Claim: Biofuels wiping out grasslands; ‘Comparable to deforestation in Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia’

“America’s prairies are shrinking. Spurred on by the rush for biofuels, farmers are digging up grasslands in the northern Plains to plant crops at the quickest pace since the 1930s. While that’s been a boon for farmers, the upheaval could create unexpected problems.”

Read more at the Washington Post.


  1. Like most other observations made about growing food to burn it in our cars, the WaPo article focuses its attention on the animal habitats that will be disturbed and completely ignores that growing the crops and converting them into ethanol takes a lot of water.

  2. If you’re going to try to run an industrial society on unicorn poop, you’ve got to feed the unicorns a high-fiber diet.

  3. Surprise! Those “renewable” fuels takes acres and acres of land to renew. Guess someone should have thought of that. It was nice they mentionied cellulosic biofuels are not commercially available. I did think Brazil already made ethanol from switchgrass, making them morally superior to the US. Couldn’t they share the recipe?

  4. Maybe the only thing sillier than growing a food crop for fuel is growing a trash crop for fuel. The original theory of cellulosic ethanol was to use scrap that otherwise had to be disposed of.

  5. Alcohol has a low level of BTUs compared to petroleum. It takes a lot of ground to grow enough sugar or fiber to make alcohol. The result is likely to remain a high-priced failure, whether based on cellulose or other material. If we could get the cellose material free or nearly so, and process it cheaply, it might be a winner. Otherwise, it’s a typical greenie enterprise.

  6. That nasty ol’ Law of Unintended Consequences is back at work again – not that this was *unanticipated*. Anybody with the slightest grasp of microeconomics knows that when you artificially inflate the price of a commodity (such as grass) people will rush to cash in on the boom – to ‘feed at the trough’ – which will send ripples through the nearby economy.

  7. On top of which: competition for available corn has raised the price of ethanol, even as petroleum prices are stable or falling a little, and this is one factor is high gasoline prices.


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