David's post about ethanol and coal inspired me to do a bit of research on just how much coal goes into producing G.W. Bush's favorite "renewable," "clean-burning" fuel source. What I found is ... disturbing. First, some background. Before you can distill corn into fuel, you have to crush it. There are two ways to do so: wet milling and dry milling. According to this USDA document, dry milling accounts for about two-thirds of ethanol production, wet milling the rest. Traditionally, dry-milling relies on natural gas for power, while wet milling leans on natural gas and coal in roughly equal …
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Tom Philpott was previously Grist's food writer. He now writes for Mother Jones.
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