If the announcement of a new government study doesn’t send your heart racing, Grist staff-writer Tom Philpott has an excellent overview of the ethanol energy analysis in today’s edition.
For my fellow ADHDers, here’s the take home message from a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study: Government funding of corn-based ethanol, bad.
Philpott translates the CBO’s data into simple English: “Subsidizing corn-based ethanol is a mind-numbingly expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Another of Philpott’s bullet points: The modern agribusiness model for growing corn is so energy intensive that corn-based ethanol “is really just a clever way to convert natural gas and coal into car fuel.”
There’s another good reason for steering clear of ethanol, one not mentioned in the CBO study or in Philpott’s summary.
In a 2009 study, Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, ranked alternative fuel sources for powering cars, based on environmental effects. Ethanol ranked at the bottom of the list, in part because the tailpipe emissions from burning bio-fuel cause as many premature deaths as gasoline — somewhere around 10,000 each year.
So let’s see: Crazy-expensive, causes deaths from air pollution. But, heh, ethanol is “Alternative Energy.” So, it’s all good, right? Sure, and because smokers sometimes switch to chewing tobacco as an alternative to cigarettes, a wad of Skoal could be considered health-food.