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Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts
Business Week Online ^ | Thursday April 27 2006 | Ed Wallace

Posted on 04/27/2006 10:45:52 AM PDT by Brian Allen

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To: CougarGA7

"I think the most interesting thing I've seen on Ethonol was in an article posted here yesterday. In order to make enough ethonol to meet America's current demand for gasoline would require us to uses 71% of our farm land to grow the fuel."

Farm land can stay framland growing produce. Hundreds of millions of unused acres of switch grass can be used for ethanol, and it grows naturally in the Midwest. Cut all of it down and you'll have a brand new crop the next year without doing diddly. However, I doubt we will be able to fully supplant ME oil entirely from either switchgrass or corn, but if we produce 30% ethanol and 30% biodiesel our market demand would be so low oil prices would drop massively. We are still the #1 oil consumer in the world, we just have very little market leverage right now because demand is so high.


51 posted on 04/27/2006 1:45:13 PM PDT by iThinkBig
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To: Maringa

"Just an observation of what I saw in Brazil...There are many local ethanol refineries spread throughout the country side. They are small compact units. I realize it is sugar cane, but same thing could apply here. Transportation costs would reduce as more refineries are built. It also reduces the exposure to terrorist attacks on one large refinery concentration such as Houston, TX. It also reduces the exposure to weather related catastrophies (like hurricanes, etc...)"

Excellent points.


52 posted on 04/27/2006 1:50:12 PM PDT by iThinkBig
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To: iThinkBig
It's going to take years and we had better get our asses in gear.

Every time someone like Bill Gates invests tens of millions into the biofuels market that time frame shrinks; every time some Hollywood Idiot opens his mouth that time frame increases...dramatically. Lucky for us, the biofuels market is seeing rapid growth under George Bush...so Hollywood has kept pretty silent.
53 posted on 04/27/2006 2:01:09 PM PDT by P-40 (http://www.590klbj.com/forum/index.php?referrerid=1854)
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To: CedarDave

Hadn't considered the groundwater angle.

And isn't corn grown with petroleum-based fertilizer? If corn requires oil to grow, then how does it solve the oil problem?

I suppose the answer is that most of the energy in corn comes not from the fertilizer but from the sun. But if that's the case, then isn't a corn field just a giant solar panel?

And if this is the case, then why not just build acres of solar panels? After all, a field of solar panels would require no oil-based fertilizer and would place no strain on the aquifers.

These questions seem obvious, so they must have easy answers. Maybe plants are more efficient at converting solar energy into usable power. And no doubt acres of solar panels would cost a fortune to manufacture. In a sense, a cornfield manufactures itself.


54 posted on 04/27/2006 2:15:36 PM PDT by Yardstick
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To: Maringa
Brazil only uses biodesiel for 20% of their fuel, and someone said they have about a 10,000 dollar tax on cars per year. It would take almost all our farmland in the US to convert to Biodeseil. Its not worth it.

Popular science claimed at 10 cents a KWatt*hour an electric car only costs 2 cents a mile for propulsion. So I say we fund the hell out of batteries and capacitor research and build dozens of new nuclear power plants. 100% clean fuel, no impact on the environment, and cheap.
55 posted on 04/27/2006 2:16:43 PM PDT by RHINO369 (It depends what the meaning of is is)
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To: immigration lady
If we could make the fuel from sugar cane, well, that would be different...

Arrhhhh....Sure 'n' it would be matey.
Then we could run the world on rum!

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest!
Yoho ho and a bottle of rum!


56 posted on 04/27/2006 2:21:33 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (I can't complain...but sometimes I still do.)
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To: RHINO369
Brazil only uses biodesiel for 20% of their fuel, and someone said they have about a 10,000 dollar tax on cars per year.

Brazil uses ethanol. And there are few Brazilians that could afford a ten thousand dollar tax.
57 posted on 04/27/2006 2:22:43 PM PDT by P-40 (http://www.590klbj.com/forum/index.php?referrerid=1854)
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To: Yardstick
Maybe plants are more efficient at converting solar energy into usable power.

