Skip to comments.Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts
Posted on 04/27/2006 10:45:52 AM PDT by Brian Allen
Amid the current panic about gas prices many people are embracing ethanol. But that's not such a good idea
During the comment period for the RFG (reformulated gas) program, supporters of ethanol had argued that the volatile organic compound (VOC) emission standards in the program -- 42 U. S. C. 7545 (k) (3) (B) (i) -- would preclude the use of ethanol in RFG because adding ethanol to gasoline increases its volatility and raises VOC emissions, especially in the summertime.
Background The American Petroleum Institute v. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [Docket #94-1502 (Heard by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and decided on April 28, 1995)]
If there were ever a time when the truth in advertising standards should be put back into place, it's now -- during the current (third) attempt to convince the public that the massive use of corn-derived ethanol in our gasoline supply will alleviate our need for foreign oil. Ultimately, the answer to just one question determines ethanol's actual usefulness as a gasoline extender: "If the government hadn't mandated this product, would it survive in a free market?" Doubtful -- but the misinformation superhighway has been rerouted to convince the public its energy salvation is at hand ....
(Excerpt) Read more at businessweek.com ...
Me--I'll be in the middle of corn country in another few weeks and will carefully observe for any evidence of ethanol or bio-diesel being used in the growing, cultivation, or harvest of corn---
There is a whole other issue not considered by any of the economists. That is that in most of the Great Plains states, groundwater is used to grow the crops. That water is being depleted and not replaced. Using water to grow crops to produce vehicle fuel is to me a waste. It may make economical sense (then again it may not), but the water is irreplacable for use by individual farms, communities and for use in other crops. Here are some references:
http://www.choicesmagazine.org/2003-1/2003-1-04.pdf (Conserving the Ogallala Aquifer: Efficiency, Equity and Moral Motives)
http://www.uswaternews.com/archives/arcsupply/3scisay2.html (Scientists say drought accelerating depletion of Ogallala Aquifer)
Read the first page of the first reference for some statistics. Sobering what depletion of the aquifer will mean for our agriculture.
You've nailed it.
The author of this article, Ed Wallace, has a show Saturdays 8AM to 1PM on www.klif.com and a website at insidequotmotive.com.
And to this travesty may we add the prospect of damage caused by ethanol to automotive/fuel systems? Boat owners are already starting to discover an unpleasant truth as some fiberglass fuel tanks "dissolve" into sludge when ethanol is introduced. Of course there is no provision to exclude marine fuel from this short sighted special interest group driven government-mandated ethanol additive program.
Ethanol is used for powering the driver, not the vehicle.
what no one sees is that there is a .51 tax on each gallon of ethynol, thanks to the corn lobbyists. the refining cost is unbelievable because of the greedy hands in the pot. If we could make the fuel from sugar cane, well, that would be different but nothing's going to change until our government decides to quit politicizing the problem and starts focusing on how to get this country independent of foreign oil.
What a mess--another disgraceful sellout by congress to special interests, at our expense.
Gee, that paints a cheery picture, doesn't it? And I can't see where it's wrong, either - pretty much everyone agrees the aquifers are being drained and polluted. Do you suppose anything will be done about it before they're sucked dry?
Another problem that the Left-Wing Enviroterrorists won't talk about - With the promotion and increased use of alternative fuels, i.e., corn and sugar cane based ethanol, soy bean and palm oils for blended diesel fuels, farmers in South America and elsewhere are clearcutting thousands of acres of pristine forest to meet the demand for these "greener" fuels.
Wouldn't a more sensible and more environmentally friendly solution (for the US) be to drill in ANWAR. So much for saving the Earth.
What study are you saying is incorrect and was later revised?
OK, how is that study incorrect?
Don't forget the energy used to transport the ethanol to blending plants, because it can't be mixed in at large refineries and shipped through pipelines as blended gas. This looks like a completely uneconomical mess to me.
The whole problem here is that liberals and environmentalists simply will not leave business alone and insist on over-regulating, harassing, taxing, and sueing the private sector at every opportunity. Liberals are in a constant cold war against the private sector. The right way to reduce pollution and increase energy independence is to produce more oil and gasoline and develop more fuel-efficient engines and transmissions and lighter vehicles. This ethanol mandate is just plain stupid and a huge unjustified tax on the American public and a subsidy for an uneconomical industry that could never survive without subsidies.
Could this industry survive without government subsidies? That's the test of whether it's an econmically beneficial industry. I strongly doubt that it would survive without tariffs, subsidies, and a transfer or cash flow from consumers to ethanol producers.
traansfer or cash flow = transfer of cash flow
Interestingly enought, after only a few seasons of crop growing in the former rain forests, the soil is barren of nutrients and you have a barren desert in the middle of the tropics with soil erosion, silty runnoff and impacts on the rivers. I'm not saying it all could have been averted, but our shutting down of industry with the demand for raw materials unabated leads to this inevitable outcome.
Good read bump
Haha lets not forget the HUGE subsidies going to ConAgra for the production of corn syrup, when buying sugar from abroad costs 1/10th the price.
