Skip to comments.The unintended consequences of the ethanol quick fix
Posted on 07/26/2007 5:46:51 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
Grand Rapids, Mich. - Ronald Reagan once said that the most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." His one-liner immediately comes to mind when looking at the problems behind the federal government's campaign to boost production of corn-based ethanol with a massive 51-cent-per-gallon subsidy.
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
Isn’t there already a 50 cent/gal subsidy on ethanol? $1.00 on bioDiesel?
I heard on the radio that Mexican farmers are plowing-under their agave crops to plant corn. People don’t realize how serious this will become a few years down the road.
It will make not a shred of difference though — the leftist answer to their inevitably short-sighted approaches is that we need more of the same and all will be well.
I NEVER use ethanol but a lot of people complain about its performance.
Ethanol is the price we pay for making Iowa so important in the nomination process.
And the market will produce more corn now that prices are higher.
Why isn’t govt intervention in order to bring an orderly transition to differnt fuels?
Strictly my opinion, but the market will not change the way we fuel our vehicles, and that fuel and oil is a serious national security liability (IMO)by funding our mortal enemies and chaining the US to fuel competition with China, a rapidly growing china that wants gas as much as we currently do, if we don’t transition, we will be paying ever higher prices for the same commodity and THEN we switch to ethanol?
That makes -0- sense, better to do it now, then suffer and THEN switch.
I would love to be shown were I am wrong on this, and please take the totality of what I said, and not fixate on “Govt intervention in a market”.
Yogurt went from .69 to .99 OVERNIGHT! And I get LESS MPG’s per gallon with this crud. All to prop up the corn farming friends of the RIGHT AND LEFT!
However having the US drastically reduce its oil consumption would seem to lead to a result where the US economy takes a hit from even higher energy prices, China gets access to all of the oil that they need at lower prices, and China continues to fund our mortal enemies.
Yea, try to buy corn taco shells. Hard to find Taco Bell take heed.
Unintended? Perhaps by some. I think the people behind the leftist schemes know exactly what they're doing.
We can very easily drill for and get enough oil to dwarf any amount of ethanol we can produce. It’s cheaper, easier, cleaner. And we can do it domestically. And the taxpayer doesn’t have to pay for it.
Sorry, ethanol and fuels like that are wasteful dead ends that serve only to delude us and give us excuses to avoid facing up to the reality that for the foreseeable future we gotta have oil. And the oil is out there.
Only a fool would use his food for fuel.
Good points, and I would add that corn, wheat and milk prices have been low for several decades - since the end of the 1980s. As with metals, there is a natural move in the market.
Please provide the details you have on how corn farmers are being 'propped up'.
I think they call it federal subsidies.
Ethanol is for drinking, not for driving.
You could not be more wrong , the price of milk has been at least twice what it should have been the last twenty years because the government has been buying it up and destroying it.
“However having the US drastically reduce its oil consumption would seem to lead to a result where the US economy takes a hit from even higher energy prices, China gets access to all of the oil that they need at lower prices, and China continues to fund our mortal enemies.”
The question the way I see it is “When do you want to take that hit, today, or tomorrow”?
China’s growth curve is upwards, currently we are the world’s leading importer of oil ,soon China will have caught us (think 25 years or so).
Right now, a transition to alternative enrgy sources seems doable to me, Nuclear, ethanol, maybe increased efficency of consumption.
We are growing as well, 25 years from now we may be at 350 million people, the climb only gets steeper the longer we wait.
And it takes more than a gallon of gasoline to produce and deliver a gallon of ethanol to the pump. This is madness.
Food prices have been low for a long time, a correction upwards to reflect the weakness of the dollar, and lesser inflationary pressures was bound ot happen.
“Core” inflation excludes both food and fuel, the farmers do have to pay more for fertilizer and fuel to produce crops, and our dollar’s weakness was going to show up sooner or later.
The perfect detailed explanation I was looking for and your answer indicates your vast understanding of the entire matter. Thanks for taking the time.
“And it takes more than a gallon of gasoline to produce and deliver a gallon of ethanol to the pump. This is madness.”
Right now, as the market grows for Ethanol, the price and efficiency of producing that product will both become more streamlined and efficient.
A market is great at seeing that those things happen.
That’s called capitalism, our form of economics. There are other countries you might like better.