Plants can take solar energy and convert it to a storable medium very efficiently. We can't quite do the same yet.
58 posted on 04/27/2006 2:25:12 PM PDT by P-40 (http://www.590klbj.com/forum/index.php?referrerid=1854)
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To: Brian Allen

ping for later


59 posted on 04/27/2006 2:25:37 PM PDT by Abcdefg
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To: rellimpank

When you're just killing time, Google on "biodiesel retailers map" and see if you don't think this fuel is popular in farm country.


60 posted on 04/27/2006 2:29:44 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Brian Allen

The only way that ethanol makes sense is when it is made from cellulose. Using food crops for ethanol will drive up the cost of food. Using a plant that has been genetically selected for high cellulose content and rapid growth would be the way to go.

So far, the process of converting cellulose to ethanol needs more development. It will be soon.


61 posted on 04/27/2006 2:35:04 PM PDT by jonrick46
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To: Mr. Lucky
Google on "biodiesel retailers map" and see if you don't think this fuel is popular in farm country.

http://www.wnbiodiesel.com/
62 posted on 04/27/2006 2:37:06 PM PDT by P-40 (http://www.590klbj.com/forum/index.php?referrerid=1854)
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To: P-40
I'm not 100% sure about tah tax but that was what was posted here on other thread. I'll try to look it up. But what the point was only the very rich in Brazil have cars. So a small amount of fuel could make a huge difference for them. In America theres probably a car for every 2 people.
63 posted on 04/27/2006 2:44:31 PM PDT by RHINO369 (It depends what the meaning of is is)
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To: P-40
Plants can take solar energy and convert it to a storable medium very efficiently.

That's what I figured. It's easy to store corn energy. Just fill a silo with corn or fill a tanker with ethanol. No batteries required.

Here's another question for you (if you don't mind):

Since plants store energy as carbohydrates, why isn't it a simple process to convert them into hydrocarbons? After all, they're both just carbon and hydrogen bonded together. Why do we have to turn the carbohydrates into alcohol, which has the disadvantages of low btu's and being water soluble? Why not just turn the starch into oil (or gas)?

64 posted on 04/27/2006 2:44:45 PM PDT by Yardstick
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To: Brian Allen
proper "3 act tragedy with ethanol" goes like:
Act 1. Thirst
Act 2. Imbibing
Act 3. Catharsis and Hangover.
65 posted on 04/27/2006 4:28:46 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: iThinkBig; WOSG
*** Nuclear power ping to WOSG.

"Ethanol is really only the solution to automobiles..."

It doesn't look like an economically viable solution for the long term. It takes too much energy and ground water to grow the crops and refine the ethanol. I would bet a considerable amount of money that in the year 2056 we will be driving two kinds of cars: 1) for short trips under 100 miles, we'll use battery-powered electric cars or battery/gasoline hybrids that run primarily on nuclear electric power, and 2) for long trips over 100 miles we'll use gasoline powered cars or gas/electric hybrids with much more efficient gasoline engines than we have today. (Only problem is I will probably not be around in the year 2056 to collect on this bet.)

This ethanol program looks like more of a political horse-trading deal designed to pump up the economy in the farm belt. If we REALLY want to lessen our dependence on ME oil for the long term, we have to build more nuclear power plants. Nuclear power produces enormous amounts of energy from small amounts of nuclear fuel at very low cost. Eventually we will have to build more nuclear power plants because we won't be able to produce enough natural gas to run all those gas power plants. Natural gas reserves get used up over time and eventually there will be no alternative to nuclear power. So let's stop all the political pandering to environmental groups and get on with nuclear power. I think the political background for nuclear power is starting to change: I saw last week that somebody in Greenpeace is now supporting nuclear electric power.

