Not All Ethanol is Created Equal


In a recent post regarding the production of ethanol, a commenter requested "please stop writing about ethanol production as if it is and will always be based upon the fuel and foodstock intensive processing approach"- we don't- we ooohed about Iogen's cellulosic ethanol here and here, and ahhhed over switchgrass here. Unfortunately most of what we read still indicates that a lot of ethanol is being produced using coal and natural gas as fuel, and corn grown with synthetic fossil-fuel based fertilizers. There is also more to life than just having fuel for our tanks and more to the environment than just greenhouse gases. Alternet recently covered the subject, discussing an Archer Midland Daniels plant's effect on the environment: "A single ADM corn processing plant in Clinton, Iowa generated nearly 20,000 tons of pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds in 2004, according to federal records. The EPA considers an ethanol plant as a "major source" of pollution if it produces more than 100 tons of any one pollutant per year, although it has recently proposed increasing that cap to 250 tons." The report goes on to suggest, like our commenter, that there is a slight reduction in greenhouse gas generation from ethanol, but that the other environmental effects of intense corn farming outweigh the gain. What is the true cost to the taxpayer, the air and the rest of the environment? It is not just about making fuel. ::Alternet