26 people and wounded 22 others in a Texas church. A Defense Department investigation later faulted the Air Force for repeatedly failing to submit the serviceman’s fingerprints to a civilian database, which it said should have prevented him from purchasing the firearms used in the mass shooting.

Last month, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General admonished the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, saying they failed for decades to consistently follow policies requiring military police to thoroughly process crime scenes and interview witnesses following allegations of nonsexual domestic abuse. The watchdog said that in 180 of 219 cases it reviewed, the branches failed to submit criminal histories and fingerprints of offending servicemen to civilian authorities.

Shanahan said his personal experience with domestic violence has taught him there are no simple policy prescriptions. He said domestic violence rates in the military will improve only if the services can change the way they talk about the stresses of serving in the armed forces in a more honest and natural way.

“There’s not one size that fits all — I mean, it’s a very complicated issue,” he said. “It’s not as simple as take this training class or apply these resources or, you know, look for these kinds of symptoms. I mean, it’s not that simple. There are all sorts of dimensions, whether it’s mental health or addiction or stress in the home. It’s a very toxic concoction.

“The thing that’s probably, like a lot of other issues . . . is having a buddy system of people who really care about you and can intervene,” he said. “What I’ve learned is extremely important.”

‘I was seeing stars’

Patrick Shanahan, 56, climbed the ranks at Boeing over more than two decades, becoming vice president and general manager of the corporation’s commercial airplane program in 2008. An exacting, hard-charging executive who worked grueling hours, he earned the sobriquet “Mr. Fix It” for his ability to turn around sputtering projects worth billions of dollars, such as the aerospace giant’s delayed 787 Dreamliner program. 

By 2010, Shanahan was earning more than $935,000 annually in salary and bonuses, court records show. 

But there was turbulence in Shanahan’s personal life with his wife of 24 years. Shanahan and two of his children interviewed by The Post said Kimberley Shanahan was growing more erratic. One Thanksgiving, she threw the entire dinner on the floor, saying the family did not appreciate her efforts, they said. A birthday cake his daughter baked for Patrick Shanahan was similarly destroyed, they said.

Things culminated with a physical dispute in August 2010. According to Patrick Shanahan, the incident began when he was lying in bed, following an argument with his wife about their oldest child.

Shanahan said he had his eyes closed, trying to fall asleep, when his wife entered the bedroom and punched him in the face before landing blows to his torso.

“I was seeing stars,” Shanahan said, but he didn’t react, saying he believes that only further enraged his wife.

She then began throwing her husband’s clothes out of a window, according to police and court records, and tried to set them on fire with a propane tank she couldn’t dislodge from a barbecue grill, attempting again later by burning paper towels.

Another physical altercation ensued, with police records indicating that Kimberley Shanahan swung at Patrick Shanahan. She called the police and claimed he punched her in the stomach, an allegation he denies.

When officers arrived, they found him with a bloody nose and scratches on his face, police records show. Authorities charged his wife with domestic violence.

Patrick Shanahan soon filed for divorce and dropped the charges. The file would grow to more than 1,500 pages.

‘It was a hard time to see your son’

Kimberley Shanahan won custody of the children and moved to Florida. Patrick Shanahan remained in Seattle, but the couple’s eldest daughter would soon rejoin him to attend college.

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011, Kimberley Shanahan and William got into “a verbal dispute” over her suspicion that the 17-year-old was in a romantic relationship with a 36-year-old woman, according to a police report.

According to police, just after 1:30 a.m., William “shoved and pinned his mother against a bathroom wall” before grabbing a $400 Nike composite baseball bat “to swing at her head,” striking her multiple times.

“I attempted to run away from Will, but as I reached the laundry room, he struck me with the bat in the back of my head,” Kimberley Shanahan wrote in a court filing in the custody case. “The last thing I remember from before I lost consciousness is the impact of the bat, and blood gushing everywhere.”

William, Sarasota police wrote, struck several blows to his mother’s head and torso and left her “to lie in a pool of blood” and then “unplugged the landline phone cord depriving the victim and [the younger brother] the use of 911 to render aid.”

As William fled the home, situated in an exclusive barrier-island development called Bird Key just outside Sarasota, he “tossed a bottle of rubbing alcohol” to his younger brother and told him “you clean her up,” according to the police report.

The younger brother called 911 from a neighbor’s phone, according to police records.

Within hours, William contacted his father, who immediately booked a predawn flight to Florida, according to court records and documents provided by Shanahan.

Kimberley Shanahan was hospitalized early that morning and later required surgery, she wrote in a filing. Among her injuries were a fractured skull and elbow, according to the police report.

While she was in the hospital, authorities began to search for William, according to records released to The Post by Sarasota police.

Police distributed a photo of William to patrol cars on Bird Key. They tried to track the young man’s cellphone, but it appeared to be turned off, police wrote. They canvassed a local park and bridges to the mainland. They searched a local yacht club. But there was no trace of him, according to records.

Patrick Shanahan landed in Florida just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday. He arranged to stay with William in a hotel.

“Mr. Shanahan’s response when he learned of the assault was to book Will a hotel room,” Kimberley Shanahan wrote.

Patrick Shanahan said it’s a bit of a blur.

“It was a hard time to see your son — hopefully you’ll never be in that spot someday,” he said. “I wasn’t hiding. We got a hotel and talked to the attorney, and we just camped out.”

Shanahan did not visit the hospital where his ex-wife was taken, she later wrote in a custody filing. Instead, over four days that included Thanksgiving, he worked to assemble a defense team and enlist family members and friends to attend an initial hearing to try to persuade a judge to let his son stay out of jail while he fought the charges.

Derek Byrd, head of a well-known Sarasota defense firm hired by Patrick Shanahan to represent his son in the criminal case, said in an interview that the elder Shanahan acted appropriately by not contacting police until his son could consult a defense attorney, a process that was delayed by the Thanksgiving holiday.

Byrd also said that Patrick Shanahan was not aware that police were searching for his son in the days after the attack.

“I don’t think Pat handled that time frame inappropriately,” Byrd said in an interview. “I think he was just doing what a reasonable dad should probably do. I’m sure the timeline looks bad on paper, but he didn’t do anything that I consider out of the ordinary, and he wasn’t hiding Will.”

Byrd said Patrick Shanahan first contacted his firm within a day of arriving in Florida, either Wednesday night or Thursday, which was Thanksgiving. He said a lawyer from the firm could not meet with the Shanahans until Friday morning, after the holiday.

Later on Friday, another attorney from the firm contacted the detective handling the case, Kenneth Halpin.

According to the detective’s report, the attorney said he would arrange for the younger Shanahan to turn himself in — after two more days, on Sunday evening, Nov. 27.

“Detective Halpin trusted us to do that,” Byrd told The Post. “He said, ‘Fine.’ ”

Halpin told The Post that he could not recall the conversation but probably would have cast it differently:

“If someone calls and says they’re going to turn in a suspect on a Sunday night, and he’s already lawyered up with someone who has a reputation like Byrd, for being on TV, what can you do? You can’t force an attorney to turn in his client,” Halpin said, adding: “I’m sure I would have also told him that there’s paper out for him, so they’re still going to snatch him up if he’s found.”

That Sunday night, Patrick Shanahan drove William to a police station to surrender, according to police records and a timeline of events prepared by a Shanahan spokesman.

His mother attended his court appearance the next morning.

“My neighbor took me to the court hearing, and both of us were shocked to see Pat in the courtroom,” she wrote in the filing, saying she had believed until then that he had been in Seattle.

‘He doesn’t believe in violence’

Patrick Shanahan and Byrd came to the hearing prepared to plead for the younger Shanahan to remain out of custody, citing his baseball career at an exclusive youth sports academy and prep school attended by sons and daughters of major league athletes.

“He’s a college baseball prospect. He has dreams. He has a future. His father is an executive of Boeing,” Byrd said, according to an audio recording that the court released to The Post. “If he has to sit in jail for 21 days, not only is that going to traumatize him, he’s not going to finish the semester, probably get kicked off the baseball team . . . everything is going to be over for him.”

Patrick Shanahan also vouched for his son.

“He doesn’t believe in violence,” he told the judge. “I’ve never seen him act aggressively toward his brother or any other family members, so it’s a shock to me what has happened.”

The judge declined to release William Shanahan, calling pictures of the crime scene “horrendous.”

He was initially charged with two felonies, aggravated battery and tampering with a victim, and faced up to 15 years in prison.

In the custody filing is the four-page memo Patrick Shanahan wrote at the time.

It lists “mitigating circumstances” that should be considered in evaluating the alleged assault.

A Shanahan spokesman provided a copy of the email containing the memo retained by Shanahan’s brother-in-law, showing it had been sent on Dec. 8, 2011, two weeks after the attack, and 10 days after Patrick Shanahan was present at the court hearing with his injured ex-wife.

First, Patrick Shanahan wrote, his 17-year-old son had “acted in self-defense.”

“She fueled the situation by berating him repeatedly in his room in a manner that escalated emotionally and physically,” he wrote.

The memo continues, alleging a history of substance abuse, emotional abuse and violent tendencies by Kimberley Shanahan. “Over the last 7+ years I have worked as much as possible, partially out of a desire to avoid inevitable conflicts with Kim,” Shanahan wrote. It casts his ex-wife as the instigator in conflicts with him and their children. “It appears that when I was not around to yell at, she started becoming intensely focused on berating, terrorizing and beat them down emotionally.”

Kimberley Shanahan disputed those characterizations.

“I have always been a very loving and dedicated mom,” she wrote in a court filing responding to the memo, “and I have never emotionally abused any of my children for any period of time.”

Kevin Cameron, Kimberley Shanahan’s brother, said he was not bothered by Patrick Shanahan’s memo because he believed Shanahan wrote it before he had all of the facts about the assault.

“If anything, I believe Pat fully understands and is better equipped to deal with domestic violence than most people,” Cameron wrote in a letter to The Post. “He has seen it. He has lived it. He understands that domestic violence is real and prevalent. He understands that it can impact anyone of any age, gender, race and socioeconomic status.”

‘We moved on’

Kris Roberts, a police officer who assisted in the search for William Shanahan, recalled that after the arrest, his father was a “hindrance” in a follow-up matter, as police investigated whether there had been an inappropriate relationship between the adult woman and William. Under Florida law, William was too young at the time to have had a consenting sexual relationship with the woman. Roberts, a retired detective with the Longboat Key Police Department, said the father, whom she could not remember by name, would not turn over his son’s cellphone.

After the surrender to police, “his father would not talk to me; he wasn’t helping,” Roberts said. “I remember he had a West Coast address, Seattle maybe, and when he left, the son’s cellphone was just gone.” Roberts said she believes Patrick Shanahan took his son’s cellphone back to Seattle with him.

Roberts said that without the cooperation of the father, the investigation fell apart. “We only had one love letter between them, but it didn’t speak to anything sexual,” Roberts said. The adult woman “soon lawyered up, too, and we moved on.”

Byrd, the attorney for William Shanahan; an attorney who represents Patrick Shanahan in Seattle; and a Shanahan spokesman said they were not aware of a formal request for the cellphone.

Prosecutors would go on to charge William as an adult with one felony: aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He pleaded down to a third-degree felony, and in 2012, a state prosecutor agreed to a “withhold of adjudication,” curtailing the length of the sentence and probation. The post-sentencing maneuver is not recognized outside of Florida, and William’s record could not be sealed or expunged in the state because it involved a violent domestic assault.

William was ordered to spend 18 months at a Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch and sentenced to four years’ probation. Both penalties were later reduced.

The following year, in 2013, William enrolled at the University of Washington, according to his LinkedIn page. His father had recently joined the university’s board of regents. The family had other ties to the school. Patrick Shanahan’s father, Michael, had served as police chief for the university for more than two decades.

William graduated last June with a degree in political science, a university spokesman said.

Kimberley Shanahan lost custody of the couple’s youngest child in 2014, when a judge wrote that she had “engaged in abusive use of conflict that is seriously detrimental” to the child. According to multiple accounts, she is now estranged from all three of her children. At his last confirmation hearing, to become deputy secretary of defense in June 2017, all three children were sitting behind Patrick Shanahan.

None of the senators asked him about domestic violence.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/18/troubling-questions-raised-by-patrick-shanahans-pulled-nomination/?utm_term=.3210169d99a0

The troubling questions raised by Shanahan’s aborted nomination

June 18 at 4:31 PM

Patrick Shanahan’s bid to become defense secretary has been withdrawn, and The Washington Post’s Aaron C. Davis and Shawn Boburg have the big story about why. Reports about two incidents of domestic violence — one in which Shanahan’s then-wife was charged with assaulting him and another in which his then-teenage son hit her with a baseball bat in the head — have led President Trump to announce Shanahan’s withdrawal.

The first, inescapable emotion one has to have while reading the story is sadness. It’s an extremely messy family situation that sounds awful and painful.

But thing I felt is curiosity: How is it possible Shanahan thought he could become secretary of defense without this being publicized and litigated? And beyond that, how was he picked for the job in the first place, and how was he previously confirmed as deputy secretary of defense?

There are certainly many questions here — regarding Shanahan, the White House that picked him, the FBI that conducts background checks, and the Senate, which confirmed him in the deputy position.

From Shanahan’s perspective, it’s important to emphasize that he was never charged with becoming violent himself, though his wife did accuse him of that. But in interviews with The Post, he admitted fault for having suggested his son’s assault of his mother was justified as an act of self-defense. He had initially suggested she had drawn the attack by harassing the teenager over a period of hours. “I was wrong to write those three sentences,” he said of a memo in which he made that case.

Shanahan would surely have been forced to account for that situation and others. Now, he has pulled out before he could even really attempt to.

