Under the blunt title “Ethanol is Stupid,” a letter in the Concord Monitor makes a cogent case against corn-based ethanol:

Most ethanol is made from corn. However, that corn must be supplied in enormous quantities, and corn is used in much food for humans and animals. If we use corn for fuel, more will need to be grown, on huge farms receiving government subsidies. We are paying extra so that our food can be used for fuel.

The corn is grown using chemical fertilizer, which is awful for the environment. Most pesticides are made from petroleum, exactly what ethanol is supposed to be preventing the use of. Also, the machinery on big farms needs massive quantities of gas.

The next step is even worse. The corn, grown with petrochemicals, must be distilled in factories to become ethanol. These factories need to get their energy from somewhere, and that somewhere is fossil fuels. It takes about nine-tenths of a gallon of fossil fuel to make a gallon of ethanol. Ethanol pollutes the environment about the same amount as if we just used fossil fuel.

Wow — scathing. Turns out the author is Madeleine Stewart of Epsom. Mass. — all of 13 years-old. And in this case, she’s got a more sophisticated understanding of things than either the outgoing or the incoming president.