IWF President and CEO Michelle Bernard has an op-ed in today’s Washington Times (a publication that recently celebrated their 25th anniversary – congrats!) about ethanol.  A favorite of both Republicans and Democrats, ethanol is often viewed as the solution to America’s energy problems.  If only it were that simple:

“It would be wonderful if addressing our energy problems was as simple as increasing the production and use of ethanol made from corn, which one of America’s most bountiful crops. Unfortunately, ethanol cannot meaningfully substitute for oil given our current energy infrastructure. Moreover, government-driven ethanol production creates its own set of problems, from its effect on the market for other products to its environmental impact.

“Currently, 12 percent of the U.S. corn crop is converted into ethanol, which accounts for 2 percent of domestic gasoline. A University of Minnesota researcher estimated that even if the government induced farmers to use all corn grown for ethanol, this would reduce gasoline consumption by just 12 percent. In other words, ethanol is not the path to ‘energy independence.’ Even if America heavily invests in increasing the use of ethanol, we would still depend on oil from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela to keep the country running.

“In addition, dedicating all of the U.S. corn crop to ethanol production would significantly damage markets for agricultural and related goods. Corn prices already have been rising and are affecting the costs of everyday staples, from tortillas produced directly with corn to steaks, since corn plays a major role in feeding cattle. Thousands of Mexicans recently protested the rising cost of corn, urging their government to keep prices low. If U.S. farmers sharply curtail corn exports, count on a major ripple affect around the world.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Read more here.