Okay, here's why biofuels are such a big deal, and why I've been so pissed at Pimental's crappy science (see earlier post). This image is generated by a relatively new European Union satellite. It shows concentrations of air pollution (specifically, nitrous oxides, a primary cause of smog-- we can infer other atmospheric toxins from it, though, because we can measure how NOx and sulfur dioxide are related in specific cities). Look at how toxic the air is in the US steel belt, and in China's developing industrial zone, and what the heck's going on up in Canada? Is that air pollution from processing the oil sands?
I circled Brazil, so that geographically impaired people can find it. Guess what kind of fuel Brazil uses for transportation? Yep: ethanol. Brazilians grow their own fuel domestically, and pay about half what we do at the pump. Notice that Brazilian air is nearly free of smog precursor chemicals. It's similar to the air above Tibet.
Makes sense that Venezuela wants to keep shipping oil up to Massachusetts, doesn't it?