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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 29.0° F  Light Snow
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Good company

Predictably, all sorts of interested parties are hopping on board the ethanol bandwagon. Some are into it for altruistic reasons - to aid national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil suppliers, or to buttress the always-challenged farm economies - others are in it purely for the bucks that rising demand for corn will generate. This is especially true of folks here in the Midwest, where we take our corn and farms, not to mention agribusiness in general, seriously.

But above the din of those calling for the bandwagon to wait up so they can jump on, can be heard a few who are warning that we are running too fast down the wrong road. The current processes of turning corn into gasoline are too inefficient to be a lasting solution, they charge. In addition, the diversion of large amounts of corn into the fuel economy will deprive people and animals of a valuable foodstuff and exacerbate problems of world hunger.

So what's the alternative to the alternative? Contributor Paula Zelonky has spotted one candidate and writes about it in our cover story, "Green Gasoline." The alternative she identifies is a local startup that has as its mission a "sustainable, carbon-neutral world." The company, Virent, has set up shop on the east side and has acquired the backing of local venture investors with its process for producing hydrogen or gasoline or other fuels from a variety of sources. As the story states, there is great promise but also great obstacles to overcome if the company is to meet its objective.

I have two important reminders to impart. The most immediate is our call for Book of Love submissions. If you get your valentines to us by this Friday, Feb. 2, we will print them for free in the BOL, which is a supplement to our Feb. 9 issue. And if you send us a photo of your love interest, we may also use it in that supplement. To submit either go to our Web site, and click on the valentines tile. You may also e-mail your valentine to Please do not type your submissions in all caps. If you do, your valentine may not make print, plus you risk expanding the hole in the ozone layer.

My second reminder is of our annual Oscar contest, which begins this week in anticipation of the awards on Sunday, Feb. 25. Once again, go online and look for the linking tile. That will get you to the contest site, where you can choose the winners in six categories. There will be a drawing from among correct entries, with prizes that include movie passes and other goodies. Check the ad on page 39 for further details and a list of contest sponsors.

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