Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who was really in favor of biofuels?

A recent Scientific American headline says,
"Biofuels Are Bad for Feeding People and Combating Climate Change
By displacing agriculture for food—and causing more land clearing—biofuels are bad for hungry people and the environment."
In response, Tony Blankely, former Washington Times editor and popular conservative talking said, said on a KCRW Left, Right, and Center podcast, that
"Scientific American is now my favorite magazine."
I believe that this was in response to the fact that liberal environmentalists could now seem to have egg on their face for advocating something shown by scientists to be counterproductive and unwise. But I ask, were the actual environmentalists actually in favor of biofuels? I did a google search for "biofuels Sierra Club" and found these juicy quotes.

  1. The Oregon chapter of the Sierra Club said,
    "However, we urge caution in promoting corn-based ethanol in Oregon. The production of ethanol from corn can create its own pollution, including carbon monoxide, methanol, toluene, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. Corn is also a very water intensive crop to grow, and a shift to large scale production in the Northwest to meet ethanol demands would put additional pressure on existing water supplies. Further, the widespread use of petroleum based fertilizers for corn production, as well as the petroleum used when shipping corn from other parts of the country, can significantly undermine the value of corn ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels. We were pleased to see the final version of HB 2210 exlude corn ethanol from production incentives."
  2. A "Smart Energy Summer" page at the Sierra Club says,
    "Biofuels are fuels made from renewable sources such corn, sugarcane, or soy. Because they're made from crops grown right here in America, biofuels are seen by many people as the solution to our energy woes. A little digging, however, reveals that the biofuels of today may not be the best energy source for tomorrow.
    The page contains links to newspaper articles such as, Washington Post: "False Hope: Ethanol Won't Get Us There", and New York Times: "Corn or Soy? How 'bout Neither?"
  3. The Maui, Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club has a page with many links explaining the reasons
    "Why biofuels are not sustainable and a threat to America's National Security."

Is it really the case that environmentalists have finally been proven wrong, if Scientific American weighs in against biofuels?

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