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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Congressional Love Affair with Ethanol Leaves Others Cold

The red-hot Congressional love affair with the alternative fuel ethanol isn't shared by conservative groups, and a new op-ed by husband David Ridenour shows some environmentalists are skeptical as well.

David's piece says, in part:
..."We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history," said Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of a new report on ethanol and its effect on food prices.

The increased amount of acreage devoted to growing corn for ethanol, he observed, means the U.S. will ultimately export less grain - further harming poor nations that rely heavily on food imports for their basic sustenance.

Brown projected that the 800-million human beings current living in hunger will rise to 1.2 billion by 2025.

"The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before," he said.

"As a result, the world is facing the most severe food price inflation in history as grain and soybean prices climb to all-time highs," Brown said, noting that wheat trading on the Chicago Board of Trade on December 17th pushed past the $10 per bushel for the first time ever, while a bushel of soybeans traded at a historic high of $13.42 on January 11.

The rising commodity prices are driven by hefty federal subsidies for U.S. produced ethanol and huge tariffs of some $1.50 per gallon on cheaper ethanol imports from Brazil.

The subsidies and tariffs have triggered a rush to invest in America's new biofuel industry. Dozens of new ethanol plants are popping up across the agricultural states of the Midwest like mushrooms after a spring rain.

A region that once produced much of American's food and sent its surpluses to feed the world's hungry now is producing grain for automotive fuel - the beneficiary of earmarks from the Capitol Hill friends of prairie farmers...
Newspaper editors may be equally skeptical of ethanol. David's op-ed has only recently been circulated, yet the following papers, among others, have already run it: The Raleigh News & Observer, the Sacramento Bee, the Fresno Bee, the Billings Gazette, the Washington Tri-City Herald, the Press of Atlantic City, the Bellingham Herald, the Anchorage Daily News, and Hilton Head Island Packet.

Read the full piece yourself at any of the links above.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 AM

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