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When Renewable Isn't Green
"Renewable" energy is often a synonym for be "green" energy an ill-defined term that connotes environmentally and socially benign technologies. With the case of ethanol, that's just not true.

A new report by the Congressional Budget Office found that use of ethanol for fuel results in limited greenhouse gas reductions while significantly increasing food prices.

Ethanol-related food prices increases leave the most economically vulnerable persons open to increased nutritional insecurity. According to CBO, "increased use of ethanol accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of the rise in food prices between April 2007 and April 2008.... that increase will boost federal spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program...and child nutrition programs by an estimated $600 million to $900 million in fiscal year 2009."

With respect to the environment, CBO explains that ethanol use results in a reduction in CO2 emissions of about 0.7% of transport sector emissions. Increased ethanol production could, however, lead to changes in land use, including bringing additional land under cultivation which some researchers believe would result in the lower greenhouse-gas emissions being "reduced or eliminated." Cellulosic ethanol would result in greater GHG reductions but the technology "has not yet been developed" and "considerable technical hurdles must be overcome" before commercial production could take place.

Meanwhile, domestic ethanol production is protected by "a tariff of 54 cents per gallon" plus an additional ad valorem tariff. If policymakers are serious about gaining environmental benefits from ethanol, they would end the tariffs. Increased use of corn-derived ethanol simply transfers resources from the hungry to the politically connected.

See CBO Report

See"Bad Weather for Biofuels"

See "Ethanol For People, Not Cars"

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