NPR ethanol series Dec. 2010

From NPR: The recent tax cut bill preserves a pretty sweet deal for corn ethanol. It extends a tax subsidy, along with an import tariff supporting a fuel that already enjoys a guaranteed market. But what do taxpayers get for all the help?  In the first of our three-part series on ethanol, Frank Morris of Harvest Public Media reports that the heated debate over ethanol tramples some basic realities.

Ethanol may seem modern, but people throughout Appalachia have been making it for hundreds of years.

“We are known for our moonshine industry,” says science writer Bill Kovarik with a laugh, “very well known for our moonshine industry. It is still flourishing.”

Kovarik, who’s also a professor at Radford University, says that ethanol is, first and foremost, a way to make corn more valuable. More than a century ago, Henry Ford built cars to run on it, with just that in mind.   “So, you could replace the transportation income that farmers used to have by [their] growing the fuel for the cars, instead of growing horses and feed.”

Link to the rest of the story  /  Link to the longer Harvest Media version

Postscript: Bob Dineen of the Renewable Fuels Association had an interesting take on this series:

“Where in this series is the comparison to Big Oil?  You can’t talk, weigh, or dismiss an alternative without talking about the problem it is trying to solve.  So where, perhaps in the final piece, will we hear NPR discuss the billions in subsidies and tax breaks that go to Big Oil conglomerates and dangerous dictators in oil rich countries?”

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