Besides being an easy giveaway to corporate farmers, ethanol has always been a bad idea.
It’s inefficient, since it requires more energy to produce than it delivers, and it also removes valuable food production from the market. In previous years we’ve seen the cost of corn skyrocket (thanks to excessive Wall Street trading – a practice that used to be illegal) making it too costly for many. But hey, Wall Street made money and that’s all that matters with the corporate-owned Congress.
This year, thanks to drought in the Midwest, corn production has dropped, so finally someone is looking into modifying the EPA requirements for ethanol. Congress is not likely to investigate the impact of climate change on farming, because that would be too much science, and it might confuse the simpletons who rely on their Bible for understanding of the weather, but at least this is a start.
Only months ago, the EPA was pressing hard to expand the use of ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply, but in the wake of this summer’s fierce drought, the agency may soon reverse course and actually trim back because of shortages of corn used to produce the renewable fuel.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, an influential Utah Republican, this week urged the EPA to curb ethanol requirements, as have 200 members of the House and the governors of eight corn-producing states. Under a 2007 law signed by former President George W. Bush, 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol would need to be used this year, with the plan to more than double that by 2022.
But the viability of that plan came under sharp inspection when, yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast a sharp decline in farm grain output predicting next year’s global corn stockpiles will 5.4 percent – to the lowest levels in 39 years. The USDA warned that only 23 percent of American corn crop yields are in “good” or “excellent” shape compared with 70 percent last year.