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Battle for the Barrel

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Science  22 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6126, pp. 1374-1379
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6126.1374

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The use of the energy-rich molecule as a fuel dates back to the dawn of the automobile age, but gasoline took over and has been king ever since. In 2005 and 2007, the U.S. Congress set out to change that with a law that would make a market for renewable fuels. The goal: to reduce the country's rising dependence on imported oil, bolster rural economies that would produce the corn and other biomass that would serve as the fuel feedstock, and lower the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere each year. Oil companies initially welcomed the move, but now they deride cellulosic ethanol as a "phantom fuel" and are calling for such mandates to be scrapped.