photo: Sen. Tom Harkin
When the Senate finishes writing their version of the climate bill—when they get back from summer recess and not a moment sooner—expect it to contain similar if not stronger love for corn ethanol than the House's version. At least if quotes Senate Agriculture Committee chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) in the New York Times are anything to go by: Harkin says that he wants all of the compromise corn ethanol provisions placed into the American Clean Energy & Security Act (no inclusion of indirect land use changes in determining the true environmental impact of biofuels, provisions for the USDA to run its own agricultural cap and trade program, more) are included in the Senate climate bill.
In more pithy language, speaking about the EPA's desired inclusion of indirect land use changes, Harkin added:
EPA's got to get over their absolute rejection of ethanol. They've just got to get over. And we're going to force them to get over it.
My, oh my. I suppose a deal with the corn ethanol industry to get a climate bill passed is better than one with the coal industry, but wow.
Just to remind people:
Inclusion of Full Lifecycle Costs of Biofuels a Good Thing
I don't think the EPA has absolutely rejected ethanol, first of all—just made it clear that when determining if a biofuel is truly carbon neutral a whole range of factors need to be included; and when that's done corn ethanol generally doesn't look like a good option. The resources needed to produce corn ethanol in the United States (water, energy inputs) really make it a break even proposition at best.
Corn Lobby More Concerned With Handouts Than Environment
Some of this is just simple human nature and aversion to change. Much like coal miners in West Virginia holding on to their jobs because that's all they've ever known, corn farmers in the Midwest continue to clamor for government support of their product (which has been historically more than generous), even when in both cases its pretty compelling that change is sorely needed.
Ethanol Lobby 1, Environment 0: Compromise Struck to Move Climate Bill Forward
So Thirsty: Corn Ethanol Uses Up to 300% More Water Than Previously Thought
New Study Finds Corn-Based Ethanol More Harmful Than Oil-Based Gasoline
Leaving Land Unfarmed Better Than Using it to Make Corn Ethanol for Emission Reductions