The corn ethanol industry exists almost entirely because of a 2007 government mandate that gasoline and ethanol must be blended together. However, the ethanol industry has fallen on hard times as of late, even with massive subsidies and government mandates. As a result, the industry is hoping the government will increase the size of the blend mandate:
NY Times: Burdened by falling gasoline consumption and excess production capacity, ethanol producers appealed to the government on Friday to raise the 10 per cent limit on ethanol in most gasoline blends to as high as 15 per cent.
The article claims that DOE head Steven Chu is considering this request. He shouldn’t. Corn ethanol is bad for the environment, it’s bad for the economy. Earlier this week, Duke University called corn ethanol subsidies “a poor investment economically and environmentally.” A month before that a University of Minnesota stufy found that corn ethanol was more costly from a health and environmental perspective than gasoline.
If we want to produce something that is good for the environment, but still gets us from point a to point b, we should develop better public transit or electric cars. Corn ethanol is not a long term viable solution to our problems. It is a stop gap until the next technology comes along. And it is not much better for anyone, besides corn farmers, than our current fuel technologies.
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