The reverse of UN’s disastrous “oil for food” program: Ethanol uses 40% of US Corn Crop

Global Food Prices Jump To Record Level Because of Higher Corn Prices – or the alternate title: Cornholing the future

From The UN FAO - corn prices were the biggest driver of this trend

There’s lot of gloom and doom being pushed, trying to link food prices to climate change by the usual howlers. As shown above, food prices surged to record levels in February despite February wheat and rice prices being essentially flat. Yet, February corn prices are up significantly even with 2010 being the 3rd largest U.S. corn crop ever. Why? Well part of the reason is that our cars now have a mandated, growing and voracious appetite for corn based ethanol.

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. writes:

When certain information proves challenging to entrenched political or ideological commitments it can be easy for policy makers to ignore, downplay or even dismiss that information.  It is a common dynamic and knows no political boundaries.  Global Dashboard catches the Obama Administration selectively explaining the causes for increasing world food prices:

“The increase in February mostly reflected further gains in international maize prices, driven by strong demand amid tightening supplies, while prices rose marginally in the case of wheat and fell slightly in the case of rice.”

“In other words, this is mainly about corn. And who’s the biggest corn exporter in the world? The United States…And where is 40% of US corn production going this year? Ethanol, for use in US car engines.”

So here we having wailing and gnashing of teeth by the usual suspects over global food prices, and they are using this as an example of the supposed “climate change drive food prices” link. Of course there isn’t any link in this case. It’s the corn stupid.

The simple solution: stop burning food for fuel, drill for more oil, work on alternate energy system that actually might work, like thorium based nuclear power.

h/t to C3 headlines

About these ads

351 thoughts on “The reverse of UN’s disastrous “oil for food” program: Ethanol uses 40% of US Corn Crop

  1. Which American company grows the most corn in the U.S., and which American company gets the most in subsidies?

    How much does that company spend in lobbying each year and who do they support politically?

    ….They quietly announced a number of years ago that they were converting at least 10% of their cropland to corn production, because it was more profitable….

    You’ll hear the GloomerDoomers wailing about how climate change is forcing the price of food up, corn included. What I don’t understand is how you can, with any intelligence at all, justify putting food in your tank, when you can’t eat oil.

  2. ……..and aren’t they trying to raise it from 10% to 15% ethanol

    When people start having problems with their older cars, any engine, they should sue.

    Everyone raising corn is dancing to the bank, but then that was the whole idea in the first place………..

  3. I’m not a fan of ethanol, but you should know that there are several varieties of corn specific to the end use. The corn you get for dinner is not the same as the corn you feed to cattle or chickens, and there is a specific GM variety coming on the market that is tailored for ethanol. To proclaim that we are taking food out of the mouths of people by producing corn for ethanol is simplistic at best. If you wish to refine your claim that corn produced for ethanol uses up land that would otherwise grow corn for feed or people, then I’d be ok with that. But please realize the issue is far more complex than your headline would indicate.

  4. “The simple solution: stop burning food for fuel, drill for more oil, work on alternate energy system that actually might work, like thorium based nuclear power.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Rational policy that, but then I am reminded of Keynes:

    “There is nothing so disastrous as a rational investment policy in an irrational world.”

    Sadly it is an irrational world when we have to deal with ideologically-driven politcians.

  5. I was going to say the greens/alarmists/UCS and the rest were economically illiterate, now I am not so sure. It may be a genuine effort to kill as many people as possible.

    Looking at the preliminary figures of excess deaths in the UK due the Winter any sane person would question where this is heading. Sorry no link to the deaths.

  6. There’s a big problem. Farmers and businesses invested heavily in plants, facilities and machinery for this business. You just can’t stop it and leave them hanging in the wind. Either the oil for food continues, or the government bails them out (too!).
    This mess can be blamed on Bush, and all the environmentalists who originally backed the idea.

  7. Klimawandler,
    Consumers can decide what they want, but in the end the government thinks it can veto consumers’s decisions and decide for them. Expect the German government not to back down.

  8. @Curiousgeorge:

    My kinfolk in the Midwest switched from growing corn for food to corn for ethanol over the last decade because that’s where the money is.

    That’s not complex at all!

    tw

  9. Curiousgeorge says that we are not converting people food corn to ethanol since it is a different kind of corn.
    Unfortunately, curiousgeorge, it is not quite that simple.
    It may not be the same corn that people consume, but that is not the problem. It diverts labor, capital, land, water, fertilizer, etc., etc. from growing people corn and other people foods to growing ethanol and car fuel.

  10. Slick Willy also recently said it’s a mistake. But the EPA isn’t interested in factual data.

    Sadly, this boondoggle has co-opted some conservatives also. They don’t want to shut down the cash flow to their constituency.

    Remove the 15% mandate and the subsidy. Ethanol would dry up overnight.

  11. Curiousgeorge talks about corn types grown to purpose and it is true there are ethanol specific ears of corn. But the land it grows on does not know nor care the pedigree of the tasseled stalks it is producing or if a flatulent ruminant or a flatulent Buick is going to consume that corn. Fields used to grow corn for ethanol could be growing food. They cannot do both at the same time.

  12. Curiousgeorge says:
    March 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I’m not a fan of ethanol, but you should know that there are several varieties of corn specific to the end use. The corn you get for dinner is not the same as the corn you feed to cattle or chickens, and there is a specific GM variety coming on the market that is tailored for ethanol. To proclaim that we are taking food out of the mouths of people by producing corn for ethanol is simplistic at best. If you wish to refine your claim that corn produced for ethanol uses up land that would otherwise grow corn for feed or people, then I’d be ok with that. But please realize the issue is far more complex than your headline would indicate.

    George corn is in everything. Corn Syrup is used in so many things I don’t know where to start, cornstarch is used in just about as many. Doritos, corn flakes, all sorts of other cereals. Corn meal, Tortillas, all things mexican. Not to mention animal feed for chickens, beef, goats, dog food, cat food, fish food.

  13. Economically illiterate politicians who push this garbage apparently don’t read the peer-reviewed literature,

    Ethanol Fuels: Energy Balance, Economics, and Environmental Impacts Are Negative
    (Natural Resources Research, Volume 12, Number 2, pp. 127-134, June 2003)
    – David Pimentel

    Several studies suggest that the $1.4 billion in government subsidies are encouraging the ethanol program without substantial benefits to the U.S. economy. Large ethanol industries and a few U.S. government agencies, such as the USDA, support the production of ethanol. Corn-farmers receive minimal profits. In the U.S. ethanol system, considerably more energy, including high-grade fossil fuel, is required to produce ethanol than is available in the energyethanol output. Specifically about 29% more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy in a gallon of ethanol. Fossil energy powers corn production and the fermentation/distillation processes. Increasing subsidized ethanol production will take more feed from livestock production, and is estimated to currently cost consumers an additional $1 billion per year. Ethanol production increases environmental degradation. Corn production causes more total soil erosion than any other crop. Also, corn production uses more insecticides, herbicides, and nitrogen fertilizers than any other crop. All these factors degrade the agricultural and natural environment and contribute to water pollution and air pollution. Increasing the cost of food and diverting human food resources to the costly inefficient production of ethanol fuel raise major ethical questions. These occur at a time when more than half of the world’s population is malnourished. The ethical priority for corn and other food crops should be for food and feed. Subsidized ethanol produced from U.S. corn is not a renewable energy source.

    Food Versus Biofuels: Environmental and Economic Costs
    (Human Ecology, Volume 37, Number 1, pp. 1-12, February 2009)
    – David Pimentel et al.

    The rapidly growing world population and rising consumption of biofuels intensify demands for both food and biofuels. This exaggerates food and fuel shortages. The use of food crops such as corn grain to produce ethanol raises major nutritional and ethical concerns. Nearly 60% of humans in the world are currently malnourished, so the need for grains and other basic foods is critical. Growing crops for fuel squanders land, water and energy resources vital for the production of food for human consumption. Using corn for ethanol increases the price of US beef, chicken, pork, eggs, breads, cereals, and milk more than 10% to 30%. In addition, Jacques Diouf, Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, reports that using food grains to produce biofuels is already causing food shortages for the poor of the world. Growing crops for biofuel not only ignores the need to reduce fossil energy and land use, but exacerbates the problem of malnourishment worldwide.

  14. CouriousGeorge,
    It’s not the type of corn, it’s ANY corn. It’s the acreage involved. If you are growing ethanol corn, you can’t grow sweet corn on the same ground. It’s crowding out other crops also.

  15. “The simple solution: stop burning food for fuel, drill for more oil, work on alternate energy system that actually might work, like thorium based nuclear power.”

    AMEN.
    Our energy policy is a disgrace to our intelligence.

    Other side benefits include:
    Massive royality and lease sale payments to our Treasury. During the Bush Admin. Such payments to the treasury represented the largest source of Treasury Revenue after income taxes. Why has Obama cut off this huge source of Federal revenue by failing to sell leases and killing royalities? It is suicidal to kill an income source.

    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. A three letter word according to the VP.

    Balance of Payments

    Reduce oil prices

    Reduce funding to unfriendly dictators (although very little of our oil comes from the middle east we do support Chavez)

    The promise of alternative green fuels is a diversion from reality especially for liquid fuels.

  16. “The corn you get for dinner is not the same as the corn you feed to cattle or chickens…”

    And what kind of corn, pray tell, would starving people like to eat?

  17. Boy this red herring nonsense gets old — the corn used for producing fuel ethanol (field corn) and is not “food for human consumption” it is an industrial crop like timber, alfalfa, cotton etc.

    The “waste product” of ethanol production is high quality cattle feed, which is used to produce high quality protein in the form of meat. The only thing taken out of the corn used in ethanol production is the ferment-able sugars and starches, all the rest of the nutrient value is preserved and used as dried distillers grains and solids (DDGS) as animal feed, harvested for corn oil, or if in surplus and economically it can be burned as fuel to power the fuel ethanol brewing cycle. In fact the brewing process yeasts actually add to the food value of the DDGS, so you get more nutrients out than you put in as corn.

    The real reason for the increased corn prices is speculators (commodity players) are bidding up the price of corn, anticipating increased demand for fuel ethanol in coming months to replace very expensive oil as mid east problems increase the uncertainty of supply for oil.

    This is a predictable result of a sharp increase in any commodity price. Other commodities will also go up.

    IT’s the COST of OIL Stupid!

    The modern fuel ethanol industry grew up out of the oil shortages of the 1970’s because ethanol allowed them to stretch a limited supply of oil/gasoline. Fuel ethanol is a direct replacement for imported oil, and its percent of use goes up as costs of oil increase. That is a classic increase of demand for a substitute product when the item it replaces becomes cost prohibitive.

    It is very simple economics, when one commodity becomes very expensive, any other commodity that depends on its use for production, or any viable replacement also increases in cost.

    When high quality hard wood gets expensive and hard to get people switch to hardwood veneer products, same sort of substitution occurs with fuels.

    Fuel ethanol is the most cost effective octane enhancement for gasoline blending, it allows them to use less crude oil to make a gallon of fuel, therefore as the price of oil goes up, so does demand for fuel ethanol to allow the blenders to meet minimum octane requirements at the lowest possible cost.

    It is a safe bet that this years corn plantings will be going up substantially for the same reason, as increased fuel costs will improve profit margins on fuel ethanol.

    The actual cost of the corn fraction of common food products is trivial, in a box of corn flakes the cost of the corn to make it is less than 10 cents, the real cost is in the packaging and shipping (oil) to get the product to the consumer.

    Larry

  18. Curiousgeorge says:
    March 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    I’m not a fan of ethanol, but you should know that there are several varieties of corn specific to the end use. The corn you get for dinner is not the same as the corn you feed to cattle or chickens, and there is a specific GM variety coming on the market that is tailored for ethanol. To proclaim that we are taking food out of the mouths of people by producing corn for ethanol is simplistic at best. If you wish to refine your claim that corn produced for ethanol uses up land that would otherwise grow corn for feed or people, then I’d be ok with that. But please realize the issue is far more complex than your headline would indicate.

    Instead of corn being grown for food, corn is being grown for fuel.

    or

    Less corn is being grown for food because more corn is being grown for fuel.

    Stated either way, I believe that that is the point.

    A point on which I agree.

  19. The last thing responsible for a rise in global food prices is climate change. The single largest factor however is U.S. Monetary policy,

    QE2 Fuels a Global Fury (Mark Thornton, Ph.D. Economics)

    The Federal Reserve has been busy the last three months pumping up the money supply by $300 billion dollars, with much more promised in the months ahead. Some of the results have been painfully predictable, …Higher food prices set off the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and the mass protests in countries like Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, and Iran. People in these countries buy more unprocessed foods and spend a much higher percentage of their income on food, so they have been severely impoverished by Bernanke’s QE2. Bernanke claims that monetary policy cannot change the quantity of wheat by one bushel and that higher food prices are the result of bad weather conditions in Russia and Australia. However, bad weather does not explain why the prices of virtually all food and nonfood commodities have increased substantially in recent recessionary times. This is clearly a case of too much money chasing too few goods.

    Food inflation and QE2: the correlation is undeniable (International Business Times)

    Experts can argue all they want about the causality relationship between food inflation and the Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing (QE2). What cannot be denied, however, is the correlation. Indeed, ever since QE2 was clearly signaled by the Fed, the price of food commodities surged.

    Gotta love the government.

  20. Curiousgeorge says
    “The corn you get for dinner is not the same as the corn you feed to cattle or chickens, and there is a specific GM variety coming on the market that is tailored for ethanol.”
    I don’t follow the logic. If the fields were not diverted to corn for ethanol, wouldn’t they be dedicated to food instead?
    The argument that the corn is not suitable for food doesn’t hold. The fields would be used for food if the crazy insane ethanol mandate/subsidy did not exist.

  21. So it has come to this? Cornholio:ing each other.

    Well, however, as a sceptic, I’ve been through worse. :-()

  22. I see this as another attack on people of the world, destroy the food supply, create shortages based on flawed science, devalue the money supply to to further imbalance society, pit the have’s against the have not’s and blame it on nonsense. Will all these ongoing attacks on freedom, values, progress, resources for one reason to benefit the liars and the cheats. So I say “save the humans”.

  23. “work on alternate energy system that actually might work, like thorium based nuclear power.”

    Exactly!

    One of these two things has to be more disastrous: Global Warming or Nuclear Power Plants in the US. I wish the trillion dollars in stimulous money had gone to nuclear power instead of the stupid solar panels popping up at all the schools in California, and programming our kids with unproven global warming beliefs.

  24. Curiousgeorge,

    We know that there are different strains of corn, and that’s not the issue. The issue is that corn, regardless of variety, takes cropland to grow, and corn for fuel takes cropland that could otherwise be used for food production.

    Even more obscene is 2 additional points lost on many…
    1. If corn was used for the fuel it takes to grow the corn for fuel, cropland usage would increase from no less than 1 acre to 1.6 acres. As it is, oil is used by the system in place to generate the ethanol.
    2. Ethanol is hard on an engine and requires more frequent oil changes to mitigate the effects of ethanol on lubrication oils.

    #2 is, IMHO, of equal importance, because I believe that the mandated increase of ethanol concentration in fuel is a left-handed way of increasing the number of cars sold. Even if the increase is only a few percent, that’s a few percent more cars sold that translates into big dollar signs for the auto industry. Why wouldn’t they love that? It’s the equivalent of a hidden bail-out.

  25. The really sad fact is that the corn to ethanol fiasco results in increased CO2 emissions vs. gasoline from crude oil. So, along with the larger dead zone in the Gulf, increased corn prices, poorer mileage, etc., the only accomplishment is wealth transfer.

  26. @CuriousGeorge

    I don’t get it. It’s reducing cropland that could be used for grain for livestock or people food. Obviously prices are going to go up if that cropland is removed. I don’t see the complexity here at all.

  27. Curiousgeorge says:
    March 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    “If you wish to refine your claim that corn produced for ethanol uses up land that would otherwise grow corn for feed or people, then I’d be ok with that.”

