The Baltimore Sun: Rethinking the Food vs. Fuel Debate

August 26, 2012

This year's drought, along with recent news reports of the lowest corn yield in 17 years, has rekindled the food vs. fuel debate — and, for good reasons. When Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, an ambitious schedule for incorporating ethanol into the nation's fuel supply known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established. Though ethanol was sold as a way to make our energy supply more secure, little consideration was given to what every farmer knows: Mother Nature can be fickle, as this year's drought proves.

Congress made several faulty assumptions, among them: that future supplies of corn would be plentiful, that demand for motor fuel would increase and that the state of fuel-making technology would ensure our energy future. Lawmakers just bet the market wrong.

This revelation led Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to join Delaware Gov. Jack A. Markell to rightly ask the Obama administration for a waiver of the RFS. Likewise, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez have petitioned for waivers.

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