Nitwitery: Force-feeding Ethanol As Energy Savior, Despite 1,700 Gallons H20 Per Gallon of Ethanol
WSJ Editorial: If the Senate's new "renewable fuels" mandate becomes law, get ready for a giant slurping sound as Midwest water supplies are siphoned off to slake Big Ethanol. House and Senate negotiators are preparing for an energy-bill conference, and if the Senate's language prevails, America's economy will be forced to consume more than five times current ethanol production.
Heavily subsidized and absurdly inefficient, corn-based ethanol has already driven up food prices. But the Senate's plan to increase production to 36 billion gallons by 2022, from less than seven billion today, will place even greater pressure on farm-belt aquifers.
Ethanol plants consume roughly four gallons of water to produce each gallon of fuel, but that's only a fraction of ethanol's total water habit. Cornell ecology professor David Pimentel says that when you count the water needed to grow the corn, one gallon of ethanol requires a staggering 1,700 gallons of H2O.
Slowly but surely, these problems are beginning to alert public opinion to the huge costs of force-feeding corn ethanol as an energy savior. The ethanol lobby is still hoping it can keep all of this under wraps long enough to shove one more big mandate through Congress, but the Members need to know the problems they'll be creating. We hope that House conferees, who did not include a new mandate in their energy bill, insist that any final bill is ethanol-free.
From a related story in yesterday's USA Today:
The tightest world grain stocks in about 30 years are contributing to rising food inflation, fueling worries about food shortages in some countries and straining international aid budgets. Prices are being pushed up by bad weather in a host of countries, surging world demand and a drive in the USA and abroad to devote more acres to corn for ethanol production, which has tightened supplies of some grains and tied crop prices more closely to energy prices.