Many of the people in opposition to corn-based ethanol do make good points. But it is not a good point that corn-based ethanol makes grain for cattle too expensive. Feeding cattle corn often requires that the animals be drugged! Nor is the "but ethanol is only profitable because of government subsidies" argument worth very much. Yes, it's not as profitable as gasoline is yet, but it's kind of funny that nobody mentions that oil receives more in subsidies (by not being taxed) than ethanol does.
There are two criticisms that are very valid though. One of thme is that while we subsidize ethanol we don't subsidize other forms of renewable energy. Solar power is slowly but surely growing into its own, and if this South African technology is real, we're already at the point to replace coal power plants with photovoltaic cells on all our houses. It's something we should definitely be funding.
The other real criticism is that a corn ethanol is also a means to get a big chunk of change poured into midwest states that primarily produce corn. No doubt some politicians are already lining their pockets with money from the ethanol industry or federal earmarks. I'm not one who thinks that we need to allow some irrationality and corruption as long as it's for the greater good. No, we need to make sure it's not happening. End the tariffs on sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil and we have a good start. We need to embrace the most environmentally friendly and fiscally responsible green energy we can. That means no stacking the deck.
I don't know if "cellulosic" ethanol is really feasible or if it's a pipe dream, but I'm hoping it's a realistic goal. If so, then the corn ethanol debate will fade away naturally while we switch over to other forms of ethanol. I just hope people like the rancher mentioned in the article don't put their own agenda ahead of what's best for all of America.