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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Corn Ethanol at a Long Term Competitive Disadvantage

The science and the processes behind cellulosic ethanol are still being worked out, but once that brand of ethanol production gets its feet, the corn based ethanol made in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota is going to be hard pressed to compete. To wit:

A new cellulosic ethanol plant that promises to produce renewable biofuel for less than $1 a gallon has a new partner.

ICM, a Kansas-based ethanol plant design, engineering and support firm, has a new agreement with Illinois-based Coskata, which made headlines when it announced it could produce next-generation ethanol made from waste, plant materials or other biomass, rather than corn, at a fraction of the cost, and with a fraction of the pollution and political fallout.

The southeast could stand to become this country's major ethanol producer. It offers a good climate for fast growing ethanol stocks like switch grass, and it likely has the land capacity to farm those stocks without seriously hampering food production. If we in the Midwest choose to prop up the production of corn ethanol legislatively now, we will likely continue to do so in the future and assure ourselves of higher fuel prices than other areas of the nation where cellulosic ethanol production may proliferate.