I am trying to be open-minded about this article but I have a few issues, the first issue being NPR’s reporting on ethanol. I have beaten my head against the wall for years trying to get NPR to report on the problems with ethanol. I really feel NPR has been suffering from a sheep-like mind set that, because it sounds green, it must be green.
This is not a new issue for many of us out here in the trenches that have been protecting our communities from ethanol refineries. Here in Pennsylvania, a handful of us (and a very good environmental lawyer paid for by one family in our group) have kept two separate ethanol initiatives from building two different ethanol plants on farmland on the banks of the Susquehanna River (which flows directly to the Chesapeake Bay). Frankly, it has been exhausting and cost the family that paid for the attorney lots of money. This scenario has been repeated all over the country but nothing from NPR, about us environmentalists who were have protecting our homes, farms and waterways.
We even had what seemed like juicy news details to entice NPR. The Alexander Strategy Group (actually a partner and former press secretary for former US representative and possible presidential candidate Rick Santorum) contacted our environmental activism group in a dark alley. Not kidding-- they approached me in a dark alley outside a tiny rural firehouse and offered to “help” us. They said some of their clients were supportive of our efforts to stop a corn ethanol plant from being built. They continued to contact members of our group via a “Media and Issue Advocacy” firm working for the Alexander Strategy Group. Whenever I asked who their clients were the names changed. Sometimes it was the “Small Business Survival Committee”, or the “Association of Consumers and Taxpayers” or “Americans For Tax Reform.”
Secondly, I can’t see pouring more money into “next generation biofuels”. We have tried that unsuccessfully already. Have you looked into Vinod khosla’s Range Fuels and Cello Energy? Range Fuels has gotten about 162 million in tax payer dollars and about the same in private funding and has not produced the cellulosic ethanol it promised. WSJ reported that the Range Fuels CEO says no one has figured out how to produce commercially viable portions of cellulosic ethanol . And Cello Energy is bankrupt. (See WSJ 2/10/11 The Range Fuels Fiasco)
Finally, NRDC’s Greener Biofuels Tax Credit may seem good on paper but based on my farming neighborhood, checking those Conservation Scores seems impossible. We still are working on farmers not letting cows stand right in the streams that flow to the Susquehanna and on to the Chesapeake.