Good News Bad News of Energy Bill
The watered-down energy bill passed by the Senate on Thursday raised fuel-economy standards by 40 percent-not a bad thing. Congress also boosted the production of biofuels to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022-and 21 billion must come from something other than corn-based ethanol, which is good since it takes more fossil fuel to make corn ethanol than corn ethanol saves. According to a study by Cornell University, "Ethanol production using corn grain required 29 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced." Sadly, Congress also gutted the portion of the bill that would have required utility companies to provide at least 15 percent renewable power and the part about increasing taxes on Big Oil.
For more on the inside story on biofuels, read Elizabeth Palmberg's "Do the Math: Don't buy the corporate agrofuel greenwash" (Sojourners, January 2008).
Rose Marie Berger is an associate editor for Sojourners.