    That’s the point, Curiousgeorge. If government was not subsidizing ethanol, then farmers would be using their land to grow corn for feed or people, not ethanol. The type of corn is irrelevant. One does not have to have a degree in Economics to understand how government distorts a free market.

  28. “I’m drilling as fast as I can!”

    And I’m backing you. Long CVX, RDS, and BEXP (Austin in Bakken).
    All are great hedges against rising gasoline prices.

  29. Alternatively created a genetically modified supercrop for Ethanol production that isn’t for any human or animal consumption and is separated from international food markets.

  30. Curiousgeorge at March 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    I’m not a fan of ethanol, but you should know that there are several varieties of corn specific to the end use. The corn you get for dinner is not the same as the corn you feed to cattle or chickens, and there is a specific GM variety coming on the market that is tailored for ethanol. To proclaim that we are taking food out of the mouths of people by producing corn for ethanol is simplistic at best. If you wish to refine your claim that corn produced for ethanol uses up land that would otherwise grow corn for feed or people, then I’d be ok with that. But please realize the issue is far more complex than your headline would indicate.

    You are merely splitting hair, and your second last sentence suggests that even you recognize that. A long time ago (at least as long ago as 1999 – and probably even before that if one were to sift carefully through Adam Smith’s tome) it was recognized that if there is a new demand for a product of the land then it would, if anything, increase food prices. The higher the prices paid for this new product, the greater the shift of resources toward making that product rather than food. It doesn’t make a difference whether the product is edible either to man or any other species.

    As noted in Wishful Thinking on Cellulosic Ethanol :

    The theory is that cellulosic ethanol, which is still in the research and development phase, would be produced from non-edible plant material, e.g., switchgrasses, crop residue and other biomass that is not currently grown or used as edible crops. Thus, it is implied, it would have no effect on food prices.

    But this is wishful thinking.

    If cellulosic ethanol is indeed proven to be viable (with or without subsidies), what do people think farmers will do?
    Farmers will do what they’ve always done: they’ll produce the necessary biomass that would be converted to ethanol more efficiently. In fact, they’ll start cultivating the cellulose as a crop (or crops). They have had 10,000 years of practice perfecting their techniques. They’ll use their usual bag of tricks to enhance the yields of the biomass in question: they’ll divert land and water to grow these brand new crops. They’ll fertilize with nitrogen and use pesticides. The Monsantos of the world — or their competitors, the start-ups — will develop new and genetically modified but improved seeds that will increase the farmer’s productivity and profits. And if cellulosic ethanol proves to be as profitable as its backers hope, farmers will divert even more land and water to producing the cellulose instead of food. All this means we’ll be more or less back to where we were. Food will once again be competing with fuel. And land and water will be diverted from the rest of nature to meet the human demand for fuel. .

    The logic is the same whether biofuels are made from sweetcorn, feed corn, cellulose, a special GM variety, or whatever. Of course, what is true for land and water is also true for all the other resources that are inputs for production, namely, capital (both financial and human). But, to continue to quote from that blog:

    Does this mean that biomass – and farmers — should play no role in helping us meet our energy needs? Not necessarily. If farmers can profitably grow fuel rather than food through their own efforts, so be it. But we shouldn’t favor growing one over the other either through subsidies or indirectly through government mandates for so-called renewable fuels. And if anything should be subsidized or mandated, it shouldn’t be growing fuels. That would inevitably compete with food.

    Events certainly seem to vindicate this prognostication.

  31. Curiousgeorge says:
    March 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I’m not a fan of ethanol, but you should know that there are several varieties of corn specific to the end use…. But please realize the issue is far more complex than your headline would indicate.

    Granted, not all of the 40% of the U.S.corn crop that is used for ethanol production is from cropland that is so diverted, but a lot of it is, and world corn-price trends have been impacted by ethanol demand.

    For example, Mexicans on low incomes now can no longer afford tortilla’s, their main staple that they used to buy by the kg, but must now eat Ichi Ban noodles instead. I bet that the bakeries producing the tortillas feel the pinch as well.

    The corn used to produce a tank-full of fuel could be used to feed a family of four for a whole year.

  32. The federal moonshiners outdid themselves
    For food in the store disappears from the shelves.
    We stop exporting corn
    And the hungry world scorn.
    Soon we cannot supply food to ourselves.

  33. Curiousgeorge????? Far more complex?????? Farmer has land which is suited to corn production. Farmer makes planting decision based upon revenue yield. Corn for ethanol yields more $$ than corn for food. Result: Less corn for food and thus higher price.

    You may find this complex, most people don’t.

  34. Short corn.
    The inevitable outcome of this is the collapse of corn prices and a whole lot of farms going on the foreclosure list.
    Thanks, crony capitalists.

  35. Mike says:

    “Wheat prices have not been flat.”

    It’s the substitution effect. When one commodity becomes expensive, people purchase another commodity with essentially the same utility. This drives up the price of the substitute.

    Ethanol is driving up the cost of food across the board.

    What is realy important is to constantly let people know who is directly responsible for this global economic fiasco and the price rise in essential commodities and energy: “Green” politicians like Obama and the Democrat Party, which is owned and operated by the enviro crowd. Because we know they will try to blame everyone else for their failed policies.

  36. We need a website with impact of ” wattsupwiththat” to take the “fossil” out of fossil fuels, once and for all. The idea that carbon based fuels are finite and rapidly dwindling is ridiculous, untill we know where it comes from and how it formed. We don’t need to starve the world to make fuel, but we are.

  37. Curiousgeorge- it is more complicated, but every strand of this situation leads back to Cargill and ADM. Corn farmers and refineries collect rents from every driver because we’re forced to use not just ethanol but bioethanol. Plus the Corn Gang enjoys tariffs on cheap Brazillan ethanol and a quota on sugar so their other product, corn syrup, can collect higher profits. This is welfare for the rich.
    The Corn Gang is so entrenched there is little hope the politicians will ever free us from the Corn Scheme. I hope we can drive the change from the bottom up before more of the world’s poor are harmed by rising corn prices.
    Ethanol- the Fuel Worth Starving For!

  38. This is easily the most idiotic thing I have ever heard of.
    So when we get a major flood in the corn belt that some are predicting due to the snowy winter, we are going to be short on both food AND gasoline. BRILLIANT.

    And today the administration announce it was going to appeal a court decision that forced them to get the permit process for drilling in the Caribbean. They are trying to shut down as many sources of energy as they can. They are strangling the country.

  39. Simple solution, all grain exported outside of the US should be in exchange for crude oil.
    Make this the law of the land and set the required exchange rate at one bushel of grain for each 100 barrels of crude, no exception/s f0r any reason!

  40. Perfect. But in respect to the general surge of food prices, the principal factor is inflation caused by the huge increase of money supplies. And who is printing all of this money?…
    Peter Schiff explains that very well, just at the beginning of the program 20110216 at http://www.schiffradio.com/
    To understand real economy, and to be vaccinated against the keynesian delirium:

    http://LearnAustrianEconomics.com

  41. http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/corn/

    * Corn is the most widely produced feed grain in the United States, accounting for more than 90 percent of total value and production of feed grains.
    * Around 80 million acres of land are planted to corn, with the majority of the crop grown in the Heartland region.
    * Most of the crop is used as the main energy ingredient in livestock feed.
    * Corn is also processed into a multitude of food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners, corn oil, beverage and industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol.
    * The United States is a major player in the world corn trade market, with approximately 20 percent of the corn crop exported to other countries.

    We already grow so much corn that we export 1/5th of our production. There is no shortage of corn for food. The real cost of corn today is about the same as it was in 1995. There is no crisis, this is normal commodity markets at work with the money moving to the high demand commodities.

    Poptech says:
    March 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Economically illiterate politicians who push this garbage apparently don’t read the peer-reviewed literature,

    Yes you are right the “peer review system” demonstrated again why it is broken and its output is useless. David Pimentel has been puking out crap studies on fuel ethanol for 30 years and still produces new and improved crap every time fuel ethanol becomes a popular target. His studies are consistently the outliers among the literature, and always low ball estimates by using outdated assumptions and data, and just plain bad study methodology (like listing his own work as a reference).

    His studies have been debunked numerous times but time and again our scientifically illiterate media trot them out like clockwork (much like IPCC peer reviewed studies) every time they get a chance because his bogus results fit their agenda.

    Michael S. Graboski of the Colorado School of Mines has dissected Pimentel’s studies on ethanol. The Argon National Lab studies by Wang also show his studies are outlier studies that fall well outside other literature in the field.

    His studies are absolute trash!

    http://www.usda.gov/oce/reports/energy/net_energy_balance.pdf

    http://skyways.lib.ks.us/ksleg/KLRD/Publications/Energy_Resources/Jan_mtg/White_Energy_Committee_010606.pdf

    Larry

  42. Two factors seem to be missing from the analysis.

    1) The US, UK and many other countries pay farmers to “set aside” acreage and not plant it. There are a lot of reasons for that linked to the “problem” that farmers can produce too much. The bottom line is we’re not even close to “maximum production”. People don’t starve in this world because we don’t/can’t produce enough food.

    2) One of the biggest costs in food production is fuel. The rising price of oil and the increased push for more expensive “green energy” have dramatically increased production & shipping costs, which will eventually show up in food prices.

  43. In Illinois, USA we grow lots of corn.

    In 2010, 12.6 million Illinois acres that produced about 175 to 200 bushels of corn per acre. Just drive on I-55 between Chicago and St. Louis and you will see more corn than what you what to see. How much of this corn is grown for ethanol? About one in six rows of corn is harvested for the production of ethanol.

    Perhaps I can answer a few questions about corn:

    1) Why do we grow so much corn? Corn is the most widely produced feed grain in the United States, accounting for more than 90 percent of total production. Around 80 million acres of US land was planted with corn in 2010. The majority of the crop is used as livestock feed; the remainder is processed into a multitude of food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, and ethanol for use as a fuel.
    2) How has the demand for ethanol increased the price of corn? Analysis from the International Food Policy Research estimates that rising demand for ethanol caused 40% of the rise in corn prices in 2007, and caused 35% of the rise in corn prices in 2008. This is because rising demand for ethanol directly translates into rising demand for corn. Demand for ethanol is directly related to the ratio between oil and corn prices – how much ethanol can be sold for (essentially the price of oil) divided by the cost to acquire corn (corn prices). If this ratio is higher than 90%, manufacturers will earn enough money to cover the cost of building an ethanol plant and to use it. However, the US Federal government has implemented subsidies that make it profitable to produce ethanol even when that ratio is below 90%.

    3) How is the price of corn per bushel compared to the price of gasoline?

    4) Can the growing of corn effect the local climate? Perhaps so states a study from the Northern Illinois University. Water is indeed a greenhouse gas, and corn throws lots of water vapor into the air during the growing season.

    http://www.niu.edu/pubaffairs/RELEASES/2002/aug/corn.shtml

    5) Corn is big business, and which companies will benefit from higher corn prices?
    a) Archer Daniels Midland grow corn and as such benefit from rising corn prices as their crops command higher prices on the market.
    b) Monsanto and DuPont produce corn seed which is genetically engineered to have properties that make it ideal for ethanol production, and seeds must be purchased yearly as they can not be taken from the corn product. They stand to benefit from rising corn prices because farmers will tend to increase the amount of corn which they plant and therefore the amount of cornseed which they buy.
    c) UAP Holding distributes fertilizer, insectiside, anti fungal, and other chemicals used in farming of corn. To the extent higher corn prices lead to a boom, especially if a new chemical comes to market which boosts yield, UAPH could benefit. The main hurdle will be canibalization, if farmers cease producing a crop that requires greater use of chemicals and start producing corn which requires relatively few and low levels of chemicals.
    d) Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and Mosaic Company produce fertilizer and benefit from high corn prices as farmers use more crop nutrients to try to increase yield.
    e) John Deere & Company, as the world’s largest tractor manufacturer, benefits from biofuels regardless of which crop (corn, soybeans, other grains) is ultimately used for fuel.

    An ending thought is perhaps a factor in the unrest in Middle East is the high cost of food caused by high corn prices.

  44. Corn farmers are starting to replace my house flippers which replaced my tech stock guys down here as regular customers. Before long I will only have bankers, lawyers and climate scientists.

  45. Don Shaw says:
    March 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm
    Curiousgeorge says
    “The corn you get for dinner is not the same as the corn you feed to cattle or chickens, and there is a specific GM variety coming on the market that is tailored for ethanol.”
    I don’t follow the logic. If the fields were not diverted to corn for ethanol, wouldn’t they be dedicated to food instead?
    The argument that the corn is not suitable for food doesn’t hold. The fields would be used for food if the crazy insane ethanol mandate/subsidy did not exist.

    Or the farmers would be paid to keep it out of production to maintain the price, or they might grow some other non-food crop.

  46. I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation some time ago. In order to provide the same BTU value as a fuel to completely replace gasoline, we would need to increase corn production in the US five-fold. Six-fold if you still wanted corn for all the things it’s used in.

    Unless switchgrass or other sources can utilize land that is currently unproductive and requires no irrigation, as others have pointed out these will displace current food crops in proportion to their profitibility.

  47. Gary from Chicagoland says:

    “An ending thought is perhaps a factor in the unrest in Middle East is the high cost of food caused by high corn prices.”

    That is exactly right. The riots in Egypt began over fast rising food prices. They blamed their government, when the real culprits are the watermelon environmentalists who pushed ethanol, blocked energy development, and applauded as Obama indebted the U.S. by Trillion$, which is of course causing inflation, making food more expensive because world trade is settled in dollars. Naturally the Islamists stepped in to take advantage. But they didn’t start it. Food riots were the initial cause of the riots.

  48. There is no shortage of edible corn. No shortage. Climate “change” has not reduced farm productivity. Diverting corn to fuel has not reduced food corn availability.

    Many people indeed go to bed hungry on this planet, but it is not due to farm productivity decline or diversion of food to fuel. Mainly it is due deliberate starvation policies on the part of totalitarian governments, and to transportation costs.

    Compare the graph above to the spot price of gasoline from 1990-2011. There are many such graphs available. Here’s one:

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=EER_EPMRU_PF4_RGC_DPG&f=D

    You people are smart. Place the graphs on top of each other. Notice the remarkable correlation.

  49. Is no-one concerned about the adulteration of their gasoline with ethanol? Ethanol produces 21.1MJ/liter, gasoline 32MJ/liter. When you buy a gallon of gasoline adulterated with 10% ethanol you’re buying (for the same price as gasoline) 96.6% of the energy you would get from pure gasoline. This is effectively a price rise of 3.5%. You are being sold short!

    The more ethanol that goes into your gasoline, the fewer miles per gallon you will get.

  50. The two largest uses of the US corn crop is now ethanol and beef (as if cows want corn…). You will also notice that beef prices are sky rocketing as well. That is not going to end until ethanol is dropped like the bad idea that it is.

    Ethanol, decreases your fuel efficiency, increases ozone pollution and food prices. Only a half baked, stone stupid politician could come up with such a horrible idea. Oh wait, that is exactly what happened.

    http://theinconvenientskeptic.com/2011/02/ethanol-vs-gasoline-mpg/

    http://theinconvenientskeptic.com/2010/12/ethanol-ozone-and-the-epa/

  51. Corn naturally produces an excess of starches in relation to what a properly formulated feed ration should have. This is why the US farmer produces a crop of soybeans – in order to supplement the feed component low in protein but high in starches (corn) with a component high in protein (soy). Protein is the limiting factor in feed production, and because of this the proportion of corn grown versus soybean grown adjusts so that the same amount of protein can be produced while also producing more starch to be converted to alcohol… Remember that what is left after corn is fermented into ethanol is still a feed ( call dried (or wet) distiller’s grains). This rationing operation all happens by the guidance of Adam Smith’s invisible hand – so don’t worry about it.

    It’s also true that Americans eat about 200 pounds of meat per year. This translates, very roughly, to nearly 1000 pounds of corn. There is a very acceptable trade-off available with out much hardship – corn ethanol for your car or less meat in your diet. And again, let’s let the invisible hand ration these goods rather than trying to manage them from our armchairs.

