Emissions from ethanol-fueled cars contain more of the carcinogenic chemicals formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, Jacobson said, and the vehicles will also boost atmospheric levels of ozone, a major component of smog, which will weaken people's immune systems and cause lung damage.
Also, the increase of corn production to make the ethanol will lead to the use of more fertilizer and more pesticides, and that will create more greenhouse gases.
So if ethanol isn't any cheaper or better for the environment, why is it so popular among politicians?
"It's no mystery that people who want to be president support the corn ethanol program," said Taylor. "The first caucus is in the state of Iowa, and if you're not willing to sacrifice children to the corn God you will not get out of the Iowa primary with more than 1 percent of the vote."
Presidential candidates know that if they want to do well with Midwest voters, they need to buddy up with corn producers. By pushing to subsidize ethanol, candidates are able to keep voters happy in critical Midwestern election states, and seem like friends of the environment. It also lets them convince voters that we're moving toward the hallowed state of "energy independence."
When I interviewed Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, he griped that "we have allowed our dependency on imported petroleum to grow and grow and grow -- that's not healthy for our country."
I asked Bayh, "But isn't the ethanol program robbing Peter to pay Paul -- with all of us being the Peters and the corn producers being the Pauls?"
"You're currently being robbed to pay sheiks in the Middle East," said Bayh. "Doesn't it make more sense to have Middle Western farms producing America's fuel?"
But ethanol won't cure our dependence on foreign oil. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says even turning all of America's corn into ethanol would only meet 12 percent of our gasoline demand.
And the idea that Middle Eastern countries could just withhold petroleum from us and "hold us hostage" is "nonsense," said Taylor. "Heck, they're held hostage to us -- 80 to 90 percent of their federal revenues come from oil sales [so] they have to sell oil, [because] they have no other business to be engaged in!"
He's right. Even if OPEC refuses to sell petroleum to us, all of the world's oil ends up in the same bathtub -- our enemies will sell to SOMEONE who will sell to someone who will sell to us.
When a fuel source is expensive and bad for the environment and won't help our foreign policy, then there's no reason to force taxpayers to foot the bill for producing it.
"This is a naked transfer program designed to take money from people who buy corn and to give it to people who grow corn and people who make ethanol for a living. That's all it is," said Taylor.