VeraSun, one of nation’s largest ethanol producers, mulls bankruptcy. Ethanex Energy files. Alternative Energy Sources shuts down. E3 Biofuels files.

A trend?

Seems so:

It was an American dream that has failed to become a reality. For much of the last decade, enthusiasts from President George W. Bush down have touted corn-based ethanol as something approaching a superfuel, a home-grown alternative to foreign oil that would help cut smog and bring hope to struggling farmers.

It has not worked out that way. Instead, the ethanol industry has undergone a great boom and bust in which a Financial Times analysis has found investors as savvy as Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, have collectively lost billions of dollars.

Despite the billions more in taxpayers’ dollars that was spent to subsidise it, ethanol now eats up nearly one-quarter of the US corn crop without so far fulfilling the hopes held for its beneficial effect either on the environment or US dependence on foreign energy.

Well worth reading that whole story. Cautionary tale indeed.