ethanol.bmpIn his State of the Union address tonight, President Bush is expected to call for a doubling of ethanol use in gasoline.

This is a much delayed but very important step by the Administration to recognize that global warming has become a serious problem.

It comes after ten major companies — from General Electric to Dupont and PG&E — launched an initiative yesterday to push for mandatory federal emission controls, something Bush is unlikely to support. It also comes after an unprecedented number of observations about dramatic changes happening to our water, wildlife and crops.

There are drawbacks with corn ethanol, and the cynic will say Bush’s move is politically motivated (the policy is good farmers in Iowa, an important state for Presidential elections). But it feels like something has finally cracked. Scientists have even hooked up with evangelicals on this!

It’s good California is helping lead the way, via Gov. Schwarzenegger’s unilaterial proposal to cut green-house emissions in California. There are large economic rewards for being early to develop needed technologies.

Here’s the New York Times:

…President Bush is expected to call for a huge increase in the amount of ethanol that refiners mix with gasoline, probably double the current goal of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.

While the details of the proposal are not known, 15 billion gallons of ethanol would work out to more than 10 percent of the country’s current gasoline consumption, and is far beyond the current capacity of about 5.4 billion gallons. At least half of the new ethanol would come from corn…

In separate, but related: The NYT has a piece about the boom in green technology investments in China, and how government leaders are eager to cooperate, and are making this clear to U.S. venture firms like Kleiner Perkins.

While independent hard data on alternative energy investments in China is hard to come by, Mr. Li’s joint venture, aimed at marrying overseas investors and Chinese entrepreneurs, testifies to the emerging trend. From June 2005 to June 2006, American venture capitalists put $100 million into China-based start-ups focused on alternative energy, double the investment in the period a year earlier, Cleantech China said.