But why was he in contention in the first place? In the vetting process, the first things to check are divorce records, police records and court records. The Post’s reporting relied upon all three. The White House has never been big on actually vetting its nominees — even for top Cabinet posts — but is it really possible it didn’t check these very basic boxes? And it would seem very likely that an FBI background check was conducted that would provide such information to the White House counsel. Was that done? Either someone was negligent, or someone turned a blind eye.

And even setting that aside, did the GOP-controlled Senate dig into these things when it was confirming Shanahan as deputy defense secretary in July 2017? Shanahan was confirmed 92 to 7, despite some concerns about installing a former Boeing executive as a top Pentagon official. As Davis and Boburg noted, all three of his children sat behind him at the hearing; domestic violence didn’t come up once.

At least one Democratic senator, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, is already raising the prospect that Shanahan might have withheld this information on his disclosure forms.

“I feel there was a deliberate concealment here,” Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, told reporter Matt Laslo. “This is potentially a violation of criminal law.”

Matt Laslo

@MattLaslo

“I feel there was a deliberate concealment here,” Armed Services member Sen. Blumenthal says of Shanahan. “This is potentially a violation of criminal law” by Shanahan for lying on disclosure forms, he adds

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This is merely the latest vetting failure from the White House. It previously employed Rob Porter as staff secretary despite two ex-wives having accused him of physical abuse. It nominated and then withdrew Ronny L. Jackson for Veterans Affairs secretary despite some very serious accusations that quickly came to light. Trump’s first labor secretary nominee, Andy Puzder, quickly succumbed to accusations of domestic violence and employing an undocumented worker. And you could even throw now-Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in there; even though he wound up winning confirmation, it was made much more difficult by sexual assault allegations against him.

In some of these instances, it’s perhaps somewhat understandable how these things could have slipped through the cracks; Kavanaugh had never been accused publicly, for example, and Jackson’s reputation was solid from when he served in the Obama White House. In the case of Shanahan, these are public records. The Washington Post has been asking Shanahan about these incidents since January, when he became acting secretary, and he was still nominated last month.

It’s a remarkably sad story — and one that many people involved probably should have prevented from ever needing to be told in the context of a Cabinet nomination.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/18/troubling-questions-raised-by-patrick-shanahans-pulled-nomination/?utm_term=.3210169d99a0

 

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1273, June 12, 2019, Story 1: Trump In Iowa Pandering to Corn Farmers With Ethanol Subsidies and Mandates — End All Subsidies and Mandates — Repeal The Reusable Fuel Standard — Videos

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The Renewable Fuels Standard

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, established the first mandatory blend levels for renewable fuel in the United States. The RFS2 encompasses all renewable fuels and requires 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into transportation fuel in 2006, increasing to 36 billion gallons by 2022 (Figure 1). Most of this is corn-based ethanol, but fuels that reduce more greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), like biodiesel, require 9 billion gallons to be blended into transportation fuel in 2008, increasing to 21 billion gallons by 2022.

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Renewable Fuel Standard (United States)

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The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is an American federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. It originated with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was expanded and extended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Research published by the U.S. GAO in November, 2016 found the program unlikely to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to limited current and expected future production of advanced biofuels[1]

History[edit]

The RFS requires renewable fuel to be blended into transportation fuel in increasing amounts each year, escalating to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Each renewable fuel category in the RFS must emit lower levels of greenhouse gases relative to the petroleum fuel it replaces.[2]

The first RFS, usually referred to as RFS1, required that 4 billion gallons of biofuel be used in 2006. This requirement was scheduled to rise to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. These requirements were passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 changed and broadened these rules. EISA was signed into law by President George W. Bush and the bill was overwhelmingly supported by members of congress from both parties.[3]

The changes required by the 2007 legislation are usually referred to as RFS2. RFS2 required the use of 9 billion gallons in 2008 and scheduled a requirement for 36 billion gallons in 2022. The quota for 2022 was to allow no more than a maximum of 15 billion gallons from corn-starch ethanol and a minimum of 16 billion gallons from cellulosic biofuels.[3]

In reaction to the implementation of the RFS, passage of EISA, and other measures to support ethanol, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) expressed alarm. In 2007, OPEC’s secretary general, Abdalla El-Badri, said that increased use of biofuels by the United States could cause OPEC to decrease production. Other OPEC leaders openly worried about “security of demand.”[4]

Enforcement and administration[edit]

The Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS) was introduced as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.[5] The Act passed both the House and Senate with strong support, including 275 votes in the House and a remarkable 74 votes in the Senate.[6] The legislation required that certain minimum levels of biofuels be produced and used in the United States by designated dates. The initial RFS, referred to as RFS1 contained in the 2005 Act, mandated that a minimum of four billion gallons of renewable fuel be used in the nation’s gasoline supply by 2006 and that the minimum usage volume rise by 3.5 billion gallons by 2012.[7] In 2007, The RFS program was expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, known as EISA. EISA expanded the mandate, now known as RFS2, to require 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022.[8]>

After passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the EPA was delegated the responsibility of developing a regulatory framework to implement the RFS.[9] To establish this framework, EPA initiated a formal rulemaking process. A federal agency rule-making procedure must follow the process set out in the Administrative Procedures Act.[10] This requires government agencies to formulate a proposed rule and then submit that proposed rule for public comment. Once this comment period ends, agencies may or may not modify the proposed rule after which they issue a final rule. The RFS rulemaking took place between May 26th 2009 and July 27th 2009 with the final rule being announced by EPA on March 26th 2010 via the Federal Register.[11]

Under the final RFS Rule, the program is administered by the Office of Transportation and Air Quality within the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) under the EPA.[12] Each year, by November 30, the OAR is required to establish, via rulemaking, the volumes of biofuel that must be blended with transportation fuels during the following calendar year known as the Renewable Volume Obligation or RVO.[13] An RVO is determined by multiplying the output of the producer by the EPA’s announced blending ratios for each of the four standards described above. The producer has to show compliance through the RIN system. It can purchase RINs to makeup for any shortfall in production. Surplus RINs can be sold. This is done through the EPA’s Moderated Transaction System.[3] The EPA established an RVO of 18.11 billion gallons total for 2016.[14]

On May 29, 2015, the EPA set an RVO lower than the benchmarks established by Congress. This generated criticism from all sides of the issue. The EPA was also blamed for missing legal deadlines to revise the RVO targets. Some say this introduced market uncertainty, harming both consumers and producers. The EPA made this announcement in May to meet a June 1, 2015 deadline established by the settlement to a lawsuit brought by fossil fuel and chemical trade associations. The EPA defended the targets calling them “ambitious but responsible” and arguing that “Biofuels remain an important part of the overall strategy to enhance energy security and address climate change.” The EPA announcement called for a 27-percent increase in the use of advanced biofuels from 2014 to 2016. Most gasoline used in the United States is blended to E10, which contains only 10% ethanol. The May 2015 rule changes thus created modest incentives to make greater use of E85 and E15, which contain more ethanol.[15]

Three categories of fuel (Cellulosic biofuel, biodiesel and advanced biofuel) were identified and EPA is responsible for establishing an annual target RVO for each. Recognizing that implementing the program would take time because the US lacked sufficient manufacturing capacity to produce large volumes of biofuels when the rule was finalized, the initial targets were low. However, in the period since the RFS rule went into effect, the amount of renewable fuel that must be produced for US usage has risen significantly as the following chart covering recent years indicates[16]:

Fuel 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Cellulosic biofuel 33 123 230 331 288 418 n/a
Biomass-based diesel 1.63 1.73 1.9 2.0 2.1 2.1 2.43
Advanced biofuel 2.67 2.88 3.61 4.28 4.29 4.92 n/a
Renewable fuel 16.28 16.93 18.11 19.28 19.29 19.92 n/a

To determine whether the goals for each year are met, EPA created the system of “credits” that would be issued each time a gallon of biofuel was produced. Each such gallon would be assigned a Renewable Identification Number or RIN.[17] Refiners, not those who blend the renewable fuel, are required to acquire and submit the amount of RINs that represent their share of the total amount of renewable fuel that EPA has set as the annual production level.

Many in the biofuel industry argue that the EPA abused its waiver authority by setting RVOs lower than the statutory minimums. They say Congress clearly intended for the law to apply according to supply that could be available rather than demand. They contend that the EPA has conflated the two. Under EISA, the statutory standard for 2017 is 24 billion gallons. On May 19, 2016, the EPA proposed an RVO of 18.8 billion gallons of biofuel for 2017. This was up from 18.4 billion gallons in 2016. Ethanol supporters and oil companies alike criticized this target.[18] On July 28, 2017, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals rejected the EPA’s 2015 waivers.[19]

On June 22, 2016, the EPA announced that it was considering changes to the enforcement of blending standards. The agency has received petitions calling for compliance to be shifted away from refiners to blenders or “the entity that holds title to the gasoline or diesel fuel, immediately prior to the sale from the bulk transfer/terminal system … to a wholesaler, retailer or ultimate consumer.”[20]

After 2022, the EPA has wide discretion to set RVOs in accordance with the goals outlined under EISA.[21] According to the EISA, “the applicable volumes of each fuel specified in the tables in clause (i) for calendar years after the calendar years specified in the tables shall be determined by the Administrator, in coordination with the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Agriculture, based on a review of the implementation of the program during calendar years specified in the tables…”[22]

Independent Refiners Efforts to Reform the RINs Program[edit]

Although the survival of the RFS seems certain, the program’s implementation has resulted in significant adverse side effects for certain members of the US refining industry. As a result, an effort has emerged to revise, rather than eliminate, the RFS. The impetus for change has come from the independent/merchant refining sector which has faced dramatic increases in operating costs as a result of their efforts to comply with RFS.

As previously noted, RINs are generated when a gallon of renewable fuel is created by companies who blend ethanol and other renewable fuels. However, to demonstrate compliance with the annual RFS targets it is refiners, not blenders, who are required to provide the government with the RINs. By separating the generation of the RIN from the point of government obligation, the Rule set in motion a process that has triggered a major policy debate.

While many large refiners also blend renewable fuels and thus generate their own RINs, smaller merchant/independent refiners must obtain the RINs necessary to meet their obligations by purchasing them.[23] This has created a commodity market for RINs which has brought speculators into the market who have no obligation to the government, but are simply seeking to profit by buying RINs from blenders and reselling them to refiners. Since refiners must provide sufficient RINs to satisfy their obligation under the RFS, buying them has become a major cost for refiners that do not also blend renewable fuels.[24]

The situation has been made more complicated because EPA has not always met their requirement of announcing the following year’s RFS by November 30th of the preceding year. During the Obama Administration EPA did not produce its RVO targets for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 until June 10th 2015.[25] As a result, refiners did not know how many RINs they would need and either found themselves short or long in terms of meeting their obligations. Those who were short were then forced to incur great cost buying inflated-priced RINs to meet their obligations and those who had over-purchased RINs had spent too much to protect their position.

The cost to independent refiners who lack blending capabilities has continued to grow. In 2016 the RIN price was over 85 cents per gallon.[26] This compares to 2012 when RIN prices were only a few cents per gallon.[27] To put this into perspective, Valero of Texas, the world’s biggest independent refiner, projected that RINs credits would cost the company as much as $850 million in 2016, which was 100% higher than what they paid in 2015.[28] These costs have been hard for companies to sustain. Hence, they have attempted to seek relief. It is on this battleground that the RFS is currently being challenged.

Pursuit of Compromise[edit]

It is believed that the White House is pushing both sides to work out a compromise. Several proposals have been discussed with two receiving the most attention. Under the first, RINs associated with exported ethanol could be used for compliance. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. exported one billion gallons of ethanol in 2016.[29] EPA’s regulations currently require that RINs associated with these biofuel gallons be retired upon export and even set up an “export RVO” to ensure such retirements occur. Because this system results in the disqualification of ethanol exports, it significantly constrains the RIN market. Refiners argue that the EPA should eliminate the export RVO and allow RINs associated with exported ethanol be made available for RFS compliance. Such a policy would significantly increase the number of RINs, thereby partially alleviating RINs costs. The EPA would have the authority under the statute to make this change.

Another potential alternative would be to allow EPA to create and make available for sale to obligated parties a “government RIN” to use for compliance with the basic ethanol mandate. Under this approach, the government could sell these government-generated RINs to obligated parties at a low, fixed price that they could use for compliance if they are unable to obtain affordable RINs in the marketplace. Refiners would then have the option of obtaining RINs through blending, buying it off the market, or buying the “government RIN” from the EPA. The government RIN would be available at all times with no restriction on the number of credits. This change would also be within the powers of EPA.

The Trump Administration and the two sides are looking at these options in pursuit of a course that would keep the basic RFS program in place while providing some relief to independent refiners. For RFS advocates the decision will come down to a choice between their long-held resistance to allowing any alteration in the RFS program (for fear that those who desire complete elimination of RFS will try to take advantage of any apparent weakening of their previous position) and the potential to satisfy the RFS opponents who have the strongest argument in favor of change. For refiners the decision will come down to whether RIN price certainty is more attractive than continuing to pursue options that could eliminate RIN costs altogether. For the Trump Administration the challenge will be to not alienate two of the lynchpin constituencies that made the President’s victory possible. Given the political clout of the parties involved, the most likely outcome at this stage is a compromise along the lines of one of the two most recent refiner proposals, accompanied by a very high-profile pledge from the President that RFS will otherwise be retained in full. However, given the stakes and the historic intransigence of the parties, there is no guarantee that they will find common ground.

