Writing in Slate, Robert Bryce has produced a rebuttal of the idea that ethanol is part of the road to energy independence. Essentially, this is because it can only displace a portion of the demand for petroleum products in general:
The corn ethanol scam cannot, has not, and will not significantly reduce overall oil use or significantly cut oil imports because it only replaces one segment of the crude-oil barrel. Furthermore, all the talk about “cellulosic ethanol,” a substance that, in theory, can be profitably produced in commercial quantities from grass, wood chips, or other biomass, is largely misplaced because, like corn ethanol, it will only supplant gasoline.
If this analysis is correct, yet another problem can be lain at the feet of ethanol, alongside the low energy return on investment and dubious climate change benefits.