66 posted on 04/27/2006 4:32:12 PM PDT by defenderSD ( Wishing, hoping, and praying that Saddam will not nuke us is not a national security policy.)
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To: Brian Allen

Ethanol is just rebranded Super Unleaded, 91 octane, and costs 10 cents more at the pump.


67 posted on 04/27/2006 4:53:19 PM PDT by BigSkyFreeper (There is no alternative to the GOP except varying degrees of insanity.)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA; CedarDave
Sobering what depletion of the aquifer will mean for our agriculture.

Could you provide a ballpark figure on what percentage of Corn in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana (the 4 major Corn growing states) is grown under irrigation?

68 posted on 04/27/2006 5:06:09 PM PDT by Iowa Granny (One size fits all panty hose generally DON'T)
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To: immigration lady

$0.50 per gallon Subsidy?


69 posted on 04/27/2006 5:39:10 PM PDT by Paladin2 (If the political indictment's from Fitz, the jury always acquits.)
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To: CedarDave
In addition to your serious concerns about ground water depletion, the runoff from corn field created "dead zones" in rivers, estuaries and coastal areas, where the aquatic life dies due to the fertilizer dissolved in the runoff water.
70 posted on 04/27/2006 5:43:38 PM PDT by daivid
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To: Yardstick
In a sense, a cornfield manufactures itself

Actually, NO. No self seeding corn varieties have been developed yet. And crops must be rotated, it depletes the soil to grow corn after corn after corn after corn.

71 posted on 04/27/2006 5:44:53 PM PDT by Iowa Granny (One size fits all panty hose generally DON'T)
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To: Iowa Granny
I don't know how much corn is grown under irrigation. I do know that widespread water shortages could become a much bigger issue than oil shortages.

Canadian moonbats have been ringing alarm bells for decades about large-scale shipments of water to the U.S. The politics around any move toward a Continental water strategy would be messy, to say the least.

You could pipe water from Alaska of course -- but, that would take some energy. Similarly, you could get into large-scale desalination -- but that's also an energy hog. It would clearly make little sense to use energy to create water for irrigation of land -- in order to grow energy crops.
72 posted on 04/27/2006 5:46:25 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

My guess is that LESS than 1% of the corn in the 4 major corn growing states is grown under irrigation.

Iowa, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana are primarily dry land farming states. There are a few exceptions along the Mississippi river where the soil is sandy and won't hold moisture.

So to suggest that growing corn will deplete the aquafers is simply NOT the case in the major corn growing states.


73 posted on 04/27/2006 5:53:42 PM PDT by Iowa Granny (One size fits all panty hose generally DON'T)
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To: Iowa Granny

Can't help you much there, but here is one link:

http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/ircroppies.html

Or Google "percentage irrigation midwest" or something similar.



74 posted on 04/27/2006 6:14:59 PM PDT by CedarDave (DemocRATs- the CULTURE OF TREASON! If it wasn't for double standards, democrats would have NONE)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

Oh, no. Is today Pirate Talk Day? I forgot to iron my costume.


75 posted on 04/27/2006 6:21:15 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Iowa Granny

I learn something new every day on Free Republic. Thanks.


76 posted on 04/27/2006 6:22:34 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: jonrick46

The reason we don't grow our own US sugar cane much anymore (or at all) is because it is very, very labor intensive to harvest. And I'm sure the enviros go whack about the burning off of the leaves and stalks.

OTOH, that is when it's being used for food. It would seem that if being used for its cellulose to make that type of ethanol or biofuel, then maybe none of that has to be done for conversion. Hawaii was once one of the largest growers in the world, wasn't it? They have the highest fossil fuel gasoline costs in the US, too. Maybe there's an opportunity there for them.

On the other hand, there's no substitute for petroleum in aviation fuel - but I don't know about ships - are they run on diesel?


77 posted on 04/27/2006 6:28:55 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66
Is today Pirate Talk Day?

Nahhhh...that's on September 19th.

