OPED: Ethanol mandate must be reformed

by David A. Imgrund, National Wildlife Federation

The road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. The road to a slowly unfolding environmental disaster was similarly paved, it seems.

The Renewable Fuel Standard was a good idea that was poorly implemented, and that has created unintended devastating environmental effects. What should have been a linchpin of a sound energy policy has become a boondoggle.

The law passed in 2005 had environmental safeguards included. Sadly, the language safeguarding the environment has not been enforced, or has been improperly interpreted. The original intent was to find alternative fuels, with the emphasis on new technologies that would enable ethanol production from cellulosic sources such as switchgrass, to be the key components for ethanol.

The 2008 recession resulted in a drying up of funding for such research. The ethanol mandate had taken a turn towards row crops, primarily corn, as the source of the ethanol.

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