Friday, November 14, 2008

Expert: Ethanol will go down as the biggest energy scam of all time

Pound360 has been screaming and ranting against corn-based ethanol for years. And according to a remarkable episode of Frontline, the story of how corn-based ethanol was ever considered a green alternative to gasoline is emblematic of the cancer at the root of climate change: greed.

Greed, or more specifically, an unhealthy relationship between special interests and the government that allows greed to set national policy. Here are some quotes from Frontline…

Why corn-based ethanol is a bad substitute for gasoline
Prof. Daniel Kammen, UC Berkeley Institute of the Environment: "Corn ethanol is simply a bad biofuel. And it's a bad biofuel several times over. We in this country have optimized corn, ironically, to be as greenhouse-gas-intensive as possible. We reward farmers for using more fertilizer, more irrigation, because those things have been cheap historically. So we have lots of greenhouse gasses and carbon embedded in what it takes to grow an ear of corn.

Why corn-based ethanol was sold as a good substitute for gasoline
During Frontline, infamous oil industry legend T. Boone Pickens, who also screamed and ranted against ethanol, described a run-in with corn-state senator Bob Dole. "Senator Dole said, 'you're against ethanol, let me explain to you how it works. There are 21 farm states and 42 senators. Those people want ethanol and they're gonna' have ethanol. And you're wasting your time trying to explain it's a bad idea… that simple… I think it was that simple."

Simple. Seven billion dollars in government subsidies simple.

How history will judge our ethanol policy
Rice University's Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy policy expert: "The corn-based ethanol program is going to be considered one of the biggest follies ever implemented in energy policy anywhere in the world in the history of energy policy. Ethanol is not a solution to greenhouse gas."

(Ethanol molecule graphic by

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.