John Stossel
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No doubt about it, if there were a Miss Energy Pageant, Miss Ethanol would win hands down. Everyone loves ethanol.

"Ramp up the availability of ethanol," says Hillary Clinton.

"Ethanol makes a lot of sense," says John McCain.

"The economics of ethanol make more and more sense," says Mitt Romney.

"We've got to get serious about ethanol," says Rudolph Giuliani.

And the media love ethanol. "60 Minutes" called it "the solution."

Clinton, Romney, Barack Obama and John Edwards not only believe ethanol is the elixir that will give us cheap energy, end our dependence on Middle East oil sheiks, and reverse global warming, they also want you and me -- as taxpayers -- to subsidize it.

When everyone in politics jumps on a bandwagon like ethanol, I start to wonder if there's something wrong with it. And there is. Except for that fact that ethanol comes from corn, nothing you're told about it is true. As the Cato Institute's energy expert Jerry Taylor said on a recent "Myths" edition of "20/20," the case for ethanol is based on a baker's dozen myths.

A simple question first. If ethanol's so good, why does it need government subsidies? Shouldn't producers be eager to make it, knowing that thrilled consumers will reward them with profits?

But consumers won't reward them, because without subsidies, ethanol would cost much more than gasoline.

The claim that using ethanol will save energy is another myth. Studies show that the amount of energy ethanol produces and the amount needed to make it are roughly the same. "It takes a lot of fossil fuels to make the fertilizer, to run the tractor, to build the silo, to get that corn to a processing plant, to run the processing plant," Taylor says.

And because ethanol degrades, it can't be moved in pipelines the way that gasoline is. So many more big, polluting trucks will be needed to haul it.

More bad news: The increased push for ethanol has already led to a sharp increase in corn growing -- which means much more land must be plowed. That means much more fertilizer, more water used on farms and more pesticides.

This makes ethanol the "solution"?

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John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate