Ethanol Craze Cools As Doubts Multiply
Claims for Environment, Energy Use Draw Fire; Fighting on the Farm
Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2007.

"Little over a year ago, ethanol was winning the hearts and wallets of
both Main Street and Wall Street, with promises of greater U.S. energy
independence, fewer greenhouse gases and help for the farm economy.
Today, the corn-based biofuel is under siege.

In the span of one growing season, ethanol has gone from panacea to
pariah in the eyes of some. The critics, which include industries hurt
when the price of corn rises, blame ethanol for pushing up food prices,
question its environmental bona fides and dispute how much it really
helps reduce the need for oil.

The once-booming business has gone in the dumps, with profits squeezed,
plans for new plants shelved in certain cases, and stock prices hovering
near 52-week lows.

Now the fuel's lobby is pleading with Congress to drastically boost the
amount of ethanol that oil refiners must blend into gasoline. But
formidable opponents such as the livestock, packaged-food and oil
industries also have lawmakers' ears. What once looked like a slam-dunk
could now languish in pending energy legislation that might not pass for
weeks, if ever.

This year, even as the production glut was driving down ethanol's price,
critics and opposing lobbyists were turning up the heat.
Environmentalists complained about increased use of water and fertilizer
to grow corn for ethanol, and said even ethanol from other plants such
as switchgrass could be problematic because it could mean turning
protected land to crop use. Suddenly, environmentalists, energy experts,
economists and foreign countries were challenging the warm-and-fuzzy
selling points on which ethanol rose to prominence.

In the past, livestock farmers supported ethanol because it was good for
the overall farm economy. But now they began to complain that the higher
corn price cut sharply into their profits.

In recent months, U.S. lawmakers appear to have become more receptive to
the anti-ethanol arguments.

The ethanol industry, accustomed to getting its way in Washington,
hadn't faced such opposition before."

Dr. Ann C. Wilkie                          Tel: (352)392-8699
Soil and Water Science Department          Fax: (352)392-7008
University of Florida-IFAS
P.O. Box 110960                         E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Gainesville, FL 32611-0960
Campus location: Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (Bldg. 246).
BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Society