Ethanol ain’t no magic bullet (2)

Citizen groups in many small Midwestern towns are trying to stop ethanol plants from being built in their communities, according to today’s front-page article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Fueled by a 51 cents per gallon federal government subsidy and other incentives for “alternative energy sources,” ethanol production from corn is driving up the cost of food, meat and poultry, as well as the prices of Midwestern farmland.

Corn-based ethanol has been touted by policymakers — and producers — as a panacea to solve both energy security and environmental problems.

Now, community groups are objecting to ethanol plants because of their environmental impact. As the WSJ puts it:

Opponents complain that ethanol plants deplete aquifers, fraw heavy truck traffic, pose safety concerns, contribute to air pollution and produce a sickly-sweet smell akin to that of a barroom floor.

While the article focuses on the town of Cambria, Wisconsin, and its resistance to a local ethanol plant, the WSJ notes: “Fights have broken out in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and several towns in Wisconsin.”

For CEI’s take on potential problems with government-subsidized ethanol production, see Dennis Avery’s recent monograph here.