November 14 2012

If Putting Food in Our Cars Sounds like a Bad Idea, That’s Because It Is.

Vicki E. Alger

 

There’s no shortage of ink being spilled about what food we should be putting in our mouths. A new analysis stands out for recommending we stop putting food in our cars. In their recent American article, Kenneth P. Green and Elizabeth DeMeo write that it’s time to end the ethanol mandate, which still does more  harm than good.

Projections estimate that by 2016, the United States will have diverted up to 43 percent of its cropland toward ethanol production. Since such land is normally used to harvest grain for feeding livestock, any diversions to ethanol production would require either changing the use of other land to growing grain or sharp increases in the cost of grain and meat….

Ethanol poses numerous environmental threats. One of the most serious is the overuse and destruction of land and water… refining a gallon of corn ethanol requires 35 gallons of water. But that is only the beginning… three times as much water is needed to grow the corn that yields a gallon of ethanol. That brings the tally to 140 gallons of water per gallon of corn ethanol produced. … In addition to overuse, ethanol production pollutes the water we do have. …

Finally, there’s the issue of climate change. In issue briefs and media reports, ethanol is often pitched as a good solution to climate change because it re-circulates carbon in the atmosphere; that is, it’s “carbon-neutral.” However, there is more than one kind of greenhouse gas to consider. When blended with gasoline, ethanol actually increases the formation of potent greenhouse gases more than gasoline does by itself. …

Only time will tell just how much harm the ethanol mandate might do to the environment. At the moment, all we can do is consider the evidence at hand. We now know that ethanol…has not only failed to live up to the hype, but will do America more harm than good as it continues wreaking havoc on our air, land, and sea, not to mention our wallets. It has yet to alleviate higher gas prices.

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