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Bush's 'biofuel boosterism' boondoggle?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In the State of the Union address, in addition to tougher mileage standards, President Bush called for increased reliance on renewable fuels, namely ethanol. The corn-based fuel additive, which has gained notoriety as of late, is far from a panacea for the environment or oil independence. Bloomberg’s Jack Kaskey writes of the high fertilizer diet corn requires (30 times that of soy) and the likelihood that this year will see the greatest increase in farmland used to grow corn since 1949 – an increase that doesn't bode well for the Gulf of Mexico.

Forbes' Jonathan Fahey warns that the “corn rush” creating ethanol distilleries all over the U.S. may boost supply well above demand, raising corn prices, lowering ethanol prices, and sending investors into the red. On top of that, energy analysts quoted in the New York Times warn that “corn-based ethanol, which accounts for virtually all of today’s production, will not be able to produce more than about half as much alternative fuel as Mr. Bush envisions by 2017.”

On, EWG President Ken Cook notes that Bush's "surge" of "unrestrained biofuel boosterism" is far more ambitious than his calls for increasing fuel economy standards for cars and trucks.

EWG supports the development of the biofuels industry. But we do not support its expansion at all cost--to water pollution, wildlife, trade, food prices here and abroad--and with no thought given to these impacts, much less to mitigating them.

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