Over at Human Events, Walter Williams takes a close look at ethanol and has some serious concerns:

Ethanol contains water that distillation cannot remove. As such, it can cause major damage to automobile engines not specifically designed to burn ethanol. The water content of ethanol also risks pipeline corrosion and thus must be shipped by truck, rail car or barge. These shipping methods are far more expensive than pipelines.

Ethanol is 20-30% less efficient than gasoline, making it more expensive per highway mile. It takes 450 pounds of corn to produce the ethanol to fill one SUV tank. That’s enough corn to feed one person for a year. Plus, it takes more than one gallon of fossil fuel-oil and natural gas-to produce one gallon of ethanol. After all, corn must be grown, fertilized, harvested and trucked to ethanol producers-all of which are fuel-using activities. And, it takes 1,700 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol. On top of all this, if our total annual corn output were put to ethanol production, it would reduce gasoline consumption by 10-12%.

Ethanol is so costly that it wouldn’t make it in a free market. That’s why Congress has enacted major ethanol subsidies, about $1.05 to $1.38 a gallon, which is no less than a tax on consumers. In fact, there’s a double tax-one in the form of ethanol subsidies and another in the form of handouts to corn farmers to the tune of $9.5 billion in 2005.

More here.