    As an interesting sidebar, there is a fascinating story to be told about the production of butanol (a more energetic form of ethanol) at a time of need during WWI. The need at that time was not for ethanol and butanol but for acetone for gunpowder. What is really to be hoped for is that the invisible hand cracks the puzzle of cellulosic alcohol production.
    There already is a developed industry that produces cellulosic enzymes for the prewashed jeans market. I think it’s just a matter of a few innovations and price changes to bring this kind of process into the mix.

  52. The original post here would like to make you believe that the cost of corn is high.
    In historical terms it is not even close to being at peak prices. In 1974 corn prices peaked at $15.67/bu in 2008 dollars, today corn is selling for about $7.28 in todays dollars or $7.12 in 2008 dollars.

    That 1974 peak price was during the oil crisis of when oil prices went through the roof and fuel ethanol from corn was an insignificant fraction of fuel use, and an industry that had almost no economic clout.

    You guys are confusing cause, correlation and effect. There is a correlation between food costs and corn prices, but the change in prices for both commodities is driven by oil prices and the cost of energy.

    The reason Mexicans cannot afford to buy corn for their tortillias is because the Mexican government did not protect the small family farm from corn imports and broke the back of the small producers. Now instead of growing their “white corn” (note not the same as field corn for ethanol) in small family plots or local farms they shifted to large scale imports of their cultures staple food crop.

    Don’t blame U.S. Farmers for stupid Mexican government decisions.
    The U. S. exported 489,000 metric tons of white corn to Mexico in 2009/10.
    We exported 880,000 metric tons of white corn all together that year.

    http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/feedgrains/Table.asp?t=26

    There is no corn shortage!! It just costs more to get it to the user due to high fuel costs.
    It is only half as expensive as it was in 1974 in real dollars.

    Larry

  53. What is realy important is to constantly let people know who is directly responsible for this global economic fiasco and the price rise in essential commodities and energy: “Green” politicians like Obama and the Democrat Party, which is owned and operated by the enviro crowd.

    You think this has started since Obama came to power? I sense a person who wants to believe, no matter what the facts. This is much older than that, and Bush did not oppose it.

    The real mover is the big agribusinesses. An initial driver was the requirement the US was under to remove many of its agricultural subsidies (under WHO rules). Subsidies for corn ethanol don’t come under the same umbrella, so it was a win-win for the big businesses and government.

    Big business loves government subsidies, despite all the rhetoric of free market. Bush sold it as energy independence (surely you remember that?) and it allowed to take some pressure off him from the agricultural protectionist lobby. That they could get the Greens to play along, even take the blame, must have been so funny for them!

    (I’m not saying Obama’s administration would have done differently. I’m sure it wouldn’t. But to blame him is wrong.)

  54. Hotrod (Larry)- Yes, corn is a useful crop with many markets, American as apple pie. So why can’t it compete on its own? Why are those of us who prefer pure gasoline forced to buy their product? Why can’t we buy our ethanol ( or sugar) onthe world market? What’s secure about an energy source that uses more oil than it replaces? The ethanol mandate is corrupt; it has turned honest farmers into corporate welfare queens.

  55. Phil. says:

    “Or the farmers would be paid to keep it out of production to maintain the price, or they might grow some other non-food crop.”

    Stick to physics, Phil. Farmers know what they’re doing. And no politician would get traction by proposing that the current very high corn prices should be kept artificially high. With ethanol, plenty of corn is already being kept out of food production.

    Billy Liar says:

    “The more ethanol that goes into your gasoline, the fewer miles per gallon you will get.”

    And the more [harmless, beneficial... but still] CO2 you will put into the air per mile traveled.

  56. Naturally the Islamists stepped in to take advantage. But they didn’t start it. Food riots were the initial cause of the riots.

    None of the revolutions in North Africa have been driven by Islamists. They may take over later, but have not yet.

    The revolutions are not driven by food rioting either. The initial cause was the success in Tunisia of politically based disgust at their rulers, initially fired by a self-immolation suicide. (Bahrein, for example, is hardly starving.)

    People on this list are disgusted by the way the Greens don’t let economic realities influence their desire for corn ethanol. But just making up political facts to suit your own message is just as dangerous (I accept that the facts may have been made up for you by someone like Beck, determined that everything a Moslem does must be because he is a Moslem. Despite the fact that many of the people he thinks are Moslem aren’t (10% of Egypt, for a start).)

  57. What? Corn prices are up because Chinese people and Indian people are eating more meat than ever and corn is the primary food source for cows and chickens. As people become more prosperous they eat more Western diets. I have no idea where you found the “research” you base this on.

  58. Given that ethanol production from start to finish gives you 0.8 BTU out for 1.0 BTU in, it would seem that ethanol not only drives up food prices, but also demand for energy. Let us also not forget its voracious appetite for water during its production.

  59. Billy Liar says:
    March 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Is no-one concerned about the adulteration of their gasoline with ethanol? Ethanol produces 21.1MJ/liter, gasoline 32MJ/liter. When you buy a gallon of gasoline adulterated with 10% ethanol you’re buying (for the same price as gasoline) 96.6% of the energy you would get from pure gasoline. This is effectively a price rise of 3.5%. You are being sold short!

    The more ethanol that goes into your gasoline, the fewer miles per gallon you will get.

    Not true, fuel mileage does not directly track with fuel energy content. It tracks with engine efficiency at extracting that energy. Ethanol added fuels do not reduce fuel mileage in all cars, some makes and models of cars actually get better fuel mileage on high ethanol blends than they do on straight gasoline.

    The high blending octane of fuel ethanol (118) allows blenders to extract more gallons of gasoline out of a bbl of crude oil, increasing the fuel supply and reducing the effective cost of oil by about 35 cents per gallon over what it would cost if ethanol blending did not occur (because the refiners would have to do more expensive processing to get the equivalent gallons of gasoline from the same barrels of crude oil).

    Properly designed engines and engine management systems can get significantly higher thermal efficiencies out of high ethanol blend fuels. E85 for example increases the power produced by a typical engine by 5%-15% and with optimized designs can hit thermal efficiencies comparable to diesel engines near 40% thermal efficiency.

    The indirect economic value to the economy is also being ignored by many of you. Every dollar spent on fuel ethanol stays in the U.S. Economy and rolls over about 6 times before it gets tied up permanently in a long term investment. The same dollar spent on imported oil leaves the country and never comes back except when that off shore supplier buys up our industry or land to get rid of their surplus dollars.

    Every dollar spent on fuel ethanol that a local fuel ethanol plant gets for the fuel goes back out as wages to staff, purchases from the local community, and payment to local farmers. They each in turn spend that money in some other local business, or invest it.

    As much as you folks want to paint certain companies as some evil corporation, because they make money through fuel ethanol, remember that the vast majority of that money is paid back out as wages and purchases of local supplies and support activities from painters to construction workers, welders to truck mechanics to office workers — etc.

    All that money stays in our economy and gives other people jobs they would not have if the fuel ethanol industry did not exist.

    Larry

  60. And I’m backing you. Long CVX, RDS, and BEXP (Austin in Bakken).
    All are great hedges against rising gasoline prices.

    we’re small working interest owners in infield plays here in TX. we (I say “we” but I have nothing to do with actually drilling the hole) just completed 5 horizontal wells to the Woodbine in S TX. #4 was 12,000 ft horizontal with 39 fracs! The next two are closer to Houston county, testing 4 probable zones vertically before going horizontal in whatever zone has the best production. Drill, baby, drill.

    Yes, I’m one of those money-grubbin’ ahl profiteers. So far, oil has been a GREAT investment. My 401(k)? Eh…not so much.

    Also noted when I filled the tank this afternoon the sign on the pump says “enhanced with ethanol.” Since ethanol has less energy per gallon than gasoline, shouldn’t the sign read “diluted with ethanol?”

    My mileage certainly shows it.

  61. And the more [harmless, beneficial... but still] CO2 you will put into the air per mile traveled.

    since you have to burn more fuel to travel the same number of miles, I’d be curious to know if ethanol is really more CO2 efficient. I’m guessing not.

    Almost certainly not if you factor in energy used in production and distribution. Can’t transport ethanol by pipeline; you have to use fuel-burning trucks.

  62. Here’s another test. Go to the breakfast cereal aisle in your grocery store. Notice that all the packaged cereals cost the same, regardless of the type of grain they are made from. That’s because the actual farm product cost is pennies and minimal compared to the costs of processing, packaging, and transporting the stuff.

    I hate ethanol. It wrecks engines. It is another stupid political imposition on consumers made by posturing dingbat politicians. But ethanol production has not reduced the production of edible corn.

    The real price driver of corn and other food commodities is the cost of gasoline. Gas is now $3.30 and climbing. That’s not because demand has skyrocketed; it’s because of artificial manipulations of the petroleum supply and dingbat drilling and refining policies foisted upon us by corrupt dingbat politicians.

  63. In the area I live they still disk down fields of sweet corn (for canning and freezing), peas, green beans, and even carrots. Why do they do this? — because the value of the crop will go down if the food producers end up canning or freezing too much of it. I used to run a company petroleum and feed dept who hauled fuel to the harvesters, sold fuel to the truckers, and to the farmer/landowners. A tremedous amount of fuel is used (far more than raising/harvesting dryland corn for feed or ethanol) to run these harvesting/ hauling operations. when energy costs go up- one of two things will happen: 1) even less acres will be planted unless supply of food in warehouses strongly call for more crop, OR 2) if energy prices sharply rise- even more of the acreage planted will be passed (disked under). Wisconsin averages # 5 in the USA for this vegetable production which also includes potato (main crop). This acreage has been pretty stable since it is irrigated. The amount of land to be the #5 vegetable producer in the US is small- the strip starts out only about 5 miles wide- swells to 25 miles wide, then back down to 5-10 miles of land on the north edge (with a lot of tree patch interspersed). Total length of this strip of production area is only about 50-55 miles. The rest of the state is pretty much trees, some scrub land from the old 1900 wheat boom left idle, or cropland for dairy or for feed. My point is here that it takes very little land to produce vegetable crop (ave potato yield here is 40,000 lbs/acre) and there is no danger of the USA ever being short of enough land to produce such vegetables such as sweet corn, beans, peas, potatos, lima beans, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, etc- all of which are grown here. Most growers would be happy to raise a whole lot more but they have to make money doing it (and every year so the banks will loan the operating capital). When I was still in the business of serving that group it took over $2000/acre just to start a potato crop- I am sure it is far over 2x that today.

    Someone mentioned corn is in many things today- yes- and not all of it particularly good for you. High fructose corn syrup goes into a wide variation of finished products such as ketchup, soft drinks, etc. As far as tortillas- the package on our counter is not made from field corn (YC) – it is made from white corn but perhaps some YC is used at times. In fact one could say that in the USA we are rarely ever carbohydrate deficient (the only portion of corn used for ethanol is starch- the rest goes to feed) and even if we were, swwet corn or potatos are a better choice than manufactured food.

    Only two key areas really should be of concern regarding corn use;
    1) enough be left over to provide the carbohydrate needs of dairy, swine, beef, and poultry- frankly pet food is a luxury. Understand also that when we choose to eat meat rather than grain we affect the grains market the most of all- because animals require far more grain to create a lb of meat. In most ruminants (cattle, sheep) grain is not required at all- their 4 stomachs are set up to eat cellulose- only in the last 100 years or so did we start feeding them grain to increase growth speed or production. In many cases we even went to far for a while with grain to ruminants. Dairymen here will substitute a fair amount of distillers grain (from ethanol production) for corn and soybean meal. A small amount of starch is still required for maximum rumen flora growth (thus some corn) but any dairyman will tell you too much will kill the rumen flora and milk production falls like a rock. The distillers helps to prevent starch overload but will also by-pass the rumen and provide a better protein / energy balance with out the overload. Poultry are most starch dependent and swine is somewhere in the the middle- but even in those diets distillers can be substituted in place of corn/soy at 10-20% as a rule depending on other dietary sources.
    2) we need to recognize the poor of the world eat what we do not- some field (YC) is ground for their food. Not a very good diet considering that corn has some few of the most limiting items- protein is low- the amino acid varietal makeup is also poor. Our govt just plain got tired of keeping farmers overproducing everything so the world could buy cheap grain. I do not have the answer for this problem except to say that our overproductive agriculture and export $ hungry govt dumped so much cheap grain (and meat) on the world for so long- they lost/never developed out the supply chains, storage, knowledge, mills, roads. rail, banking, and most importantly farmers to grow their own climate appropiate foods. Some of this needs to happen- and happen now- but not the way the Saudi’s did. The Saudi’s just stopped their wheat program because they found they really did not have RAIN.

    Sorry for the ramble here and rarely coming in to chat.

  64. Larry goes on and on, post after post, page after page, and never once addresses the fact that if it were not mandated, nobody would use that ethanol mixed crap.

    Larry, let’s do a little test. Two gas pumps, same price. One has 10% ethanol, the other has no ethanol. Which will you choose?

  65. ruddyduck says:
    March 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Hotrod (Larry)- Yes, corn is a useful crop with many markets, American as apple pie. So why can’t it compete on its own? Why are those of us who prefer pure gasoline forced to buy their product? Why can’t we buy our ethanol ( or sugar) onthe world market? What’s secure about an energy source that uses more oil than it replaces? The ethanol mandate is corrupt; it has turned honest farmers into corporate welfare queens.

    Good questions, simple answer is politics, if the EPA would get out of the way, and allow blender pumps people could choose to use what ever blend of gasoline/ethanol they want. Where blender pumps are available the most popular fuel blend is 30% ethanol.

    Why can’t we buy our ethanol and sugar on the international market? — we could but it would be stupid. One of the primary reasons for fuel ethanol is to provide a local fuel alternative so we are not strategically tied to some foreign supplier for all our energy needs. Buying fuel ethanol from Brazil just trades one sole source supplier of energy for another — seriously stupid move for something as critical as transportation energy. Sugar is essentially a surrogate for fuel, if we import sugar on the world market we break the back of our local sugar industry — Oh wait we already did that and wiped out the sugar beet industry years ago. There are 4 or 5 abandoned sugar beet plants within an hours drive of my home. They used to be the primary income provider for the small towns they were located in but cheap sugar from the Caribbean and south America killed the industry. Now the kids in those small towns move out when they get old enough because there is no local industry to give them work.

    As far as subsidies, the blenders tax credit was supposed to expire this year, unfortunately it was renewed at the last minute. The current fuel ethanol industry can now be profitable without it if corn is priced at a fair value (above cost of production so the farmer can afford to grow it, and the oil industry did not try to strangle the fuel ethanol industry at every turn and turn them into a captive industry. The blenders tax credit actually goes to the oil companies not the ethanol industry with rare exceptions and never to the local farmer who grows the corn.

    Personally I would like to see a rapid phase out of the blenders tax credit with a 50% to 20% reduction each year until it is gone. It has done its job, and created enough industry skill and infrastructure and investor trust in marketability of the product that it got the industry back on its feet after the government killed it during prohibition (with the encouragement of the oil industry). Fuel ethanol was the dominant fuel source for early automobiles until its production was outlawed by prohibition, and the oil industry flooded the market with cheap gasoline which at the time was a waste product that they burned off to get rid of.

    larry

  66. Hotrod (Larry) can you explain this defense of ethanol in the link in your post March 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm :

    Jere White, (Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association) claims that: “The fossil energy input per unit of ethanol is lower—0.74 million Btu fossil energy consumed for each 1 million Btu of ethanol delivered, compared to 1.23 million Btu of fossil energy consumed for each million Btu of gasoline delivered.”

    I think this claims that more energy is used to get gasoline to my gas station than is needed to get ethanol to my gas station. Really?

  67. Jeremy says:
    March 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm
    LET THEM EAT BOURBON!

    Now if she had said: “Let them eat Bourbons” that would have been funny.

  68. I see I should have posted under something other than my first name (@6:06pm) since another of the same name appeared tonight.

