Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Missouri Should Think Twice About Pushing Biodiesel

A bill making its way through the Missouri Senate would mandate that all diesel fuel sold in Missouri contain 5% biofuel by 2010.  The apparent goal of the measure is to protect the environment and support local farmers.  According to BusinessWeek, the push for this is coming from local corn and soybean farm interests looking to make more money on the sale of their crops.  But farm commodity prices are already going up and the price of food is going up in turn.  Do we really want to reduce the amount of food we have available (and increase its cost) through another big government mandate requiring us to burn more and more of it in our fuel tanks?

In this cause the farming interests have ready made allies in the environmentalist movement and and global warming crowd.  But their support might be misplaced.  The bloom is coming off the biofuel rose.  Several reports, including a November 2007 article in Smithsonian, indicate that the creation of some biofuels is worse for the environment than burning gasoline.

I believe in the family farm and farmers.  But I also believe in the free market.  The market should drive commodity prices (and, remember, is already driving them up), governments shouldn't drive prices on anything.  And before even beginning to consider meddling in the market, governments should be sure of their science.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's the wrong kind of target to set. The article from the Smithsonian points out several errors in that type of thought. They need to set targets, fedrally, to limit fossil fuel consumption and emissions, and then let the engineers and the market figure out how to hit them.