78 posted on 04/27/2006 6:31:39 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (I can't complain...but sometimes I still do.)
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To: Iowa Granny; USFRIENDINVICTORIA
The 100th meridian is the longitude commonly used to delineate areas to the west and east where irrigation is necessary or not necessary, respectively. It certainly is not completely true, but a good rule of thumb for this discussion.

The Boundary Between the Moist East and Arid West

(But you knew that already, didn't you Granny!)

79 posted on 04/27/2006 6:38:03 PM PDT by CedarDave (DemocRATs- the CULTURE OF TREASON! If it wasn't for double standards, democrats would have NONE)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

Thanks. That's *very easy* for me to remember.


80 posted on 04/27/2006 6:38:44 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66
That's *very easy* for me to remember.

That's funny. It's a date I'll never forget either.
Though, I'll wager we remember it for very different reasons.

81 posted on 04/27/2006 6:41:43 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (I can't complain...but sometimes I still do.)
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To: CedarDave
But you knew that already, didn't you

Yes. Not precisely, but I knew.

82 posted on 04/27/2006 6:46:09 PM PDT by Iowa Granny (One size fits all panty hose generally DON'T)
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To: Yardstick
Since plants store energy as carbohydrates, why isn't it a simple process to convert them into hydrocarbons?

You can convert to hydrocarbons for biodiesel. I think for gasoline you have to create the alcohol because that is the only way it will work.

This is from biodiesel.com

Technically, biodiesel is Vegetable Oil Methyl Ester. It is formed by removing the glycerol molecule from vegetable oil in the form of glycerin (soap). Once the glycerin is removed from the oil, the remaining molecules are, to a diesel engine, similar to petroleum diesel fuel. There are some notable differences. The biodiesel molecules are very simple hydrocarbon chains, containing no sulfur, ring molecules or aromatics associated with fossil fuels. Biodiesel is made up of almost 10% oxygen, making it a naturally "oxygenated" fuel.

Biodiesel is the only product known to the State of California to not cause cancer. :)
83 posted on 04/27/2006 7:02:51 PM PDT by P-40 (http://www.590klbj.com/forum/index.php?referrerid=1854)
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To: Rte66

" - but I don't know about ships - are they run on diesel?"

Ships can run on all sorts of stuff -- including kites.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1487522/posts


84 posted on 04/27/2006 7:05:16 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: Rte66
but I don't know about ships - are they run on diesel?

A lot of ships have diesel engines. Biodiesel is popular for marine use because it doesn't blow up so easily and isn't a biohazard. Hawaii uses vegetable oil and fish waste for its biodiesel.
85 posted on 04/27/2006 7:06:11 PM PDT by P-40 (http://www.590klbj.com/forum/index.php?referrerid=1854)
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To: CedarDave

Thank you! I have been saying this, to rolling eyes for some time now. Too many people don't realize we are in as much trouble with water in this country as we are with oil, maybe more so.


86 posted on 04/27/2006 7:07:55 PM PDT by Arizona Carolyn
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To: CedarDave

Well, *some* may believe it's the 100th Meridian, but I have always maintained that it's at 97.4° W, along I-35 in Oklahoma.

I've lived on each side of it and it's observable by even an untrained eye - except I've always called it the "tree line" (not the mountainous kind at elevation). To the east, trees, greenery and dark brown soil. To the west, tan shades of earth colors, scrub brush, and red soil.

That's a very glittering generality, but I'm just a 97.4° rebel contra, what can I say?


87 posted on 04/27/2006 7:09:37 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

Hmmm, I best not *touch* that, lol. Unless, it's because you also know it's Sophia Loren's birthday eve.


88 posted on 04/27/2006 7:12:59 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

Very interesting, I missed that. It seems ridiculous at first glance (like the spaghetti tree joke of years ago on BBC), but it must make sense to people who are using it. I'd sure want to tie some tails on it, though, lol!

Well, anyway, I asked that because I was wondering if Hawaii produced cellulose ethanol from sugar cane, what it would cost in money or energy to transport it.


