Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley should probably get as much blame as anyone for the move toward corn-based ethanol. "We’re actually helping, not hurting," the corn farming Senator was quoted as saying last May in The Hill. The jury is still out on that assessment. Factor in the resulting spike in corn prices which became a real burden for people who think of corn as food, especially some third world residents who barely got by anyway.
A recent study says that new production techniques reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 48% to 59% compared to gasoline. But the WSJ.com article about it says the study ignores the "knock-off effects" such as mowing down forests to create new farmland for replacement crops.
This may not have anything to do with corn flavored ethanol, but it's too late for the Lexus division of Toyota which is having an ethanol "knock-off" problem of its own. Lexus has to pay for a recall of 214,500 Lexuses (Lexi?) due to the possibility that low moisture ethanol might eat holes in the fuel lines.
On certain 2006 through 2008 model year GS300/350, IS250/350, and LS460/460L vehicles, Lexus has determined that some ethanol fuels with a low moisture content may corrode the internal surface of the fuel delivery pipes. If this condition occurs, the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) in the combination meter may illuminate. Over time, the corrosion may create a pinhole in the fuel delivery pipes resulting in fuel leakage.
Lexus dealers will replace the fuel delivery pipes with newly designed components. No other Lexus or Toyota vehicles are involved.
In any event, it will be interesting to see what effect the current low oil price will have on the ethanol movement.