The Trump administration just proposed boosting ethanol consumption by allowing it to be sold year-round—welcome news for midwestern corn country but troubling for environmentalists. Currently, E15 (a blended fuel of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) cannot be sold between June 1 and September 15, as burning ethanol in warmer temperatures releases ozone, which leads to more smog-forming air pollution. But that’s not the only reason ethanol is controversial. Despite its green reputation, the burning of biofuels in place of petroleum gasoline often results in an increase of total greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to how many resources (water, land, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, etc.) are used to grow crops. Without sustainable growing practices, biofuels can also degrade soil and pollute water through agricultural runoff. In short, the Trump administration should invest in long-term transportation solutions, such as electric vehicles and fuel efficiency, and lay off the corn.
Update: The administration followed through in May and formally lifted the summertime ethanol ban.