MORE ON ETHANOL: This Washington Post article from last week discusses the extent to which ethanol production and its increase will be a part of the Senate energy bill proposal, on which the Senate springs back into action this week. How has ethanol become so deeply embedded in federal energy policy, even though it’s expensive, hard to transport, and creates a net energy deficit (i.e., it takes more energy to produce it than it produces itself)? This quote from the story gives a hint:

To ensure victory, the ethanol industry has created a potent combine of interest groups over the past year, ranging from the farm belt to major oil and automobile companies, the highway lobby and the American Lung Association. The method was pure horse trading, participants say. “Everybody in the coalition needed to see some benefits,” said Robert Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol’s lead lobbyist in Washington. Farm communities, energy consumers and the environment all benefit as a result, he says.

BUT … and this is the part that no policymaker wants to confront … at what cost?