In his Jan. 23 State of the Union Address, President Bush called for ramping up production of biofuels, such as ethanol from corn, to help cut U.S. dependency on foreign oil. A new report describes an ethanol-industry expansion already under way that is poised to boost corn-ethanol production by 160 percent within 2 years.
However, such an increase may carry a high cost, says the report's author, agricultural economist Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
The 116 existing U.S. ethanol-fuel distilleries now use 53 million tons of corn. The 90 distilleries under or planned for construction would boost that demand to 139 million metric tons of corn, half of the projected 2008 U.S. harvest.