Sen. Udall: End corn ethanol subsidy, support algae and cellulosic

From Sen. Udall:

America no longer needs taxpayer subsidies for corn-based ethanol. It is a mature technology and the Renewable Fuels Standard already ensures that we use ethanol to displace foreign oil.

“The debate in the Senate over the past several days has shown that Congress must signal that we’re prepared to deal with the corn ethanol subsidy by the end of the year. While I believe tax policy should not be changed mid-year, I hope today’s vote will put the ongoing bipartisan negotiations on track to update our biofuels policy to focus on developing advanced biofuels, such as algae and cellulosic ethanol, in 2012 and beyond.

World’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant

Construction has started on a cellulosic ethanol plant in Italy which will produce 13 million gallons of ethanol a year from Arundo Donax, a giant reed which can reach 30 feet in height and which is classified as invasive by California.

Much as we need alternative fuels, using amounts of crop land to grow plants for fuel rather than for food, is not environmentally sound, especially not when that plant is invasive.

Producing ethanol from plant, wood, and animal waste is certainly worthwhile. But using cropland to produce it, in addition to using large amounts of water and fertilizer, leads to high food prices as well as hunger in the Third World.