The title of their latest op-ed is “Rethinking Ethanol”. They suggest that Congress might want to consider ending the corn ethanol tax break as well as the mandates for increased ethanol production in the 2007 energy bill. Now, as a conservative I’m generally for most tax breaks, but in this case, I’m not sure that corn ethanol delivers everything it promises for all the government subsidies that industry receives. The New York Times agrees with me, but in its own unique way, pointing out that the ethanol producers are making too much money for government subsidies, tax breaks, etc.
They have two objections. The first, and most important, is that diversion of corn production to fuel rather than food leads to global food shortages — and this isn’t helpful when food prices are already on the rise due to higher demand. Why did it take the New York Times to point this out? Why isn’t this common knowledge? The second objection is that some biofuels, such as corn ethanol, may in fact accelerate global warming. How about that? Corn ethanol could be harmful to the environment. I mock the New York Times for their lateness to the party, but I welcome the skepticism I see here. It’s a good thing when conventional wisdom on the environment is challenged, even if I have to credit that challenge to the New York Times.