Skip to comments.Fallacious Claims Prop Up Ethanol
Posted on 10/06/2013 8:55:20 AM PDT by Kaslin
Arguments put forward to support ethanol and other biofuels hold water like sieves leaking billions of gallons of precious fresh water that are required to produce this expensive, unsustainable energy.
These and other renewable energy programs may have originated for the best of intentions. However, the assumptions underlying those intentions are questionable, at best. Many are rooted in anti-hydrocarbon worldviews and Club of Rome strategies that raised the specter of looming disasters like resource depletion and catastrophic manmade global warming, in which the real enemy is humanity itself. They also underscore how hard it is to alter policies and programs once they have been launched by Washington politicians, creating armies of special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors.
A review of biofuel justifications shows why these programs must be revised or (preferably) scrapped.
* Renewable fuels will prevent oil depletion and reduce imports. Baloney. US oil and natural gas were declining and imports rising for decades, because environmentalists and politicians blocked leasing and drilling. The very people decrying the situation were causing it. They wanted to justify a non-hydrocarbon future that would give them greater control over our economy and lives and build a political power base that tied them and votes to farmers and companies that benefitted from this Washington-mandated industry and vast wealth transfers from taxpayers and consumers to the new energy cartel.
In reality, the United States has vast storehouses of petroleum. Hydraulic fracturing alone has unlocked billions of barrels of oil equivalent energy, created 1.7 million jobs, generated hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity and government revenues, and made America the worlds number one energy producing nation. Opening up areas that are now closed to leasing would build on this record.
This renewed production also reduced oil imports even as increasing ethanol mandates and a persistent drought have forced the USA to import ethanol from Brazil. So now were importing oil and ethanol!
* Renewable fuels reduce carbon dioxide emissions and dangers of catastrophic climate change. Bunk. Many studies have found that ethanol in car and truck fuels actually increases airborne ozone levels.
As I point out here, here and here, there is no evidence that rising CO2 levels are about to cause climate chaos. Global average temperatures have not increased in 17 years. The new NIPCC report demonstrates that human influences on our climate are small and localized, and their effects on temperature, climate and weather are almost impossible to separate from frequent, cyclical, completely natural variability.
The latest UN IPCC report deleted all references to this temperature standstill from the Summary for Policy Makers, and eliminated an IPCC graph that revealed how every single climate model predicted that average global temperatures would be up to 1.6 degrees F higher than they actually were over the past 22 years. IPCC bureaucrats politicized the science to the point of making their report fraudulent.
* Biofuels are better for the environment. Nonsense. We are already plowing an area bigger than Iowa to grow corn for ethanol millions of acres that could be food crops or wildlife habitat. The energy per acre is minuscule compared to what we get from oil and gas drilling, with or without fracking. To meet the latest biodiesel mandate of 1.3 billion gallons, producers will have to extract oil from 430 million bushels of soybeans converting countless more acres from food or habitat to energy.
To produce that biofuel, were also using massive quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, fossil fuels and water. The US Department of Energy calculates that fracking requires 0.6 to 6.0 gallons of fresh or brackish water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, corn-based ethanol requires 2,500 to 29,000 gallons of fresh water per million Btu of energy and biodiesel from soybeans consumes an astounding and unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu!
* Farmers benefit from ethanol. Yes, some get rich. But beef, pork, chicken, egg and fish producers must pay more for feed, which means family food bills go up. Biofuel mandates also mean international aid agencies must pay more for corn and wheat, so more starving people remain malnourished longer.
* Ethanol brings cheaper gas and better mileage. Nonsense. Ethanol gets 30% less mileage than gasoline, so motorists pay the same price per tank but can drive fewer miles. It collects water, gunks up fuel lines, corrodes engine parts, and wreaks havoc on lawn mowers and other small engines. E15 fuel blends (15% ethanol) exacerbate these problems. Biodiesel and ultra-expensive biofuel for military ships and aircraft make even less sense, especially when we have at least a century of petroleum right under our feet, right here in the United States, that many renewable energy advocates flat out dont want us to touch.
* Ethanol creates jobs. Yeah, spending billions in taxes that could otherwise pay for other government programs and billions in extra consumer costs for energy and food does prop up biofuel programs, until companies go bankrupt anyway. As to green jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines green jobs as any that make a company more environmentally friendly and elsewhere includes bus drivers piloting natural gas, biofuel or hybrid vehicles. The Solar Energy Society includes accountants, lawyers and landscapers involved even part time with making or installing solar panels. They could even include burger flippers, if they sell a meal to a truck driver whos hauling corn to an ethanol plant.
Those capacious definitions should certainly include prosecuting attorneys and staffs going after the growing number of shady dealers who got renewable energy tax credits for selling fuels that were not 100% biodiesel and others who sold fraudulent RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) to refineries that face stiff penalties if they fail to buy mandated amounts of ethanol and blend it into gasoline.
Because gasoline consumption is down, many refineries have hit a blend wall meaning the gasoline they are producing already contains as much ethanol as vehicle engines and related equipment can safely handle. However, the government still requires them to buy more corn pone fuel or purchase RINs or pay hefty fines.
If Congress would simply let real free markets work, instead of creating Renewable Fuel Standards, much of this crime and corruption would end. Instead, it perpetuates perverse incentives, perks and money trains which promote what seems to be the Environmentalist-Industrialist-Governmentalist Complexs motto: We dont tolerate corruption. We insist on it. Outright criminal activity is the tip of the iceberg.
