The Wall Street Journal today highlights how political favoritism toward ethanol could end up creating a true environmental disaster:

Though you won’t hear it from the biofuels lobby, ethanol actually generates the same amount of greenhouse gas as fossil fuels, or more, per unit of energy. But this was still supposed to be better than coal or oil because ethanol’s CO2 is “recycled.” Since plants absorb and store carbon that is already in the atmosphere, burning them as fuel would create no new emissions, whereas fossil fuels release CO2 that has been buried for millions of years….

Cap-and-trade programs exacerbate the problem because developed countries (where emissions are putatively capped) get credit for reductions from ethanol-despite the fact that their biofuels are generally grown in developing countries (where emissions aren’t capped). So if Malaysians burn down a rain forest to grow palm oil that ends up in German biodiesel, Malaysia doesn’t count the land-use emissions and Germany doesn’t count the tail-pipe emissions.

Given these incentives, the authors cite a study showing that by 2050, “based solely on economic considerations, bioenergy could displace 59% of the world’s natural forest cover. . . . The reason: When bioenergy from any biomass is counted as carbon neutral, economics favor large-scale land conversion for bioenergy regardless of the actual net emissions.” In other words, not only is cap and trade self-defeating on its own terms but it also risks creating a genuine ecological disaster.

Does anyone else think that a lot of these so-called “green” policies aren’t about the environment at all, but are part of an entirely different agenda?