The U.S. Senate recently passed an energy policy bill that doubles the amount of corn-based ethanol in American gasoline. But, Cornell University professor of ecology David Pimentel claims drivers who fill their tanks with gasohol - a blend of gasoline and corn-based ethanol - are getting a product that is inefficient and environmentally harmful.
Corn farming takes a considerable toll on the environment, causing more soil erosion and requiring more insecticides, herbicides, and nitrogen fertilizer than any other crop. And, says Pimentel, every gallon of ethanol produced results in 13 gallons of effluent pollution. "Most of us wouldn't mind paying a premium for a homegrown fuel that's truly efficient, environmentally friendly, and renewable. But corn is none of those," says Pimentel. Making a gallon of ethanol from corn requires 29% more energy from fossil fuels than a gallon of ethanol can provide.