Pros and Cons

Cindy Zimmerman

Two syndicated articles out today express differing opinions about ethanol. Actually, one is a purely editorial piece, written by Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and distributed by Bloomberg. With the title “Ethanol’s a Big Scam, and Bush Has Fallen for It,” it could hardly be more negative about ethanol – mainly stressing the facts that corn farmers receive government subsidies and that it does currently require a significant amount of fossil fuels to produce ethanol. The commentary also cites the controversial Pimentel/Patzek study that has been discredited by other sources, including the newest report out of Berkeley just released a few weeks ago. In my opinion, the worst thing about a commentary such as this is that it offers only criticism, with no constructive suggestions.
Contrast that with this AP article, which discusses research being done to find cheaper ways to produce ethanol. The article begins – The key to kicking what President Bush calls the nation’s oil addiction could very well lie in termite guts, canvas-eating jungle bugs and other microbes genetically engineered to spew enzymes that turn waste into fuel. It quotes Nathanael Greene with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and discusses the work in the field being done by Iogen. It talks in a positive, constructive way about research being done to address some of the issues brought up in the negative commentary. I especially like this quote from the article: Thanks to biotechnology breakthroughs, supporters of alternative energy sources say that after decades of unfulfilled promise and billions in government corn subsidies, energy companies may be able to produce ethanol easily and inexpensively. Positive and constructive thinking is what it will take to overcome obstacles in making good domestic fuel economical and viable.