  69. We let China buy all those T-bonds. It’s unseemly to bellyache when they bid up the price of grains so their population can afford another bite of meat in their rice bowls. The 200 pounds of meat that the average American eats every year must strike the average Asian as a ridiculous luxury. The extra we may need to spend on food will be offset by the less that we spend on diets, diet food, and exercise equipment.

  70. CNY Roger says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Hotrod (Larry) can you explain this defense of ethanol in the link in your post March 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm :

    Jere White, (Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association) claims that: “The fossil energy input per unit of ethanol is lower—0.74 million Btu fossil energy consumed for each 1 million Btu of ethanol delivered, compared to 1.23 million Btu of fossil energy consumed for each million Btu of gasoline delivered.”

    I think this claims that more energy is used to get gasoline to my gas station than is needed to get ethanol to my gas station. Really?

    Yes that is correct “in context”, it is saying that for every million btu’s of gasoline delivered to your fuel tank, they had to extract 1.23 million BTU of petroleum to produce it. It takes a lot of energy to pump oil out of the ground, build the infrastructure to store it and ship it half way around the world then to refine a barrel of crude into usable fuels.

    In the same context to deliver 1 million BTU of fuel ethanol to your tank you only need to consume 0.74 million BTU of fossil fuels. As a result by adding fuel ethanol to your gasoline it is like a breeder reactor in that you get more total fuel energy available at the fuel pump than you would if you simply delivered straight gasoline only to the pump. The two fuels are better as a combination than either is alone.

    Each enhances the other, and as a combined fuel they are almost the ideal fuel for an Otto cycle internal combustion engine.

    http://www.ethanolmt.org/images/argonnestudy.pdf

    Larry

  71. You know what is really nuts.
    We’re arguing about corn for fuel.
    Just fire up a few dozen nuke plants and this argument is moot. And at a lower price.

  72. Why is it that the food consumer can’t compete on price with the fuel market, after all and anatomically speaking, food hardly needs a mandate ?

    To many of the commentators, please remember that farmers are ‘Price’ takers NOT ‘Price’ makers whom just happen to buy retail (production costs) and sell’s wholesale (produce sales) and pays the freight both ways.

    I think that farmers the world over are pretty much tired of being the whipping post of environmentalists, governments and now consumers, with the latter thinking they have some sort of right to food gifted to their table at a minimal cost to their household budget.

    Farming and the infrastructure required for modern farming practices is an extremely expensive business and far be it that a farmer should get a fair’s day’s pay for a fair’s day’s work that would, or could, lift the farmer from the bottom of the food chain and make a profit on his/her hard earned equity invested, subject to the norms of droughts, floods, fire, commodity markets and the ever present commodity speculator and hedge fund manager.

    If anyone here wants to understand what the price of food (commodities) is doing, do some research on the Chicago Board of Trade and who and what trades there, just to start with?

  73. So much BS being posted here. I am disappointed that the quality of posts here appears to be no different than in the blogs of the global warming alarmists. There are a few posters who are informed and reasonable, most notably “hotrod” (Larry L).

    I guess I should not be so surprised that the level of discussion here is no better than at realclimate.

    [Reply: Your opinion is posted here. If you attacked realclimate the same way your post would be censored. ~dbs, mod.]

  74. Mooloo,

    You’re misconstruing pretty much everything I said. To say the riots in Egypt were not driven by food rioting contradicts the news reports when the rioting first started. The riots were largely over the rapid rise in food prices in a country where a large fraction of the population subsists on less than $2 a day and close to half of their income goes for food alone. Sure, there were incidents that triggered it, but the rapidly increasing cost of food was behind everything. That’s not ‘making up political facts,’ that is just a fact. There were similar riots in Mexico when the price of corn began to affect the cost of tortillas. Remember that?

    And who is Beck? Your comments are confusing. Are you saying that only 10% of Egyptians are Muslim?

    You’re responding to things I never wrote. I don’t disagree that agribusiness is hooked on government subsidies. So are the people getting unemployment payments for the last couple of years. They are all beholden to the government.

    And I never wrote that this began under Obama – but he has made the situation much worse. What I said was that Obama and the Democrat Party is owned and operated by the enviro crowd, which is true. Enviros infest every level of government. Obama’s puppetmaster, George Soros, is hand-in-glove with the green groups and funds literally hundreds of them.

    The headline and article say it all. There is a clear pattern here with denying drilling permits even in shallow water, disregarding a federal judges order to issue drilling permits, putting millions more on the government dole, making fuel and energy far more expensive than they should be by deliberately restricting supply, cozying up and bowing down to hostile regimes that know a fool when they see one, pushing a destructive “carbon” tax on the economy, planning a value added tax that will further drain hundreds of billions a year out of the productive sector of the economy, going along with the UN’s plans for a world government, where the world’s countries will be able to vote American and Western wealth into the pockets of the majority, and a hundred other actions that attack the American exceptionalism that made the country great.

    I don’t think we really disagree about much, but like Willis says, quote what I said. The strawman arguments go nowhere.

  75. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Larry goes on and on, post after post, page after page, and never once addresses the fact that if it were not mandated, nobody would use that ethanol mixed crap.

    Larry, let’s do a little test. Two gas pumps, same price. One has 10% ethanol, the other has no ethanol. Which will you choose?

    The 10% ethanol blend, it burns cleaner ( I don’t give a crap about CO2 I mean it does not gunk up the fuel system and engine like straight gasoline does.)

    It is a naturally dry fuel that will never let enough water collect in your tank that you will have fuel line freeze in subzero weather.

    In controlled tests there is no statisically significant mileage difference between the fuels. In some cars the straight gasoline gets about 1.5% more miles per gallon in some other cars the 10% ethanol blend gets more fuel mileage (up to 3% improvement in one model).

    The 10% ethanol blend will make slightly more power than the gasoline will and burns a bit cooler.

    Given the choice, I would if given the option, buy E85 over straight pump premium if both sold for the same price. Straight gasoline is simply an inferior fuel in almost every regard to high ethanol gasoline blends.

    Oh by the way — I have been using 10% ethanol blends for over 20 years, they do not cause problems with your car. They do fix a few problems that gasoline creates, like fuel residue build up in the fuel injectors that requires you to periodically purchase expensive fuel additives to clean up, where 10% ethanol naturally keeps that issue under control.

    Larry

  76. Re: Gaylon says:
    March 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    The German consumer rejection of ethanol is funny.

    So let me see if I’ve got this straight, these people don’t want cupholders in their cars because, after all, cars are for driving – very fast. But these same folks will somehow be willing to put corn oil in their gas tanks …….

  77. So many uniformed people reciting the same regularly and repeatedly dis-proven facts. Its really sad to see here at WUWT – where the discussions are usually so well thought, educated and informed …

    Ethanol is NOT worse for the environment – it is significantly cleaner, reduces emissions and REDUCES greenhouse gases. There are several extremely small individual cases where ethanol has a negative impact – those are always used, as with the warmist’s, without context, to try and and prove a point – ignoring the comparatively massive positive benefits vs the comparatively minuscule negative ones.

    Unless you’re an idiot Berkely professor named Pimental (or his sidekick Patzak), whose work has been repeatedly and throughly debunked, you would know and acknowledge that corn ethanol currently generates 1.3 to near 2 units of energy for every unit expended in production.

    Food prices were NOT dramatically increased because of ethanol production. Corn prices spiked in 2007 – because of SPECULATORS, not ethanol – and just as quickly collapsed.

    As noted by others, corn ethanol does NOT use food corn – it uses feed corn. And once ethanol is produced from this feed corn, one of the MANY beneficial byproducts is distillers dried grain solids – a high value animal feed that largely replaces the feed value of the corn to begin with.

    For the last several year US corn production has not only been sufficient to supply 100% of our domestic needs – food and feed – and all of our ethanol needs, but also still have enough to meet the entire foreign export demand. AND STILL have corn left to add to US reserves. We had more supply than total US and worldwide demand. When demand exceeds supply (ie: when you have excess corn added to reserves) and prices still go up it is most certainly NOT ethanol (or any other single user) that is causing price changes. It is speculators, manipulating commodities for profit.

    Additionally, as noted above, the production of ethanol creates a number of beneficial byproducts – including bio-fuel (in addition to the ethanol) and very high quality animal feed in distillers dried grains solids.

    Ethanol DOES get lower mileage. Straight ethanol has appx 78,000 BTU’s per gal, gasoline appx 125,000 BTU per gal – approximately 37% less energy in a gal of ethanol vs gas. This however, is a perfect example of the disinformation that those with agendas use when trying to dishonestly promote their position.

    We do NOT use straight ethanol nor straight gasoline in the US. We use E85 (85% ethanol) for ethanol and E10 (10% ethanol) for our regular gasoline. E10 is appx 120,000 BTU/gal and E85 is appx 85,000 btu/gal … or just 29% difference.

    So it is TRUE you get lower MPG with ethanol. But the rest of the facts are that ethanol is SIGNIFICANTLY LESS EXPENSIVE as well.

    I recently paid $2.47 for E85 locally vs. $3.22 for E10 gasoline – an appx 23% difference … so the reality is there is a very, very small difference in actual MILES PER FUEL DOLLAR SPENT. My 2003 Tahoe flex-fuel gets appx 14.7mpg normally on E10 gasoline, and 11.9mpg on E85 – a real world difference of just 19%. For me – in heavy stop and go city driving E85 is LESS EXPENSIVE – gets better mileage per dollar spent – than gasoline.

    Most importantly ethanol is a RENEWABLE fuel. We can constantly make more. Every gallon of ethanol used is a gallon of fossil fuel not used.

    We absolutely should be drilling and using our on reserves of fossil fuels. But it is inarguable that we need alternative energy sources as well.

    No one believe corn ethanol is the solution. It will never be more than a small part of an overall solution.

    It is highly likely corn use will decrease in near future as the much more efficient cellulosic ethanol plants come online. These plants use grasses, specially grown trees and similar sources – many which can be grown on marginal lands not suitable for crops – as the feedstock. These processes are generating as much as 8 units of energy for every unit expended in production. They, along with algae and other bio-fuel processes are the real future of renewable clean fuels technology

    Corn ethanol serves an important purpose. It provides fuel TODAY that encourages vehicles to be produced and distribution systems as well. Both that will use the more efficient ethanol of the very near future. Without a demand and distribution there will be no investment in production – in ethanol plants etc.

    And THAT is why ethanol makes sense and why the subsidies do as well. Ethanol subsidies totaled something like $6 billion last year. Oil received something just under $80 billion by comparison.

    It should be clearly noted as well that CORN does not receive subsidies for ethanol. Farmers receive corn subsidies to grow corn – regardless of its use.

    Every gallon of ethanol used, regardless of the source; reduces emissions, reduces green house gases, gives us cleaner air, and most importantly reduces our dependence of foreign oil. It is not a perfect solution, but it is ONE solution, more importantly a solution AVAILABLE TODAY.

    If you are going to attack something, especially here at WUWT, at least make an effort to educate yourself and know the real facts.

    hotrod (Larry) makes a number of important and valid points … that are accurate and readily supportable with facts. Not intended as an attack, but the majority of the negative comments towards ethanol are not supported by facts, and can not be … as they simply are not true or correct

  78. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm
    Not true, fuel mileage does not directly track with fuel energy content. It tracks with engine efficiency at extracting that energy. Ethanol added fuels do not reduce fuel mileage in all cars, some makes and models of cars actually get better fuel mileage on high ethanol blends than they do on straight gasoline.

    The high blending octane of fuel ethanol (118) allows blenders to extract more gallons of gasoline out of a bbl of crude oil, increasing the fuel supply and reducing the effective cost of oil by about 35 cents per gallon over what it would cost if ethanol blending did not occur (because the refiners would have to do more expensive processing to get the equivalent gallons of gasoline from the same barrels of crude oil).

    Properly designed engines and engine management systems can get significantly higher thermal efficiencies out of high ethanol blend fuels. E85 for example increases the power produced by a typical engine by 5%-15% and with optimized designs can hit thermal efficiencies comparable to diesel engines near 40% thermal efficiency.

    Right, oxygenates were originally mandated for carburetted engines because they reduced emissions, Bob Dole did his bit for his constituents by insisting that it be from agricultural sources and got a subsidy put in. MTBE was initially favored because it didn’t have some of the problems associated with blending alcohol, however it’s showing up in ground water killed that off! As I recall there’s no similar advantage in fuel injected engines.

  79. In the southern US, cotton used to be the major cash crop. So much cotton production has been diverted to corn that cotton is commanding high prices not seen in many years. Has anyone seen the little article (probably in the back pages of your favorite birdcage liner) that clothing prices are rising apace?

    Besides causing automobile fuel system and engine gook, corngas (even the 10% moonshine grade) is destructive of two-cycle gas-powered home implements such as blowers and weed-whackers. Dealers are advising complete purging of fuel from such tools after every use. Or, try to find some unadulterated gas. Ha!

    When will the madness stop?

  80. US agriculture is so far from operating in a free market that it is hard to say what effect subsidies for ethanol are having. It isn’t like the market being distorted is free to begin with. You have farmers paid to leave land fallow, famers subsidised to produce product which nobody wants which is then stockpiled, farmers subsidised to produce product which is dumped on world markets destroying the livelihood of farmers in other countries, and so on. People in the US apparently believe in free markets for everything except agriculture. Agriculture is a socialised mess in the US.

  81. I would recommend to all WUWT readers a careful look at the wonderful piece by Dr. Robert P. Smith available at SPPI. Lest I forget, here is the link:

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/toward_rational_energy_planning.pdf

    No sane engineer, chemist, botanist or economist would ever recommend ethanol. Depending on whose work you read, you either expend more energy producing a gallon of ethanol than you get out of it, break even or (under the best conditions) get just slightly more energy out. It is a terrible motor fuel. It is hydroscopic. It is corrosive. It takes arable land out of food production. The government has pulled out the stops to feed this monstrous boondoggle. The taxpayers subsidize the ethanol producers and the “blenders” (i.e. “Big Oil”), they have mandated its use and have imposed tariffs to prevent foreign competition. This is a scam only a vote buying politician could love.

    Who wins? The corn growers, the ethanol producers and “Big Oil”…and politicians. Who loses? The taxpayer…in the form of reduced mpg, greater wear and tear and engines, we pay for the subsidies in the form of higher taxes and ultimately we pay more for food because feedstock has been diverted into motor fuel. The deal actually sucks.

    How about a 2 out of 3 compromise? End the subsidies to produce and blend ethanol and end the mandated use. Keep your anti-free-market tariff. Let’s see what happens to the ethanol industry once it’s stripped of all its “protection”. It should survive to some extent if it’s such an excellent oxygenator for gasoline. In truth the only advantage it has over MTBE is that it doesn’t stink.

    The net effect of ethanol on our economy is negative. The net effect on energy utilization is negative. It is much like paying one group to dig ditches and another (much larger) group to follow behind and fill them in. Ethanol is a textbook example of crony capitalism and a how-to guide for buying off politicians.

  82. Mark Wagner says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm


    Almost certainly not if you factor in energy used in production and distribution. Can’t transport ethanol by pipeline; you have to use fuel-burning trucks.

    Not true — you can transport fuel ethanol by pipeline, (you use those same evil fuel burning trucks to get your gasoline to the final destination too).

    It has been done. It is not transported by pipeline because the owners of the oil pipelines refuse to share the lines and spend the money to clean all the crap out of the lines that petroleum products leave behind. The Ethanol would also clean out the gunk that is plugging the leaks in the pipelines and they would end up spending a boat load of money on maintenance because the lines were finally clean inside.

    Several tests have been done to prove ethanol can be shipped in existing lines, and they had no problems except the ethanol picked up a lot of residue and was not longer clear and bright when it reached the delivery point making it unsuitable for sale without either re-processing it to remove the gasoline/oil residue or run enough ethanol through the pipe to clean it up, fix all the leaks then share the line.

    They do ship fuel ethanol by pipeline in Brazil and there has been talk of building an ethanol only line here in the U.S. .
    Right now the most cost effective way to move ethanol is by barge or by unit trains on the RR.

