NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 27, 2009

California regulators are ready to conclude that corn ethanol cannot help the state fight global warming.  It seems they've discovered putting food in our cars would destroy the earth in order to save it, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

With 20-20 hindsight, the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by dropping ethanol for now as a cure-all for climate change, is doing the right thing for the wrong reason, says IBD:

  • The California EPA's main reason for dropping ethanol is in part because of the environmental damage it says growing corn produces.
  • Ethanol yields about 30 percent less energy per gallon of gasoline, so miles per gallon in internal combustion engines drop significantly.
  • It generates less than two units of energy for every unit of energy used to produce it, and it takes about 1,700 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol.
  • Each acre of corn requires about 130 pounds of nitrogen and 55 pounds of phosphorous.
  • Increased acreage means increased agricultural runoff, which is creating aquatic "dead zones" in rivers, bays and coastal areas.

Furthermore, converting land that is now a "carbon sink" to farmland producing ethanol also defeats the purpose of the regulations, because land now absorbing carbon dioxide would be cleared to produce corn, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Will California Shuck Corn Ethanol?"'s Business Daily, April 23, 2009.

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