Sadly though, carbon central planning would be just peachy.
The WaPo editorializes:
Ethanol backers are right that it’s firmly in the nation’s interest to reduce the amount of oil Americans use, not least because it’s dirty. The answer, though, is not for lawmakers to guarantee a market for an alternative product of their choosing. Instead, Congress should make polluters pay something for the pollution they cause by establishing a reasonable tax on the carbon dioxide contained in oil and other fossil fuels. Without all the congressional micromanaging, the policy would nudge consumers to use less fuel, it would give investors incentive to divert their money to the clean technologies that will do the most good, and it would direct the tax revenue raised to the Treasury, instead of enriching politically favored groups.
If perfecting and using ethanol is an economically efficient way to reduce the transportation sector’s emissions, the industry should prosper under those conditions. Oil companies, meanwhile, would still sell a lot of gasoline for a long time, but they would face consumers less eager to take unnecessary drives or buy gas-guzzlers.
The biggest problem with the carbon tax is that it would be hard to get one through Congress. Fine. Then lawmakers should choose another policy that encourages conservation and innovation without absurd central planning.