Skip to comments.CA: The Farce About Ethanol... (Tom McClintock)
Posted on 06/28/2007 8:53:45 PM PDT by calcowgirl
In response to my blog, "Ethanol Economics," Former Secretary of State Bill Jones (now Chairman of Pacific Ethanol), made five key points in his piece, "The Facts About Ethanol." Just for fun, let's run "The Facts About Ethanol" through the old fact-checker:
"Today, ethanol is about 65 cents per gallon cheaper than gasoline in the California market." That's only after taxpayers and consumers have kicked in a subsidy of $1.50 per gallon - or $7 billion a year paid into the pockets of ethanol producers to hide the staggering price of ethanol production. And even with the subsidy, the California Energy Commission estimates that the new CARB edict will INCREASE the price per gallon by between 4.2 and 6.5 cents - on top of the tax subsidies. Ouch.
"Allowing a 10 percent blend of ethanol into gasoline provides a 4 percent supply increase to the marketplace at a price far below current gasoline prices." Not only is the price far ABOVE current gasoline prices (see above) but Bill ignores the fact that ethanol produces less energy than gasoline - meaning you'll have to buy more gallons for the same mileage.
"CARB's recent vote reduces our reliance on oil from overseas..." Let's walk through the numbers again. One acre of corn produces 350 gallons of ethanol; the CARB edict will require 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol, in turn requiring 4.3 million acres of corn for ethanol production. Yet California only has 11 million acres devoted to growing crops of any kind. And that, in turn, means an increasing reliance on foreign agricultural produce, shifting our energy dependence from King Abdullah to Hu Jintao.
"Further, it sends a signal to companies like ours to continue to invest in California production to help make this state energy independent." Yes, you can sell a lot more ethanol with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone. You got me there. But it also sends a signal to the market to raise prices on every product that relies upon corn for both food and grain feed - meaning skyrocketing prices for everything from corn meal to milk. Remember the tortilla riots in Mexico in January?
"Pacific Ethanol uses state-of-the-art production practices that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 percent compared to conventional gasoline." Unless Pacific Ethanol has re-written the laws of chemistry, ethanol is produced by converting glucose into two parts ethanol and two parts carbon dioxide. The chemical equation is C6H12O6 = 2C2H5OH + 2CO2. (Memo to Bill: If you're not using this formula, you're not producing ethanol. And if you are, you're also producing lots of carbon dioxide. Better check.)
Stupid laws for stupid people.
McClintock: Pulling the covers off, one issue at a time.
McClintock Ping List.
Please freepmail me if you want on or off this list
Oh, those lousy facts!
Sure wish we had voted this guy in instead of that asshat Ahhhhnold.
PEOPLE WOULD NOT LISTEN. WE WERE ALL ENAMORED WITH HIS CELEBRITY STATUS. I THINK PEOPLE WERE PRAYING FOR ANOTHER REAGAN. WHAT WE GOT WAS A SLIGHTLY CONSERVATIVE KENNEDY IN POWER.
The whole ethanol craze is just such a completely absurd farce, and it doesn’t take anything more potent than sixth grade math to prove it. It’s snake-oil elixir sold from a covered wagon by hucksters. The more you look at the numbers on ethanol, the less believable it is that it’s even a matter of serious discussion. Personally, I’m tired of hearing about it.
I haven’t heard this nonsense before; but the argument that ethanol will reduce carbon dioxide emissions must be some kind of test to see if anyone is actually listening with their brains engaged. All hydrocarbons produce carbon dioxide (or monoxide, which is generally taken to convert to dioxide in the atmosphere) and water when they are burned, it’s just that simple.
When plants, like corn, grow they take carbon out of the atmosphere. When the plant or its products are burned (or decay) that carbon returns to the atmosphere. Closed loop, no increase in carbon in the atmosphere.
The carbon in oil (or coal or gas) was stored there millions of years ago when the fossil fuels were formed. Burn it and you have increased the total carbon in the atmosphere.
They don't explain it well, but the company is right and Tom is wrong. On this point.
There are lots of other excellent reasons why ethanol is a dumb idea, but this isn't one of them.
Please add me to your McClintock Ping list. I need to be constantly reminded that although there is sufficient brain power available in California to fix the state, our citizens choose to run headlong for the cliff and elect dems and Ahnold.