Feedstock[edit]

EISA defined “renewable fuel” as being made from biomass but also restricted the type of land on which permissible feedstock could be grown. Land put into cultivation after December 13, 2007 was excluded. Tree crops, tree residues, and biomass grown on federal land were all excluded as permissible feedstock.[3]

Pollution standards[edit]

EISA defined air pollution standards that require various levels of greenhouse gas reductions according to the type of biofuel used and the fuel being displaced. Cellusoic biofuels must have emissions that are at least a 60 reduction relative to gasoline or diesel fuel that would be used in its place. Biomass and sugarcane ethanol must have 50 percent reductions. Research at Argonne National Laboratory sponsored by the Department of Energy demonstrated that, on average, corn ethanol reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 34 percent over gasoline.

“Blend wall”[edit]

The amount of ethanol used in the United States is capped by a limit of 10% ethanol content for most gasoline and diesel sales. This limit is often referred to as the “blend wall.” Raising the blend wall to 15% could help meet the statutory minimums set out in EISA.[4]Increasing ethanol content in gasoline beyond 15% would require modifications to the fuel systems of a conventional engine. The amount of ethanol used in the United States is also limited by the number of Flex Fuel vehicles available which are capable of operating on ethanol blends as high as 85% (E85) and the relative pricing of E85 as compared to regular gasoline (E10).

Other alternative fuels may have higher functional “blend walls”. Biobutanol may be legally blended up to 16%, operating as an E10 equivalent,[30] though it is possible to operate at as high as 20% butanol without engine modification.

Food prices[edit]

According to research sponsored by the United States government, the World Bank, and other organizations, there is no clear link between the RFS and higher food prices. Ethanol critics contend that RFS requirements crowd out production that would go to feed livestock.[4][31]

The 2008 financial crisis illustrated corn ethanol’s limited impact on corn prices, which fell 50% from their July 2008 high by October 2008, in tandem with other commodities, including oil, while corn ethanol production continued unabated. “Analysts, including some in the ethanol sector, say ethanol demand adds about 75 cents to $1.00 per bushel to the price of corn, as a rule of thumb. Other analysts say it adds around 20 percent, or just under 80 cents per bushel at current prices. Those estimates hint that $4 per bushel corn might be priced at only $3 without demand for ethanol fuel.”[32]

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_Fuel_Standard_(United_States)

 

 

Trump’s ethanol move delivers gift to corn country

Updated 

President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to expand sales of corn ethanol on Tuesday, delivering a gift to farm state Republicans a month before the midterm elections.

The move ends months of bitter behind-the-scenes fighting between corn backers and the oil industry over Trump’s calls to increase ethanol sales, and it could benefit Iowa’s Republican governor, who is trailing her Democratic challenger in the polls, as well as at least two Iowa House incumbents who are also vulnerable. But the oil industry’s most powerful trade group immediately said it will fight to block the action.

“We want to get more fuel into the system,” Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One to travel to a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “This is great for our farmers, and it’s a promise I made during the campaign, and as you know I keep my promises.”

EPA expects to finish a rule by the beginning of June to allow year-round sales of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol content, an increase over the 10 percent blends that are sold at most gas stations around the nation. The sale of the blends, known as “E15,” is currently prohibited during the summer months in several states because of Clean Air Act restrictions, and corn growers have long sought to expand sales of the higher concentrations.

“This is a big deal,” said Jeff Navin, a Democratic former aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and former chief of staff in the Obama administration’s Energy Department. “It’s not something that makes a front page of East and West Coast newspapers, but it’s something that farmers watch closely. I’m sure the political team and elected officials in Iowa told [Trump] he has to do something to staunch bleeding.”

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), along with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) joined Trump in the Oval Office for his announcement, which the White House did not publicly broadcast.

“This is a very good victory for agriculture, a very good victory for workers at our 50 ethanol plants in Iowa and other states. it’s a very good victory for the environment and everything about this is good, good, good,” Grassley said in a video posted on Instagram.

Trump has previously called for increased sales of ethanol, which consumes about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop. He strongly backed the biofuel during the 2016 campaign, a stance that appealed to Midwestern farmers who helped carry him to victory but who have been battered by his trade war and retaliatory tariffs from countries angry over his steel and aluminum tariffs.

But the U.S. oil industry has staunchly opposed increasing ethanol sales, and it has pressed for EPA and Congress to overhaul the federal biofuels mandate that Congress first created in 2005 to help reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. The mandate requires oil refiners to blend specified volumes of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supply, and to purchase biofuels credits that are traded in a market that has been plagued by fraud.

Trump has personally sought to mediate the dispute, which has pitted ethanol backers like Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has pressed the president to grant concessions to the oil industry. But despite a half dozen Oval Office meetings with Trump and several months of study by EPA and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, oil refiners will receive only modest changes in how regulators handle the biofuel credits.

“The president has repeatedly stated his support for the [ethanol program],” the White House official told reporters Monday. “He thinks that it’s good to have domestically produced energy here and he thinks it will be good for the agriculture industry as well as the economy overall.”

The oil industry had benefited from the more than two dozen waivers that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted to refineries that allowed them to ignore the mandate that they blend the corn-based fuel with gasoline. But that angered farm groups, who said it reduced the requirement for ethanol by billions of gallons.

Now, Trump may be trying to make it up to Iowans and come to the aid of a friendly governor before the 2020 Iowa caucuses. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who took the post after Gov. Terry Branstad became Trump’s ambassador to China, is currently trailing her Democratic challenger, businessman Fred Hubbell, by 3.5 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Trump has twice before promised to expand E15 sales, most recently in July, and Tuesday’s move was warmly welcomed by the industry.

“It’s hard to find the proper adjectives to describe how exciting it is to see year-round E15 move forward,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “We have worked non-stop on this issue for seven years while the unjustified restrictions hampered retailers from offering E15.”

Most U.S. gasoline sold in the U.S. is E10, meaning it contains 10 percent ethanol, though the 15 percent ethanol is sold by many retailers, particularly in big corn-producing states. Trump, who cannot change the policy through an executive order, has now ordered acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to issue a waiver to the rules specifically for E15 to allow year-round sales.

The White House sought to mollify refiners by ordering Wheeler to alter the trade of biofuels credits, called Renewable Identification Numbers, that oil processors must purchase to show they are complying with the law. Independent refiners have long looked for ways to lower the cost of compliance and to increase transparency in that market. The new measures include limiting the credit purchases to refiners and ethanol importers, as well as requiring individuals holding more than a certain number of credits to disclose their holdings publicly.

Refiners will also now have to prove compliance with the program quarterly rather than annually, and EPA will limit how long companies other than refiners and importers can hold credits.

“President Trump has made strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard an important priority of this administration,” EPA spokesman John Konkus said in a statement, referring to the ethanol program by its formal name. “He is fulfilling his promise by providing clear policy direction that will expand opportunities for our nation’s farmers, provide certainty to our refiners and bolster the United States’ role as a biofuels powerhouse. EPA will follow the president’s direction and proceed as expeditiously as practicable.”

Ethanol proponents say the rule will give gas station owners the incentive to install the equipment to sell the higher biofuel blends, which would increase sales of ethanol.

“We’re very excited to hear the president’s upcoming announcement,” Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol trade association, said in a statement. “He knows farmers are hurting and they want action on E15 in time for the next summer driving season. Year-round sales of E15 nationwide could deliver demand for two billion bushels of American corn and help restore growth in rural communities.”

Oil companies, who would prefer to see congressional efforts led by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) develop a comprehensive legislative overhaul to the mandate, believe Trump’s new policy is “wrongheaded” and the transparency policies don’t compensate them enough.

“We just don’t think it rises to the significance of issuing the E15 waiver, and therefore it’s no deal at all, from our standpoint,” said Frank Macchiarola, vice president of downstream and operations for the American Petroleum Institute. “From a legal standpoint, we don’t think EPA has the authority to issue the E15 waiver, [and] we will aggressively be looking at all of our potential options moving forward with respect to challenging this decision.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/08/trump-ethanol-corn-831493

 

 

Time to Repeal Ethanol Subsidies

The federal government provides an array of subsidies to increase the consumption of biofuels such as corn ethanol. The subsidies include tax breaks, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. The government also imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuels.

A new study at DownsizingGovernment.org describes the damage caused by these policies. Subsidies and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) harm taxpayers, motorists, consumers, and the environment.

The study by Nicolas Loris argues that Congress should end its intervention in the biofuels industry. It should terminate subsidies and repeal the RFS. Individuals and markets can make more efficient and environmentally sound decisions regarding biofuels without subsidies and mandates.

Investor Carl Icahn said that the RFS has created a bureaucratic market in tradable credits full of “manipulation, speculation and fraud” with the potential to “destroy America’s oil refineries, send gasoline prices skyward and devastate the U.S. economy.”

That language is probably too strong, but federal ethanol policies really are stupid. President Trump says that he wants to cut unneeded regulations and wasteful subsidies. The RFS and biofuel hand-outs would be good policies to target.

So for an interesting read illustrating the craziness of special-interest policies in Washington, check out “Ethanol and Biofuel Policies.” The next time you are at the gas station and see that “E10” sticker on the pump, remember that a tag team of D.C. politicians and corn farmers are picking your pocket.

https://www.cato.org/blog/time-repeal-ethanol-subsidies

Downsizing the Federal Government

YOUR GUIDE TO CUTTING FEDERAL SPENDING

Ethanol and Biofuel Policies

  • Nicolas Loris
February 9, 2017

The federal government provides an array of subsidies to increase the consumption of biofuels such as corn ethanol. The subsidies include tax breaks, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. The government also imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuels. Biofuel supporters said that these policies would reduce gas prices, strengthen the economy, and benefit the environment, but none of those promises have turned out to be true.

The problem is not with the voluntary use of biofuels in the marketplace, but rather policies that mandate and subsidize biofuels. That top-down approach has harmed consumers, damaged the economy, and produced negative environmental effects. Even within the agricultural community, federal biofuel policies have adversely affected livestock producers and other businesses.

Congress should end its intervention in the biofuels industry. It should terminate subsidies and repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Individuals and markets can make more efficient and environmentally sound decisions regarding biofuels without subsidies and mandates.

What Are Biofuels?

Biofuels are derived from biological matter. Producers ferment sugar (sugarcane and sugar beets) and starch products (corn and potatoes) to create bioalcohols, and they ferment oilseed crops (soybeans and sunflower seeds) and animal fats to create biodiesel.

Ethanol, the most common biofuel, is mainly made from corn in the United States. Before federal subsidies and mandates were put in place, ethanol was already used as an additive to gasoline, allowing it to burn cleaner and more efficiently. The use of biofuels is not new, and it did not originally stem from government policies. A century ago, Henry Ford had planned for the Model T to run on ethanol, and Rudolf Diesel showcased a diesel engine that ran on peanut oil.1

Today, fuel suppliers mix biofuels into gasoline and diesel at blending stations. Most vehicles can handle gasoline blended with at most 10 percent ethanol (E10). In 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a blend of up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) for vehicles in model year 2001 and newer, but that mix is damaging to engines in older vehicles.2 Possible engine harm, automobile warranty concerns, and a lack of infrastructure have delayed adoption of E15.3 A further concern is that higher ethanol blends are harmful to the smaller engines in lawnmowers, motorcycles, and boats.4Another fuel blend is E85, which contains from 51 percent to 83 percent ethanol and is used in flexible-fuel vehicles.5

The federal government distinguishes between conventional (first-generation) biofuels and advanced (second-generation) biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol. Producers create advanced biofuels from nonfood parts of crops and other biomass such as leaves, switchgrass, algae, and woodchips. However, developing commercially viable fuel from these sources has proven to be very difficult.

Federal Biofuel Policies

The federal government has supported biofuels for decades. Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses have put in place a variety of subsidies—including tax credits, import tariffs, grants, loans, and mandates—to increase the production, sale, and use of biofuels.

In response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, Congress passed the first ethanol tax credit in the Energy Tax Act of 1978. Later legislation, including the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, and the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, introduced or expanded subsidies for biofuels. Farm bills in 2002, 2008, and 2014 also added and expanded biofuel programs. Today, there are at least 11 different federal subsidy programs for biofuels providing loans, grants, and other benefits.6

However, the most important component of federal biofuel policy is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It mandates that billions of gallons of ethanol be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel each year. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated the sale of oxygenated fuels in some regions of the country, and that “kicked off the modern U.S. ethanol industry growth.”7 Then the Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated that increasing amounts of renewable fuels be mixed into America’s fuel supplies over time, primarily corn-based ethanol. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 greatly increased the mandated quantities.

Under the 2007 law, there must be 36 billion gallons of biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supplies by 2022. No more than 15 billion gallons of that can be corn-based ethanol, and 21 billion gallons must be from advanced biofuels. After 2022 the EPA is granted authority to set annual targets.

The RFS is causing major economic and compliance problems. One problem is that cellulosic biofuel is supposed to be 44 percent of the total mandate by 2022, but actual production of these advanced fuels is far below expectations and running into major technical setbacks.8 In 2017 production of cellulosic biofuel will be just 1.6 percent of the 19 billion gallons of the overall biofuels mandated under the RFS.9

A broad range of groups oppose the RFS mandate, including environmental groups, anti-poverty groups, most economists, energy companies, and many farm groups. The RFS is opposed by the National Chicken Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Milk Producers Council, and others.10It is also opposed by the American Petroleum Institute, National Resource Defense Council, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Environmental Working Group, and Oxfam.11

Despite the opposition, the biofuel lobbies have so far held sway in Congress. Over time, however, opposition to the RFS has increased as the negative economic, technical, and environmental effects have become more obvious. The RFS is a failed experiment. Congress should recognize its mistake before more damage is done and repeal the mandate.

