Reader Val E. sends news of Businessweek's interesting take on "Ethanol's Growing List of Enemies," a crew that includes "ranchers and environmentalists, hog farmers and hippies, solar-power idealists and free-market pragmatists":
They have different reasons for opposing ethanol. But their common contentions are that the focus on corn-based ethanol has been too hasty, and the government's active involvement-through subsidies for ethanol refiners and high tariffs to keep out alternatives like ethanol made from sugar-is likely to lead to chaos in other sectors of the economy….
Economists argue that making ethanol from corn wouldn't make any sense without the government's help. The mix of federal and state subsidies to corn ethanol amounted to a conservative estimate of $5 billion to $7 billion in 2006, says [Doug] Koplow of Earth Track. A considerable chunk of that money comes from the 51¢ tax refund for each gallon of ethanol refiners blend with gasoline to make fuels that can power flexible-fuel cars.