It’s About Time; “Environmentalists” Realise Ethanol from Corn = Bad Idea

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It seems not all rabid Earthers are stupid… Or maybe they just hate corporations more than they hate humans?

From the L.A. Times we get this more or less objective analysis of the current furor over the ethanol folly.

On the face of it, having a federal agency get behind renewable fuel seems like it should elicit cheers from environmentalists, and from pretty much anyone who is leery of our dependence on foreign oil.

Not quite.

Here’s what happened: The EPA issued a partial waiver Wednesday allowing the amount of ethanol in automotive fuel to rise to 15%, from 10%, but for use only in cars no older than the 2007 model year. That was happy news for corn states and the ethanol industry.

Among the first to blast EPA was a coalition of agricultural interests, including the American Meat Institute; the Grocery Manufacturers Assn.; the National Council of Chain Restaurants; the National Chicken Council; the American Frozen Food Institute; the American Bakers Assn.; the National Meat Assn. and the National Turkey Federation:

This list represents the overwhelming bulk of food production/consumption in America; certainly a group with a valid position on this issue!

E15 – which would be a 50 percent increase from the currently permitted level of 10 percent ethanol in gasoline – will result in dramatic increases in the portion of the U.S. corn crop used to make fuel rather than food and, when fully implemented, could result in more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop being diverted to ethanol production. The corn ethanol industry has received over $30 billion in federal subsidies over the last three decades. 

Kate McMahon, biofuels campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth, used a broader argument:

“The only thing ‘green’ about ethanol is the color of the cash subsidies handed to it by Congress… Increased blends of ethanol in gasoline could increase emissions of toxic air pollutants, in particular nitrogen dioxide, when burned in engines not built to withstand more ethanol. This danger applies to the vast majority of engines currently in service, from cars to boats to lawnmowers.

Ethanol results in more greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, according to the EPA’s own scientific analysis, which was included in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) Regulatory Impact Analysis released in February 2010…The production of ethanol also has detrimental effects on human and environmental health.

The production of biofuels feed stocks, like corn for ethanol, takes land away from food production and encroaches on natural ecosystems. Large-scale agricultural production of corn for ethanol often involves massive inputs of fertilizer, requires large quantities of water, contributes to soil erosion, and produces deadly run-off of pollution into freshwater sourcesas illustrated by the Gulf of Mexico’s “Dead Zone.”

Read it all…

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