Such a reform would not end the biofuels industry. Some biofuels are cost competitive with traditional fuels and make a useful addition to gasoline mixed in at small levels. In the year before the government mandated ethanol use, American companies produced more than 81 million barrels of ethanol.12 Used at a modest level, ethanol is a cost-effective oxygenate for gasoline, meaning an additive that improves efficiency and helps meet fuel emissions requirements. A study by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture estimated that with no RFS and no ethanol tax credit, demand for corn ethanol would have been 4.3 billion gallons in 2014, or about 30 percent of actual corn ethanol production that year.13

By ending federal subsidies and mandates, biofuels use would decline to efficient levels that maximized consumer benefits. Agriculture and food markets would benefit from the elimination of distortions that biofuel mandates are creating. The most competitive elements of the biofuels industry would survive and thrive in a free market.

The following sections discuss how current biofuels policies increase costs for drivers, raise food prices, and harm the environment.

Increase Costs for Drivers

Ethanol is not a good substitute for regular gasoline because it contains less energy. Ethanol has only two-thirds the energy content of regular gasoline.14 Drivers get fewer miles per gallon the higher the share of ethanol and other biofuels mixed into their tanks.

During times of high gas prices, ethanol may appear less expensive. But after adjusting for the energy content difference, higher concentrations of ethanol in fuel costs more. As an example, the national average price of regular gasoline in February 2016 was $1.71 per gallon and E85 was $1.52 per gallon.15 But adjusting for E85’s lower energy content pushed the price up to the equivalent of $1.99 per gallon at the time. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the overall energy content of fuel at the pump fell 3 percent between 1993 and 2013 as mandated ethanol use increased.16

The additional cost of ethanol varies depending on current ethanol and gasoline prices. But, in general, the higher the ethanol content, the lower is gas mileage, and the more drivers must spend to go the same distance. Motorists can spend hundreds of dollars more per year running common flexible-fuel vehicles on E85 instead of regular gasoline blended with E10.17

Raise Food Prices

Ethanol production uses a large share of America’s corn crop and diverts valuable crop land away from food production. The resulting increases in food prices have hurt both urban and rural families. Families with moderate incomes are particularly burdened by the higher food prices created by federal biofuel policies. Higher corn prices also hurt farmers and ranchers who use corn for animal feed. Higher food prices caused by biofuel policies also hurt low-income families in other countries that rely on U.S. food imports. U.S. corn accounts for more than half of the world’s corn exports.18

Almost 40 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop has been used for ethanol in recent years, up from about 13 percent when Congress mandated the original quota in 2005.19 The remaining 60 percent is used for food, animal feed, and exports. In 2012 the amount of corn used to produce ethanol in the United States exceeded the entire corn consumption of the continent of Africa and of any single country except China.20

The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that “increased corn prices draw land away from competing crops, raise input prices for livestock producers, and put moderate upward pressure on retail food prices.”21 These negative effects were particularly apparent during the 2012 drought in the United States, which destroyed crops, drove corn prices up 33 percent, and heightened concerns that the RFS was diverting food to fuel.22Since corn is an ingredient in many foods, and an important feedstock for animals, many in the food industry (from cattle and chicken farmers to restaurant associations) complained about the mandate’s effect on food prices.

In 2012 the governors of Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming petitioned the EPA for a waiver of the RFS in order to reduce corn prices, but the EPA denied the request.23 Yet according to a study by economists at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the drought’s impact on corn prices could have been “fully negated” by reducing the RFS by 23 percent that year.24

A number of studies have examined the link between biofuels policies and global food prices, as well as the adverse consequences on the world’s poorest citizens. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ActionAid, World Resources Institute, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Bank have all identified higher food prices as a negative effect of biofuel policies.25

The magnitude of the RFS’s effect on the prices of corn and other farm products is difficult to determine precisely, but the direction of the impact is clear. The RFS has increased demand for corn and pushed up prices. One study by University of California at Davis economists found that the RFS increases corn prices by 30 percent, while a Heritage Foundation study found the increase to be 68 percent.26 The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that economists “are nearly universally agreed that the strong, steady growth in ethanol demand for corn has had an important and sustained upward price effect, not just on the price of corn, but in other agricultural markets including food, feed, fuel, and land.”27

Proponents of the RFS and biofuel subsidies argue that the policies support economic growth in rural communities. Actually, the policies support corn growers at the expense of other rural industries such as livestock production, which use corn as animal feed.

In the future, biofuels may make more economic sense than they do today and become a preferred fuel choice by Americans in open markets. But current policies that mandate the increasing use of biofuels are imposing large costs on motorists, harming food consumers and livestock producers, and damaging the overall economy.

Harm the Environment

Supporters of biofuel subsidies and the RFS claim that the policies create environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But most evidence now indicates that biofuel policies do not reduce such emissions or benefit the environment overall.

Here are some of the factors to consider regarding biofuels and the environment:

  • Biofuel policies draw additional land into agricultural production. After accounting for this land-use conversion, the additional use of fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides, as well as the fossil fuels used for production and distribution, biofuel production is quite carbon intensive.28
  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that converting noncropland to production of corn ethanol released at least 17 times more emissions than the amount of reduced carbon dioxide emissions by the use of biofuels.29
  • University of Michigan Professor John DeCicco found that even without accounting for indirect land use changes, biofuels increase the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere compared to regular gasoline.30
  • Despite once hailing biofuels as a tool to mitigate climate change, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now acknowledges that biofuels policies negatively affect the lives of the poor, distort land use, and may have negative environmental consequences.31
  • A study by Iowa State University researchers concluded that the increased production of biofuels generated by government policies has led to environmental harm from the use of fertilizers and land-use conversion for agricultural production, which can result in increased soil erosion, sedimentation, and nitrogen and phosphorous runoff into lakes and streams.32

Ethanol does have benefits as a fuel additive to help gasoline burn more cleanly and efficiently. However, in a report to Congress on the issue, the EPA projected that nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, ground-level ozone, and ethanol-vapor emissions, among other pollutants, would increase at different points in the production and use of ethanol.33

Many types of agricultural production affect the natural environment, both positively and negatively. Almost all industrial output has some unwanted effects, whether air pollutants or discharges into water systems. But those effects are not a reason to eliminate market activities that generate net value overall. The problem with biofuel policies is that they are both harmful to the economy and they have negative environmental effects. Biofuel policies were sold as being “green,” but today’s high levels of subsidized biofuel use does not benefit the environment.

Renewable Fuel Standard

The RFS illustrates the folly of trying to centrally plan energy markets. Current rules require a steadily increasing share of biofuels in gasoline until 2022. In 2016 ethanol exceeded 10 percent of all U.S. gasoline sales for the first time. Petroleum refiners are now coming up against a “blend wall” such that further biofuel increases will begin causing harm to vehicle performance and damage to engines and catalytic converters.

The RFS is also a bureaucratic nightmare. The 2007 law created separate requirements for different classes of biofuels, including conventional, advanced, cellulosic, and biomass. It also created a greenhouse gas accounting system because each fuel generates different lifecycle emission amounts. There are special rules for crops on forested areas and federal land, and there are complex procedures for the EPA to follow in setting each year’s mandated amounts.

For fuel refiners, the RFS has created a complicated system of credits and credit trading. Each refiner in the United States must have a certain percentage of its domestic sales contain blended ethanol, called a renewable volume obligation (RVO).34 But refiners have an option to meet part of their requirement by buying credits rather than blending more ethanol. In order to track this, the EPA requires a renewable identification number (RIN) to account for the amount of biofuel reaching the market and to make sure refiners blend enough ethanol. Refiners can hold on to these credits to meet their RFS requirement or they can purchase RIN credits from other refiners. Different RIN prices exist for different forms of biofuels.

Since refineries now face the blend wall, increased trading for RIN credits has caused the price of the credits to spike from pennies previously to more than a dollar in 2013 and then back up to nearly a dollar in 2016.35 The system also generates abuse as refineries buy fake credits with made-up RINs. Investor Carl Icahn says that “RINs have turned into a $15 billion market full of manipulation, speculation and fraud.”36 A report by a former head of EPA’s criminal investigations, Doug Parker, found that fraud in the RINs market could be as high as $1 billion.37 Parker concluded that the RFS program was “a ripe target for massive fraud and illicit gain.”38

Overmandating—requiring the use of more ethanol than can be blended—and forcing the purchase of RINs, could cost consumers billions of dollars at the pump.39 The consulting firm NERA warned that attempting to hit the original RFS targets in 2022 would result in severe economic harm:

When the required biofuel volume standards are too severe, as with the statute scenario, the market becomes disrupted because there are an insufficient number of RINs to allow compliance. “Forcing” additional volumes of biofuels into the market beyond those that would be “absorbed” by the market based on economics alone at the levels required by the statute scenario will result in severe economic harm.40

Federal mandates to continually increase biofuel use make no sense partly because we do not know the overall level of fuel demand in the future. If fuel demand is flat due to higher vehicle fuel efficiency, the blend wall problem will persist. Flexible-fuel vehicles capable of using E85 offer little economic relief for the blend wall. Demand for these vehicles is very low, and drivers who own flexible-fuel vehicles often fill their tanks with E10 because the energy content is higher than E85.

Proponents of the RFS pointed to oil price volatility as a reason to support federal policies. But in free markets there is nothing wrong with energy price changes, which work to balance supplies and demands. Besides, the passage of the RFS has done little to curb the effects of oil price volatility. And furthermore, ethanol is subject to its own price volatility. As CRS noted of a 2008 price spike, “The experience of $7.00-per-bushel corn, albeit temporary, shattered the idea that biofuels were a panacea for solving the nation’s energy security problems and left concerns about the potential for unintended consequences from future biofuels expansion.”41

While corn-based ethanol has kept up with mandates so far, the production of other biofuels has not. The production of cellulosic ethanol, made from nonfood sources, is nowhere near meeting targets, even though the RFS mandates 16 billion gallons to be used by 2022. High capital costs and difficulty in scaling up cellulosic biofuel conversion plants have prevented advanced biofuels from becoming economically viable.

The EPA has had to reduce Congress’s original annual quotas for cellulosic ethanol because not enough was available on the market. The EPA adjusted Congress’s first cellulosic target from 100 million gallons in 2010 to just 6.5 million. However, even the adjusted mandate was a stretch compared with reality; in fact, zero gallons were produced that year and the following one.42 For 2017 the EPA has set the target for cellulosic ethanol at 311 million gallons and total advanced biofuels at 4.28 billion gallons.43

Refiners have had to pay millions of dollars in waiver credits or surcharges for failure to comply with the EPA’s minimum volume requirements. Refiners pass these costs onto consumers. In January 2013 the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology,” and that the RFS target was an “unreasonable exercise of agency discretion.”44 It vacated the cellulosic ethanol requirement required by the RFS for the year 2012. The EPA has since proposed future cellulosic mandates that are equally out of touch with market realities.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2016 that the RFS was creating big winners and big losers among companies because of the buying and selling of RINs:

Environmental regulations designed to boost the amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply have inadvertently become a multibillion-dollar windfall for some of the world’s biggest oil companies.

Companies including Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and BP PLC could reap a total of more than $1 billion this year by selling the renewable fuel credits associated with the ethanol program…

For other companies, especially smaller refiners, the rules have had the opposite effect, forcing them to spend hundreds of millions to buy credits to comply.45

Carl Icahn, who is a part owner of a refinery that is bearing heavy costs, complained that “a shadowy, unregulated trade in electronic credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) threatens to destroy America’s oil refineries, send gasoline prices skyward and devastate the U.S. economy.”46 Icahn wants policymakers to reform the RFS, but for all the reasons discussed here, it should be completely repealed.

Policy Reforms  

The political tide is turning against ethanol and biofuels as more experts and policymakers are recognizing the shortcomings of federal policies. Biofuel policies promised a lot of benefits, but they have delivered more harm than good. While some farmers and agribusinesses gained, taxpayers, motorists, food consumers, livestock producers, and the environment have been harmed. Furthermore, the federal mandate is generating vast bureaucracy, imposing major losses on some refiners, and generating widespread fraud and abuse.

The administration should work with Congress to:

  • Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Biofuels existed before the RFS, and biofuels would remain after repealing it to the extent that they were economically viable. Repealing the mandate would create a more efficient biofuels market based on entrepreneurial initiative rather than government dependence.
  • Eliminate biofuels subsidy programs. Congress should repeal all the biofuels spending programs that have been included in farm bills and other bills, including grant and loan programs.
  • Allow producers and consumers to drive innovation. Make broad reforms to the energy sector to level the playing field between producers, fuels, and technologies. Congress should allow consumers to choose their favored fuels for transportation and other uses within open and competitive markets.

