Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fueling Controversy.

The LA Times smells a rat in Arnold's new low-carbon fuel initiative. In an article by Janet Wilson and Elizabeth Douglass, it ponders whether this is nothing more than a give-away to the ethanol industry?

For years federal subsidies have been lavished on ethanol despite real questions about its effectiveness and supply. A few years ago, when a rival gasoline additive was banned in California, the gold rush was on as Californians raced to get in the ethanol game(the Times notes that former GOP Sec-State Bill Jones runs his own ethhanol company now-- and is something of a prolific political donor.)

Sweetheart deals aside, there is the very real possibility that ethanol won't help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Times:

A number of studies, including one just completed at UC Berkeley, raise questions about whether corn-based ethanol, the form now most widely used in the United States, actually reduces carbon, the largest greenhouse gas contributor believed to be causing global warming.

"I don't think much of ethanol for energy or anything else," said Tad W. Patzek, professor of geoengineering at UC Berkeley, who said that several studies that he has co-written, including one in the peer-reviewed Natural Resources Research Journal next month, found that the coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels used by tractors to grow corn, and the heating equipment used to distill it into fuel, zeroed out any benefits from burning ethanol rather than petroleum.

I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this...

Is ethanol the heart of gov.'s idea? [Los Angeles Times]