Sorry, I didn’t read this. However, I sure as h#ll wish my Hennesy was $3.00 or $4.00 a gallon ;-)
I'll never forgive CRP for their lack of support to Tom for Lt. Gov.
A term in that job and he would have had the visibility and name recognition to have slid into the Govs' seat when he termed out.
Well, at least you commented. In Texas, that’s somethin’!
keep em coming...
The chemistry doesn't work economically, the process requires vast subsidy for the fuel to be competitive with motor gasoline, the input we're using is entirely the wrong one, the mileage is crappy, the fact that we're using corn as the input is raising the prices of most other foods artificially and to no purpose, the chemical itself has enormous handling problems (can't be pipelined, for one thing, and requires diesel or gasoline just to be delivered), and, oh yes, ethanol inarguably produces more smog per unit volume than gasoline, when burned.
Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
Sheesh. Well, it's only a matter of time before the sheeple figure all this out...but WHY do we have to wait, eh? Grrrr.
Crap! I’m stil tryin’ to figure out if that’s an insult or not. Hmmm??????
I guess you’re assuming no internal combustion engines were used to harvest or transport or process the corn or to pump the water needed to irrigate the corn or to deliver the ethanol to market. I don’t know what energy inputs are required to grow the kinds of giant amounts or corn that would be required for this whole idiocy; and it wouldn’t be the only case where once-removed energy inputs are just totally ignored. (Eg; electric cars allegedly having zero emissions; but let’s ignore the coal-fired power-plant emissions...solar cells not generating considerable amounts of toxic by-products like any other semiconductor)
Ha! The only thing that’s inarguable is that it’d sure be better to make the $$ selling the snake oil (while the getting’s good = while the gov’t subsidizes corn) than to know the reality.
When you say ethanol can’t be pipelined, I assume you mean thru the same pipes that currently carry petroleum?
Yes, I should have been more specific, sorry. Ethanol will pipe just fine...if you build a separate pipe network for it (gag me with a shovel).
Meanwhile, the price of everything connected with corn is going through the roof. This is stupid beyond even stupid.
We have to wait until after the 2008 elections because Iowa has so many corn growers.
You have been added! Pings are infrequent, but always inspiring! :-)
Don’t miss the latest on Don Perata’s stunning spending habits:
Probably right on that. What needs to stop first, elections aside, is this idiocy about E85 fuel, and similar grades. Far better to run on offal- or cooking-oil-based diesel, for lots of reasons — problem is the initial expense of conversion.
Can we just call the whole “alternative fuels” BOGOSCITY? Wull, whyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee NOT???
It CAN actually improve fuel economy. That is, if you have an older car with a carburetor, instead of EFI. First, it improves the fuel’s ability to evaporate, which brings an improvement in efficiency. It also boosts the effective octane rating of your fuel, which means that you can bump timing ahead on a lot of engines and get more power for a given bit of fuel.
HOWEVER, if you have an EFI vehicle... emission control and EFI systems effectively just pump in a wee bit more fuel, and unless your fuel injectors are badly goobered up, you won’t get any more miles per gallon. Well, not unless the slim improvement in knock resistance results in the engine being more efficient.
As far as a fuel goes, it’s a mixed bag. It will lower emissions slightly, presuming you properly tune your motor.
It will keep the combustion chambers somewhat cleaner.
On the flip side: It is somewhat corrosive to lots of fuel system parts. It tends to reduce the service life of many fuel system parts, from pumps to injectors to hoses and pipes.
If we have a huge surplus of agricultural production to convert to production of ethanol, then we can stretch our oil a little.
Other than that, it serves little use. It is not “carbon neutral”, not significantly. Besides, that’s not necessarily any great benefit. Any fuel or emissions savings are generally a wash. Emissions improvements are offset by vehicles’s fuel systems malfunctioning more often. One short malfunction takes a LONG time to offset th any slight reduction attributable to E-fuels. It can’t be used in diesel at all.
But lets remind the freepers here that the attacks on agriculture lately are hobbling the US production of such things rapidly. Restrictions on pesticides, fertilizers, taking water from farmers, wholesale land conversion from private to public ownership, restrictions on farming, from dust emissions to “viewshed” protection... The assault continues.