Because the corn syrup industry has successfuly lobbied the powers that be to introduce tarrifs on sugar, everyone loses bigtime on sugar.
Delivering ethanol is a problem, also. It scavenges water, so if there's any water in a pipeline, the ethanol isn't any good. So no companies use pipelines to deliver ethanol. All ethanol has to be delivered in tanker trucks or railroad tankers. That type of delivery is expensive.
Unlike the Great Plains of the midwest, the Snake River Plain is basaltic and is a good source of rechargable groundwater. There may be areas where extraction and recharge don't balance (especially in dry years), but on the whole the aquifer is recharged by runoff from the mountains (that disappears once streams intersect the basalt), and seepage from the river and lakes formed by dams on the river. I look at the area as one gigantic sponge. The Great Plains, OTOH, receive little recharge except direct precipitation, which is generally sparse (though some low-flow rivers such as the Platte, Arkansas, and Canadian run through them).
Brings to mind the execrable Bob Dole, former senator of Archer Daniel Midland.
And now that he's moved up in life, from street walker to call-girlything, for Viagra.
I am mostly unbaware of the ethanol advantages or disadvantages but certainly depleting ground water to grow more corn would not be a good idea. What about sugar (beet) cane? Does growing cane or beets need as much water I wonder?
One thing for sure (?): we need to become energy independent.
I think the most interesting thing I've seen on Ethonol was in an article posted here yesterday. In order to make enough ethonol to meet America's current demand for gasoline would require us to uses 71% of our farm land to grow the fuel.
You can grow sugar cane in the US in Florida and Louisiana. I'd say turn the New Orleans 9th ward into sugar cane fields. No shortage of water and a much better use of the land than government housing that will only flood again.
I still think we ought to devote some research resources to this.
I'd say turn the New Orleans 9th ward into sugar cane fields.
There you go! How about the whole darned area?
Phase out gasoline engines, diesels are much more efficent and can power any automobile made. A winter grade and a summer grade works all over the country.
The diesel is easier to be made to run cleaner than a gas burner. The diesel engine lasts 4 to 5 times longer.
The use of "oil fuels" is not going away any time soon, we have to make the most of what can be refined!
I'm also hopeful about other alternatives. The US has made harder things happen--and the idea of seeing the terrorist world turned back into farming sand is a vision to work for.
The term used by agriculturalists is Crop Consumptive Use. For Myrddin's area in Idaho (see post #29) the comparison between crops can be found here:
In Idaho, alfalfa hay requires 3.12 ft. of water, sugar beets 2.81, and potatoes 2.27 ft. Other areas of the country have different requirements because rainfall and temperature play a part. In general, the hotter the area, the more water is required for the crop. The drier the area, the more supplemental water must be applied.
So if you are going to grow a crop for this purpose, you should grow it in an area that has plenty of natural water that is replenished seasonally or annually.
Do a Google under "crop consumptive use" for publications in other areas of the country.
Not trying to rain on the ethanol hate parade hear...I would love to be able to proceed with drilling on our shores and wherever it is available on our country. Realistically, I don't see it happening. You know our house/senate is not going to touch that issue with a 100 foot poll. Again, I don't think the intent is to completely turn our country into a 100% ethanol economy. I would assume it is strictly to supplement and reduce the demand from the middle east or other trouble spots. I would gladly choose the lesser of two evils (Conagra, ADM, corn lobby) than pay the idiots that is trying to chop my head off....The argument of ethanol being less efficient goes by the wayside whenever (only if...)ethanol cost per gallon drops down to and equivalent price per gallon of gas....assume 25-30% miles per gallon reduction vs. gasoline). With gasoline being $3.00/gallon, ethanol could compete at $2.10/gallon. Yes...ethanol is not that cheap yet....yet...Improved economies of scale, research into production optimization may eventually meet that goal.
Yes...I would rather us stick with oil for the time being, but not being prepared for, or researching alternative fuels for the long run would be completely irresponsible - more so than the border issue which is currently the hot topic of the day...
"Don't forget the energy used to transport the ethanol to blending plants, because it can't be mixed in at large refineries and shipped through pipelines as blended gas. This looks like a completely uneconomical mess to me."
Yes we are a ways off from a viable solution but even at 3.00 a gallon we are better going this route then getting tangled up in the ME every time some crazy dictator pops up. Also, their is a huge benefit to employ high and low level tech employees, the farming industry would boom and we would take advantage of a hundreds of millions of acres of unused land. Ethanol is really only the solution to automobiles, our trucking fleet can run on diesel from soy, easily growable in the south en masse. It's going to take years and we had better get our asses in gear.
Just an observation of what I saw in Brazil...There are many local ethanol refineries spread throughout the country side. They are small compact units. I realize it is sugar cane, but same thing could apply here. Transportation costs would reduce as more refineries are built. It also reduces the exposure to terrorist attacks on one large refinery concentration such as Houston, TX. It also reduces the exposure to weather related catastrophies (like hurricanes, etc...)