Beware: Ethanol's hidden costs only now are emerging
Corn-based ethanol's emergence as the nation's leading alternative motor fuel is driven by politics. There are many alternative fuel possibilities, but corn has the biggest lobby and, therefore, the biggest subsidies.
Ethanol produced from other crops, notably sugar cane, produces far more energy at lower cost than does ethanol produced from corn. Diesel fuel produced from crops also is a more efficient fuel than ethanol produced from corn.
Meanwhile, it should accelerate research into producing cellulosic ethanol - fuel from entire plants rather than grains alone - which would vastly increase the volume of ethanol per plant and, therefore, substantially reduce its cost.