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Bad news for ethanol lovers. One of the most important ethanol producers in the U.S., ADM, has announced that U.S. production of ethanol was down by 21 percent, from some 12.9 million gallons in mid-late 2008 to 10.2 million right now. The market was up when oil prices were high, plants were built (or planned for) about everywhere and ethanol producers received big subsidies. Then came the lower price of oil, a higher price for corn and the credit crunch - all obvious reasons why producers now f

Not to be outdone by those Coors ethanol vehicles at the DNC, Republicans will get their own ethanol-dose during their national convention this week. On Tuesday night in the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council will host a "celebration" called AgNite (because you know that farmers are the first to ditch old school and correct spellings of words like night). The self-styled non-partisan AgNite will celibrate "America's food and agricultural industry with key policymakers, convention del

Photo by MikeGroft. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

There has been talk of a continental U.S. ethanol pipeline before. Back in 2006, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) proposed legislation on the issue, but it didn't get very far. The idea didn't die, though. This past week, Magellan Midstream Partners and Buckeye Partners announced that the two companies would begin thinking about building a 1,700-mile pipeline across half the continent to bring ethanol from the corn states of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota to Pennsy

The Kansas City star printed a point-counterpoint yesterday that tries to answer this question: "Is increased use of corn-based ethanol a good idea?" Well, guess what? The pro response does now contain a convincing argument for corn ethanol. They don't even try.

Every day, it seems, corn ethanol gets a little less attractive. In fact, if the information in this article from the latest print edition of The Economist catches on, then ethanol advocates are going to have two more easy-to-remember absurditiies to defend: 1.) biofuels will use a third of the maize grown in the U.S. this year and 2.) filling "up an SUV's fuel tank with ethanol [uses] enough maize to feed a person for a year."

How many E85 pumps do you have nearby? Odds are, not very many. Meanwhile, production of ethanol continues to climb and more corn is being consumed for fuel production. That's driving up prices of grain for livestock feed. All in all almost no one is happy. In spite the fact that people are starting to realize that corn ethanol is clearly not a panacea, there may actually be an upside to this. Perhaps the increased price of feed grain will encourage more livestock producers to get them off the f

In recent years America's beleaguered farmers have seen some welcome relief in the form of growing demand for corn to produce ethanol. As new ethanol production plants have popped up they have created new jobs, but it hasn't all been rosy. Everyone wants more ethanol plants, just Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY). People have begun to push back against plans to build new plants in their communities (actually, ethanol NIMBYism is nothing new).

Here are two headlines from the ethanol and corn press in last three days:

Want to spend an hour and a half with corn, but don't want to eat anything or drive an ethanol-fueled car? Starting tomorrow, at least in New York, you can check out a new documentary film called King Corn. Two young men set about trying to grow corn in Iowa and take a look at just what's up with all this corn in America. The film doesn't get into ethanol (it focuses more on corn as food), but the film's upcoming release has given the media a chance to bring the biofuel into the debate. Earlier

The Mascoma Corporation has already announced that it wants to be the first to have a cellulosic ethanol plant up and running, with three projects announced in Tennessee, New York state and Michigan. The ethanol company POET (formerly Broin) is not going to let Mascoma get there without a challenge, and announced this week an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy for the first phase of a commercial cellulosic ethanol project.

Many corn ethanol production facilities are located somewhere near where the corn is grown. In the U.S., that means the Midwest, for the most part. But there is a lot of motion to get ethanol out to the coasts. Juliette Anthony, writing over at Renewable Energy Access, illustrates why corn ethanol is a terrible idea for California. Here's the first graph:

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