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We'll Take That Alternative Fuel Now, Thanks

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Not to get all Chicken Little here, but even a cursory glance at today’s news about rising gas prices makes for an ominous read.

At a record $3.60 national average, the price of gasoline is squeezing everyone, and there’s no sign of respite on the horizon. In Washington, D.C., truck drivers are staging a protest today, driving from Harrisburg, Penn., to RFK stadium, then assembling outside the White House. Truckers have to contend with the price of diesel, which has hit $4.24 nationally.

In Chicago, cab drivers have been forced to add a $1 gasoline surcharge regardless of the distance driven. This means a short jaunt in a cab will cost a disproportionate amount more, and may lead to more people choosing to walk.

So you’re probably wondering if there’s even a hint of good news to report. A piece of the sky that isn’t falling, perhaps? The best we can do is tell you about Coskata, a company that has begun construction of a cellulosic ethanol plant and hopes to churn out fuel that costs $1 per gallon. Cars.com senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder visited their Illinois plant recently and got a run down on their operation.

Cellulosic ethanol, made from waste wood or switchgrass, does not come with all the inherent problems of corn ethanol that are contributing to food shortages right now. However, even if Coskata gets the Madison, Penn., plant up and running ASAP, it expects to produce only 40,000 gallons of fuel each year. This is kind of like saying you’re going to irrigate the Mojave Desert by spitting into the sand. In other words, that last piece of sky doesn’t look all that sturdy.

Coskata Breaks Ground on Ethanol Plant, Could Make Fuel for $1 per Gallon (Jalopnik)

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