It is now clear that the federal corn ethanol mandate has driven up food prices, strained agricultural markets, increased competition for arable land and promoted conversion of uncultivated land to grow crops. In addition, previous estimates have dramatically underestimated corn ethanol's greenhouse gas emissions by failing to account for changes in land use.
Although the oil shale industry is still in its commercial infancy, it has a long history of government support that continues today. The Bureau of Land Management recently issued two new research, development, and demonstration leases and new federal regulations for commercial leases and royalty rates are expected any day. Before the federal government goes down that road it’s important to take a look back and ask whether we should be throwing good money after bad.