    That will remain the case until the ethanol fuel lines are actually built, but that won’t happen until sufficient volume of ethanol transport occurs on a regular basis to justify the expense. (chicken and egg problem)

    Larry

  83. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Larry goes on and on, post after post, page after page, and never once addresses the fact that if it were not mandated, nobody would use that ethanol mixed crap.

    Larry, let’s do a little test. Two gas pumps, same price. One has 10% ethanol, the other has no ethanol. Which will you choose?

    Larry is incorrect in one aspect – ethanol does get lower fuel mileage in all but a few vehicle especially designed to take advantage of ethanol. It is simple math as I noted in post above – ethanol has less BTU per gallon than pure gasoline, less energy – lower MPG.

    Larry IS correct generally if you are talking about E10 – the standard blend in regular gas sold. There is less BTU in E10 than 100% gasoline – however it is so small as to have a negligible effect. And it is basically meaningless, as there is almost no availability of non-E10 fuel any longer.

    MPG is not the entire story however – in areas of the country with good distribution – where E85 is readily available – E85 prices are generally significantly lower – several web site provide this data – compare regular (E10) prices with E85 … even taking price discount into acct E85 in many cars does offer fractionally lower mileage, however every gallon of E85 used is that much less of the finite supply of fossil fuel and does less harm to the environment when compared with fossil fuels

  84. Dr Dave is right. Eliminate subsidies – all of them, and let the free market sort it out. People will then vote with their dollars. A lot of people feeding at the public trough will be unhappy. But efficiency will skyrocket.

    Or keep the subsidies in place, and put up with the inefficient misallocation of resources they cause.

  85. Ethanol from cellulosic feed has failed miserably to provide the promised supply of ethanol as mandated from the EPA. The EPA originally expected a significant supply from cellulosic ethanol and has been forced to drop the expected quantity several times. I guess it is zero now since the most promising producer has shut down after spending quite a few taxpayer bucks.

    It is time for the government to stop giving your hard earned dollars to unproven technology that is not ready for commercialization. We are broke!!
    Besides ethanol from cellulosic sources, wind, solar and ethanol from corn is little more that a diversion from reality to lead the public to believe there is a viable alternative to our current supply of energy. We have no near term subsitutes except for Nuclear and nothing for liquid fuels.

    From Wiki
    “Range Fuels produces technology that converts biomass into ethanol without the use of enzymes. The company broke ground on its first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in November 2007. The first phase of construction, which was supposed to reach a 20 MMgy production capacity, was expected to be complete in 2009.[1]”

    “According to the Washington Examiner of Feb 6, 2011, Range Fuels’ Soperton, GA plant shut down in January 2011 after pocketing a $76 million grant from the US Dept of Energy, plus $6 million from the State of Georgia, plus an $80 million loan guaranteed by the U.S. Biorefinery Assistance Program. [2]”

    “The plant will be located near the town of Soperton, Georgia, and will draw on gasification technology to convert wood and wood waste from Georgia’s pine forests and mills into 20 million gallons of ethanol per year. USDOE will provide $50 million in support of the first phase of construction and will provide another $26 million for the first expansion phase, which will increase its capacity to 30 million gallons of ethanol per year. The company plans to eventually expand the plant to an annual capacity of 100 million gallons of ethanol per year.”

    “The Soperton plant will be fueled with wood and wood waste to minimize its reliance on fossil fuels. And in a state that’s currently wracked with drought, the Soperton plant is projected to consume one-quarter of the water consumed by today’s corn ethanol plants. Range Fuels estimates that Georgia could produce enough cellulosic biomass to support up to two billion gallons of ethanol production using the company’s technology.”

    “US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman noted its importance for advancing cost-competitive ethanol produced from non-food biomass sources, an approach crucial for reducing the nation’s dependence on petroleum. Range Fuels is one of six companies selected by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) for financial support in building commercial cellulosic ethanol plants and is the first to break ground.”

    “Range Fuels won the 2008 North American Fuels Technology Innovation Green Excellence of the Year Award. The award is presented to companies that “have demonstrated superior technological advancement in the green energy field, and whose technologies are aligned with sustainable and environmentally conscious objectives”.[1]“

  86. Dr. Dave says:
    No sane engineer, chemist, botanist or economist would ever recommend ethanol. Depending on whose work you read, you either expend more energy producing a gallon of ethanol than you get out of it, break even or (under the best conditions) get just slightly more energy out

    Sorry, but this is simply false. Pimental & Patzek, from Berkely, are virtually the only ones claiming negative energy balance .. and their work has been thoroughly and soundly refuted and debunked by many reputable scientists, government agencies and organizations.

    THere are MANY peer reviewed works that clearly show the current yield for corn based ethanol averages appx 1.6 units of energy produced for every unit of energy expended in production. Some processes are getting well over 2 to 1 for corn.

    Cellulosic biomass processes have matured and are starting to come online commercially – with Net energy yields as high as 7 to 8 units produced for each unit of energy expended. Cellulosic biomass can be grown on marginal land with little water or fertilization. In fact cellulosic biomass appears to be a very good rotation crop – helping rehabilitate soils used for row crop production.

  87. hotrod ( Larry L ), I know you enjoy supporting government welfare for corn farmers but Dr. Pimentel’s studies have not been debunked. His studies have been supported by others,

    Ethanol From Corn: Clean Renewable Fuel for the Future, or Drain on Our Resources and Pockets?
    (Environment, Development and Sustainability, Volume 7, Number 3, pp. 319-336, September 2005)
    – Tad W. Patzek et al.

    It is shown here that one burns 1 gallon of gasoline equivalent in fossil fuels to produce 1 gallon of gasoline equivalent as ethanol from corn. When this corn ethanol is burned as a gasoline additive or fuel, its use amounts to burning the same amount of fuel twice to drive a car once. Therefore, the fuel efficiency of those cars that burn corn ethanol is halved. The widespread use of corn ethanol will cause manifold damage to air, surface water, soil and aquifers. The overall energy balance of corn conversion to ethanol demonstrates that 65% of the input energy is lost during the conversion. Carbon dioxide sequestration by corn is nullified when corn ethanol is burned, and there will be additional carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and sulfur oxide emissions from the fossil fuels used to produce the ethanol.

    Larry, “Fuel ethanol is the most cost effective octane enhancement for gasoline blending, it allows them to use less crude oil to make a gallon of fuel, therefore as the price of oil goes up, so does demand for fuel ethanol to allow the blenders to meet minimum octane requirements at the lowest possible cost.

    Really? So why does it have to be mandated and subsidized? If Ethanol was so great it could compete on it’s own. The fact is it cannot thus requires government welfare and mandates to punish consumers with higher gasoline prices.

  88. Larry said “Several tests have been done to prove ethanol can be shipped in existing lines, and they had no problems except the ethanol picked up a lot of residue and was not longer clear and bright when it reached the delivery point making it unsuitable for sale”

    But great for burning in your engine eh? What is your answer to the boaters who are now forced to use ethanol mixtures? http://www.atlanticmaritimeacademy.com/images/TI-090311-ethanol-going-up.pdf

    Besides MTBE, what are other alternatives besides ethanol?

  89. Gary from Chicagoland says: ….”2) How has the demand for ethanol increased the price of corn? Analysis from the International Food Policy Research estimates that rising demand for ethanol caused 40% of the rise in corn prices in 2007, and caused 35% of the rise in corn prices in 2008.”

    The EPA used a different model to estimate price changes due to the ethanol standards back in 2008 as they stated this- “In denying Texas’s request, the EPA estimated that waiving the national mandate, which requires that the United States produce 9 billion gallons of ethanol fuel this year and 36 billion gallons by 2022, would reduce corn prices only slightly (by only seven cents a bushel).”

    http://www.usnews.com/news/national/articles/2008/08/07/epa-rejects-texas-request-to-waive-ethanol-requirements-in-gasoline

    Yes, it would be nice if the EPA and the International Food Policy Research group would spend a few minutes reviewing their models to see why their estimates are so different.

  90. Another claim debunked – that ethanol cannot be transported by pipeline ….

    Just one example … a simple google search of “ethanol pipeline” would show the many examples disproving this claim. Shipping ethanol in EXISTING pipelines is an issue – because as noted it requires operators to work harder because of different requirements

    One of the other inconvenient facts about ethanol is that pipelines are un-necessary in many areas … across much of the US ethanol plants are located in the area the feedstock is produced, and provides finished product primarily to the local area.

    With the coming switch to cellulosic – which grows almost anywhere – this model can be duplicated almost anywhere in the us.

    That said – besides pipelines – ethanol can be shipped by railroad where longer hauls are necessary or needed.

    1800 mile long ethanol pipeline proposed

    http://www.trackforum.com/forums/showthread.php?132327

  91. Larry,
    Thank you for calmly answering with real facts the knee-jerk reaction from people who know nothing about farming.

    Farmers don’t live in a libertarian-designed spreadsheet. They live in the real world. For hundreds of miles, the only salable crops are field corn and soybeans. The machinery for that is what they have several times their annual income invested in. They aren’t going to grow something that they can’t plant, harvest and sell, even if hypothetically, people could eat it. The idea that farmland in Iowa or southern Minnesota is fungible with sweet corn or tomatoes or what have you is a very ignorant notion any high schooler in the midwest could explain to you. BTW, cellulosic ethanol production is happening right now in Iowa.

    ShrNfr. You forget chlorophyll, and the sun. Funny thing about water: It isn’t destroyed: there is this thing called the water cycle. Read these pages and you will learn more about that bright light in the sky, and about the water cycle.

  92. All the Ethanol shills who support government welfare for corn farmers and are anti-consumer choice for their vehicle fuels come out of the wood-work with these threads.

    Myth: Ethanol is Great (Video) (5min) (ABC News)

    220mph says: “Ethanol is NOT worse for the environment – it is significantly cleaner, reduces emissions and REDUCES greenhouse gases.

    Total nonsense,

    Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change
    (Science, Volume 319, Number 5867, pp. 1238-1240, February 2008)
    – Timothy Searchinger et al.

    Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gases because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products.

  93. The correlation is mostly incidental.

    With the increased use of corn for ethanol, the planted area increased massively as well.

    What makes the corn price look being influenced by ethanol production, is the simple fact, that agricultural production (at least in the developed world) and the ethanol price both depend primarily on the oil price. The oil price caused both to soar, as it did in 2007 and in 1973 and in 1980.

    High food prices are the single most important factor to guarantee more food production. Who would be served, if prices are kept artificially low by governments, but not enough food available. Look at North Korea or the former Soviet block for the answer.

    Finally, in the past, hunger was caused by crop failures, as mankind never produced much more food beyond expected consumption.

    With the ethanol corn and the ethanol sugar cane, there is now a new, giant food reserve created, what could be highly beneficial to mankind.

    Whenever needed, this crop could be diverted temporarily back to food production by a political decision.

  94. Its pretty simple really. What is IOWA famous for Corn and being the first primary. You have to do well there to be considered a serious candidate. Change the order of primaries and I bet Ethanol would disappear in a second.

  95. Don Shaw says:
    Ethanol from cellulosic feed has failed miserably to provide the promised supply of ethanol as mandated from the EPA.

    Cellulosic ethanol is in its very early stages … it was NEVER expected to provide a significant part of overall production in 2007 – or today …

    The plants under construction are first version units, barely a step beyond prototype status … it will take number of years to refine and enhance the process and build an industry and a feedstock supply

    It also MUST be noted – as your attached story shows – that this plant was being constructed in 2007 … we had that little old financial market meltdown followed by a collapse of the economy AND a collapse in gas prices – all of which made these early stage plants, along with many new corn plants – economically unfeasable – at least in the short term.

    I;d like to be clear about a couple things as well … I am first a strong opponent of the AGW alarmism … it is undeniably clear we are due, overdue, for a glacial period … the historical records are about as clear as can be.

    The historical record is I think also very clear that the temperatures of the last 10 years, 30 years, 100 years or even 400 years are well within the natural variation of the last 10,000 year historical record

    I’m also not in any way related to or involved in the ethanol industry. At one point I was an ethanol skeptic. Until I did the research to try and support that position. And when you have the facts – all the facts – most of the claims against ethanol are simply not accurate. I encourage everyone to spend as much time fact checking and educating themselves about ethanol as they do about global warming issues.

  96. hotrod ( Larry L ) says, “The reason Mexicans cannot afford to buy corn for their tortillias is because the Mexican government did not protect the small family farm from corn imports and broke the back of the small producers. Now instead of growing their “white corn” (note not the same as field corn for ethanol) in small family plots or local farms they shifted to large scale imports of their cultures staple food crop.

    By “protect” you mean the Mexican government intelligently did not punish Mexican consumers with higher corn prices by “protecting” inefficient “family” farms. You are all for government welfare for corn farmers, are anti-consumer choice on vehicle fuels and now endorse higher corn prices for Mexican consumers! Why do you dislike the poor consumer so much? Why do you want to punish them with higher prices to push your ideology?

  97. So are the prices of corn/food rising all over the planet? Or just outside the U.S.? It seems that as a corn exporter it is the buyers that are the ones that are suffering. But didn’t the excess of corn grown in the U.S. contribute to putting farmers out of work in nations around the world in the first place? So now they decide to use the corn domestically to ease (although I’m sure only minimally) foreign oil consumption and everyone bitches that they are driving up food prices around the world. Well here in Canada I haven’t noticed any significant food increases.

    MrC

  98. hotrod ( Larry L ), “Good questions, simple answer is politics, if the EPA would get out of the way, and allow blender pumps people could choose to use what ever blend of gasoline/ethanol they want. Where blender pumps are available the most popular fuel blend is 30% ethanol.

    Why would they choose less MPG, higher prices and a limited range compared to Gasoline?

    See page 23,

    2011 Fuel Economy Guide (PDF) (EPA)

    BUICK Lucerne FFV A-4 3.9/6
    17/27 $2,113 Gas 390
    13/20 $2,441 E85 280

    CHEVROLET
    Impala FFV A-4 3.9/6
    17/27 $2,113 Gas 370
    13/20 $2,441 E85 270

    FORD Crown Victoria FFV A-4 4.6/8
    16/24 $2,335 Gas 360
    12/17 $2,613 E85 270

    Ethanol = Crappy Mileage

    Why can’t we buy our ethanol and sugar on the international market? — we could but it would be stupid. One of the primary reasons for fuel ethanol is to provide a local fuel alternative so we are not strategically tied to some foreign supplier for all our energy needs. Buying fuel ethanol from Brazil just trades one sole source supplier of energy for another — seriously stupid move for something as critical as transportation energy.

    LMAO! Yes of course you would hate to see Ethanol competition from more efficient sugar based blends. So you naturally support import tariffs as well to further punish the consumer with even higher gasoline prices. Energy Independent is a myth,

    5 Myths About Breaking Our Foreign Oil Habit (The Washington Post)

    The current fuel ethanol industry can now be profitable without it if corn is priced at a fair value (above cost of production so the farmer can afford to grow it, and the oil industry did not try to strangle the fuel ethanol industry at every turn and turn them into a captive industry.

    Please explain to me how a “fair” value is determined then explain who determines what is a “fair” value. Oh and your nonsense about “cost of production” is meaningless. There is no fixed rate for a cost of production for any commodity. I could careless if inefficient farmers cannot produce corn at a competitive price, if they cannot they should go out of business. And enough with the oil industry conspiracy theories those are pathetic.

  99. Poptech says:
    All the Ethanol shills who support government welfare for corn farmers and are anti-consumer choice for their vehicle fuels come out of the wood-work with these threads.

    Sorry – but Pimental & Patzek (and Searchinger) HAVE been thoroughly refuted – by a myriad of sources – again simply type “Pimental debunked” in Google … anyone who relies on Pimental and Patzek today for any valid basis is not worth much response to.

    I’ve also found people that refer to others as “shills” fit that same mold.

    As to Searchingers “report” the Dept of Energy had this to say “The Searchinger study is plagued by incorrect or unrealistic assumptions, and obsolete data.”

