Floods Cloud Biofuel Future

Ruined Midwest crops spark worries about fuel supplies
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2008 4:09 AM CDT
A handful of corn is shown before it is processed at the Tall Corn Ethanol plant in Coon Rapids, Iowa, in this May 24, 2006 file photo.    (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file)
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(Newser) – The floods that swamped the corn belt last month have raised fresh fears about the future of biofuels, the New York Times reports. The ruined corn crop has sent the price of ethanol soaring, and experts worry that unpredictable weather could lead to future spikes in the price of energy as destabilizing as those caused by turmoil in oil-producing countries.

"We are holding ourselves hostage to the weather,” said one ethanol expert. “Agricultural markets are subject to wide variability and big price spikes, just like oil markets.” Officials in the biofuels industry say that the concerns are overstated, noting that the record-breaking floods had only a minimal effect on production. But with ethanol expected to form 20% of the nation's fuel supply in decades to come, some fear that tying crops to such fuel could plant the seeds of another energy crisis.