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The New York Times Tuesday asked the Environmental Protection Agency for an "unbiased, accurate accounting" of the environmental costs of ethanol production. Congress mandated increased use of ethanol in the '07 energy bill, thinking then that ethanol ran cleaner than gasoline, was carbon neutral and decreased the country's dependence on foreign oil. Then studies questioned that assumption, saying earlier comparisons failed to "account for the emissions caused when land is cleared and tilled, releasing large quantities of stored carbon."

Congress said ethanol had to be cleaner than gasoline and now it's up to the EPA to determine whether that is the case. And so the Times is asking for a good study. "The issue here is the fate of the planet, not the fate of a particular industry," the paper editorialized.

Meanwhile, ethanol producers are arguing that any bailout of the auto industry ought to require auto makers to boost production of cars that can run on higher blends of corn based ethanol, according to the Des Moines Regis