Green slime doesnt just describe algae-based biofuels. It also describes the entire DC-mandated biofuel system. About the only thing really green about it is the billions of dollars taken from taxpayers and consumers, and funneled to politicians, who dole the cash out to friendly constituents, who then return some of it as campaign contributions, to get the pols reelected, to perpetuate the gravy train.
Even some Democrats are finally questioning their partys steadfast support for policies that promote renewable energy over oil and gas: Ben Cardin (MD), Robert Casey (PA), Kay Hagan (NC) and several colleagues have openly expressed concern about renewable mandates. One has to wonder why so many Republicans still cant say no to ethanol.
Here are the biggest Republican ethanol boosters. Readers may want to call or email them, to present the facts and ask them why they (and most Democrats) insist on perpetuating this wasteful system, which benefits so few, at the expense of so many.
U.S. House of Representatives: Steve King IA (202-225-4426); Tom Latham IA (-5476); John Shimkus IL (-5271); Lee Terry NE (-4155); Adam Kinzinger IL (-3635).
United States Senate: Roy Blunt MO(202-224-5721); John Hoven ND (-2551); John Thune SD (-2321); Lamar Alexander TN (-4944); Chuck Grassley (-3744).
It will be interesting to see how they defend their profligate and environmentally harmful ways.
Just another scam. Just look at what has happened to the price of corn....any questions??
It’s a scam to pour money into the coffers of agribusiness and from there to politicians.
The people pay for it with higher prices as the government forces them to burn their grain rather than letting them and their livestock eat it.
It is dangerous to food supplies to mandate burning grain as motor vehicle fuel instead of burning something that cannot be food. At the very least, the law should be amended to allow suspending the mandate when the value of grain as a fuel becomes so far out of sync with its value as a food.
Here in Gulf Coast Florida we are being plagued by a smarmy TV Ad, “Mr Slick and Dummy” done by “Growth Energy”, a pro-ethanol trade group. As to expected from an advocacy ad, it is totally one-sided but when the intelligent consumer knows the background, it is even more icky than usual. Worse it gets the stamp of approval from many eco groups who should know better.
In my opinion, this love of ethanol is somewhat akin to a belief in ghosts.
It pollutes more, has less energy than gasoline thus lowering mpg, and ups the cost of gasoline at the pump.
Here’s a great website that lists ethanol-free gasoline stations.
Ethanol does not burn clean at all. But it is made from Corn=— key element of the politics.... food, commodities, corn lobby and bioengineering (monsanto/bayer).
Methanol (wood alcohol, made from anything with cellulose) burns clean.. does not have these effects on engines (dragsters use it btw) and can be made by ANYONE with knowledge. The idea of grass clippings, wood chips etc.
Ethanol lobby, corn lobby, using petro fertilizers and massive amounts of what could be drinking water to make— a fuel dilutent that does not burn clean to our air— what sheer idiocy.
Make methanol at home, buy 100% gasoline and dilute it yourself. Ethanol is and was a scam— massive BS.
In a world where babies still starve, using food for fuel, in a nation that has as much coal and natural gas as we have, is obscene.
One one hand we hear how we can not sustain increase in population then we make laws that require us to burn our food. Who does that??? Crazy liberals, thats who.
The whole story sounds like a inflated analogy for something bad. This is like its own absurd analogy. You can’t come up with a more crazy comparison.
Junk science = Junk solutions = Junk fuel and excuse to pad the pockets of a whole lot of people.
The farm belt has had an energy boom for the last decade. It has been wonderful and a resurrection of the last failed ethanol initiative.
Lots of companies and people prosper... I don’t mind earned prosperity but this is all artificial and comes on the backs of taxpayers and consumers. It is nothing but a convenient gift to agriculture.
Farmers have become rich. Farmers who did OK have hit the jackpot at the expense of many others
Farm equipment manufacturers have done very well and prices for equipment are outrageous.
ADM and Cargill have made a fortune
Farm land prices have exploded
Food costs have exploded
The land is being raped by corn... to get these yields is not much more than hydroponics
The runoff is laced with nitrates and chemicals... how much pollution has been prevented... none. I venture to say the result is a net gain in pollution.
Check it out at http://green.autoblog.com/2012/08/22/la-smog-has-less-of-a-chokehold-than-years-ago-noaa-study-says/
Won't the Carbon Idiots have a fit when they discover that alcohol IS a hydrocarbon?
The air in Los Angeles got considerably cleaner way before the introduction of alcohol in the gasoline. Smaller,lighter cars, more efficient internal combustion engines were the real reason.
Just noticed that you're in Oregon.
I grew up in LA and remember the days when trash wasn't picked up ... we had backyard firepits. And then along came the post WW-II baby boom and population numbers went up and up. The smog wan't all that bad in WW-II days, but the smog later became bothersome. So fire-pits were banned, trast pickup started; the population boom went on; freeways arrived, and both went on and on ... leading to a massive automobile smog problem ... Solved with additives added to gasoline.
Today, auto mileage in LA is about 10% less than auto mileage using gas bought outside the LA area.
The first cellulosic alcohol plants are being built so it is a matter of time as the technology further develops that corn will be replaced by switch grass and kudzu.
Fine, if the “alcohol” is methanol, wood alcohol as the goal not something that creates ethanol.
Large amounts of methanol can harm synthetic fuel system components. Be careful especially with older engines.