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In an effort to reduce U.S. reliance on unstable foreign oil sources, President Bush announced last week as part of his State of the Union address that the country should reduce gasoline use by 20 percent by increasing its use of home-grown, renewable biofuels—like ethanol and biodiesel—fivefold within a decade while increasing fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles. The President would like to see the U.S. producing and using 35 billion gallons of so-called alternative fuels by 2017.
But despite the showy push for renewables, environmentalists are very unhappy with the Bush plan. “Producing 35 billion gallons of ethanol a year would require putting an additional 129,000 square miles of farmland—an area the size of Kansas and Iowa—into corn production, which is not very likely,” said Philip Clapp, president of the non-profit National Environmental Trust.
Meanwhile, Kurt Davies of Greenpeace USA raised doubts about whether ethanol is the best solution to the nation’s energy woes. “All the fossil fuels that are used in the production of corn, in the fertilizers and in the fuel, in the ploughs and transportation and so on and in the distillation process, it becomes almost a very dirty fuel,” he said.