Is Ethanol the Answer?
But it will take more than money for new cellulosic technology to substantially weaken the grip of the nation's oil addiction. Lee Lynd, Dartmouth College engineering professor and cellulosic pioneer, who founded Mascoma, a company that is building a pilot plant outside Rochester, N.Y., believes cellulosic will make "a much more limited contribution to energy supply" if behaviors don't change as well as technologies. Ethanol would make its greatest dent if Americans drove less and highly efficient cars were deployed widely, he says.
Others agree. "Ethanol has a role to play in making the nation's energy situation more reliable," says economist Robert Wescott. "But it's not a panacea."
That brings the debate back to the nitty-gritty fuel economy and conservation issues politicians have been mostly avoiding for years. They'd rather feel good, for the time being, about ethanol.