    Just one of many studies debunking Searchinger – who by the way shares many of the same issues as James Hansen when you check into his background ….

    Researchers Michael Wang, at the Argonne National Laboratory, and Zia Haq, at the Department of Energy, recently offered a detailed response to the Science magazine article authored by a team led by Timothy Searchinger.

    Wang’s analysis shows a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol, compared to the Science magazine results. In the response, the authors indicate that Searchinger’s team made errors in updating the 1999 GREET model developed at Argonne by a team led by Wang. According to Wang and Haq, Searchinger modeled a case where corn ethanol production reached 30 billion gallons, compared to the 15 billion cap envisioned in the Energy Security and Independence Act; did not increase corn yields; underestimated the protein content of distiller’s grains by 23 percent, incorrectly assumed a 62 percent in corn exports for 2007, omitted a 400 percent increase in distiller’s grain exports, assumed constant deforestation rates in the Amazon and other areas despite downward trends, and did not account for an increase in corn ethanol production efficiency. Wang and Haq warned policymakers that indirect land-use modeling was in its infancy and not to be misguided by accepting results as definitive at this stage of model evolution.

    Michael Grunwald of Time Magazine recently published a new, rather self-serving article in the Washington Monthly, filled with distorted logic and mangled facts.
    His portrayal of Tim Searchinger as a humble lawyer who experienced an epiphany about biofuels is disingenuous at best. While now a visiting scholar at Princeton University, Tim Searchinger was formerly a lobbyist for the Environmental Defense Action Fund and was intimately involved in lobbying key Members of Congress during the drafting of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

  100. Manfred says:
    The correlation is mostly incidental. With the increased use of corn for ethanol, the planted area increased massively as well.

    Don’t forget as well the large increase in productivity – us corn crop yields continue to climb significantly

  101. I’d really be interested to see full disclosure statements from hotrod (Larry L) and 220mph. Do either of you two individuals have any financial interests (directly or indirectly) in the ethanol industry? Just curious. Reiterating Smokey’s comments (thanks, BTW), what would happen if all ethanol subsidies ended tomorrow? If the taxpayer were not forced by a coercive government to fund this folly, would it survive on its own merits? You two speak glowingly of all the advantages of ethanol. If true, it shouldn’t be necessary for the taxpayer to subsidize it, now would it? Subsidies are simply a political transfer of wealth. Has domestic ethanol production resulted in any meaningful decrease in the % of foreign oil we import? Or is this like “jobs saved or created”. We would have had to import even more except for… Yeah…right.

    Ethanol, which by the way, I am a big fan of in beverage form, is no different from wind or solar power. It simply cannot exist as a viable entity in a free market economy without taxpayer subsidy. By definition this means it is a non-viable technology. Converting food into fuel is exactly what biological systems do…except we do it far more efficiently.

    This is not your ordinary link to a “scientific source”. This is actually a link to an article in Car & Driver magazine which appeared several years ago. I don’t read C&D. I found the link in the comments section on another site several months ago. It is actually a very good article. It’s actually worth the time to read as the author obviously took the time to research it. It can be found here:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/06q3/ethanol_promises-tech_stuff

    I was writing an article about energy independence for submission to another site (or possibly this one). The next morning I awoke and scanned the news blogosphere (as is my wont). I discovered the fine article by Dr. Smith I previously linked to and decided not to bother. He is far more qualified and stated his (and my) case far better than I could. I encourage all readers to take at look at his piece.

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/toward_rational_energy_planning.pdf

  102. Larry is completely correct in that the Mexican small white corn producers abandoned the fields and many of the young men left for the USA to find work. There was an excellent article published somewhere just a week or so ago. The Mexican govt has a program but it favors the larger producers yet the fields are too small for such and now with the young gone- the old cannot tend to the fields since machinery is not heavily utilized there. The first round of food riots there was misinterpreted by our press who 1) did not understand the differences in the corn types and 2) occurred at the end of the growing season when the the crop was in the bin and traders started the run-up fed by fear in the housing and stock markets- at that time it was thought grain and oil was the safe bet- a few months later corn fell to near $2 and oil $30. It is interesting to note that ethanol production continued to climb while corn was falling. what was one major reason besides the traders now running in a different direction- The big reason was falling demand for grains because meat consumption fell as much of the world decided to go back to eating grain. Distillers grains also started moving into all animal diets in a big way as a flood of excess hit the market.

  103. Smokey:@Mike says: “Wheat prices have not been flat.”

    It’s the substitution effect. When one commodity becomes expensive, people purchase another commodity with essentially the same utility. This drives up the price of the substitute.
    _________________________
    AW said: “As shown above, food prices surged to record levels in February despite February wheat and rice prices being essentially flat. Yet, February corn prices are up …”

    I was only responding this statement. Rice prices have been steady:

    http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=rice&months=60

    Why would the substitution effect only apply to wheat and not rice?

    I don’t disagree that our ethanol policies make no sense and are one of many factors pushing up world food prices. The failure of the Russian wheat harvest is another. That was certainly weather and perhaps climate change related.

  104. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm
    Not true, fuel mileage does not directly track with fuel energy content. It tracks with engine efficiency at extracting that energy. Ethanol added fuels do not reduce fuel mileage in all cars, some makes and models of cars actually get better fuel mileage on high ethanol blends than they do on straight gasoline.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Maybe, but that isn’t what the US Department of Agriculture and USDOT found in their studies. In their study they said engines optimized for Ethanol “might” outperform diesel and gasoline, but they didn’t at the time the studies were done – around 2002 to 2005 I believe

    I don’t have the references handy but some can be found at Emissions of Diesel Engines Running on Different Biofuels and their
    Health Related Aspects
    G.A.M. Janssen, FACT Foundation. Horsten 1, 5612 AX, Eindhoven, The
    Netherlands.
    (info@fact-foundation.com)

    From Yahoo Answers (and many other places) :

    An internal combustion engine that runs gasoline has a theoretical maximum efficiency of around 30%. 1 This is primarily due to compression ratios and the heat at which the combustion occurs.2 The designed compression ratio is determined by the octane rating of the expected fuel. 3 Ethanol like diesel can be compressed to a higher level than gasoline.

    A diesel engine has a theoretical efficiency of around 40% due to its compression ratios. But you can see on this chart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_ga… that while diesel has about 129,500 BTU and more than gasoline’s 114,000BTU ethanol (E100) has only 76,100 BTU. So although the engine may be 25% more efficient the fuel contains about 33% less energy.

  105. Poptech- I have a small fleet of FFV’s (mostly 3.5L Impalas) and I can assure you that they run on E85 90% of the time. The EPA mileage rating for E85 is a calculated range based on BTU content- not in real driving conditions. My fleet averages 80% of the range they would get on gas but the E85 is still lowest cost per mile most of the time. Maintenance also seems to be less. The govt ratings ignore that since E85 generates less heat- less gets wasted out the radiator for cooling (thus the lower loss of mpg than predicted per btu). It can be better than that- I would like to populate my fllet with the new Buick 2L turbo FFV which appears to be single digit % loss in mpg.
    Miles per btu important- more so than energy density per gallon- otherwise we would all be running on diesel fuel or better yet- bunker oil.

  106. Wow. A jump to conclusion, and an unecessary and misguided immediate call to action leads to yet another unintended consequence by a group of narcissistic communistic social engineering bunch of ..**&&&&*ssssssssss << yep. I censored myself.

    Well, at least that whole jumping to conclusions thing was limited to ethanol subsidies…..OH WAIT!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  107. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Larry said “Several tests have been done to prove ethanol can be shipped in existing lines, and they had no problems except the ethanol picked up a lot of residue and was not longer clear and bright when it reached the delivery point making it unsuitable for sale”

    But great for burning in your engine eh? What is your answer to the boaters who are now forced to use ethanol mixtures? http://www.atlanticmaritimeacademy.com/images/TI-090311-ethanol-going-up.pdf

    Besides MTBE, what are other alternatives besides ethanol?

    You are correct the boaters got screwed because the manufactures were brain dead and used resins that were well known to be incompatible with ethanol added fuel years after ethanol was required by law to be added to gasoline in large parts of the country. Here in Colorado oxygenated fuel was required by law in 1988, any manufacturer of a device that used gasoline for sale in the United States should have dealt with this issue 20 years ago. The fact they did not is due to either incompetence or willingness to sell defective equipment to their customers.

    There are no other cost effective oxygenates for adding to gasoline besides ethanol. Methanol (been there done that — major corrosion issues)
    MTBE — major water table contamination issues.

    Ethanol — high blending octane (118 octane when blended with gasoline up to about 60% — less effective at higher blends) Of course the octane test itself is not appropriate for high alcohol fuels, so talking about fuel octane with ethanol added gets complicated.

    Its “road octane” in 85% blend is somewhere between 112 and 118 octane based on real world usage. Ethanol is much less corrosive than methanol and is easily passivated with corrosion inhibitors as are required in U.S. E85. It is biologically natural and benign easily decomposing if spilled. There is no other readily available chemical that can do what it does for the cost.

    Larry

  108. Curiousgeorge says, “To proclaim that we are taking food out of the mouths of people by producing corn for ethanol is simplistic at best.”

    Simplistic? No. The simple truth? Yes. Farmers plant the kind of corn that will sell and make them a profit. If there were no profit in corn grown for ethanol, the farmers would be planting corn that would feed either people directly or indirectly (as is feed corn). The insane and immoral government policy of forcing gasoline to include ethanol does in fact directly and necessarily take food out of the mouths of hungry people. So, Curiousgeorge, you a dead wrong.

  109. So I see my question was ill-posed, I gave a choice of plain gasoline and gasoline with ethanol as an oxygenator. Considering that oxygenation has some value for the environment I would propose a new question for Larry or any other ethanol proponent. It looks like the choices are methanol, ethanol, (or propanol or butanol with less oxygen). Water has the most oxygen but doesn’t burn. Methanol has the second most oxygen, so wouldn’t that give it an advantage over ethanol?

    I don’t believe the scary stories about MTBE. First, if it got in the groundwater, the other fuel components were not far behind. Second, the toxicity of all solvents is probably similar.

    Finally, the nutritional value of corn is negative in many cases due to poor digestion. Perhaps once the starches are turned into sugar and removed, there is a semi-edible waste product like tofu from soy oil processing. I am certain I would rather eat a cow that was fed grass than one that fed some leftover glop from corn processing.

  110. hotrod ( Larry L ), “Every dollar spent on fuel ethanol that a local fuel ethanol plant gets for the fuel goes back out as wages to staff, purchases from the local community, and payment to local farmers. They each in turn spend that money in some other local business, or invest it.

    As much as you folks want to paint certain companies as some evil corporation, because they make money through fuel ethanol, remember that the vast majority of that money is paid back out as wages and purchases of local supplies and support activities from painters to construction workers, welders to truck mechanics to office workers — etc.

    All that money stays in our economy and gives other people jobs they would not have if the fuel ethanol industry did not exist.

    Welfare “money” stays in the economy too, except it robs capital from the private sector just like the Ethanol industry does. The Ethanol industry are not evil they are just welfare recipients and an inefficient allocation of capital. Capital should be free to go where it is best needed in a global economy without market distortions for inefficient production of Ethanol due to government subsidies and mandates. If Ethanol was competitive it would get capital investment on it’s own. Buying foreign oil is more economically viable for our economy and makes our businesses more efficient. There is nothing wrong with using the most economically viable source of energy available regardless of where it comes from.

  111. To Phil says: Good post.
    To everyone here the many comment demonstrate the many parts to the ethanol(I mistyped it ethanoil) debate. Just last spring corn was cheaper. close to $3.00 now you can sell it for around $6.85. Why? many factors 1.The cost of oil there is a good correlation between corn and oil prices.World wide demand for feed grains like wheat, grain sorgum, and corn..Maybe inflation gee you get agruments both ways on that one. Just a few of the demand factors driving corn prices
    Perhaps govermets blend credit could be reduced some and both side would be happy.I like reducing this credit because it interfers with a true market Call it economic noise or rent seeking it distortes the markets.
    As an aside the conversion of soybean oil to diesel took a hit in 2010. The blend credit for soydiesel expired and was not renewed till late in 2010. The result was a plant in wester Missouri set up to process soybeans went broke.The goverments bio diesel credit was essential to their business plan.
    One other point land values have got through the roof with these higher grain prices. If we do change the blend credit for ethanol lest do it slowly so agriculture can unwind these artifically high land values in an orderly fashion. I have no desire to see another farm crisis like the one in 1981-85

  112. I see Larry has answered my question in advance: methanol is too reactive. Ethanol is preferred being less reactive, but still powerful enough to dissolve some plastics. I think his red herring of MTBE in the groundwater is just that, a red herring to boost ethanol.

    It seems to me that stopping knocking and complete burning are two separate issues. There should be technological fixes for both without the need for oxygenators.

  113. A diesel engine has a theoretical efficiency of around 40% due to its compression ratios. But you can see on this chart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_ga… that while diesel has about 129,500 BTU and more than gasoline’s 114,000BTU ethanol (E100) has only 76,100 BTU. So although the engine may be 25% more efficient the fuel contains about 33% less energy.

    You are correct but E85 a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline has more usable energy than gasoline at the fuel air mixtures actually used. In non-optimized engines it produces 5%-15 more power than gasoline and in optimized engines can approach 25% more power and above because of its high tolerance for compression and burning characteristics. It burns significantly faster at max power mixtures, higher evaporative cooling power than gasoline does so the engine does less negative work during the compression cycle. Net result is thermal efficiencies on high ethanol blends can get in the 40% range.

    It is not important how much energy is contained in a gallon of fuel, it is how much useful energy that it contains can be extracted by a practical engine. This is why a fuel that has less energy per unit volume gets higher fuel mileage and power output than the BTU content alone would imply.

    The assumption that fuel energy content per volume correlates with miles traveled per gallon is faulty. There is not a linear relationship between fuel energy per unit volume and work done per unit volume of fuel.

    As far as fuel thermal efficiency this study is interesting reading.

    http://delphi.com/pdf/techpapers/2010-01-0619.pdf

    Larry

  114. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:28 pm
    CNY Roger says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    In the same context to deliver 1 million BTU of fuel ethanol to your tank you only need to consume 0.74 million BTU of fossil fuels. As a result by adding fuel ethanol to your gasoline it is like a breeder reactor in that you get more total fuel energy available at the fuel pump than you would if you simply delivered straight gasoline only to the pump. The two fuels are better as a combination than either is alone.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Even if that were true, Larry, given that Ethanol is a less efficient fuel, you still end up on the negative side of the equation – read your own EPA studies that confirm it. E85 is about 30% less efficient than gasoline. And the EPA and other studies also noted that it pretty much takes as much fuel to produce ethanol as you get from it (some said more, some said less). No surprises there. I used to work in the industry. The only way ethanol can be produced profitably (at least until I retired) was with subsidies for both the ethanol and the cattle feed lots that had to be associated with the ethanol facility to make it viable. Maybe that has changed in the last few years, but I doubt it.

  115. 220mph, “Sorry – but Pimental & Patzek (and Searchinger) HAVE been thoroughly refuted – by a myriad of sources – again simply type “Pimental debunked” in Google … anyone who relies on Pimental and Patzek today for any valid basis is not worth much response to.

    No they haven’t. Show me the published rebuttal to their papers where Pimental or Patak did not reply or conceded.

    I am sure you believe any result that shows up in Google, how sad. FYI your “search” comes up to Yahoo groups and nonsense. If I search with the correct spelling, I get more forums, blogs and other useless nonsense.

  116. Chad Woodburn says:
    March 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm
    Curiousgeorge says, “To proclaim that we are taking food out of the mouths of people by producing corn for ethanol is simplistic at best.”

    Simplistic? No. The simple truth? Yes. Farmers plant the kind of corn that will sell and make them a profit. If there were no profit in corn grown for ethanol, the farmers would be planting corn that would feed either people directly or indirectly (as is feed corn). The insane and immoral government policy of forcing gasoline to include ethanol does in fact directly and necessarily take food out of the mouths of hungry people. So, Curiousgeorge, you a dead wrong.

