Citing the Patzek/Pimentel paper mentioned in the lively comments section of biodiversivist’s “Bad idea” post, Wilson notes that the current energy bill (great resource on that here) is going to have some interesting results if it’s passed — it will both encourage ethanol production and demand that less fossil fuels be used.
But increased ethanol production will actually lead to an increase in the amount of fossil fuels used: “We would use less fossil fuel and produce less greenhouse gas by burning the fossil fuel directly in the motor vehicle.” Yet another reason to take a pass on this year’s energy bill as the LA Times editorial board suggests.
Wilson actually concludes that we might be better off using corn for cars, because this would mean less high-fructose corn syrup, which she asserts has an even worse effect than the biofuel. However, it’s clear that biofuel is not going to be a feasible solution for the global car fleet, even if demand is significantly reduced. There is certainly low-hanging fruit to be grabbed, but biofuel is going to remain a niche market.