Ethanol has been touted as a wunderfuel for years, and during this current Presidential election cycle, it and other alternative energy fuels have been accepted by candidates to dethrone King Oil. But Devon Energy's Larry Nichols warned at Hart Energy's Developing Unconventional Gas conference that ethanol is great for stimulating political debates but not so good as a realistic fuel. On the one hand, Nichols said that contrary to political attacks arguing that hydrocarbon producers are selfishly ignoring alternative fuels, gas companies would actually support it since most ethanol plants use natural gas-fired refineries, and the nitrogen-based fertilizers are produced from gas as well. But on the other, he said that despite word for years now from the oil and gas industry of the futility of ethanol, Time Magazine finally conceded in a recent cover story that it is merely a political ploy that could actually contribute seriously to global warming. Politicians play the ethanol card because it gets them votes in corn-heavy states like Kansas and Iowa, but can't translate that product to real world applications. Nichols added another warning: that government demands for more subsidization for ethanol can have a dire effect on the economy. More on that tomorrow. –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week; spayne@hartenergy.com