    Plainly and simply – this is wholly false. The majority of corn is planted as animal feed already. And the corn used for ethanol provides almost as much animal feed – and in a much more beneficial to animals format – through the distillers dried grains by product – which is high energy high quality animal feed

    The current US corn crop meets ALL of the domestic demand for feed AND FOOD, meets all of the ethanol demand, meets all of the EXPORT demand and there is STILL corn left to add to our reserves … you can find the info all at USDA

    For 2009 the US saw a record corn crop and yields, due to bad weather 2010 was down very slightly

    More interesting – despite thise that claim corn is cannibalizing acreage for other crops – acres of CORN PLANTED ARE DOWN – 93.5 million acres in 2007, 88.2million in 2010 …

    per USDA:

    – U.S. farmers produced the largest corn and soybean crops on record in 2009, according to the Crop Production 2009 Summary released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

    Corn production is 13.2 billion bushels, 1 percent above the previous record of 13 billion bushels set in 2007, and 9 percent higher than 2008. Corn yields reached an all-time high in 2009 at 165.2 bushels per acre, eclipsing the previous record of 160.3 bushels per acre set in 2004. Planted area, at 86.5 million acres, is the second highest since 1949, behind 2007’s 93.5 million acres.

    The 2009 soybean crop broke records for planted and harvested area as well as for yield and production. Soybean production totaled 3.36 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2008 and up 5 percent from the previous record set in 2006. The average yield per acre is 44 bushels, up .9 bushels from the previous record set in 2005. Farmers nationwide planted a total of 77.5 million soybean acres and harvested 76.4 million acres in 2009, both up 2 percent from the previous record set last year.

  117. Why do I get the impression that this blog is about a bunch of Americans crabbing that their fast food might not be fast enough in the future. The old system was that a sizable portion of agricultural production went for horse feed to provide transportation. It seems fitting that we may once again look to agriculture for horsepower.

    Food in the U.S. is too cheap for our own good. Lent begins next Wednesday.

  118. And the 2010 crop report from USDA …

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2011 – Despite the less than ideal soil conditions and above normal temperatures during the 2010 growing season, U.S. corn growers harvested the third largest crop on record, according to the Crop Production 2010 Summary released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

    Corn production totaled 12.4 billion bushels, down 5 percent from the record high, set last year. Corn yield in 2010 is estimated at 152.8 bushels per acre, 11.9 bushels below last year’s record. Planted area, at 88.2 million acres, is the second largest since 1946, behind the 93.5 million acres record set in 2007.

    The 2010 soybean production totaled 3.33 billion bushels, down only one percent from the record production, set in 2009. The average soybean yield in 2010 is estimated at 43.5 bushels per acre, 0.5 bushels below last year’s yield. The area planted for soybeans in 2010, at 77.4 million acres, fell only fractionally short of last year’s record.

    All cotton production is up 50 percent from 2009, at 18.3 million 480-pound bales. The U.S. yield is estimated at 821 pounds per acre, up 44 pounds from last year’s yield. Harvested area, at 10.7 million acres, is up 42 percent from last year.

    NASS estimates the 2010 all wheat production at 2.21 billion bushels, down less than one percent from 2009. The all wheat yield was a record high 46.4 bushels per acre, 1.9 bushels higher from 2009 and 1.5 bushels above the previous record, set in 2008.

    Grain sorghum production in 2010 is estimated at 345 million bushels, 10 percent down from 2009. Sorghum average yield was 71.8 bushels per acre, up 2.4 bushels from last year. Area planted for sorghum, at 5.4 million acres, is down 19 percent from last year and is the lowest planted area on record. Harvested area, at 4.8 million acres, is the lowest since 1939.

    The full Crop Production 2010 Summary is available online at http://www.nass.usda.gov. The report contains year-end acreage, yield and production estimates for grains and hay, oilseeds, cotton, tobacco and sugar, dry beans, peas and lentils, and potatoes and miscellaneous crops.

  119. Just a quick note:

    My understanding of this issue is that much of the increase in the supply of distilled liquid fuels (i.e. gasoline) that has occured over the last several years can be accounted for by the addition of the ethanol cut. Basically, adding ethanol is just a way of stretching the supply of distilled liquids. It isn’t about reducing greenhouse gasses or improving efficiency or anything else like that. All the proffered reasons are simply red meat designed to satiate the various idealists who care about such things. The real reason for the ethanol cut is to prevent the cost of refined gasoline from rising to economically damaging levels. The government views this as a good deal. It gets to grease the economy by keeping the cost of gasoline lower, simply by subsidizing corn growers and ethanol distillers with taxpayer money. The individual taxpayer will never notice the miniscule increase in his tax bill that the subsidies are costing him, but he will benefit from the lower price of gas (or so the thinking goes).

    The real danger here is that this strategy has a natural limit. Once the supply of oil tightens up past a certain point, it will no longer be possible to keep the price of gasoline down by adding any more ethanol. Unfortunately, this is also the very same point at which the the transportation and production prices of everything else will be rising precipitously due to the escalating cost of energy. Then it will be no longer be profitable to subsidize ethanol production, the supply of ethanol will dry up, and the supply of distilled fuel liquids will shrink by 10% (or more) overnight, leading to an unprecedented spike in gasoline prices that will surely cause pain and devastation for many.

    When ethanol uncouples from gasoline, know then that the end is nigh. It is only then that we will come to understand the various ways in which the economy has been manipulated to keep the happy-motoring utopia (to borrow James Howard Kunstler’s famous phrase) in good working order. This was all about the maintenance of the post-war, middle class lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that would have changed sooner or later in any case, but one which will probably have to start changing soon due to the impossibility of keeping it up any longer.

  120. 1outlaw, “Poptech- I have a small fleet of FFV’s (mostly 3.5L Impalas) and I can assure you that they run on E85 90% of the time. The EPA mileage rating for E85 is a calculated range based on BTU content- not in real driving conditions. My fleet averages 80% of the range they would get on gas but the E85 is still lowest cost per mile most of the time. …Miles per btu important- more so than energy density per gallon- otherwise we would all be running on diesel fuel or better yet- bunker oil.

    That is 80%, 20% less than gasoline. You are not be paying less per gallon for ethanol blends if you removed all the agricultural and blender subsidies and then adjusted the price for reduced MPG.

    Yes we should be using much more diesel power vehicles like Europe does but are not thanks to environmentalists and the EPA. Diesel is much more fuel efficient,

    99-MPG: Volkswagen Lupo TDi Diesel – A Thrifty Spin in a 99 M.P.G. Car (The New York Times)
    65-MPG: Ford’s Fiesta ECOnetic – The 65 mpg Ford the U.S. Can’t Have (BusinessWeek)

  121. Oh gosh, where to begin?

    The govt pays farmers to set aside land. True. The farmer sets aside the least productive land, and tills the best. Program has hardly any effect on overall production.

    “People” corn, sweet corn, grocery store corn, is a specialty crop that takes extra handling, minuscule in the total crop numbers. Most farmer grow dent corn, and it goes to cattle feed, corn meal for Mexico and the rest of the world, corn syrup for Pepsi, and a zillion industrial products.

    Farmers are not ‘diverting’ land to ethanol corn production. Farmers are indifferent to who buys their grain. It goes to the highest bidder, usually someone in the futures market via a broker or the local grain elevator. Basic economics, prices rise and fall at the margin, and if a previously non-existent ethanol plant Needs that last bushel and will pay whatever it takes, prices rise on All the bushels. Farmers will plant accordingly.

    The great ethanol push has only one source – ADM lobbying. The greens, et.al. have just hopped aboard, as they did with Dr Hansen’s global warming.

  122. Poptech says:

    220mph, “Sorry – but Pimental & Patzek (and Searchinger) HAVE been thoroughly refuted – by a myriad of sources – again simply type “Pimental debunked” in Google … anyone who relies on Pimental and Patzek today for any valid basis is not worth much response to.”

    No they haven’t. Show me the published rebuttal to their papers where Pimental or Patak did not reply or conceded.

    I am sure you believe any result that shows up in Google, how sad. FYI your “search” comes up to Yahoo groups and nonsense. If I search with the correct spelling, I get more forums, blogs and other useless nonsense.

    Research does require at least a very little amount of effort … I could have spent 5 minutes and come up with this independently but it was just as easy to click one of the “useless nonsense” links and get at least enough info (from a Wiki) to prove the point

    If you really care – are actually interested in learning – I’d be happy to dig up a bunch of the actual studies for you:

    Patzek and Pimentel

    Since Pimentel seems to be about the only still pushing this concept of a negative energy balance with ethanol (with the assistance of Patzek) perhaps it would be in our best interests to have full disclosure here.

    Patzek worked for Shell Oil Company as a researcher, consultant, and expert witness. He founded and directs the UC Oil Consortium, which is mainly funded by the oil industry at the rate of US$60,000-120,000 per company per year.

    Pimentel has been basing his numerous studies on corn yeilds from 1980 with a refusal to admit yeilds have increased a great deal in the last 25 years. He also bases his studies on other figures from the late 80s and early 90s and even when pointed out he refused to update them and instead uses the same debunked figures in study after study.

    Clearly this guy has a chip on his shoulder, and I suspect that chip is being funded by the oil companies.

    Here is one interesting quote I found: “This [Pimentel's] report was debunked by, among others, Michael Wang and Dan Santini of the Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory, who conducted a series of detailed analyses on energy and emission impacts of corn ethanol from 1997 through 1999. [...]Only Dr. Pimentel disagrees with this analysis. But his outdated work has been refuted by experts from entities as diverse as the USDA, DOE, Argonne National Laboratory, Michigan State University, and the Colorado School of Mines.”

    If we are going to tell the whole story, there should be at least some reference to the perceived bias of Pimentel and Patzek especially when so many studies have refuted their claims. This isn’t as if the USDA study is the only one out there….and it should be disclosed.
    20 December 2007 (UTC)

  123. I’d find Larry’s and 220mph’s arguments a lot more convincing if ethanol weren’t subsidized, mandated, and protective tariff’ed. You see, I’m just naturally suspicious of something so wonderfully awesome that our political masters have to force us to buy it (Obamacare also springs to mind).

    Just sayin’.

  124. In addition to ethanol driving up food prices, the fertilizer runoff from all the Midwest acreage planted for ethanol creates a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico each summer that covers thousands of square miles. We are mandated to subidize and use ethanol for a “cleaner” environment. In the process, we do as much harm to the Gulf as the BP oil spill. This doesn’t make sense.

    No subsidies, no mandates. Make ethanol compete in the market place and see how much consumer demand it drives…

  125. Larry, “It is biologically natural and benign easily decomposing if spilled. There is no other readily available chemical that can do what it does for the cost.

    It has it’s own problems if the spill catches on fire,

    Ethanol Fuels Fire Concerns (Fox News)

    Over the past several years, ethanol accidents on highways, along railroads and in storehouses and refineries have triggered evacuations and fires from Texas to Minnesota, injuring several people and killing at least one person.

    Water is not used against gasoline fires, because it can spread the blaze and cause the flames to run down into drains and sewers. Instead, foam is used to form a blanket on top of the burning gasoline and snuff out of the flames. But ethanol _ a type of grain alcohol often distilled from corn _ eats through that foam and continues to burn.

    Such fires require a special alcohol-resistant foam that relies on long-chain molecules known as polymers to smother the flames. Industry officials say the special foam costs about 30 percent more than the standard product, at around $90 to $115 for a five-gallon container.

    The Trouble With Ethanol (Industrial Fire World)

    At 10 percent, ethanol is still combustible. That means that if you had a spill involving a 100,000 gallon tanker you could dilute it with as much as 900,000 gallons of water and still have a fire hazard. Good luck finding that kind of water. Other than a small spill on the highway, diluting ethanol is out. Picking up that small spill with absorbent materials designed for hydrocarbon is likely to be difficult too. The ethanol may be left behind as if it were water.

    Dealing with ethanol on fire involves using an ATC (alcohol type concentrate) foam specifically designed for polar solvents. Straight AFFF and protein foam will not work. A fire department with an extensive stockpile of the wrong kind of foam would be on the same footing as the poorest rural VFD equipped with no more than fire axes and good intentions.

    Even with the right kind of foam, fighting a polar solvent fire is no cake walk. I remember a burning 160-foot diameter storage tank in Texas City. Even with a foam blanket six to eight feet deep, flames were still visible. It took four days to bring that one under control.

    How much ATC foam will you need in addition to your standard stockpile? Using ATC on an ethanol fire will require double to four times the amount of foam used to extinguish a gasoline fire of the same size. That makes it not only a matter of expense but logistics.

  126. Good discussion – time to go hit the books and see what the latest research says. Thanks.

  127. Larry says about ethanol: “It is biologically natural and benign easily decomposing if spilled.” That may be true regarding pure ethanol. The problem is that the spill we are talking about is components of gasoline plus MTBE versus same gasoline components plus ethanol. One study says “Overall, the preferential degradation of ethanol and the accompanying depletion of oxygen and other electron acceptors hindered BTEX biodegradation, which suggests that ethanol could increase the length of BTEX plumes” (MTBE did not do that). IOW, with MTBE you end up with MTBE first, then other bad stuff. With ethanol you get very little ethanol (all oxidized) but more of the other bad stuff (can no longer degrade in anoxic environment), so probably equally bad in a gasoline spill. Pure ethanol would be much less problematic like you say, but not really relevant so a red herring.

  128. It would be interesting to see a graph of the number of people starving world-wide overlaid on top of the corn price graph.
    The politicians that advocated for ethanol should be locked away. Consider all the negative consequences of the mandate. It’s downright criminal. To us, it means higher taxes, higher fuel costs, lower mpg, higher fertilizer prices/usage, more water use and water pollution, thousands of trucks of flammable liquids on the roads (you can’t transport it in pipelines), and fire like the one in Ohio recently when a trainload went up.
    However, to poor nations that can’t afford as much food for their people, it means more people starve. It is especially critical this year because of crop failures in various places. There is apparently no surplus, so prices jump. It needs to stop now, even if it ends up costing some bucks. We already spend too much on this fiasco. Lets admit it’s stupid and stop it now.

  129. I live in Illinois, this is corn country. The production of corn is not maxed out. If the price of human type corn goes high enough a lot of unused land will be farmed. How about a bushel of corn for a barrel of Mideast oil. As a bonus it eats CO2. :)

  130. Dr. Dave says:
    March 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I’d really be interested to see full disclosure statements from hotrod (Larry L) and 220mph. Do either of you two individuals have any financial interests (directly or indirectly) in the ethanol industry? Just curious.

    None at all, I work in the computer industry and use E85 blends in all 3 of my cars because it saves me money and the cars run better on it. My WRX is a full E85 conversion I paid for out of my own pocket, and it has paid for itself several times in fuel cost savings.

    Reiterating Smokey’s comments (thanks, BTW), what would happen if all ethanol subsidies ended tomorrow? If the taxpayer were not forced by a coercive government to fund this folly, would it survive on its own merits? You two speak glowingly of all the advantages of ethanol. If true, it shouldn’t be necessary for the taxpayer to subsidize it, now would it?

    If the ethanol subsidies ended tomorrow morning with no notice, the same thing would happen to the ethanol industry as happened to the oil industry when the Arab oil embargo doubled the price of their commodity overnight in the 1970’s.

    In any industry the market is based on the existance a specific financial environment. If you yanked that rug out from under any industry you would crash it.

    Now the second part of your question is the key issue, — yes ethanol can survive without the subsidy, now. The reason it needed the subsidy is two fold, one all the stupid crap info out there that is not only incorrect but in many cases exactly opposite of the facts, an the damage done by government intervention in the fuel market in the 1920’s that destroyed the fuel ethanol industry, so it was starting up at a severe handicap that would not have existed if the government had not been meddling in the first place.

