Growth on Ethanol, But Not Emissions

By 2012, corn and switchgrass will supply 7.5 billion gallons of all motor fuel sold in the U.S.© GETTY IMAGES

Following a 2005 Congressional mandate, the federal government has finally implemented an increase in the percentage of renewable fuels consumed by vehicles on America’s roadways. The new standards, announced by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen Johnson last week, require 4.02 percent of all motor fuel—or about 4.7 billion gallons—sold in the U.S. in 2007 to come from renewable sources, primarily agricultural crops. And by 2012, 7.5 billion gallons of all motor fuel sold in the U.S. will be derived from non-petroleum renewable sources like corn and switchgrass.

Although the White House has still not committed to mandatory regulations limiting the emission of greenhouse gases, Johnson announced that the new fuel standards will not only cut dependence on foreign oil but will also help curb global warming.

"The increased use of renewable fuels…will prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of up to 13 million metric tons," he told reporters. "That’s equal to the carbon dioxide emissions of nearly 2.3 million automobiles."

While environmentalists are pleased at the emphasis on renewable fuels like ethanol, they want far greater commitment on the part of the federal government, including regulation of fleet-average fuel economy (stagnant for more than 20 years). A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court calling on the EPA to regulate leading greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act is a step forward, but only if the federal government opts to act on it. Bush has so far signaled that he considers his current climate action plan to be sufficient.

Source: Planet Ark