Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper. Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption -- yet it consumes twenty percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, causing the price of corn to double in the last two years and raising the threat of hunger in the Third World...
So why bother? Because the whole point of corn ethanol is not to solve America's energy crisis, but to generate one of the great political boondoggles of our time. Corn is already the most subsidized crop in America, raking in a total of $51 billion in federal handouts between 1995 and 2005 -- twice as much as wheat subsidies and four times as much as soybeans. Ethanol itself is propped up by hefty subsidies, including a fifty-one-cent-per-gallon tax allowance for refiners. And a study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development found that ethanol subsidies amount to as much as $1.38 per gallon -- about half of ethanol's wholesale market price.
The article goes on to describe ethanol's technical shortcomings, political sell-outs to big ag, and even how biofuels could be "done right," if not for the political interests currently pushing corn ethanol. Goodell is no right-wing ideologue: he is not opposed to biofuels per se, and is a believer in man-made global warming.
Even more interesting than the article itself is a letter to the editor from ethanol proponent Bob Dinneen of the Renewable Fuels Association, and author Goodell's response, which includes several web links for further debate.
How refreshing in the light of the current political, government, corporate public relations, and mass media snow job promoting the burning of food for fuel.