Best Columns: Caning corn, Driving diesel
Not all ethanol is created equal, says Alexandre Marinis in Bloomberg, and
The case for cane-based ethanol
Not all ethanol is created equal, says Alexandre Marinis in Bloomberg, and “there’s a world of difference” between the corn-based fuel made in the U.S. and its sugar-cane-based cousin from Brazil. Let’s call them “ethacorn” and “ethacane.” Ethacorn causes significantly greater “negative economic, environmental, and social problems” than ethacane. And it is contributing to the spike in food prices, while ethacane isn’t. Yet unfairly, “both are being thrown into the same pinata to get hammered.” Cane-based ethanol produces much more energy per unit than ethacorn, and it’s “twice as productive” to grow. Perhaps if the U.S. ever drops its protectionist 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on ethacane, we’ll “finally” have “a real substitute for oil.”
The case for choosing diesel
Diesel is “pushing $5 a gallon,” says Jim Henry in BusinessWeek.com, but choosing a diesel car or SUV could actually give you “better gas mileage—and savings—than regular cars.” Diesel engines are much more efficient and can log 25 percent to 30 percent more miles per gallon than gas engines. With regular gas prices up to almost $4, it looks like a good time for German brands to finally launch a slew of clean diesel cars in the U.S. starting this fall, after years of waiting. The only problem is the diesel. “Unless refineries start producing more diesel, the prices will escalate beyond the point that a diesel can offer any cost benefit.” And people will just buy hybrids.
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