 


Nicolas Loris is an economist at the Heritage Foundation.

https://www.downsizinggovernment.org/ethanol-and-biofuel-policies

Ethanol fuel in the United States

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Blender fuels pump in 2012 selling the standard E10 ethanol blend together with E15, E30 and E85 in East Lansing, Michigan

Ethanol fuel production by state

The United States became the world’s largest producer of ethanol fuel in 2005. The U.S. produced 13.9 billion U.S. liquid gallons (52.6 billion liters) of ethanol fuel in 2011,[1] an increase from 13.2 billion U.S. liquid gallons (49.2 billion liters) in 2010, and up from 1.63 billion gallons in 2000.[2] Brazil and U.S. production accounted for 87.1% of global production in 2011.[1] In the U.S, ethanol fuel is mainly used as an oxygenate in gasoline in the form of low-level blends up to 10 percent, and to an increasing extent, as E85 fuel for flex-fuel vehicles.[3]

The ethanol market share in the U.S. gasoline supply grew by volume from just over 1 percent in 2000 to more than 3 percent in 2006 to 10 percent in 2011.[1][4][5] Domestic production capacity increased fifteen times after 1990, from 900 million US gallons to 1.63 billion US gal in 2000, to 13.5 billion US gallons in 2010.[4][6] The Renewable Fuels Association reported 209 ethanol distilleries in operation located in 29 states in 2011, and 140 under construction or expansion as of December 2011, that upon completion, would bring U.S. total installed capacity to 15.0 billion US gallons. Most expansion projects are aimed to update the refinery’s technology to improve ethanol production, energy efficiency, and the quality of the livestock feed they produce.[1]

By 2011 most cars on U.S. roads could run on blends of up to 10% ethanol(E10), and manufacturers had begun producing vehicles designed for much higher percentages. However, the fuel systems of cars, trucks, and motorcycles sold before the ethanol mandate may suffer substantial damage from the use of 10% ethanol blends. Flexible-fuel cars, trucks, and minivans use gasoline/ethanol blends ranging from pure gasoline up to 85% ethanol (E85). By early 2013 there were around 11 million E85-capable vehicles on U.S. roads.[7][8] Regular use of E85 is low due to lack of fueling infrastructure, but is common in the Midwest.[9][10] In January 2011 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a waiver to allow up to 15% of ethanol blended with gasoline (E15) to be sold only for cars and light pickup trucks with a model year of 2001 or later. The EPA waiver authorizes, but does not require stations to offer E15. Like the limitations suffered by sales of E85, commercialization of E15 is constrained by the lack of infrastructure as most fuel stations do not have enough pumps to offer the new E15 blend, few existing pumps are certified to dispense E15, and no dedicated tanks are readily available to store E15.[11][12][13]

Ethanol production was expected to continue to grow over the next several years, since the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required 36 billion US gallons of renewable fuel use by 2022. The target for ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks was 16 billion US gallons a year. The corn ethanol target was 15 billion US gallons by 2015.[14][15] Ethanol industries provided jobs in agriculture, construction, operations and maintenance, mostly in rural communities.[16]

In early 2009 the industry experienced financial stress due to the effects of the economic crisis of 2008. Motorists drove less, gasoline prices dropped sharply, capacity rose and less financing was available.[17][18][19]

Historically most U.S. ethanol has come from corn and the required electricity for many distilleries came mainly from coal. Debate ensued about ethanol’s sustainability. The primary issues related to the large amount of arable land required for crops and ethanol production’s impact on grain supplyindirect land use change (ILUC) effects, as well as issues regarding its energy balance and carbon intensity considering its full life cycle.[20][21][22][23][24][25] Recent developments with cellulosic ethanol production and commercialization may allay some of these concerns.[26]

Contents

History

Typical label at the gas pumps warning drivers of ethanol content up to 10%, used as oxygenate additive instead of MTBEMiamiFlorida.

In 1826 Samuel Morey experimented with an internal combustion chemical mixture that used ethanol (combined with turpentine and ambient air then vaporized) as fuel. At the time, his discovery was overlooked, mostly due to the success of steam power. Ethanol fuel received little attention until 1860 when Nicholas Otto began experimenting with internal combustion engines. In 1859, oil was found in Pennsylvania, which decades later provided a new kind of fuel. A popular fuel in the U.S. before petroleum was a blend of alcohol and turpentine called “camphene“, also known as “burning fluid.”[citation needed] The discovery of a ready supply of oil and unfavorable taxation on burning fluid made kerosene a more popular fuel.

In 1896, Henry Ford designed his first car, the “Quadricycle” to run on pure ethanol.[27] In 1908, the revolutionary Ford Model T was capable of running on gasolineethanol or a combination.[27][28][29] Ford continued to advocate for ethanol fuel even during the prohibition, but lower prices caused gasoline to prevail.[27]

Typical manufacture’s warning placed in the fuel filler of U.S. vehicles regarding the capability of using up to E10, and warning against the use of blends between E20 and E85.

Gasoline containing up to 10% ethanol began a decades-long growth in the United States in the late 1970s. The demand for ethanol produced from field corn was spurred by the discovery that methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) was contaminating groundwater.[27][30] MTBE’s use as an oxygenate additive was widespread due to mandates in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1992 to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. MTBE in gasoline had been banned in almost 20 states by 2006. Suppliers were concerned about potential litigation and a 2005 court decision denying legal protection for MTBE.[citation needed] MTBE’s fall from grace opened a new market for ethanol, its primary substitute.[27] Corn prices at the time were around US$2 a bushel.[citation needed] Farmers saw a new market and increased production. This demand shift took place at a time when oil prices were rising.

The steep growth in twenty-first century ethanol consumption was driven by federal legislation aimed to reduce oil consumption and enhance energy security. The Energy Policy Act of 2005required use of 7.5×109 US gal (28×106 m3) of renewable fuel by 2012, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 raised the standard, to 36×109 US gal (140×106 m3) of annual renewable fuel use by 2022. Of this requirement, 21×109 US gal (79×106 m3) had to be advanced biofuels, defined as renewable fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%.[15][31][32]

Recent trends

U.S. fuel ethanol
production and imports
(2000–2011)[1][33]
(Millions of U.S. liquid gallons)
Year Production Imports Demand
2000 1,630 n/a n/a
2001 1,770 n/a n/a
2002 2,130 46 2,085
2003 2,800 61 2,900
2004 3,400 161 3,530
2005 3,904 135 4,049
2006 4,855 653 5,377
2007 6,500 450 6,847
2008 9,000 556 9,637
2009 10,600 193 10,940
2010 13,230 10 13,184
2011 13,900 160 n/a(1)
Note: Demand figures includes stocks change and
small exports in 2005.
(1) Exports in 2011 reached a record 1,100 billion gal.[1]

Graph of monthly production and net imports of fuel ethanol in the U.S. 1993–2012. Data from EIA

The world’s top ethanol fuel producer in 2010 was the United States with 13.2 billion U.S. gallons (49.95 billion liters) representing 57.5% of global production, followed by Brazil with 6.92 billion U.S. gallons (26.19 billion liters), and together both countries accounted for 88% of the world production of 22.95 billion U.S. gallons (86.85 billion liters).[2] By December 2010 the U.S. ethanol production industry consisted of 204 plants operating in 29 states,[4][6] and 9 plants under construction or expansion, adding 560 million gallons of new capacity and bringing total U.S. installed capacity to 14.6 billion U.S. gallons (55.25 billion liters).[6] At the end of 2010 over 90 percent of all gasoline sold in the U.S. was blended with ethanol.[4]

Production[edit]

Most of the ethanol consumed in the US is in the form of low blends with gasoline up to 10%. Shown a fuel pump in Maryland selling mandatory E10.

Beginning in late 2008 and early 2009, the industry came under financial stress due to that year’s economic crisis. Motorists drove less and gasoline prices dropped sharply, while bank financing shrank.[17][18][19] As a result, some plants operated below capacity, several firms closed plants, others laid off staff, some firms went bankrupt, plant projects were suspended and market prices declined.[17][18][19] The Energy Information Administration raised concerns that the industry would not meet the legislated targets.[17][34]

As of 2011, most of the U.S. car fleet was able to run on blends of up to 10% ethanol, and motor vehicle manufacturers produced vehicles designed to run on more concentrated blends. As of 2015, seven states – MissouriMinnesotaLouisianaMontanaOregonPennsylvania, and Washington – required ethanol to be blended with gasoline in motor fuels.[35] These states, particularly Minnesota, had more ethanol usage, and according to a source at Washington University, these states accumulated substantial environmental and economic benefits as a result.[36] Florida required ethanol blends as of the end of 2010,[37] but has since repealed it. Many cities had separate ethanol requirements due to non-attainment of federal air quality standards.[38] In 2007, Portland, Oregon, became the first U.S. city to require all gasoline sold within city limits to contain at least 10% ethanol.[39][40] Chicago has proposed the idea of mandating E15 in the city limits, while some area gas stations have already begun offering it.[41][42]

Expanding ethanol (and biodiesel) industries provided jobs in plant construction, operations, and maintenance, mostly in rural communities. According to RFA the ethanol industry created almost 154,000 U.S. jobs in 2005, boosting household income by $5.7 billion. It also contributed about $3.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.[16]

The return on investment (ROI) to upgrade a service station to sell E15 is quick given today’s markets. Given ethanol’s discount to gasoline and the current value of RINs, retailers offering mid-level ethanol blends like E15 can quickly recoup their investments in infrastructure. Federal, state and local incentives and grant programs are available in most areas, and would further help reduce the cost of equipment and installation. E15 is a higher octane fuel, it is currently available in 29 states at retail fueling stations. E15 was approved for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012.

E85 vehicles

Typical labeling used in the US to identifyE85 flexible-fuel vehicles. Top left: a small sticker in the back of the fuel filler door. Bottom left: the bright yellow gas cap used in newer models. E85 Flexfuel badging used in newer models from Chrysler (top right), Ford(middle right) and GM (bottom right).

E85 fuel dispenser at a regular gasoline station, Washington, D.C..

FordChrysler, and GM are among many automobile companies that sell flexible-fuel vehicles that can run blends ranging from pure gasoline to 85% ethanol (E85), and beginning in 2008 almost any type of automobile and light duty vehicle was available with the flex-fuel option, including sedansvansSUVs and pickup trucks. By early 2013, about 11 million E85 flex-fuel cars and light trucks were in operation,[7][8] though actual use of E85 fuel was limited, because the ethanol fueling infrastructure was limited.[43]

As of 2005, 68% of American flex-fuel car owners were not aware they owned an E85 flex.[9][10] Flex and non-flex vehicles looked the same. There was no price difference. American automakers did not label these vehicles.[10][44] In contrast, all Brazilian automakers clearly labeled FFVs with text that was some variant of the word Flex. Beginning in 2007 many new FFV models in the US featured a yellow gas cap to remind drivers of the E85 capabilities.[45][46] As of 2008, GM badged its vehicles with the text “Flexfuel/E85 Ethanol”.[47][48] Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimated that in 2009 only 504,297 flex-fuel vehicles were regularly fueled with E85, and these were primarily fleet-operated vehicles.[49] As a result, only 712 million gallons were used for E85, representing just 1% of that year’s ethanol consumption.[50]

During the decade following 2000, E85 vehicles became increasingly common in the Midwest, where corn was a major crop.

Fueling infrastructure has been a major restriction hampering E85 sales.[43] As of March 2013, there were 3,028 fueling stations selling E85 in the U.S.[14] Most stations were in the Corn Belt states. As of 2008 the leading state was Minnesota with 353 stations, followed by Illinois with 181, and Wisconsin with 114. About another 200 stations that dispensed ethanol were restricted to city, state and federal government vehicles.[43]

E15 blend[edit]

E15 warning sticker required to be displayed in all fuel dispensers selling that blend in the U.S.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid fuel filler cap showing a warning regarding the maximum ethanol blend allowed by the carmaker, up to E10 gasoline. The warning label indicates that ethanol blends between E15 to E85 shall not be used in this vehicle.

In March 2009 Growth Energy, a lobbying group for the ethanol industry, formally requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the ethanol content in gasoline to be increased to 15%, from 10%.[51] In October 2010, the EPA granted a waiver to allow up to 15% blends to be sold for cars and trucks with a model year of 2007 or later, representing about 15% of vehicles on the roads.[11][12] In January 2011 the waiver was expanded to authorize use of E15 to include model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles. The EPA also decided not to grant any waiver for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver. According to the Renewable Fuels Association the E15 waivers now cover 62% of vehicles on the road in the country.[13][52] In December 2010 several groups, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, filed suit against the EPA in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[53] In August 2012 the federal appeals court rejected the suit against the EPA ruling that the groups did not have legal standing to challenge EPA’s decision to issue the waiver for E15.[54][55] In June 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from industry groups opposed to the EPA ruling about E15, and let the 2012 federal appeals court ruling stand.[56]

According to a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 2012, only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the U.S. roads in 2012 are approved by manufacturers are fully compliant with E15 gasoline. According with the Association, BMWChryslerNissanToyota, and Volkswagen warned that their warranties will not cover E15-related damage.[57] Despite the controversy, in order to adjust to EPA regulations, 2012 and 2013 model year vehicles manufactured by General Motors can use fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol, as indicated in the vehicle owners’ manuals. However, the carmaker warned that for model year 2011 or earlier vehicles, they “strongly recommend that GM customers refer to their owners manuals for the proper fuel designation for their vehicles.” Ford Motor Company also is manufacturing all of its 2013 vehicles E15 compatible, including hybrid electrics and vehicles with Ecoboost engines.[8] Also Porsches built since 2001 are approved by its manufacturer to use E15.[57] Volkswagen announced that for the 2014 model year, its entire lineup will be E15 capable.[58] Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced in August 2015 that all 2016 model year Chrysler/FiatJeepDodge and Ram vehicles will be E15 compatible.[59]

Despite EPA’s waiver, there is a practical barrier to the commercialization of the higher blend due to the lack of infrastructure, similar to the limitations suffered by sales of E85, as most fuel stations do not have enough pumps to offer the new blend, few existing pumps are certified to dispense E15, and there are no dedicated tanks readily available to store E15.[11][12] In July 2012 a fueling station in Lawrence, Kansas became the first in the U.S. to sell the E15 blend. The fuel is sold through a blender pump that allows customers to choose between E10, E15, E30 or E85, with the latter blends sold only to flexible-fuel vehicles.[60] This station was followed by a Marathon fueling station in East Lansing, Michigan.[citation needed] As of June 2013, there are about 24 fueling stations selling E15 out of 180,000 stations operating across the U.S.[56]

As of November 2012, sales of E15 are not authorized in California, and according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the blend is still awaiting approval, and in a public statement the agency said that “it would take several years to complete the vehicle testing and rule development necessary to introduce a new transportation fuel into California’s market.”[61]

