This week in the media, a new study from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) demonstrates that ethanol refineries may be releasing levels of pollutants into the atmosphere that are many times over previous government estimates, which puts the supposed “green” nature of the federally-imposed ethanol mandate into even further doubt. Meanwhile, Hawaii’s state lawmakers voted to strike down their state’s ethanol mandate, joining environmentalists, farmers and Florida in recognizing the unintended consequences of this ill-conceived policy that increases the costs for consumers in the grocery isle and at the gas pump and is responsible for widespread environmental damage. Lastly, Joe Romm, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Energy, says corn ethanol barons may be breaking the law as they convert millions of acres of grassland into factory farms to produce biofuel crops to meet the federal ethanol mandate.
In short: Joost de Gouw, a scientist and researcher from CIRES and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, discovered emissions at a major ethanol refinery in Decatur, Illinois are 30 times higher than previous government estimates. Ethanol emissions, de Gouw stated, generate ozone forming compounds in the air, which leads to the buildup of smog.
In short: The Hawaii House of Representatives put an end to its state ethanol mandate. State Rep. Angus McKelvey said “Diversion from corn causes prices to skyrocket,” inevitably hurting Hawaii consumers. Hawaii and Florida are the first states in the U.S. to eliminate ethanol mandates. “States have recognized its unintended consequences” said an American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers representative.
In short: Joe Romm says the corn ethanol industry may be breaking the law when they convert millions of acres of grassland for biofuel crop production. The Renewable Fuel Standard states biofuels are only supposed to be grown on preexisting cropland. Greedy ethanol producers have been performing land grabs right and left, destroying the environment. “If we don’t voluntarily abandon corn ethanol, it seems inevitable that human-caused climate change and Dust-Bowlification will ultimately arrest its development,” Romm says.