This month, the Environmental Protection Agency upheld its requirement for blending ethanol into gasoline. Though not unexpected given the strength of renewable fuel interests, this decision ignored the pleas of 10 governors, almost 200 members of Congress and many Michigan businesses. With drought destroying much of America's corn crop this summer and Thanksgiving dinners costing significantly more since 2005, the downsides of renewable fuels became all too clear. Responsibility now falls to Congress to roll back the unrealistic renewable fuel goals set in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.
To understand how we got to this unhappy place, a bit of history is needed. Renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel have long been hailed as alternatives to America's reliance on petroleum. The fuels bolster crop farmers' incomes and claim to protect the planet by recycling carbon from the air. As prices at the pump climbed over the last decade, biofuel proponents rallied support for a mandate to replace petroleum with home-grown biofuels.