As if there weren’t enough people griping about the energy bill, now we can add ethanol supporters to the mix. Senators from corn producing states are hoping to extort new terms from the EPA on ethanol in return for votes on the cap and trade bill.
Politico: Rural Democrats are threatening to vote against climate change legislation unless the Environmental Protection Agency halts new proposals that could hamper the development of corn ethanol.
Ethanol has long been an energy third rail in Congress, with lawmakers — particularly those from the Midwest and other states with large agricultural industries — clamoring to support the biofuel both to transition away from foreign energy and to support rural economies. But in recent years, environmentalists, livestock producers and grocery manufacturers have raised concerns about the fuel, claiming that it threatens to exacerbate global warming and that it raises food prices.
The debate intensified recently when EPA released a draft decision ruling that “indirect land use” issues must be considered when calculating the carbon footprint of corn-based ethanol. That decision raises the overall emissions of corn ethanol by including sometimes tenuously linked activities — critics say totally unrelated activities — in its carbon count. And in fact, the EPA finding showed that while biofuels from plants and other next-generation renewables reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the fuel might not be as environmentally friendly as the law requires.
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