It’s best to just let the market play out. Let people figure out what to do in ways that work...and make sense in all forms, financial, moral, etc.
Wait til they raise the US CAFE standards to 35 mpg, and then have to raise the gas taxes to cover the revenue shortfalls.
Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME or “Bio-Diesel”)
—Used Frying Oil Methyl Ester (UFOME)
—Tallow Methyl Ester (TME)
It’s a viable fuel for use in some LIMITED applications partly due to the fact that there is no way to produce enough of it to fuel even a tiny fraction of the several hundred million vehicles currently on the road in the U.S.. This is one of the legitimate criticisms of ethanol production.... but realized to a far greater degree.
It also inherently produces more pollutants such as hydrocarbons and soot.
It is unstable and oxidizes rapidly.
It suffers from severe injection problems within the diesel engine due to its high viscosity and tends to cause nozzle coking leading to greatly increased cost in service and maintenance.
It needs to be heavily subsidized to be competitive with gasoline (or even ethanol).
The fact is, all fuels have their pros and cons (though some are admittedly better than others, overall), with the pros and cons changing rapidly with developments in technology and with changing consumer demands. I’m highly skeptical of those advocates (most of them technologically illiterate) for a particular fuel singing its praises as THE fuel of choice for the future, and for all applications, while claiming all competing fuels to be worthless frauds. There are plenty of those paid advocates hyping ethanol, and it’s wise to be skeptical of their claims, but it’s a mistake to go too far and outright reject ethanol as one of several viable and practical fuels for mass transportation.
+1 to that!
I’m now converting my main vehicle to E85 just to perform an experiment in competing technologies and micro-market forces. I predict that I’ll make significantly more power (because I can program the fuel and spark maps with a laptop to optimize efficiency for E85) but with the increased cost of fuel (per miles traveled) it should be a wash. Time will tell, but the real objective is to have more first hand knowledge about using alternative fuels than the talking heads preaching at us on TV.
I Like McClintock and know a bit about him and as a Kentuckian I suppose that is a bit odd. I took notice of him during the election when it seemed every porn star, actor and weirdo was running. This man would have made an excellent governor but instead a starry-eyed electorate voted for the actor. I hope American doesn’t make the same mistake in ‘08. Ethanol is not viable, it is nonsense and is no solution. At least it is no solution as long as it is so highly subsidized and is made from corn. So it won’t solve our dependency problems but will cause a rise in food costs and the public outrage will likely be something similar to what we just witnessed with Shamnesty.
You are right, of course. But I was making the not illogical assumption that the discussion was only about what came out the tailpipe when burned.
The issues you mention are hotly debated, and I’ve yet to read a really authoritative article that settles it for me.
It does make sense that growing/making fuel is going to consume more energy than mining it.
Ethanol also produces more Ozone (O3) when it burns.
I’m sure smog-filled Los Angeles doesn’t want more ozone.
I agree, remove the subsidy targeting ethanol at the blender and the market will quickly provide us with the most economic fuel.
''Far better'' was only in comparison to ethanol as a primary motor fuel. Ethanol is a so-so fuel additive, but as a primary fuel it is simply dreadful. I should have been more precise in the formulation of that post.
Reminds me of part of the novel Catch 22 where one of the protagonists is buying eggs for 7 cents and selling them 5 while making 2 in profit.
And guess who talked old Arnie into running. Thanks Pete Wilson and a very favorable stance by the CRP. The CRP leadership is terrible. In fact, an ‘a’ in the initials would sum it up nicely.
Bill Jones and his son-in-law have made some nice money off their little adventure. IIRC, his son-in-law recently cashed out for seven figures.
Yep. Along with a couple of ex-Enron cronies.
Maybe one of the Free Republic's many ChemistryWizKids can convert this to a nice handy number that we can use to club the Greenies.
How about a conversion to tons of CO2 per gallon of ethanol produced? Yes, it will be a small number expressed in tons but that seems to be the way CO2 is counted.
Always the best economic sense. What is the CARB edict? Sounds like another stupid government thing to prevent the free market from doing just that. Oh, BTW, if the stupid government would just get out of the way, there would be plenty of incentives to tap into our rich oil and energy resources as well as finding economically sound alternatives. As Reagan used to say (countering Carter's stupid self-imposed "Energy Crisis"), "America is not energy poor, it is energy rich".