"Distilling ethanol from tropical sugarcane takes less land and uses less fossil fuel than starting with corn grown in temperate climes. That makes Brazilian ethanol, unlike the pampered and grotesquely wasteful American version, competitive with hydrocarbons and genuinely good for the environment."
Although ethanol is working well for Brazil, there is a growing literature supporting the idea that wide-scale ethanol production is not sustainable or environmentally beneficial. This is a great example to demonstrate that economic and environmental policies are locally dependent on geographic factors and are not universally transferable. For a simple explanation of the differences in the economic and environmental differences in the production of sugar and corn-based ethanol, see: http://cei.org/studies-issue-analysis/brazilian-sugarcane-ethanol-experience
Interesting information. Like anything the pros and cons need to be weighed by the experts. Everyone would love a low price alternative for fuel, but the environmental risks may be too high. Elizabeth Allen
Via Seth Dixon