Re: Is ethanol overhyped?
Absolutely. Ethanol may be the dumbest idea in recent history, putting a green guise on pricey handouts.
The "Energy Independence and Security Act," passed by Congress this year, will push US ethanol production to 36bn gallons by 2020, and cost taxpayers $7bn. Thanks to the smorgasbord of subsidies doled out in the bill, the federal government is likely to purchase a third of the US corn crop this year. This misguided hunger is already perverting food markets worldwide.
World grain prices have skyrocketed this year, largely because we're growing corn for our gas tanks, instead of to feed to people. Peasants in Mexico rioted earlier this year over the price of tortillas. The IFPRI estimates that ethanol could reduce calorie intake in Africa by 8% by 2020.
Worst of all, ethanol has encouraged farmers to plant more corn and less hops on the margin, so beer prices are poised to shoot up, and microbreweries are going under left and right. More hunger, less beer -- sounds dumb to me.