Economics, Energy and the Environment

The ethanol madness continues

Image Credit: Fishhawk (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Image Credit: Fishhawk (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Last month, my co-author Elizabeth DeMeo and I asked, “Is it Time to Stop Putting Food in Our Cars?” We pointed out that the fuel-ethanol mandate is stunningly bad policy that:

  • Raises the cost of food;
  • Increases air pollution;
  • Increases greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Increases inland and coastal water pollution;
  • Uses vast quantities of fresh water;
  • Is increasingly consuming US arable land (projected to hit 43% by 2016);
  • Increases the quantity of land put under cultivation; and
  • Does nothing to lower the price of gasoline.

Well, Obama 2.0 has given us the answer: Is it time to stop putting food in our cars? Apparently not:

President Barack Obama’s administration rejected a request from the governors of eight U.S. states to waive requirements for blending corn-based ethanol into gasoline, said a person familiar with the decision.

Market conditions don’t justify such a move, said the person, who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak for the Environmental Protection Agency. Gasoline refiners will be required to blend 13.2 billion gallons of the biofuel this year, the EPA said in rejecting petitions from the governors of Arkansas, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, Virginia, New Mexico and Texas as well as members of Congress.

The fuel-ethanol saga must rank at or near the top for examples of well-intended policy run amok, wherein a policy is enacted that winds up causing harm to the very thing it was supposed to protect; inflicts additional harms in areas unrelated to its mission; yet is so deeply entrenched in farm-state politics, and so lavishly supported by special interests, that it is utterly resistant to change.

4 thoughts on “The ethanol madness continues

  1. Why don’t the hysterical envirogeeks ever include a cost-benefit analysis in their pronouncements. If they were part of private industry and tried a stunt that puerile, then they would all get shltcaned.

  2. Take a look at the DOT gas milage ratings for cars and light trucks. You will see that gasoline milage is over 15% higher for straight gas over E85. If the ethanol were delivered free from fairies it would still destroy energy. Instead it costs energy to produce and then reduces gas milage.

    This policy is destroying domestic energy rather than creating it.

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