Two of the senior senators from mid-western corn producing states, Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), have introduced legislation to investigate an ethanol pipeline. Currently, ethanol is mainly distributed by tankers over road and rail. The two senators are co-sponsors of a bill (S. 4003) that would direct the Department of Energy to conduct a study of the viability of distributing ethanol via pipelines. This would potentially make a lot of sense because the main feedstock for making ethanol in the United States today is corn, grown mainly in the central part of the country. The main markets for ethanol are on the coasts and transporting the fuel by road or rail cuts into the net energy available from the ethanol. If ethanol is to be widely used as a motor fuel, it makes the most sense to produce it from feedstock close to the source and then transport the fuel to market in a manner that uses the least amount of fuel. Of course building pipelines is by no means cheap or easy, but may well turn out to be the best alternative for ethanol.
[Source: harkin.senate.gov via GreenCarNirvana]