But won't it at least get us unhooked from Middle East oil? Wouldn't that be worth the other costs? Another myth. A University of Minnesota study shows that even turning all of America's corn into ethanol would meet only 12 percent of our gasoline demand. As Taylor told an energy conference last March, "For corn ethanol to completely displace gasoline consumption in this country, we would need to appropriate all cropland in the United States, turn it completely over to corn-ethanol production, and then find 20 percent more land on top of that for cultivation."
OK, but it will cut down on air pollution, right? Wrong again. Studies indicate that the standard mixture of 90 percent ethanol and 10 percent gasoline pollutes worse than gasoline.
Well, then, the ethanol champs must be right when they say it will reduce greenhouse gases and reverse global warming.
Nope. "Virtually all studies show that the greenhouse gases associated with ethanol are about the same as those associated with conventional gasoline once we examine the entire life cycle of the two fuels," Taylor says.
Surely, ethanol must be good for something. And here we finally have a fact. It is good for something -- or at least someone: corn farmers and processors of ethanol, such as Archer Daniels Midland, the big food processor known for its savvy at getting subsidies out of the taxpayers.
And it's good for vote-hungry presidential hopefuls. Iowa is a key state in the presidential-nomination sweepstakes, and we all know what they grow in Iowa. Sen. Clinton voted against ethanol 17 times until she started running for president. Coincidence?
"It's no mystery that people who want to be president support the corn ethanol program," Taylor says. "If you're not willing to sacrifice children to the corn god, you will not get out of the Iowa primary with more than one percent of the vote, Right now the closest thing we have to a state religion in the United States isn't Christianity. It's corn."