Legislation and regulations

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, directed DOE to assess the feasibility of using intermediate ethanol blends in the existing vehicle fleet.[62] The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) evaluated the potential impacts on legacy vehicles and other engines.[62] In a preliminary report released in October 2008, NREL described the effects of E10, E15 and E20 on tailpipe and evaporative emissions, catalyst and engine durability, vehicle driveability, engine operability, and vehicle and engine materials.[62][63] This preliminary report found that none of the vehicles displayed a malfunction indicator light; no fuel filter plugging symptoms were observed; no cold start problems were observed at 24 °C (75 °F) and 10 °C (50 °F) under laboratory conditions; and all test vehicles exhibited a loss in fuel economy proportional to ethanol’s lower energy density. For example, E20 reduced average fuel economy by 7.7% when compared to gas-only (E0) test vehicles.[62]

The Obama Administration set the goal of installing 10,000 blender pumps nationwide by 2015. These pumps can dispense multiple blends including E85, E50, E30 and E20 that can be used by E85 vehicles. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a rule in May 2011 to include flexible fuel pumps in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This ruling provided financial assistance, via grants and loan guarantees, to fuel station owners to install E85 and blender pumps.[64][65]

In May 2011 the Open Fuel Standard Act (OFS) was introduced to Congress with bipartisan support. The bill required that 50 percent of automobiles made in 2014, 80 percent in 2016, and 95 percent in 2017, be manufactured and warrantied to operate on non-petroleum-based fuels, which included existing technologies such as flex-fuel, natural gashydrogenbiodieselplug-in electric and fuel cell. Considering the rapid adoption of flexible-fuel vehicles in Brazil and the fact that the cost of making flex-fuel vehicles was approximately $100 per car, the bill’s primary objective was to promote a massive adoption of flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on ethanol or methanol fuel.[66][67][68]

In November 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency opened for public comment its proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol required in the US gasoline supply as mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The agency cited problems with increasing the blend of ethanol above 10%. This limit, known as the “blend wall,” refers to the practical difficulty in incorporating increasing amounts of ethanol into the transportation fuel supply at volumes exceeding those achieved by the sale of nearly all gasoline as E10.[69][70]

Contractual restrictions

Gasoline distribution contracts in the United States generally have provisions that make offering E15 and E85 difficult, expensive, or even impossible. Such provisions include requirements that no E85 be sold under the gas station canopy, labeling requirements, minimum sales volumes, and exclusivity provisions. Penalties for breach are severe and often allow immediate termination of the agreement, cutting off supplies to retailers. Repayment of franchise royalties and other incentives is often required.[71]

Energy security

Ethanol fuel plant in West Burlington, Iowa.

One rationale for ethanol production in the U.S. is increased energy security, from shifting supply from oil imports to domestic sources.[31][72] Ethanol production requires significant energy, and current U.S. production derives most of that energy from domestic coal, natural gas and other non-oil sources.[73] Because in 2006, 66% of U.S. oil consumption was imported, compared to a net surplus of coal and just 16% of natural gas (2006 figures),[74] the displacement of oil-based fuels to ethanol produced a net shift from foreign to domestic U.S. energy sources.

Effect on gasoline prices

The effect of ethanol use on gasoline prices is the source of conflicting opinion from economic studies, further complicated by the non-market forces of tax credits, met and unmet government quotas, and the dramatic recent increase in domestic oil production.[75] According to a 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis, ethanol, and biofuel in general, does not materially influence the price of gasoline,[76] while a runup in the price of government mandated Renewable Identification Number credits has driven up the price of gasoline.[77] These in contrast to a May, 2012, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development study which showed a $0.29 to $1.09 reduction in per gallon gasoline price from ethanol use.[78]

The U.S. consumed 138.2×109 US gal (523×106 m3) of gasoline in 2008, blended with about 9.6×109 US gal (36×106 m3) of ethanol, representing a market share of almost 7% of supply by volume. Given its lower energy content, ethanol fuel displaced about 6.4×109 US gal (24×106 m3) of gasoline, representing 4.6 percent in equivalent energy units.[15]

The EPA announced in November, 2013, a reduction in mandated U.S. 2014 ethanol production, due to “market conditions.” [79][80]

Tariffs and tax credits

Since the 1980s until 2011, domestic ethanol producers were protected by a 54-cent per gallon import tariff, mainly intended to curb Brazilian sugarcane ethanol imports. Beginning in 2004 blenders of transportation fuel received a tax credit for each gallon of ethanol they mix with gasoline.[81][82] Historically, the tariff was intended to offset the federal tax credit that applied to ethanol regardless of country of origin.[83][84] Several countries in the Caribbean Basin imported and reprocessed Brazilian ethanol, usually converting hydrated ethanol into anhydrous ethanol, for re-export to the United States. They avoided the 2.5% duty and the tariff, thanks to the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and free trade agreements. This process was limited to 7% of U.S. ethanol consumption.[85]

As of 2011, blenders received a US$0.45 per gallon tax credit, regardless of feedstock; small producers received an additional US$0.10 on the first 15 million US gallons; and producers of cellulosic ethanol received credits up to US$1.01. Tax credits to promote the production and consumption of biofuels date to the 1970s. For 2011, credits were based on the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, and the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.[31]

A 2010 study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that in fiscal year 2009, biofuel tax credits reduced federal revenues by around US$6 billion, of which corn and cellulosic ethanol accounted for US$5.16 billion and US$50 million, respectively.

In 2010, CBO estimated that taxpayer costs to reduce gasoline consumption by one gallon were $1.78 for corn ethanol and $3.00 for cellulosic ethanol. In a similar way, and without considering potential indirect land use effects, the costs to taxpayers of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through tax credits were about $750 per metric ton of CO2-equivalent for ethanol and around $275 per metric ton for cellulosic ethanol.[31]

On June 16, 2011, the U.S. Congress approved an amendment to an economic development bill to repeal both the tax credit and the tariff, but this bill did not move forward.[81][82] Nevertheless, the U.S. Congress did not extend the tariff and the tax credit, allowing both to end on December 31, 2011.[86][87] Since 1980 the ethanol industry was awarded an estimated US$45 billion in subsidies.[86]

Feedstocks

Corn

Corn is the main feedstock used for producing ethanol fuel in the United States.[27][88] Most of the controversies surrounding U.S. ethanol fuel production and use is related to corn ethanol’s energy balance and its social and environmental impacts.[citation needed]

Cellulose

Cellulosic sources have the potential to produce a renewable, cleaner-burning, and carbon-neutral alternative to gasoline.[citation needed] In his State of the Union Address on January 31, 2006, President George W. Bush stated, “We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks or switchgrass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.”

On July 7, 2006, DOE announced a new research agenda for cellulosic ethanol. The 200-page scientific roadmap cited recent advances in biotechnology that could aid use of cellulosic sources. The report outlined a detailed research plan for additional technologies to improve production efficiency. The roadmap acknowledged the need for substantial federal loan guarantees for biorefineries.

The 2007 federal budget earmarked $150 million for the research effort – more than doubling the 2006 budget. DOE invested in enzymaticthermochemicalacid hydrolysis, hybrid hydrolysis/enzymatic, and other research approaches targeting more efficient and lower–cost conversion of cellulose to ethanol.

The first materials considered for cellulosic biofuel included plant matter from agricultural waste, yard waste, sawdust and paper. Professors R. Malcolm Brown Jr. and David Nobles, Jr. of the University of Texas at Austin developed cyanobacteria that had the potential to produce cellulose, glucose and sucrose, the latter two easily converted into ethanol. This offers the potential to create ethanol without plant matter.[citation needed]

Sugar

United States fuel ethanol
imports by country (2002–2007)[89]
(Millions of U.S. liquid gallons)
Country 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
Brazil 188.8 433.7 31.2 90.3 0
Jamaica 75.2 66.8 36.3 36.6 39.3
El Salvador 73.3 38.5 23.7 5.7 6.9
Trinidad and Tobago 42.7 24.8 10.0 0 0
Costa Rica 39.3 35.9 33.4 25.4 14.7

Producing ethanol from sugar is simpler than converting corn into ethanol. Converting sugar requires only a yeast fermentation process. Converting corn requires additional cooking and the application of enzymes. The energy requirement for sugar conversion is about half that for corn.[citation needed] Sugarcane produces more than enough energy to do the conversion with energy left over. A 2006 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report found that at market prices for ethanol, converting sugarcane, sugar beets and molasses to ethanol would be profitable.[90] As of 2008 researchers were attempting to breed new varieties adapted to U.S. soil and weather conditions, as well as to take advantage of cellulosic ethanol technologies to also convert sugarcane bagasse.[91][92]

U.S. sugarcane production occurs in FloridaLouisianaHawaii, and Texas. The first three plants to produce sugarcane-based ethanol were expected to go online in Louisiana by mid-2009. Sugar mills in LacassineSt. James and Bunkie were converted to sugarcane ethanol production using Colombian technology to enable profitable ethanol production. These three plants planned to produce 100×106 US gal (380×103 m3) of ethanol per year within five years.[92][93][94]

By 2009 two other sugarcane ethanol production projects were being developed in Kauai, Hawaii and Imperial Valley, California. The Hawaiian plant was projected to have a capacity of between 12–15 million US gallons (45×103–57×103 m3) a year and to supply local markets only, as shipping costs made competing in the continental US impractical. This plant was expected to go on line by 2010. The California plant was expected to produce 60×106 US gal (230×103 m3) a year and it was expected in 2011.[91]

Presidents George W. Bush and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during Bush’s visit to Brazil, March 2007.

In March 2007, “ethanol diplomacy” was the focus of President George W. Bush’s Latin American tour, in which he and Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, promoted the production and use of sugarcane ethanol throughout the Caribbean Basin. The two countries agreed to share technology and set international biofuel standards.[95] Brazilian sugarcane technology transfer was intended to permit various Central American, such as HondurasEl SalvadorNicaraguaCosta Rica and Panama, several Caribbean countries, and various Andean Countries tariff-free trade with the U.S., thanks to existing trade agreements. The expectation was that such countries would export to the United States in the short-term using Brazilian technology.[96]

In 2007, combined exports from Jamaica, El Salvador, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica to the U.S. reached a total of 230.5×106 US gal (873×103 m3) of sugarcane ethanol, representing 54.1% of imports. Brazil began exporting ethanol to the U.S. in 2004 and exported 188.8×106 US gal (715×103 m3) representing 44.3% of U.S. ethanol imports in 2007. The remaining imports that year came from Canada and China.[89]

Other feedstocks

Cheese wheybarleypotato waste, beverage waste, and brewery and beer waste have been used as feedstocks for ethanol fuel, but at a far smaller scale than corn and sugarcane ethanol, as plants using these feedstocks have the capacity to produce only 3 to 5 million US gallons (11×103 to 19×103 m3) per year.[88]

Comparison with Brazilian ethanol

Sugarcane ethanol has an energy balance 7 times greater than corn ethanol.[97] As of 2007, Brazilian distiller production costs were 22 cents per liter, compared with 30 cents per liter for corn-based ethanol.[98] Corn-derived ethanol costs 30% more because the corn starch must first be converted to sugar before distillation into alcohol.[83] However, corn-derived ethanol offers the ability to return 1/3 of the feedstock to the market as a replacement for the corn used in the form of Distillers Dried Grain.[27] Sugarcane ethanol production is seasonal: unlike corn, sugarcane must be processed into ethanol almost immediately after harvest.[99]

Comparison of key characteristics between
the ethanol industries in the United States and Brazil
Characteristic Brazil U.S. Units/comments
Main feedstock Sugar cane Corn Main cash crop for ethanol production, the US has less than 2% from other crops.
Total ethanol fuel production (2011)[1] 5,573 13,900 Million U.S. liquid gallons
Total arable land[100] 355 270 Million hectares. Only contiguous U.S., excludes Alaska.
Total area used for ethanol crop (2006)[27][100] 3.6
(1%)
10
(3.7%)
Million hectares (% total arable)
Productivity[27][97][100][101] 6,800–8,000 3,800–4,000 Ethanol yield (liter/hectare). Brazil is 727 to 870 gal/acre (2006), US is 321 to 424 gal/acre (2003–05)
Energy balance (input energy productivity)[27][27][83][102] 8.3 to 10.2 1.3 to 1.6 Ratio of the energy obtained from ethanol/energy expended in its production
Estimated greenhouse gas emission reduction[20][24][27] 86–90%(1) 10–30%(1)  % GHGs avoided by using ethanol instead of gasoline, using existing crop land, without ILUC effects.
EPA‘s estimated 2022 GHG reduction for RFS2.[103] 61%(2) 21% Average % GHGs change as compared to gasoline and considering direct and indirect land use change effects.
CARB‘s full life-cycle carbon intensity[21][104] 73.40 105.10(3) Grams of CO2 equivalent released per MJ of energy produced, includes indirect land use changes.[24]
Estimated payback time for greenhouse gas emission[22] 17 years(4) 93 years(4) Brazilian cerrado for sugar cane and US grassland for corn. Land use change scenarios by Fargione et al.[23]
Flexible-fuel vehicles produced/sold
(includes autos, light trucks and motorcycles)[105][106][107]
16.3 million 10 million All fleets as of December 2011. The Brazilian fleet includes 1.5 million flex fuel motorcycles.[108][109][110]
USDOE estimates that in 2009 only 504,297 flex-fuel vehicles were regularly fueled with E85 in the US.[49]
Ethanol fueling stations in the country 35,017
(100%)
2,749
(1.6%)
As % of total gas stations in the country. Brazil by December 2007,[111] U.S. by May 2011.[14] (170,000 total.[44])
Ethanol’s share within the gasoline market[5][112][113][114] 50%(5) 10% As % of total consumption on a volumetric basis. Brazil as of April 2008. U.S. as of December 2010.
Cost of production (USD/US gallon)[97] 0.83 1.14 2006/2007 for Brazil (22¢/liter), 2004 for U.S. (35¢/liter)
Notes: (1) Assuming no land use change.[24] (2) Estimate is for U.S. consumption and sugarcane ethanol is imported from Brazil. Emissions from sea transport are included. Both estimates include land transport within the U.S.[103] (3) CARB estimate for Midwest corn ethanol. California‘s gasoline carbon intensity is 95.86 blended with 10% ethanol.[21][104] (4) Assuming direct land use change.[23] (5) If diesel-powered vehicles are included and due to ethanol’s lower energy content by volume, bioethanol represented 16.9% of the road sector energy consumption in 2007.[115]

