Appeared in San Fernando Valley Sierra Club newsletter in July 2007.
What Smells About Ethanol Fuel
Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D.
From President Bush on down, it seems everyone is talking up “biofuels”, especially corn-grain ethanol, as the panacea to the country’s energy woes… global warming, air pollution, increasing prices at the pump and dependence on foreign oil.
Automakers are promoting flex-fuel cars that run on either E85, a gasoline mixture that is 85% ethanol, or straight gasoline. Agribusiness giants like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland are trumpeting their ethanol, fermented and distilled from corn, as they boost production to meet rising domestic demand. However, just because a fuel can be made from plants does not make it inherently “green” or ever plentiful enough to replace gasoline.
A reputable analysis concluded that conversion of all U.S. cropland to produce corn strictly for ethanol would not suffice to fuel the current fleet of American autos.1