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The unintended consequences of the ethanol quick fix
Christian Science Monitor ^ | July 27, 2007 | Ray Nothstine

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 ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: energy; ethanol
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I hate ethanol. It drives up the price on MANY things. Notice how much higher the price of milk is lately? Ethanol is the DOPIEST idea ever. Easiest way to get fuel is simply to drill for it.
1 posted on 07/26/2007 5:46:52 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix

Isn’t there already a 50 cent/gal subsidy on ethanol? $1.00 on bioDiesel?


2 posted on 07/26/2007 5:48:25 PM PDT by Paladin2 (Islam is the religion of violins, NOT peas.)
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To: PJ-Comix

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.


3 posted on 07/26/2007 5:50:20 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: PJ-Comix
Leftist schemes always have huge unintended consequences that more than overwhelm any possible positives of the scheme. Ethanol is no different.

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.

They’re morons.

4 posted on 07/26/2007 5:52:59 PM PDT by vetsvette (Bring Him Back)
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To: 1rudeboy

I NEVER use ethanol but a lot of people complain about its performance.


5 posted on 07/26/2007 5:53:41 PM PDT by PJ-Comix (Join the DUmmie FUnnies PING List for the FUNNIEST Blog on the Web)
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To: vetsvette

Ethanol is the price we pay for making Iowa so important in the nomination process.


6 posted on 07/26/2007 5:55:30 PM PDT by PJ-Comix (Join the DUmmie FUnnies PING List for the FUNNIEST Blog on the Web)
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To: PJ-Comix

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”.


7 posted on 07/26/2007 5:55:40 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: PJ-Comix

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!


8 posted on 07/26/2007 6:03:28 PM PDT by hophead ("Enjoy Every Sandwich")
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To: padre35

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.


9 posted on 07/26/2007 6:06:50 PM PDT by Zeppo (We live in the Age of Stupidity. [Dennis Prager])
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To: padre35
People run gas threw there cars, trucks, and boats in this area and think nothing of of paying $3.00/gallon. But let milk go to $3.00/gallon and its terrible. Let the gas burners set when you can people and the problem will not be as bad. Corn has come down in price but as of late increased a little to $3.345/bushel. Corn crop should be good this year helping things a bit but don't expect food prices to go down any. Its not the farmers reaping the benefits as much as the retail food stores. The bigger problem IMO is traders getting into corn futures just like oil. People buying shares that have no intention of ever taking delivery on anything but to resale the share for profit.
10 posted on 07/26/2007 6:11:14 PM PDT by Racer1
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To: 1rudeboy

Yea, try to buy corn taco shells. Hard to find … Taco Bell take heed.


11 posted on 07/26/2007 6:14:21 PM PDT by doc1019 (Fred Thompson '08)
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To: vetsvette
Leftist schemes always have huge unintended consequences

Unintended? Perhaps by some. I think the people behind the leftist schemes know exactly what they're doing.

12 posted on 07/26/2007 6:17:56 PM PDT by supercat (Sony delenda est.)
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To: padre35

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.


13 posted on 07/26/2007 6:21:05 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the 60s........you weren't really there)
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To: PJ-Comix
I started telling the "etha-nazis" what was going to happen about 2 years ago - and got abused and laughed at up one side and down the other - now who's laughing - Just start with milk nearing $5 per gallon

Only a fool would use his food for fuel.

14 posted on 07/26/2007 6:21:29 PM PDT by xcamel ("It's Talk Thompson Time!" >> irc://irc.freenode.net/fredthompson)
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To: padre35

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.


15 posted on 07/26/2007 6:22:46 PM PDT by BlackVeil
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To: hophead
"All to prop up the corn farming friends of the RIGHT AND LEFT!"

Please provide the details you have on how corn farmers are being 'propped up'.

16 posted on 07/26/2007 6:31:53 PM PDT by JustaDumbBlonde
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To: JustaDumbBlonde

I think they call it federal subsidies.


17 posted on 07/26/2007 6:35:16 PM PDT by ontap (Just another backstabbing conservative)
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To: PJ-Comix

Ethanol is for drinking, not for driving.


18 posted on 07/26/2007 6:36:06 PM PDT by 353FMG (America, first, last and always.)
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To: BlackVeil

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.


19 posted on 07/26/2007 6:37:49 PM PDT by ontap (Just another backstabbing conservative)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde
Uh, by the government subsidizing ethanol plants, who use the money to buy corn?
20 posted on 07/26/2007 6:40:05 PM PDT by Comus (There is no honor in dying with your sword sheathed)
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To: Zeppo

“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.


21 posted on 07/26/2007 6:41:32 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: ChildOfThe60s

And it takes more than a gallon of gasoline to produce and deliver a gallon of ethanol to the pump. This is madness.


22 posted on 07/26/2007 6:43:31 PM PDT by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: Racer1

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.


23 posted on 07/26/2007 6:43:35 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: ChildOfThe60s
"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." Problem being both india and china are going to compete for that oil more and more as time goes by, do you want to pay now, and fund our enemies, or pay now and let india and china to fight over oil? I'm not very keen on the idea of Govt intervention, however, at times it is needed beacuse the market is an ass, not a calendar, the market is more of a grasshopper then an ant, and we need (IMO) to think long range on this like the ant. We spend now to save later, we need infrastructure, the market doesn't "do" infrastructure, it "does" profits, there is no money in infrastructure.
24 posted on 07/26/2007 6:48:31 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: Comus

The perfect detailed explanation I was looking for and your answer indicates your vast understanding of the entire matter. Thanks for taking the time.


