There is a whole other issue not considered by any of the economists. That is that in most of the Great Plains states, groundwater is used to grow the crops. That water is being depleted and not replaced. Using water to grow crops to produce vehicle fuel is to me a waste. It may make economical sense (then again it may not), but the water is irreplacable for use by individual farms, communities and for use in other crops. Here are some references:
http://www.choicesmagazine.org/2003-1/2003-1-04.pdf (Conserving the Ogallala Aquifer: Efficiency, Equity and Moral Motives)
http://www.uswaternews.com/archives/arcsupply/3scisay2.html (Scientists say drought accelerating depletion of Ogallala Aquifer)
Read the first page of the first reference for some statistics. Sobering what depletion of the aquifer will mean for our agriculture.
You've nailed it.
Gee, that paints a cheery picture, doesn't it? And I can't see where it's wrong, either - pretty much everyone agrees the aquifers are being drained and polluted. Do you suppose anything will be done about it before they're sucked dry?
I am mostly unbaware of the ethanol advantages or disadvantages but certainly depleting ground water to grow more corn would not be a good idea. What about sugar (beet) cane? Does growing cane or beets need as much water I wonder?
One thing for sure (?): we need to become energy independent.
Hadn't considered the groundwater angle.
And isn't corn grown with petroleum-based fertilizer? If corn requires oil to grow, then how does it solve the oil problem?
I suppose the answer is that most of the energy in corn comes not from the fertilizer but from the sun. But if that's the case, then isn't a corn field just a giant solar panel?
And if this is the case, then why not just build acres of solar panels? After all, a field of solar panels would require no oil-based fertilizer and would place no strain on the aquifers.
These questions seem obvious, so they must have easy answers. Maybe plants are more efficient at converting solar energy into usable power. And no doubt acres of solar panels would cost a fortune to manufacture. In a sense, a cornfield manufactures itself.
Thank you! I have been saying this, to rolling eyes for some time now. Too many people don't realize we are in as much trouble with water in this country as we are with oil, maybe more so.