News Columns & Blogs

Ethanol's future

During my recently concluded vacation, the faithful Honda and I ventured deep into southwest Kansas.

It’s hard not to notice two major ethanol plants along the way - one just northeast of Pratt, the other near Liberal. About $300 million, I’d guess, in the latest alternative fuels technology.

And not a solitary thing going on at Pratt, where a motionless cache of tanker cars stands guard. The only thing missing was buzzards.

The Liberal plant’s operational, and it’s got that trademark weird smell that reminds me a little bit of roast beef.

Where do you think the ethanol industry is headed? Is it a viable alternative fuel? Or are the steep start up costs and oil’s volatility a recipe for bankruptcy?