89 posted on 04/27/2006 7:21:18 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66
Well, I was going to agree with you -- it would seem that the 20 in/yr.line would be to the east of the 100th. Then I looked up the actual data and it appears the 100th is about right. Now, for green grass, trees and similar aesthetics, you may want a line further east!

http://www.ocs.orst.edu/pub/maps/Precipitation/Total/States/OK/ok.gif
90 posted on 04/27/2006 7:23:30 PM PDT by CedarDave (DemocRATs- the CULTURE OF TREASON! If it wasn't for double standards, democrats would have NONE)
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To: P-40

Fish waste? Couldn't they use poi? It's got to be of *some use* to someone, lol.

I guess whale blubber is *out,* too. And we could probably all fly hot air balloons instead of airplanes to go long distances. Oh, geeze, what was I thinking? What about Conestoga wagons?


91 posted on 04/27/2006 7:24:54 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66
Fish waste?

Sounds nasty...but if it was heading for the landfill anyway.

http://www.biodiesel.com/Article-fish.htm
92 posted on 04/27/2006 7:28:59 PM PDT by P-40 (http://www.590klbj.com/forum/index.php?referrerid=1854)
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To: CedarDave

See, they didn't ask me. Granted, those scrub brush to the west of *my line* are the beginnings of the more arid area, but I suppose I was being too provincial in my POV - considering they mean for the *whole* US.

Over at the 100th, the scrub is even scarcer. The Plains Indians, as opposed to the Civilized Ones, chose to stay just west of that 97.4 line for some reason.


93 posted on 04/27/2006 7:37:20 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66
Unless, it's because you also know it's Sophia Loren's birthday eve.

Nope. Not even close. But I did not know that.

94 posted on 04/27/2006 7:38:21 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (I can't complain...but sometimes I still do.)
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To: P-40

That should be where the fossil fuel "aromatics" could be useful, lol.


95 posted on 04/27/2006 7:38:28 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: iThinkBig; defenderSD
... we are better going this route then getting tangled up in the ME every time some crazy dictator pops up.

I used to agree to everythingyou posited, but now I'm not sure about this line. If W's strategery turns out to be correct (we won't know for 5-10 years), then we'll have to play an active part in the rest of the worl to keep all the nutcase breeding grounds in the ME cleaned out. Had we cleaned up Afghanistan ahead of time, UBL might not have gottn the WTC events off.

Anyway, I'm ok with "biofuel" fads, but even if we had tech to run the entire economy off "cold peanut fusion" or something, we'd still have to keep the ME'ers on the road to prosperity since the only leaders they have want to train them to strap bombs on and dance with Israelis or New Yorkers....

96 posted on 04/27/2006 7:42:16 PM PDT by sam_paine (X .................................)
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To: P-40
Well, it does solve a problem - that was an interesting article. I liked the sounds of it, up until the very last sentence.

" ... Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine in the late 19th century to run on a variety of fuels, including heavy mineral oil and vegetable oil. His engine has since been modified to run on polluting petroleum fuel."

That made me suspicious of all the test results, as they might be skewed somehow.

Still, I hope they can do something viable with fish oil, especially for those in the Alaskan bush who need generator fuel, as they pointed out. I guess "raw fish oil" would be from dark meat fish, like maybe amberjacks or some trash fish that people don't really like to eat very much.

97 posted on 04/27/2006 7:49:25 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

Sometimes it's Rosh Hashanah and sometimes it's Yom Kippur. I just always have a party on Sophia Loren's birthday (doesn't everybody?), so I always remember it.


98 posted on 04/27/2006 7:56:31 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66

Are you implying that spaghetti doesn't grow on trees?


99 posted on 04/27/2006 10:38:07 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: immigration lady
We should make partnerships with poor third-world and nations and pay them a lot of money to grow sugarcane and corn to make ethanol.
100 posted on 04/27/2006 10:41:23 PM PDT by Naptowne
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