FROM Dennis Langley
Biofuels: The Benefits and the Bad News The rush is on for biofuels: to end dependence on oil, help solve global warming and create jobs for the rural poor. Corn-belt farmers are giving thanks today for ethanol, which brings incentives and subsidies from states and the federal government. But last May, the UN reported that biofuels may cause more environmental problems than they solve, as well as increasing the price of food. On this archived edition of To the Point, we weigh the pros and cons of energy from agricultural products. Is it really cleaner and cheaper? Is the US moving too fast?
Do Biofuels Cause More Problems than They Solve? The rush is on for biofuels to end dependence on oil, help solve global warming and create jobs for the rural poor. In America's corn-belt, especially in Iowa, there's a rush to produce ethanol. States and the federal government are providing incentives, including subsidies, for fuels derived from agricultural products. But a new UN report says the benefits of biofuels-including ethanol-may be offset by environmental damage, and there is growing concern about their impact on the price of food. We examine the pros and cons of energy from agricultural products. Is it really cleaner and cheaper? Is the US moving too fast?
Energy Independence and Ethanol One day after his State of the Union address, President Bush was on the road pushing energy independence by way of alternative fuels. Ethanol production, which is already a booming industry, would be increased five times on the way to reducing consumption of gasoline by twenty percent in the next ten years. Dozens of new, corn-based ethanol plans are coming on line in the farm states, and Wall Street sees a new gold rush. American voters also expect there's ethanol in their future, but there are plenty of not-so-hidden costs. Will corn-based ethanol deplete the food supply? What about greenhouse gases from ethanol and other "alternatives" like oil shale and coal? Is conservation a better solution? We're joined by pollsters, and energy experts and producers.
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?