I guess we can stop telling fairy tales about the climate change bill improving in the Senate. To the contrary, the corn/agriculture/ethanol Democrats, having thrown the science under the bus in the House, are preparing to back up and run over it again, just to be sure.
The Iowa Democrat, a major advocate for ethanol, also wants to expand opportunities for the corn-based version of the fuel. He said he would like to include language that would raise the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent — a change the ethanol industry has been lobbying for but auto manufacturers have been hesitant to embrace and environmental groups have balked at. “EPA’s got to get over their absolute rejection of ethanol. They’ve just got to get over it,” Harkin said. “And we’re going to force them to get over it.”
Just to be clear, Harkin, who is a real live actual lawyer by professional qualification, told the Times’ Climate Wire: “If it’s like the House bill, I’ll be reasonably happy. We want no indirect land use, things like that in there — there is no scientific basis for that.”
The land use issue is not a fringe matter: both the California and EPA estimates (omitting, in the second case, an indefensible fantasy scenario in which corn ethanol has to be grown for a hundred years) recognize land use change emissions and find corn ethanol to be no more climate friendly than gasoline. I had a hand in the California analysis and I can offer several reasons why the numbers the Air Resources Board are using are too low. In any case, no scientific analysis has ever shown the indirect land use change discharge from crop-sourced ethanol to be zero or close to it. Congress is setting up to put global warming policy for transportation fuels into reverse and burn the trees out from under a lot of tropical creatures, and we haven’t even heard from the coal folks in the Senate; surely they expect equal rights to profit by toasting the planet.
No wonder Obama’s climate initiative at the G-8 was dissed. He promised policy would be constrained by reality as science observes it, but apparently that was, let’s say, aspirational, and he went to l’Aquila with empty hands, in fact with a generally weak environmental record going back to the transit-stingy stimulus.
Has anyone seen John Holdren doing any actual science advising, by the way?