Greg Mankiw's Blog: McCain vs Obama: Ethanol
Mr. McCain advocates eliminating the multibillion-dollar annual government subsidies that domestic ethanol has long enjoyed.... Mr. Obama, in contrast, favors the subsidies....
...“If you want to take some of the pressure off this market, the obvious thing to do is lower that tariff and let some Brazilian ethanol come in,” said C. Ford Runge, an economist specializing in commodities and trade policy at the Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy at the University of Minnesota. “But one of the fundamental reasons biofuels policy is so out of whack with markets and reality is that interest group politics have been so dominant in the construction of the subsidies that support it.”
Corn ethanol generates less than two units of energy for every unit of energy used to produce it, while the energy ratio for sugar cane is more than 8 to 1. With lower production costs and cheaper land prices in the tropical countries where it is grown, sugar cane is a more efficient source.
Here is another side of --Ethanol's Failed Promise -- Ethanol V Food -- Do we need Energy or Food – Bit of Humpy Dumpy Necrophilia Question?
...It is now abundantly clear that food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy -- most of which comes from coal. Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.