Exposing Ethanol in the Centennial State

Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi has an excellent piece today on ethanol and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s enthusiastic embrace of it as a solution to virtually all of the state’s energy and environmental problems. He gives particular notice to a new study by Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson on the environmental downside to ever increasing ethanol use:

[Gov.] Ritter claims E85 – an 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline blend – will help reduce imports, lower emissions, benefit corn growers and stimulate the economy. Only one of those contentions is provable: the corn-lobby benefits.

[Prof. Mark] Jacobsen found that an E85 vehicle reduces atmospheric levels of two carcinogens, benzene and butadiene, but increases two others: formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

As a result, cancer rates for E85 are likely to be similar to those for gasoline – or worse. Jacobson’s study, based on an intricate model, found that in certain parts of the country, E85 significantly increased ozone, the main ingredient of smog.

He maintains that mortality rates could rise 4 percent in the United States by 2020 if we make the switch to E85.

Of course, the many drawbacks to dramatically increased ethanol production and use have been tackled by CEI scholars as well – recently by Brazilian economist Marcus Renato Xavier and Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute. Also, don’t forget about the excellent Marlo Lewis-moderated website Facts About Ethanol.