25 posted on 07/26/2007 6:48:59 PM PDT by JustaDumbBlonde
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To: FreedomCalls

“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.


26 posted on 07/26/2007 6:51:28 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: Racer1

That’s called capitalism, our form of economics. There are other countries you might like better.


27 posted on 07/26/2007 6:59:38 PM PDT by jwh_Denver (In the Rise and Fall of United States I hope the Fall part is more than one chapter.)
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To: PJ-Comix

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


28 posted on 07/26/2007 7:58:10 PM PDT by foodandfuelamerica (http://www.foodandfuelamerica.com)
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To: PJ-Comix

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.


29 posted on 07/26/2007 8:00:08 PM PDT by Steak
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To: PJ-Comix
Why does ethanol drive up the price of milk? Most if not all dairy farmers grow their own silage corn based or whatever. As far as I know, the cost of growing corn hasn't gone up. Maybe the costs of fertilizer and fuel has.
But to claim ethanol production is driving up the cost of milk is ridiculous.

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.

30 posted on 07/26/2007 8:13:47 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: Steak
I am beginning to wonder if Exxon is fundiong this anti-ethanol campaign. This example from the article amused me. "In Colombia, Christian aid organizations say armed groups are driving peasants off their lands to make way for plantations of palm oil, another biofuel. Acreage dedicated to production of the palm oil tree has more than doubled in the past four years." Would those peasants be otherwise known as cocaine cartel.?

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.

31 posted on 07/26/2007 8:19:39 PM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: Steak
very true. Plus there are much better crops that can be used for higher ethanol return, such as sugar beets, which many farmers won't grow because the sugar market is saturated. But, the infrastructure needs to be there in order for farmer to be able to take advantage of contracts from ethanol producers.

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.

32 posted on 07/26/2007 8:24:02 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: PJ-Comix

This ethanol mandate has such obvious, long-known, widespread bad effects that it’s impossible that they are in fact “unintended”.


33 posted on 07/26/2007 8:27:13 PM PDT by jiggyboy (Ten per cent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: Steak
"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." Exactly, the current market is a grasshopper, only interested in the short profit, thusly they will not, on their own, see the need to build and infrastructure to support Ethanol transition in things like fleet vehicles and E85 for automobiles, with no quick profit, there will be no investment. Now the smart ant will see that it is only a matter of time until China and India BOTH use as much gasoline as the we the US do, meaning market scarcity will drive up costs of gasoline use. Build now, or cry later under European type prices for gasoline. That is ant thinking, we know a winter will come, how will we prepare for it? 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....
34 posted on 07/26/2007 8:30:05 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: PJ-Comix
"I NEVER use ethanol but a lot of people complain about its performance."

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.

35 posted on 07/26/2007 8:30:36 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: padre35

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.


36 posted on 07/26/2007 8:31:04 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the 60s........you weren't really there)
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To: Nathan Zachary

“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?


37 posted on 07/26/2007 8:35:17 PM PDT by Scotsman will be Free (11C - Indirect fire, infantry - High angle hell - We will bring you, FIRE)
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To: ChildOfThe60s

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.


38 posted on 07/26/2007 8:42:31 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: hophead
"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!"

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.

39 posted on 07/26/2007 8:42:46 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: Scotsman will be Free

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?


40 posted on 07/26/2007 8:52:36 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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To: Nathan Zachary

Give me a break. I quoted you. You are full of crap, and spare me the “I grew up on a farm” garbage.


41 posted on 07/26/2007 9:00:42 PM PDT by Scotsman will be Free (11C - Indirect fire, infantry - High angle hell - We will bring you, FIRE)
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To: PJ-Comix
"Ethanol is the price we pay for making Iowa so important in the nomination process."

Bingo! Very perceptive!

42 posted on 07/26/2007 9:10:11 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Genocide is the highest sacrament of socialism.)
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To: padre35
it is only a matter of time until China and India BOTH use as much gasoline as the we the US do, meaning market scarcity will drive up costs of gasoline use

. . .

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?

43 posted on 07/26/2007 9:12:30 PM PDT by Zeppo (We live in the Age of Stupidity. [Dennis Prager])
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To: PJ-Comix

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.......


44 posted on 07/26/2007 9:16:02 PM PDT by Intolerant in NJ
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To: padre35

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.


45 posted on 07/26/2007 9:18:39 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the 60s........you weren't really there)
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To: Zeppo

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.


46 posted on 07/26/2007 9:32:44 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: Nathan Zachary

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.


47 posted on 07/26/2007 9:35:12 PM PDT by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: ChildOfThe60s

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.


48 posted on 07/26/2007 9:38:37 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: Steak

Corn stalks/husks and grasses are a major feed for dairies, they are not unneeded.


49 posted on 07/26/2007 9:52:10 PM PDT by Cold Heart
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To: jwh_Denver

That was not a complaint and that remark is out of line.


50 posted on 07/27/2007 2:38:32 AM PDT by Racer1
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