Sunday, May 3, 2009
Two years ago, Congress ordered a massive increase in ethanol use while stipulating that the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) must first prove that it produces less pollution related to global warming than would gasoline. Now, at last, the EPA is finally approaching the point where they will propose ethanol standards. Environmental issues, to be quite honest, really don't hold my attention the way other issues do, but the issue of ethanol fascinates me in that it has got to be one of the worst environmental ideas around.
Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling crops that have been broken down into simple sugars. In the US, ethanol is made mostly from corn. It's being touted as a cleaner-burning fuel source for automobiles as well as a necessity in helping to end our dependence on foreign oil.
According to howstuffworks.com, it would take about 26 pounds of corn to make 1 gallon of ethanol. Now, imagine all of the vehicles out there that run on fuel and the amount of land you would need to produce this stuff as well as the amount of petroleum-based energy AND water that is required to produce corn crops in the first place and you have one huge environmental nightmare. Oh, did I mention the fact that the price of corn, which is one of the largest staples in the world's food supply, would skyrocket to catastrophic proportions as a result of the incredible demand placed on it as an energy substitute?
Why would someone support such a ridiculous idea in the first place, you ask? Look no further than the agricultural industry that stands to reap huge profits on a bushel of b.s., as well as lawmakers who will push any idea that comes with a check from lobbyists for "reelection" purposes.