Actually it's Big Ethanol and Big Corn that are under fire by Big Oil, though Big Corn and Big Agriculture are a major client of Big Oil. We tend to think they might all deserve each other.
Anyway, it's a webpage of commentary about and links to debunkings [by reputable folks, it looks like] of Pimentel's ethanol, uh, research. I haven't read all of it, but, here, I give you some points:
you can see the entire PDF here
That last bullet item, DDGS, dry distillers grains with solubles, highlights the fact that maufacturing processes, including the production of gasoline from crude oil, rarely produce just one product. The very same bushel of corn that's feeding your cars is also feeding your cows, [and bringing other good stuff to your life]. Ethanol advocates say you have to count some of that input energy towards producing the cattle feed [and other products], instead of counting all of it towards producing motor fuel.
It's a valid argument. I don't know yet if the Pimentel refuters are calculating the same for fossil fuels -- how much of the input energy goes towards producing the other products that happen when you make gasoline -- but I hope to find out.
Much as I applaud his conservation-mindedness, and yes, he's right about one thing -- all our energy usage is essentially a net consumption of the earth's finite resources, no matter what form that energy takes -- life really is too short to spend in the company of David Pimentel. I'll mention briefly a couple of other points and then hope to not think of this guy again, for a while at least.
- The rising world demand for ethanol is destroying the rainforests. It's a valid concerm, that Brazil [and probably other places suited to growing sugar cane] will mow down the world's rainforests to raise fuel crops, and it's one I worry about too, but even on this topic there's debate.
- We're taking food out of the mouths of the poor kids in Africa. Not really. Most of the corn grown in the US goes to feeding our cows and other food animals. Most of the rest of of the corn we consume in the US is in the form of alcoholic beverages and processed food items. We don't export a lot of our corn, but what we do export goes mostly to the cows and other food animals of the [already well-fed] European countries. Only a tiny fraction of it ends up nourishing the bodies of starving children in third world countries. If you truly care about the children, you'll become a vegan and a teetotaller.
- We might start mowing down our own forests to turn into cornfields. A distinct possibility. Cut back on your consumption of just about everything, and vote for people who will actually do things to save the environment.
Aside to Arch: ultimately you may prove to be right, and I wrong, about teh burdz and teh kittehs, but Stanley Temple's "research" [and unfortunately also his reach] is on a par with Pimentel's.