Ethanol has little impact upon food prices. For example, feed costs are not computed in dairy prices paid to farmers. World demand, drought and supply are key to those prices. Farmers are price TAKERS not price MAKERS. Stores have increased energy and labor costs that do get passed on to consumers. $3.17 buys a bushel of corn from a farmer. That’s 56 POUNDS. That’s a lotta flakes. And consumers pay $4.00 for less than a pound of breakfast cereal. As for taking food away from livestock, ethanol produces a coproduct called DDGs that has the fats and proteins needed for them. It’s food AND fuel. Don’t believe the lies of big oil. Learn more at http://www.foodandfuelamerica.com
Ethanol is NOT a dopey idea. You are actually being shortsighted. Corn based ethanol? Yes, it is a joke. Costs more or as much to produce as the energy you get from it. Where it can work, is creating the infrastructure for ethanol. In a few years, you will have cellulosic ethanol, made in large part by waste products of current logging and farming. If the infrastructure is there, the businesses will be willing to take the risk. They will not invest the billions needed, without the infrastructure they need to make it viable.
When we can use wood pulp, unneeded agricultural products (corn stalks/husks, grasses, etc.) it will be huge. It will not happen if we don’t begin the switch.
As a matter of fact, if the dairy farmer plants more corn than he needs, he can offset his milk production costs with the extra money he makes marketing his extra corn.
I don't think ethanol is "bad" at all, it is a good additive to gasoline, especially the crappy water laced fuel they produce now. It helps keeping that water from precipitating out, and prolongs the storage properties of gas, not to mention preventing your fuel tank from rusting out, which is a terrible problem with the fuel they make today, especially if you put it in an old pre-60's steel fuel tank.
It also burns cleaner, And increases the octane value.
It is NOT a fuel replacement however. 20% ethanol is about the limit to any benefit ethanol blending can provide, and because it replaces other types of fuel additives, it doesn't (or shouldn't) increase the cost of gasoline at those levels.
The increased corn prices shouldn't be cause for any whining either. It's about time farmers were actually paid above what it costs to grow a crop. They should remove the subsidies now.
Most op this stuff is written by city slickers who know nothing about agriculture but resent all farm subsidies. Yet they like the programs that is distributing 4 million free lunches daily in NYC this summer.
Agriculture will adjust like all markets do. It has been on life support for 200 years and I am glad some have a chance to make some money. Livestock growers will also adjust and we may well see more range fed meat.
Bush probably lowered the milk price supports again, because the caves in Kansas City are bursting with surplus in storage. He took it down 10 cents earlier and the price of cheese went up 10 cents at that time.
It will have a positive effect on other crop prices as well, instead of farmers limited to growing crops in excess of world demand, and getting nothing/loosing money and relying of subsidies, They will be able to add another option to the rotation.
This has a potential to end farm subsidies in the near future for ALL crops, and that would be a good thing.
This ethanol mandate has such obvious, long-known, widespread bad effects that it’s impossible that they are in fact “unintended”.
It should perform better, as long as it's under 20%. If they are using 50% or more, they need to make changes to their fuel system to allow for richer fuel air mixtures. The problem with that is fuel millage will go down, but performance will be fabulous.
That's why it's best to stick to ethanol blends under 20% And if you make the modifications to properly burn 50% or higher blends, you can't burn regular gas anymore. Combined with lower fuel millage, ethanol sucks in that regard.
I can’t follow your thinking here. I can’t see how producing more oil here, from sources in our own territory, is going to encourage India and China to use more oil. How is refusing to produce more of our own oil going to benefit us and do anything about China & India?
As regards government “intervention”, that’s exactly what’s at the roots of the current situation. It is the government’s intervention in the form of banning exploration and production in the most potentially productive areas of the United States. It is 40 years of tinkering by the government manipulating everything related to energy that has gotten us here.
The government did not build the energy infrastructure we have. The private sector did. The government did not build refineries, did not manufacture drilling equipment, did not develop the technology for finding oil. The government did not build the tankers, the pipe lines. The government did not invest billions in research to do anything for energy production.
What the government has done is tax the investors and producers of energy. It has banned drilling, refining and exploration. The government has fought the private sector’s production of energy every inch of the way for 40 years.
We are funding our enemies by NOT drilling oil here. We are encouraging others to fight over oil because we are restricting the supply by not producing more of our own energy.
Biofuels and ethanol are not “alternative sources of energy”. They are more expensive, less efficient versions of fossil fuel. New, evolving technologies are the current and future sources of alternative energy.
If, as you seem to be saying, we can’t drill enough oil to run our economy, how can we possibly produce enough biofuels to have a positive impact? We can’t. It is impossible. The amounts of biofuels we could produce in the future are minuscule in comparison to the amounts of readily available oil in ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico, the Rockies, the pacific coast. The clean coal in Utah is of quantities to boggle the mind. The government has banned use of that, too.
The government has micromanaged energy production in this country down for 4 decades. What we don’t need is the same socialist pinheads devising more pie in the sky solutions to the problems they created.
