The Forbidden Fuel


The Forbidden Fuel

A History of Power Alcohol, New Edition

Hal Bernton, William Kovarik, and Scott Sklar
Foreword by R. James Woolsey
Preface by Boyd Griffin
Introduction by Hal Bernton

328 pages
13 illustrations, 8 tables


March 2010


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Forbidden Fuel is the definitive history of alcohol fuel, describing in colorful detail the emergence of alcohol fuel in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the political and economic forces behind its popularity, opposition, and eventual growth. In 1982, when The Forbidden Fuel was first published, approximately 350 million gallons of ethanol were produced in the United States for transport fuel. In 2008 that number had grown to 9 billion gallons—an approximate average annual growth rate of 98.9 percent. Similar dramatic growth has occurred all over the world, especially in Brazil. This new edition examines the forces behind this explosive growth; it also presents fresh evidence that the controversial issues that were presciently foreseen and described in the 1982 edition—limits of the land, food versus fuel, environmental risks, and global warming—still persist as unabated challenges to industry leaders and policy makers.

Author Bio

Hal Bernton is a reporter for the Seattle Times. He worked on a team that earned the Anchorage Daily News the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, and his journalism awards include the 2009 James V. Risser Prize for western environmental journalism. William Kovarik teaches journalism at the University of Western Ontario, Radford University, and Virginia Tech, and is the author of Mass Media and Environmental Conflict. Scott Sklar is the author of Consumer Guide to Solar Energy and leads the Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic clean-energy marketing and policy firm in Washington, D.C. R. James Woolsey is the Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Boyd Griffin is president of the consulting company Boyd Griffin & Company.


“Bernton and his coauthors have produced as much an intriguing history of alcohol fuel in America as they have a study of alcohol as an energy source in the contemporary world. . . . With its good bibliography, helpful glossary, and valuable appendixes on the economics and technology of alcohol power, the book is recommended to all institutions seeking to cover the wide area of energy options and energy politics.”—Choice

"The Forbidden Fuel looks critically at the promise and prospects of gasohol. . . . A well-researched study."--Sarojini Balachandran, Library Journal

"I believe that the industry needs to go back and read this book."—Joanna Schroeder,

Table of Contents

Foreword by R. James Woolsey
Preface by Boyd Griffin
Introduction by Hal Bernton
List of Illustrations
1. Power Alcohol Comes of Age
2. The Pioneers of Gasohol
3. The Return of the Farm Alcohol Movement
4. Rebirth of the Power Alcohol Industry
5. The Politics of Alcohol Fuel
6. Agriculture: The Limits of the Land
7. Brazil: A Quest for Self-Reliance
8. Alcohol in Engines
9. The Environment
10. Alcohol Future
Appendix A: Chemistry and Production Processes of Alcohol
Appendix B: Economics of Ethanol by Chris Hurt, Wally Tyner, and Otto Doering
Appendix C: An International Historical Survey of Alcohol Fuel Programs: 1910-1960
Appendix D: Books on Making Alcohol Fuel
Reference Notes
Selected Bibliography

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