Ethanol was initially described as a “clean-energy solution,” but there are legitimate concerns about just how green it is. Corn is hard on the land, and some farmers (though none that we’ve found in western New York) are skipping crop rotations to plant corn in consecutive years. Some farmers are foregoing other crops to plant more field corn.
A recent study shook up the environmental community. Consider the opening line from this New York Times
“Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.”
Corn ethanol – along with some other biofuels – didn’t seem so green anymore. That doesn’t mean that there is no clean-energy future; researchers are working hard to bring more options to the market. But corn ethanol seems not to be a friend of the environment compared to other options.
Give the environmental community some credit; I spoke with more than a dozen researchers or industry experts, and not one tried to persuade me that the study was junk. Not one denied the evolution of understanding. Every single one told me it was a reminder that much more work needs to be done.