“As far as I know, the cost of growing corn hasn’t gone up. Maybe the costs of fertilizer and fuel has.” LOL. You really don’t have a clue do you? There is no maybe about the costs of fuel and fertilizer going up. What do you suppose they plant, harvest, and fertilize the corn with? Horses?
Perhaps what you don’t understand about the oil industry is that even if we drilled ANWAR tomorrow, that oil isn’t “US oil” meant to be used domestically.
That oil goes on the world market, were we get to bid on it against China and India.
The market is more then happy to take their profits on oil no matter the cost to the consumer, and those costs will be rising, until eventually ethanol becomes “cheaper” meanwhile we (the consumer) will have to pay to compete with gas starved China an India until that price point is reached.
In 2020 the conversation very well could be: “Gas 8 bucks a gallon? Sure, good thing 5 years from now those ethanol pipelines will be up and running...”
I am suggesting that process be short circuited starting today if you please.
Why would Yogurt go up because of corn prices? It's not made from corn. And dairy farmers that use corn for silage grow their own, so they aren't paying commodity prices for it. Corn didn't suddenly cost more to grow than it did last year. Only the price of fuel and fertilizer to grow ANY crop has gone up, and fuel is the # one major input cost of farming. Your fuel millage will decrease, but your car should run well, ("crud" free too) If your car is older, the fuel system cannot adjust to burning high ethanol blends. Burn 20% or less, OR take it in and have it fixed for burning high ratio blends of ethanol. If ethanol were cheaper than gas, then the lower millage problem shouldn't matter. I'd burn it instead of gas if it worked out to the same cost. eventually gas will cost more than ethanol, it's only a matter of time.
I grew up on the farm.
Don’t even try to tell me how corn or anything else grows.
The claim was “corn” is costing the price of milk/yogurt to go up, and it’s because of ethanol production.
I’m simply correcting that line of thinking. Dairy farmers produce their own corn crops, so the commodity prices do not effect them at all. The only cost increases would be due to increased fuel and fertilizer prices.
I suggest you go read that post again. Then maybe you’d have a CLUE what was being said in the first place. AYE?
Give me a break. I quoted you. You are full of crap, and spare me the “I grew up on a farm” garbage.
Bingo! Very perceptive!
. . .
The fed govt's role should be to facilitate the building of infrastructure, and BTW we would bankrupt Iran if we do it quickly enough...
It appears that you are undermining your own argument. How, exactly, are we going to "bankrupt Iran" by reducing US oil consumption, when according to your own statement, growing demand in China and India will more than replace the US demand?
Ethanol - what a bargain - one acre of good farmland tied up for four months to produce fifty gallons of product - when are the greenies going to smarten up and realize that their alternate energy schemes are all so inefficient that they’ll bankrupt the country trying to implement them - or is bankruptcy really what they’re after.......
Well, I can see we are not going to agree, but before I quit for the night I’ll try this:
1- 3 mil barrels of oil a day more in US production would kick the bottom right out of prices. And we have the oil.
2 - There simply isn’t anyway now or 5 or 10 years from now we can produce ethanol in amounts significant enough to impact petroleum needs.
3 - The impact of accessing the clean coal we have in the continental US would be logarithmically greater than any potential ethanol production could be.
4 - Usually over looked in these discussions is the fact that the majority of a barrel of oil does not go to gasoline. Petroleum provides many thousands of products that can’t be made from biofuels.
Iran at the moment is totally dependent on oil revenues to pay for not only the day to day expenses of a country, but it’s nuke program, support for jihaddy’s in Iraq and a military build up.
“IF” we could get Ethanol rapidly into use in the US, the world’s current largest consumer of oil would no longer need as much oil
Eventually China and India would pick up the slack in the long term, in the short term, Iran would be bankrupt.
BTW, you do know that different types of corn have different qualities, yes? Ever tried to eat feed corn? I once was sold feed corn ears at a store. I tried boiling it for two days (because I wasn’t paying fuel costs), and it still wasn’t edible.
Those are all short term things, 3 million barrels a day, how about 4 billion people who want cars in the next ten years?
Your 3 million barrels assumes a oil market where “we” dominate in consumption, in the near future, it won’t “We” it will be “us”.
IMO, coal has a role in either power plant fuel, or liquifying it and refine it into normal crude, the last time I checked, oil over 45 dollars a barrel meant that fuel from coal was priced competitively with normal oil.
But every 5 years or so, the number of people who want that fuel is going to go upwards, demographics is destiny I’m afraid childofthe60’s as China and India grow more prosperous, they will want more Americanish things, like cars and 24/7 electricity.
Corn stalks/husks and grasses are a major feed for dairies, they are not unneeded.
That was not a complaint and that remark is out of line.