biofuel, corn ethanol, energy policy, renewable energy research
Corn-based ethanol has been touted by many as the panacea for America’s thirst for cheap and easy liquid energy. But this supposed cure for low-mileage woes is quickly showing itself to be yet another symptom of the deeply-rooted problems with energy policy in the United States. Fuels based on supposedly green feedstocks, particularly corn, soy or other food products to make fuels, are not only insufficient to solve the problems intended to be fixed but likewise lead to even more intractable problems. Food price inflation, farmland degradation and increased difficulties in adopting necessary fuel efficiency improvements are but a few of the problems traceable to ethanol production. Each can be attributed to an insufficient paradigm for understanding and implementing energy policy. We present pros and cons of corn-based ethanol as a biofuel and provide direction for renewable energy research and investment.