Grist is part of that unthinking – the fat and thick end – of environmentalism. Which is why they ask questions like this:
Why won’t Joe Biden let ethanol die already?
Because that’s what happens when you legislate a stupidity. There is no a political interest behind the continuation of that stupidity.
Ethanol started out because varied environmentalists couldn’t do sums. Yes, it’s true that there are CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels. So, if we use something other than fossil fuels to power our cars then we’ll have fewer emissions from the car tailpipes. This is true and obvious.
But in a fossil fuel powered society the production of that something else will also have emissions. This is true of electricity in batteries – if we’re using a coal fired power plant then we’ll be increasing emissions – coal has higher emissions, even before transmission losses, that petrol per unit of motion created. This is also true of growing plants to cook them to make ethanol to put in cars.
When those actual sums were done we find out that ethanol in petrol increases total emissions. It’s a bad idea.
However, having created the subsidy to get it going ever farmer in Iowa will now vote against anyone who suggests cutting that subsidy. Iowa is the start of every American presidential election cycle.
Any government program creates a political constituency for that program. That’s why bad government is so difficult to kill.