Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ethanol Production: A Very Bad Idea?

This article addresses the issue of ethanol production in the U.S. In my opinion this is another example of government policy gone mad in the name of global warming and our dependence upon "foreign" oil. It seems that subsidizing and encouraging the growing of corn, or any other crops, to then produce ethanol as motor vehicle fuel is a thinly veiled attempt by Congress to pacify environmental groups pushing for change.

Ethanol production is such a completely bad idea that even environmental groups oppose it. The following article explains many of the reasons why. Hopefully, these laws will be appealed. What do you think?


Study Slams Ethanol, Industry Cries Foul
By Jeff Senior Staff Writer
July 19, 2007Washington ( -
Ethanol is not the "silver bullet" that will solve America's energy crisis, according to a new report released Wednesday by three liberal environmental groups.In the 77-page report, the groups allege that ethanol production will, in many cases, contribute to significant problems in the United States and the developing world.

But Doug Durante, executive director of Ethanol Across America -- an industry advocacy group -- said the criticisms levied in the report were unfair. He said the industry has never tried to be the answer to every problem associated with fossil fuels and transportation."Look at the numbers: Americans use 150 billion gallons of gasoline [a year] ... we make six billion gallons of ethanol," said Durante. "What rational person could say that next 144 billion gallons is no problem for us? Nobody is saying that."

The report, which cites dozens of studies by scientists and government researchers, looks at several different aspects of the ethanol debate. It alleges the production of ethanol will contribute to additional air and water pollution, even with modern environmental controls. It also alleges that the heavily subsidized industry will help corporate farms at the expense of rural communities.

Wenonah Hauer, executive director of Food and Water Watch, said: "We're already seeing the effects of the hype about ethanol. Ninety-three million acres of corn were planted -- and that's the largest amount of corn to be grown since 1944 -- but that's not enough corn to make America energy independent." "The push to make corn ethanol in mega-refineries is likely to contribute to the over-consolidation of the grain sector," Hauer said. "It won't benefit the smaller farmers and farm cooperatives in the long term."Hauer argued that only large-scale factory-style farms will be able to profit from ethanol production, which she said would accelerate the loss of family farms ."Agribusiness, whose political contributions are fueling the ethanol frenzy, are going to become the winners," she said.

The report also alleges ethanol is contributing to human rights abuses around the world as developing countries alter their agricultural production to focus on "fuel" crops, such as sugar cane, instead of growing food. The study's backers say the message is clear. "Other alternative fuels exist besides corn ethanol ," said Michael Dworkin, director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. "Even if corn ethanol did what it was supposed to do, it would only make sense to accept the cost that it has if it were necessary.

"The report makes several policy recommendations and asserts that the use of increased fuel economy standards would go much further in reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil than ethanol. Yet Durante, with Ethanol Across America, said the industry as a whole and the corn ethanol industry in particular are fulfilling their intended mission -- to provide an alternative to foreign-produced oil. "There are lots of reasons to support domestic renewable fuels ... what if we got to 10 percent [of domestic consumption]? That's 15 billion gallons times three bucks [a gallon saved over the price of regular gas]," said Durante. "We're going to spend that here and create roads and schools and jobs.

"As for the report's recommendations, Durante said that the arguments were not fair. Rather than making ethanol production a black-or-white issue, he said, corn ethanol production can be pursued at the same time as lower fuel standards. "Sure we'd like to see us use less fuel, but that is a different issue," he said. "I hate to see that become an either/or. I don't believe those goals are real. "The report does concede that ethanol can find a place in an integrated energy policy but says it should only be considered along with efforts to increase fuel-efficiency standards for U.S. autos and the promotion of other alternative fuels.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, ethanol's "green" credentials have been called into question, as many refineries have been cited for violations of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

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