Environmental and social impact

Environmental effects

Energy balance and carbon intensity

Until 2008, several full life cycle (“Well to Wheels” or WTW) studies had found that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions as compared to gasoline. In 2007 a team led by Farrel from the University of California, Berkeley evaluated six previous studies and concluded corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by only 13 percent.[116][117][118] However, a more commonly cited figure is 20 to 30 percent, and an 85 to 85 percent reduction for cellulosic ethanol.[117][119] Both figures were estimated by Wang from Argonne National Laboratory, based on a comprehensive review of 22 studies conducted between 1979 and 2005, and simulations with Argonne’s GREET model. All of these studies included direct land use changes.[118][120]

The reduction estimates on carbon intensity for a given biofuel depend on the assumptions regarding several variables, including crop productivity, agricultural practices, and distillery power source and energy efficiency. None of these studies considered the effects of indirect land-use changes, and though their impact was recognized, its estimation was considered too complex and more difficult to model than direct land use changes.[117][121]

Effects of land use change

Summary of Searchinger et al.
comparison of corn ethanol and gasoline GHG emissions
with and without land use change
(CO2 release rate (g/MJ))[24][122]
Fuel type
(U.S.)
Carbon
intensity
Reduction
GHG
Carbon
intensity
ILUC
Reduction
GHG
Gasoline 92 92
Corn ethanol 74 -20% 177 +93%
Cellulosic ethanol 28 -70% 138 +50%
Notes: Calculated using default assumptions for 2015 scenario for ethanol in E85.
Gasoline is a combination of conventional and reformulated gasoline.[122]

Two 2008 studies, both published in the same issue of Scienceexpress, questioned the previous assessments.[23][24][123] A team led by Searchinger from Princeton University concluded that once direct and indirect effect of land use changes (ILUC) are considered, both corn and cellulosic ethanol increased carbon emissions as compared to gasoline by 93 and 50 percent respectively.[24] The study limited the analysis to a 30-year time horizon, assuming that land conversion emitted 25 percent of the carbon stored in soils and all carbon in plants cleared for cultivation. Brazil, China and India were considered among the overseas locations where land use change would occur as a result of diverting U.S. corn cropland, and it was assumed that new cropland in each of these regions correspond to different types of forestsavanna or grassland based on the historical proportion of each natural land converted to cultivation in these countries during the 1990s.[24]

A team led by Fargione from The Nature Conservancy found that clearing natural lands for use as agricultural land to produce biofuel feedstock creates a carbon debt. Therefore, this carbon debt applies to both direct and indirect land use changes. The study examined six scenarios of wilderness conversion, Brazilian Amazon to soybean biodiesel, Brazilian Cerrado to soybean biodiesel, Brazilian Cerrado to sugarcane ethanol, Indonesian or Malaysian lowland tropical rainforest to palm biodiesel, Indonesian or Malaysian peatland tropical rainforest to oil palm forest, and U.S. Central grassland to corn ethanol.[23]

Low-carbon fuel standards

On April 23, 2009, the California Air Resources Board approved specific rules and carbon intensity reference values for the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that was to go into effect on January 1, 2011.[124][125][126] The consultation process produced controversy regarding the inclusion and modeling of indirect land use change effects.[127][128][129][130][131] After the CARB’s ruling, among other criticisms, representatives of the ethanol industry complained that the standard overstated the negative environmental effects of corn ethanol, and also criticized the inclusion of indirect effects of land-use changes as an unfair penalty to home-made corn ethanol because deforestation in the developing world had been tied to US ethanol production.[125][132][133][134][135][136][137] The emissions standard for 2011 for LCFS meant that Midwest corn ethanol would not meet the California standard unless current carbon intensity is reduced.[124][135][137][138]

A similar controversy arose after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published on May 5, 2009, its notice of proposed rulemaking for the new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).[139][140][141] EPA’s proposal included the carbon footprint from indirect land-use changes.[142][143] On the same day, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Directive with the aim to advance biofuel research and commercialization. The Directive asked a new Biofuels Interagency Working Group comprising the Department of Agriculture, EPA, and DOE,[144][145] to develop a plan to increase flexible fuel vehicle use, assist in retail marketing and to coordinate infrastructure policies.

The group also was tasked to develop policy ideas for increasing investment in next-generation fuels, and for reducing biofuels’ environmental footprint.[144][145][146]

In December 2009 two lobbying groups, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy, filed a lawsuit challenging LCFS’ constitutionality. The two organizations argued that LCFS violates both the Supremacy Clause and the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, and “jeopardizes the nationwide market for ethanol.”[147][148] In a press release the associations announced that “If the United States is going to have a low carbon fuel standard, it must be based on sound science and it must be consistent with the U.S. Constitution…”[149]

On February 3, 2010, EPA finalized the Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS2) for 2010 and beyond.[150] EPA incorporated direct emissions and significant indirect emissions such as emissions from land use changes along with comments and data from new studies.[151] Adopting a 30-year time horizon and a 0% discount rate[103] EPA declared that ethanol produced from corn starch at a new (or expanded capacity from an existing) natural gas-fired facility using approved technologies would be considered to comply with the 20% GHG emission reduction threshold.[151] Given average production conditions it expected for 2022, EPA estimated that corn ethanol would reduce GHGs an average of 21% compared to the 2005 gasoline baseline. A 95% confidence interval spans a 7-32% range reflecting uncertainty in the land use change assumptions.[103]

The following table summarizes the mean GHG emissions for ethanol using different feedstocks estimated by EPA modelling and the range of variations considering that the main source of uncertainty in the life cycle analysis is the GHG emissions related to international land use change.[152]

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Life cycle year 2022 GHG emissions reduction results for RFS2 final rule[152]
(includes direct and indirect land use change effects and a 30-year payback period at a 0% discount rate)
Renewable fuel pathway
(for U.S. consumption)
Mean
GHG emission
reduction(1)
GHG emission
reduction
95% confidence
interval(2)
Assumptions/comments
Corn ethanol 21% 7–32% New or expanded natural gas fired dry mill plant, 37% wet and 63% dry DGS it produces, and employing corn oil fractionation technology.
Corn biobutanol 31% 20–40% Natural gas fired dry mill plant, 37% wet and 63% dry DGS it produces, and employing corn oil fractionation technology.
Cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass 110% 102–117% Ethanol produced using the biochemical process.
Cellulosic ethanol from corn stover 129% No ILUC Ethanol produced using the biochemical process. Ethanol produced from agricultural residues does not have any indirect land use emissions.
Notes: (1) Percent reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions compared to the average lifecycle GHG for gasoline or diesel sold or distributed as transportation fuel in 2005.
(2) Confidence range accounts for uncertainty in the types of land use change assumptions and the magnitude of resulting GHG emissions.

Water footprint

Water-related concerns relate to water supply and quality, and include availability and potential overuse, pollution, and possible contamination by fertilizers and pesticides. Several studies concluded that increased ethanol production was likely to result in a substantial increase in water pollution by fertilizers and pesticides, with the potential to exacerbate eutrophication and hypoxia, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.[153][154][155][156]

Growing feedstocks consumes most of the water associated with ethanol production. Corn consumes from 500–2,000 litres (110–440 imp gal; 130–530 US gal) of water per liter of ethanol, mostly for evapotranspiration.[153] In general terms, both corn and switchgrass require less irrigation than other fuel crops. Corn is grown mainly in regions with adequate rainfall. However, corn usually needs to be irrigated in the drier climates of Nebraska and eastern Colorado. Further, corn production for ethanol is increasingly taking place in areas requiring irrigation.[153] A 2008 study by the National Research Council concluded that “in the longer term, the likely expansion of cellulosic biofuel production has the potential to further increase the demand for water resources in many parts of the United States. Biofuels expansion beyond current irrigated agriculture, especially in dry western areas, has the potential to greatly increase pressure on water resources in some areas.[154]

A 2009 study estimated that irrigated corn ethanol implied water consumption at between 50 US gal/mi (120 L/km) and 100 US gal/mi (240 L/km) for U.S. vehicles. This figure increased to 90 US gal/mi (210 L/km) for sorghum ethanol from Nebraska, and 115 US gal/mi (270 L/km) for Texas sorghum. By contrast, an average U.S. car effectively consumes between 0.2 US gal/mi (0.47 L/km) to 0.5 US gal/mi (1.2 L/km) running on gasoline, including extraction and refining.[155]

In 2010 RFA argued that more efficient water technologies and pre-treated water could reduce consumption.[88] It further claimed that non-conventional oil “sources, such as tar sands and oil shale, require far more water than conventional petroleum extraction and refining.[88]

Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. standard agricultural practices for most crops employ fertilizers that provide nitrogen and phosphorus along with herbicidesfungicidesinsecticides, and other pesticides.

Some part of these chemicals leaves the field. Nitrogen in forms such as nitrate (NO3) is highly soluble, and along with some pesticides infiltrates downwards toward the water table, where it can migrate to water wells, rivers and streams. A 2008 National Research Council study found that regionally the highest stream concentrations occur where the rates of application were highest, and that these rates were highest in the Corn Belt. These flows mainly stem from corn, which as of 2010 was the major source of total nitrogen loading to the Mississippi River.[154]

Several studies found that corn ethanol production contributed to the worsening of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. The nitrogen leached into the Mississippi River and out into the Gulf, where it fed giant algae blooms. As the algaedied, it settled to the ocean floor and decayed, consuming oxygen and suffocating marine life, causing hypoxia. This oxygen depletion killed shrimpcrabsworms and anything else that could not escape, and affected important shrimp fishing grounds.[153][154][156]

Social implications

Effect on food prices

Some environmentalists, such as George Monbiot, expressed fears that the marketplace would convert crops to fuel for the rich, while the poor starved and biofuels caused environmental problems.[123][157][158][159][160] The food vs fuel debate grew in 2008 as a result of the international community‘s concerns regarding the steep increase in food prices. On April 2008, Jean Ziegler, back then United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, repeated his claim that biofuels were a “crime against humanity“,[161][162] echoing his October 2007 call for a 5-year ban for the conversion of land for the production of biofuels.[163][164] Also in April 2008, World Bank President Robert Zoellick stated that “While many worry about filling their gas tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs. And it’s getting more and more difficult every day.[165][166][167]

Corn is the main feedstock for the production of ethanol fuel in the U.S.

A July 2008 World Bank report[168] found that from June 2002 to June 2008 “biofuels and the related consequences of low grain stocks, large land use shifts, speculative activity and export bans” accounted for 70–75% of total price rises. The study found that higher oil prices and a weak dollar explain 25–30% of total price rise. The study said that “…large increases in biofuels production in the United States and Europe are the main reason behind the steep rise in global food prices.”[169][170] The report argued that increased production of biofuels in these developed regions was supported by subsidies and tariffs, and claimed that without such policies, food price increases worldwide would have been smaller. It also concluded that Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol had not raised sugar prices significantly, and recommended that both the U.S. and E.U. remove tariffs, including on many African countries.[168]

An RFA rebuttal said that the World Bank analysis was highly subjective and that the author considered only “the impact of global food prices from the weak dollar and the direct and indirect effect of high petroleum prices and attribute[d] everything else to biofuels.”[171]

A 2010 World Bank study concluded that its previous study may have overestimated the impact, as “the effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought, but that the use of commodities by financial investors (the so-called ”financialization of commodities”) may have been partly responsible for the 2007/08 spike.”[172]

A July 2008 OECD economic assessment[173] agreed about the negative effects of subsidies and trade restrictions, but found that the impact of biofuels on food prices was much smaller. The OECD study found that existing biofuel support policies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by no more than 0.8 percent by 2015. It called for more open markets in biofuels and feedstocks to improve efficiency and lower costs. The OECD study concluded that “…current biofuel support measures alone are estimated to increase average wheat prices by about 5 percent, maize by around 7 percent and vegetable oil by about 19 percent over the next 10 years.[174]

The 2008 financial crisis illustrated corn ethanol’s limited impact on corn prices, which fell 50% from their July 2008 high by October 2008, in tandem with other commodities, including oil, while corn ethanol production continued unabated. “Analysts, including some in the ethanol sector, say ethanol demand adds about 75 cents to $1.00 per bushel to the price of corn, as a rule of thumb. Other analysts say it adds around 20 percent, or just under 80 cents per bushel at current prices. Those estimates hint that $4 per bushel corn might be priced at only $3 without demand for ethanol fuel.“.[175]

See also

Further reading

  • Duffield, James A., Irene M. Xiarchos, and Steve A. Halbrook, “Ethanol Policy: Past, Present, and Future,” South Dakota Law Review, 53 (no. 3, 2008), 425–53.

