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Articles by Tom Philpott

Tom Philpott was previously Grist's food writer. He now writes for Mother Jones.

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This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

President Joe Biden campaigned on an ambitious plan to tackle climate change with a “clean energy revolution,” including incentives to phase out gas-powered cars in favor of electric ones. The growing consensus among climate experts is that to slash carbon emissions quickly enough, we need to eliminate as much air-fouling combustion as possible while expanding wind and solar energy to power the grid. But a key aspect of Biden’s agenda contradicts this push: He’s vowed to “promote ethanol and the next generation of biofuels,” declaring them “vital to the future of rural America — and the climate.” Biden tapped longtime ethanol champion Tom Vilsack — former governor of Iowa, the fuel’s Saudi Arabia — to run the Department of Agriculture, a post he held under former President Barack Obama.

In doing so, Biden is doubling down on a bad idea that has flourished since the days of President George W. Bush. Shortly before declaring the nation “addicted to oil” in 2006, Bush pushed through a bipartisan law with a “renewable fuel standard” that effectively man... Read more

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