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_the_United_States

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Breaking News: Story 1: House of Representatives Holds Attorney Bar In Contempt — American People Hold Congress in Contempt For Wasting Money and Time on Big Lie Smear Campaign of President Trump — Waiting For Attorney Barr to Investigate, Indict, and Prosecute The Clinton, Obama and Democratic Criminal Conspiracy — Videos

 

Trump asserts executive privilege to keep full Mueller report SECRET from Congress as his AG Bill Barr is held in CONTEMPT for refusing to hand it over

  • House Democrats voted to find Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to hand over the material
  • The vote in the House Judiciary Committee was along partisan lines: 24 to 16
  • The final vote came after a 6 and a half hour hearing on the contempt citation
  • It now goes to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber 
  • President Donald Trump claimed executive privilege over the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller 
  • ‘The President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege,’ White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said
  • House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler slammed the move, calling it ‘a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance’ of Congress  

President Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed executive privilege over the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and House Democrats found Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand it over. 

The vote to on contempt charges, held in the House Judiciary Committee, was along partisan lines – 24 Democrats versus 16 Republican – and now goes before the full House chamber for a vote, where Democrats hold a 38-seat majority.

After the full House votes the issue is expected to end up in the courts.  

Lawmakers debated the contempt charge for six and half hours before holding a final vote on the matter with Democrats arguing they needed the full Mueller report for their congressional oversight responsibilities and Republicans charging a political dog-and-pony show. 

‘We are now in a constitutional crisis,’ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said after the vote.

‘This was a very grave and momentous step we were forced to take today to move a contempt citation against the attorney general of the United States. We did not relish doing this but we have no choice,’ he added.

House Democrats on Wednesday voted to find Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said he was bringing up the contempt citation because of the Justice Department's refusal to comply with a subpoena for the full version of Robert Mueller's report

Judiciary Committee holds AG William Barr in contempt

The Justice Department slammed the vote, saying Congress could not force them to break the law.

‘The attorney general could not comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department’s prosecutorial functions,’ said Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec in a statement.

‘It is deeply disappointing that elected representatives of the American people have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics. Regrettably, Chairman Nadler’s actions have prematurely terminated the accommodation process and forced the president to assert executive privilege to preserve the status quo. No one, including Chairman Nadler and his committee, will force the Department of Justice to break the law.’

The White House moved to pre-empt the vote by invoking executive privilege over the Democrats’ demands.

‘Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the Attorney General’s request, the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege,’ White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.  

‘The Attorney General has been transparent and accommodating throughout this process, including by releasing the no-collusion, no-conspiracy, no-obstruction Mueller Report to the public and offering to testify before the Committee. These attempts to work with the Committee have been flatly rejected. They didn’t like the results of the report, and now they want a redo,’ she added.

The hearing offered members of the committee a chance to vent their opinion on the Russia investigation – an opportunity many lawmakers took advantage of.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries slammed President Trump for embarrassing former FBI agent Peter Strzok and bureau attorney Lisa Page with his critical tweets.

The New York Democrat also slammed Republicans for holding their own ‘witch hunt’ when it came to their pursuit of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

‘Reputational interests? Really? Many of my colleagues on the side of the aisle actually perpetrated a witch hunt as it relates to securing more than 800,000 documents from the very same Department of Justice without regard to the reputational interests of Americans that serve this country,’ Jeffries said.

‘You were not concerned about the representational interest of Hillary Clinton,’ he added, speaking of the president. ‘In fact, the top Republicans said the sole objective was to undermine her, the former first lady and Secretary of State. You weren’t concerned with the reputational interest of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. In fact, you embarrassed those two. They made mistakes, but you embarrassed those two.’

Texts between Strzok and Page, who worked on the Clinton email investigation, revealed the two agents, who were having an affair, were against Trump being elected.

And Republicans countered by accusing Democrats of trying to harm Barr’s reputation.

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s biggest defenders on Capitol Hill, said Democrats were really worried about what the attorney general would find in his investigation of whether or not the FBI spied on Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.

‘Bill Barr is following the law and what’s his reward? Democrats hold him in contempt,’ Jordan said. ‘I don’t think today’s actually about getting information. I don’t think it’s about getting the un-redacted Mueller report.’

‘I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr because Democrats are nervous he’s going to get to the bottom of everything. He’s going to find out how and why this investigation started in the first place,’ he added.

And Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is running for president, urged his fellow committee members to impeach Barr if he won’t meet their demands.

‘Then you move to impeach him,’ Swalwell said. ‘And you do the same thing to anyone else who doesn’t want to follow the law.’

‘This is not about executive privilege,’ the California Democrat added. ‘This is about burying the evidence, Mr. Chairman.’

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries slammed President Trump for holding a witch hunt against Hillary Clinton

While GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump's biggest defenders on Capitol Hill, said Democrats were trying to destroy Barr's reputation

While GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s biggest defenders on Capitol Hill, said Democrats were trying to destroy Barr’s reputation

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is running for president, urged his fellow committee members to impeach Bill Barr if the attorney general won't meet their demands

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said he was bringing up the contempt citation because of the Justice Department’s refusal to comply with a subpoena for the full version of Mueller’s findings.

‘Today, we consider a report recommending that the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a valid subpoena issued by this committee. This is not a step we take lightly. It is the culmination of nearly three months of requests, discussions and negotiations with the Department of Justice for the complete, unredacted report by special counsel Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election along with the underlying evidence,’ Nadler said.

And he slammed the White House for invoking privilege, charging it was ‘a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance’ of the Democrats’ investigations in the administration.

‘Since the White House waived these privileges long ago and the department seemed open to sharing these materials with us just yesterday, this decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration’s blanket defiance. I hope the department will think better of this last-minute outburst and return to negotiations. As a co-equal branch of government we must have access to the documents we need to fulfill our responsibilities in a manner consistent with past precedent. This is information we are legally entitled to receive and we are constitutionally obligated to review,’ he said.

He also argued the White House’s move ‘has the effect of aiding and abetting of total blanket and unprecedented obstruction.’

‘When the administration says it will oppose all subpoena, regardless of its merits, it is saying it does not recognize Congress having a constitutional oversight authority over the executive branch. And to those who consider the matter case closed in the words of some of our leaders and urge us simply to move on, I would say to do so is to announce loud and clear that such a course of action has the effect of aiding and abetting of total blanket and unprecedented obstruction,’ Nadler said.

‘Our fight is not just about the Mueller report. Our fight is about defending the rights of congress as an independent branch to hold the president, any president accountable,’ he added.

Late Tuesday evening, in a last-ditch move to try and prevent the contempt vote, the Justice Department said it would ask President Trump to invoke executive privilege in order to withhold the unredacted Mueller report from Congress.

The contempt citation against Attorney General Bill Barr now goes before the full House for a vote

The contempt citation against Attorney General Bill Barr now goes before the full House for a vote

‘In the face of the Committee’s threatened contempt vote, the Attorney General will be compelled to request that the President invoke executive privilege with respect to the materials subject to the subpoena,’ assistant attorney general Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to Nadler.

‘I hereby request that the committee hold the subpoena in abeyance and delay any vote on whether to recommend a citation of contempt for noncompliance with the subpoena, pending the president’s determination of this question,’ he added.

Boyd sent another letter to Nadler on Wednesday, announcing the use of executive privilege and blaming Democrats for it being invoked.

‘This is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,’ he wrote.

‘Regrettably, you have made this assertion necessary by your insistence upon scheduling a premature contempt vote.’

The Justice Department had tried to pre-empt a contempt vote by offering Democrats a less-redacted version of the report, which they refused.

Democrats argue they do not want Barr to break the law and release grand jury information, merely to join their effort to ask the courts to unseal material for the grand jury for committee use.

But Democrats point out Congress has managed twice to obtain federal grand jury information in prior special counsel investigations – Watergate and Ken Starr’s probe.

Barr offered to let a select group of Democrats view the entire report except for the grand jury information – but Democratic lawmakers denied his offer, saying they wanted to see it all.

Sanders slammed Democrats for not taking Barr up on his offer.

‘I think it’s so absurd this idea that Congress doesn’t get to see the Mueller report. In fact, there’s a less redacted version of the Mueller report sitting there waiting on them to come and look at it,’ she told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

‘Not a single Democrat has even taken the time to go and look at it. They’re asking for information they know they can’t have. The attorney general is actually upholding the law,’ she added.

‘The attorney general is protecting information, grand jury information, confidential information, that he cannot release. But the fact that the chairman knows that and he continues to ignore it, is absolutely absurd,’ she noted.

Republicans reminded Democrats that Mueller’s report found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

‘I feel compelled to remind everyone the report found despite offers to do so, no one from the Trump campaign knowingly conspired with the Russian government. You can’t help but notice that Russian collusion has left the narrative,’ Republican Rep. Doug Collins said in the Judiciary Committee hearing.

‘Democrats have decided to try to neutralize Bill Barr by attacking him, his integrity and career. What a mean spirited step it is,’ he added.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders slammed Democrats for not taking up Bill Barr's offer to view all of Mueller's report except for the grand jury information

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders slammed Democrats for not taking up Bill Barr’s offer to view all of Mueller’s report except for the grand jury information

Republican Rep. Doug Collins reminded Democrats that Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia in the 2016 election

Republican Rep. Doug Collins reminded Democrats that Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election

While Mueller’s report found no evidence of collusion, it left the decision to charge Trump with obstructing the investigation into Barr’s hands. Barr, in conjunction with then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, decided not to pursue obstruction charges.

However, Mueller’s report made it clear that Congress still has the oversight authority to investigate the president on the matter.

‘The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,’ the report stated.

Democrats have latched on to that and asked for the full Mueller report as part of that probe.

‘If it weren’t for him being president, he would be in prison with Michael Cohen today as individual one and he obstructed justice, as the Mueller report says so,’ Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen said at Wednesday’s hearing.

Nadler said earlier Wednesday his panel had no choice but to proceed with the contempt vote.

‘Attorney General Barr has made the entire Justice Department an agency for enabling the president to defy the law, to defy and kind of accountability and to act as a monarch,’ he said on CNN’s ‘New Day.’

Nadler said the citation was necessary because the attorney general was protecting President Trump from congressional oversight.

The Justice Department, Nadler said, has ‘made it twice as necessary to proceed with this contempt, because you cannot have a government in which the president can conceal all information about his own wrongdoing and about anything else.’

And Trump ‘wants to make himself a king, and Congress cannot permit that, nor can the American people abide that,’ he added.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress should find Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress should find Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress

The action comes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier on Wednesday that Congress should find Barr in contempt for with holding the full version of Mueller’s report.

‘Yes, I think that the attorney general should be held in contempt,’ she said during a Washington Post interview.

‘This contempt is about the withholding of the Mueller report in an unredactive way,’ she added.

Pelosi has led the charge on the Democrats’ argument it greater issue is Congress’ right to investigate and oversee the executive branch – as outlined in the constitution – and not a partisan attack.

She said the attorney general skipping out on last week’s hearing is not the solo reason he should be held in contempt.

‘Now that doesn’t include is not showing up to testify before the House Judiciary Committee,’ she said.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday morning the committee has 'no choice' but to proceed with the contempt vote

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday morning the committee has ‘no choice’ but to proceed with the contempt vote

‘That’s a crime,’ Pelosi accuses AG Barr of lying to Congress

‘It doesn’t include a misrepresenting withholding the truth from the Congress, some would call that lying. I don’t like that word, but you can’t do that – you cannot lie under oath to Congress because you’re lying under oath to the American people. So that’s a whole other thing but, for the purpose of the course we’re on right now, in terms of withholding information: the unredacted version of the Mueller report for the American people to see and to know,’ she said.

Pelosi was asked if Barr should be impeached.

‘Nothing is ever off the table,’ she responded but added the situation needs to work its way through the committee process before any stronger steps are taken.

A contempt citation could lead to a civil court case against Barr, raising the possibility of fines and even imprisonment for failure to comply.
Pelosi jokingly reminded people there is a jail in the basement of the Capitol but added: ‘If we were arresting all the people in the administration we would have an overcrowded jail situation and I’m not for that.’
Democrats want the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report

Democrats want the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said  the Russia report was 'case closed'

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said  the Russia report was ‘case closed’

Sarah Sanders says Trump and Putin had a ‘very good discussion’

Barr released a redacted version of the report last month but the Democrats also want to see the full report and underlying evidence that informs it.

They formally issued a subpoena for it but the Justice Department has not handed it over, arguing the grand jury evidence Democrats want should be with held to protect those investigations.

 ‘The attorney general’s failure to comply with our subpoena … leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings,’ Nadler said in a statement last week.

Republicans reject Nadler’s efforts as political theater, which they say is intended to satisfy the Democrats’ voters.

Also on Tuesday, the White House invoked executive privilege to block former White House Counsel Don McGahn from complying with Democrats’ subpoena for him to turn over documents related to the Russia investigation.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone says the man who formerly held his position does not have the legal rights to the documents Democrats in Congress are demanding he produce.

McGahn was a star witness in Mueller’s probe.

The White House also invoked executive privilege to block former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying

The White House also invoked executive privilege to block former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying

House Judiciary panel prepare to hold Bill Barr in contempt

Pelosi declined to say if McGahn should also be held in contempt, saying Congress should wait and see what happens.

Nadler’s committee views the full Mueller report as vital to its own corruption and obstruction of justice investigation of Trump. The chairs of five other House committees investigating the president have also called for its release.

The Mueller report details extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Moscow, but did not find that there was a conspiracy between Moscow and the campaign. The report also describes actions Trump took to try to impede Mueller’s investigation.

If lawmakers established that Trump obstructed justice by seeking to impede Mueller, Nadler’s panel could move to impeachment proceedings against the president for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The White House has declared the matter closed and Trump has repeatedly pointed out the report found no collusion.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders argued Tuesday the investigation is ‘case closed.’

‘We consider this to be a case closed and we’re moving forward to do the work of the American people,’ Sanders told ABC News’ ‘The Investigation’ podcast.

‘This is nothing more than a big dog-and-pony show.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7006385/House-Judiciary-Committee-votes-hold-Bill-Barr-CONTEMPT-Congress.html

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