    Ethanol was the primary fuel for internal combustion engines for years before gasoline came along. The original Model T was designed to run on ethanol. At the time gasoline was dirt cheap, it was literally a waste product from the production of kerosene for illumination. The oil industry dumped this cheap waste stream on the fuel market when they figured out it could be used as a motor fuel and actively tried to shut down the ethanol industry and finally succeeded by helping push through prohibition in the 1920 which outlawed the thriving ethanol fuel industry over night.

    The current subsidy is simply long overdue compensation for that government intervention in the markets and the 50 year head start the oil industry had with no viable competitors after the fuel ethanol industry was shut down by the government.

    Fuel ethanol blended with gasoline would be the preferred fuel if the average person on the street was not up to his eyeballs in bad information about ethanol and really understood that when blended with gasoline, is a far superior fuel to gasoline alone.

    The only reason gasoline was viable in the 1960’s in high compression engines was due to the use of TEL to boost octane. If fuel ethanol had been an operational industry and TEL had been outlawed after WWII we would all be driving high ethanol fuel blend cars and paying a lot less for gasoline since they would not have wasted a couple decades trying to figure out how to wring high octane gasoline out of crude oil without adding TEL. They would have just added ethanol and gone on about their business, because back then folks remembered ethanol used as a motor fuel, and knew it was a better fuel.

    There was a reason the bootleggers were easily out running the cops, they were burning their own ethanol and making more power. That is also the reason serious racers have always gravitated toward alcohol based fuels and fuel blends which contained alcohol.

    That is why today the high performance community is falling all over itself to do conversions to run E85 today, it out performs $6-$10 per gallon racing gasoline.

    Larry

  131. 220mph, “Research does require at least a very little amount of effort … I could have spent 5 minutes and come up with this independently but it was just as easy to click one of the “useless nonsense” links and get at least enough info (from a Wiki) to prove the point

    Research does not mean believing everything you “Google” or read on a Wiki, ROFLMAO! Do you even understand what a wiki is? It is truth based on who edits last. No wonder you believe all the ethanol propaganda.

    If you really care – are actually interested in learning – I’d be happy to dig up a bunch of the actual studies for you:

    That is not what I asked for, I specifically asked for,

    Show me the published rebuttal to their papers where Pimentel or Patzek did not reply or conceded. That means a rebuttal in a peer-reviewed journal.

    “Since Pimentel seems to be about the only still pushing this concept of a negative energy balance with ethanol (with the assistance of Patzek) perhaps it would be in our best interests to have full disclosure here.

    I will be happy to provide their full credentials,

    David Pimentel, B.S. University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1948), Ph.D. Cornell University (1951), Hon. D.Sc. (Honorary Doctorate of Science), University of Massachusetts at Amherst (2008), United States Army Air Force (1943-1945), Chief, Tropical Research Laboratory, U.S. Public Health Service, San Juan, Puerto Rico (1951-1954), Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Chicago (1954-1955), Project Leader, Technical Development Laboratory, U.S. Public Health Service (1954-1955), Assistant Professor of Ecology, Cornell University (1955-1960), Associate Professor of Ecology, Cornell University (1960-1963), O.E.E.C. Fellow, Oxford University, UK (1961), NSF Computer Scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1961), Professor and Head, Department of Entomology and Limnology, Cornell University (1963-1969), Professor of Ecology, Cornell University (1969-1976), Professor, Core Faculty, Center for Environmental Quality Management, Cornell University (1973-1974), Professor of Ecology and Agricultural Sciences, Cornell University (1976-2005), Member, Secretary of Energy’s Energy Research Advisory Board, U.S. Department of Energy (1979-1983), Member, Ecological Society of America; Member, Entomological Society of America; Member, Society for the Study of Evolution; Member, Entomological Society of Canada; Member, American Society of Naturalists; Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Member, American Institute of Biological Sciences; Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Agricultural Sciences, Cornell University (2005-Present)

    Tadeusz W. Patzek, M.S. Chemical Engineering, Silesian Technical University, Poland (1974), Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Silesian Technical University, Poland (1980), Research Associate, Chemical Engineering Research Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland (1974-1980), Fulbright Fellow, Chemical Engineering Department, University of Minnesota (1978-1979), Research Associate, Chemical Engineering Department, University of Minnesota (1981-1983), Research Engineer, Enhanced Recovery Research Department, Shell Development (1983-1989), Senior Reservoir Engineer, Shell Western E&P, Inc. (1989-1990), Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Mineral Engineering, U.C. Berkeley (1990-1995), Associate Professor, Department of Materials Science and Mineral Engineering, U.C. Berkeley (1995-2002), Professor of Geoengineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, U.C. Berkeley (2002-2008), Invited Professor, Earth Sciences Department, TU Delft, The Netherlands (2004), Member, American Geophysical Union; Member, American Physical Society; Member, American Chemical Society; Professor and Chairman, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin (2008-Present)

    Now get back to me with the published rebuttal that allowed them to respond.

  132. Frankly, I’m not from the US but I’m still not sure on what basis the US is morally obliged to provide cheap corn to the rest of the world. I would have thought that whether it sells it overseas at market price or uses it for ethanol production, or feeds it to cattle is its own business. I have never heard of any other country with a surpus being asked to provide itas hand outs. Lets see, what if Saudi Arabia provided free oil ( which it has in abundance) to the US so it didnt have to turn corn into ethanol and then the US could export the free corn to feed the needy.

  133. Show me the published rebuttal to their papers where Pimentel or Patzek did not reply or conceded. That means a rebuttal in a peer-reviewed journal.

    The readers of this blog know all too well how meaningful that requirement for it being a peer-reviewed journal is ! It has about the same significance as insisting the rebuttal be published in a comic book.

    You won’t find one of those either.

    Read the Wang study or the Michael S. Graboski study and tell us what is wrong with their analysis and errors they pointed out out.

    Peer-review is a useless credential in today’s scientific culture, it has totally destroyed any credibility it had through misuse and abuse of the scientific publishing process.

    Larry

  134. The issue is still not being communicated effectively regarding corn.

    Corn is grown on N. America’s BEST cropland. This acreage (best cropland) does not change much from year to year. If 60% of this land is growing fuel crops, it is easy to see how food crops are squeezed into scarcity, hence higher prices.

    If we are going to grow fuel crops (it does not matter which fuel crop), they must be grown on new marginal lands (not presently being used for pasture or animal feed). Otherwise, fuel crops will compete with food crops. Marginal lands are the ecosystem for much of our wildlife. They would be sorely missed.

    Btw: Corn will not do well on marginal land, so another fuel crop MUST be selected anyway. GK

  135. Wow, I go out for supper and a real debate in an areaI actually have some expertise in breaks out. Fortunately Hotrod and 220mph have covered all my thoughts pretty well so I won’t cover that ground again… So I will try to cover a couple points that didn’t seem to attract much attention.

    Engines built and used in the US are for the most part very long lived. Ethanol just doesn’t make any difference at all in the life of a 4 cycle automotive engine. Engines today are so clean and tight that the engine rebuilding business has been reduced to a mere shadow of what it was 15 years ago. If it wasn’t for racing most of the remaining shops would only work on heavy duty engines, there is just no demand for rebuilt automotive engines. Why is this? In a short version, the EPA is primarily responsible for automotive companies building better engines. Its all about emissions from the tailpipe so the car companies had to build ever more tighter and therefore cleaner engines.

    Engines fail from DIRT, not ethanol. If you want proof of that just look at the differences in manufacters suggested oil change intervals. 25 years ago almost all cars required a oil change after 2500 miles. Todays vehicles can easily run 7500 to 10,000 miles between changes. Even at that point synthetic oils could go further but the antiwear additive ZDDP is pretty well gone and needs to be replaced.

    The complaints about 2 cycle engines having problems with ethanol mixtures have some truth, but in my experience its usually multiple issues. When the EPA required that all gasoline in the US be reformulated one of the ways this was accomplished was by changing the RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure) , which meant that cold running motors like 2 cycle engines wouldn’t start properly. This could be fixed in some engines by the use of hotter spark plugs, but the results have been mixed. It appears the “shelf life” of gasoline is the main issue with most small engines because they are much more sensitive to gas that might be starting to lose its volatility. Ethanol might be a factor in this but I have not seen any technical papers on 2 cycle engines discussing this issue.

    To all of the posters here who are jumping to the conclusion that somehow making corn into ethanol is causing people half way around the world to starve, one thing in all this is certain. We have plenty of corn. What we don’t have is political stability in countries where people are starving. Fix that and the food problem will be fixed too.

    Lastly, I do live and work in corn country. I’m in the automotive business and do obtain a fair amount business from farmers and the various support industries that surround farming. My business is such that it doesn’t really matter too much if corn is at $3.00 a bushel or $10.00. A few of my customers and friends work for the big seed companies but mostly could care less if corn goes into ethanol or cows. Enough said.

  136. hotrod ( Larry L ) , “If the ethanol subsidies ended tomorrow morning with no notice, the same thing would happen to the ethanol industry as happened to the oil industry when the Arab oil embargo doubled the price of their commodity overnight in the 1970′s. In any industry the market is based on the existance a specific financial environment. If you yanked that rug out from under any industry you would crash it.

    Yes all subsidized industries crash when the subsidies are removed because they were never economically viable to begin with that is why they needed the subsidies.

    Now the second part of your question is the key issue, — yes ethanol can survive without the subsidy, now. The reason it needed the subsidy is two fold, one all the stupid crap info out there that is not only incorrect but in many cases exactly opposite of the facts, an the damage done by government intervention in the fuel market in the 1920′s that destroyed the fuel ethanol industry, so it was starting up at a severe handicap that would not have existed if the government had not been meddling in the first place.

    That is the biggest pile of BS I have ever read. Ethanol fuel was not banned in the 1920s, it could still be used in a denatured state. Even still so the U.S. Government destroyed the ethanol industry worldwide for over 75 years? Every country on the planet is just stupidly refusing to use Ethanol? How come the ban didn’t destroy the Alcohol industry? It recovered completely, yet the Ethanol industry just could not recover in over 75 years?

    The current subsidy is simply long overdue compensation for that government intervention in the markets and the 50 year head start the oil industry had with no viable competitors after the fuel ethanol industry was shut down by the government.

    How did the automotive industry beat out the horse and buggy industry in the U.S. with its over 100 year advantage?

    Fuel ethanol blended with gasoline would be the preferred fuel if the average person on the street was not up to his eyeballs in bad information about ethanol and really understood that when blended with gasoline, is a far superior fuel to gasoline alone.

    Oh really? So consumers are just idiots and are “imagining” reduced MPG and driving ranges?

    That is why today the high performance community is falling all over itself to do conversions to run E85 today, it out performs $6-$10 per gallon racing gasoline.

    Consumers don’t fill up on racing gasoline or methanol either because their sole reason for driving a car is not to win a race at over 200 MPH on a racing track.

  137. Lots of good debate and conflicting information. Yet some things are clear.
    Many farms have converted to corn for fuel.
    Water, and farmland is a precious resource, and corn for fuel creates more demand for both, and is therefore inflationary on all foods.
    CO2 at 390 ppm grows corn, wheat and soy, about 12 percent more efficiently then at 280 ppm. (CO2 is a blessing here)
    The Obama stimulus is inflationary.
    The growing wealth of China and India is also inflationary on food prices.
    Food supplies are on a shorter string then they used to be, and reserves are not as great.
    The subsidies, if removed, may or may not kill corn for fuel. It is time to find out.

  138. “Boy this red herring nonsense gets old — the corn used for producing fuel ethanol (field corn) and is not “food for human consumption” it is an industrial crop like timber, alfalfa, cotton etc.”

    When a person makes starts off with deceptive statements like that, you only expect it to go downhill from there. Ethanol corn often is the very same corn used for human consumption (as cereal, corn syrup, flour, starch, etc), and it is always the same land (and water and fertilizer) as used for food crops.

    “The modern fuel ethanol industry grew up out of the oil shortages of the 1970′s because ethanol allowed them to stretch a limited supply of oil/gasoline.”

    Nonsense. The modern fuel ethanol industry grew out of recent massive subsidy and mandates.

    “Fuel ethanol is a direct replacement for imported oil, and its percent of use goes up as costs of oil increase. That is a classic increase of demand for a substitute product when the item it replaces becomes cost prohibitive.”

    Nonsense. If that were the case, there would be no need for massive subsiby and mandated use.

    “It is very simple economics, …”

    It is very simple economics that if something is cost effective, it doesnt need to be subsidized. It is simple economics that if something is higher performing, it doesnt need to have its use mandated.

    “Fuel ethanol is the most cost effective octane enhancement for gasoline blending, it allows them to use less crude oil to make a gallon of fuel, therefore as the price of oil goes up, so does demand for fuel ethanol to allow the blenders to meet minimum octane requirements at the lowest possible cost.”

    If that were true, it wouldnt need massive subsidy and mandates.

    “It is a safe bet that this years corn plantings will be going up substantially for the same reason, as increased fuel costs will improve profit margins on fuel ethanol.”

    Profit margins artificially enhanced with massive subsidy and mandates.

    You admit that if the massive subsidy and mandates were removed, the ethanol fuel industry would collapse. Industries producing a more cost effective and superior performing product don’t need taxpayer subsidy and government mandated use.

    JJ

  139. What a load of utter rubbish from Hotrod and 220mph. They are trying to get around the fact that you cannot divert 40% of the corn crop from the largest producer of maize in the world and that it will not have a large effect on global food supply and price. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room.

  140. Kinda interesting logic isn’t it?

    Prediction: global warming will cause crop failure, mass starvation, we must fight AGW.

    Action: Convert food crops to fuel. Clearly, facing crop failure and mass starvation, the obvious strategy is to burn the food.

    Observation: Food prices are going up. This is proof of global warming.

    Question: I thought global warming was supposed to cause crop failure, mass starvation….and now prices are rising so that’s proof of global warming?

    Discussion: Let’s skip the ethanol vs regular debate. I’d like to know how the ChickenWarmingLittles managed to go straight from “price” to warming. What about the intermmediate steps? Like showing the crop failures that were caused by warming, showing the reduced yields caused by warming, that then result in higher prices.

    But no…all the headlines for some time now regarding crop failure have been from cold…frost…early snow… yet in those areas where temps have been normal or above normal…highest crops yields in history.

    But I guess there’s no need for logic. Should have figured that out when John Q Public got duped into staving off food shortages by burning the food.

  141. Alan Simpson says:
    March 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm
    “I was going to say the greens/alarmists/UCS and the rest were economically illiterate, now I am not so sure. It may be a genuine effort to kill as many people as possible.”

    I think that Alan’s comment has merit. How so? Environmentalists come in a variety of different flavors. A few of the categories include:
    •1960s conservationists/preservationists, including yours truly;
    •NIMBY types, who are mainly interested in the market values of their houses;
    •fast-buck artists, like His Goreness;
    •clueless men, who wrap themselves in the Care Bear environmental banner, hoping that it will help them get laid;
    •True Believers, aka useful idiots, who desperately need a glorious cause to give meaning to their empty lives;
    •population alarmists, like John Holdren, who either don’t know or don’t care about the Demographic Transition;
    •misanthropes, who believe that Nature is always good, and that people are essentially bad.

    Misanthropic environmentalists view economic sabotage as being virtuous in its own right. The first and most obvious category of Green economic sabotage is unlawful action. Example: vandalizing a coal-fired power plant in the UK.

    The second strategy of Green economic sabotage is to work within the system. Get elected to public office. Or work one’s way up through the ranks in the government bureaucracy. Then when one gains a sufficient amount of power, do as much damage as possible, while covering one’s posterior.

    Greens in Australia have been relatively successful in working from within the system. Green environmental policies contributed to the death toll of the 2009 Bushfires in Victoria. Homeowners, who lived in the eucalyptus forest there, were not allowed to clear away these highly flammable trees a sufficient distance from their houses.

    When Black Saturday came, there were spot-fires miles ahead of the main fires. One minute, all appeared to be well. The next minute, there was a rapidly-approaching wall of flame coming from all directions, from which there was no avenue of escape, and no safe haven. Many of those who obeyed the law were burned alive.

    I followed the discussion about this on Jennifer Marohasy’s blog, and was absolutely appalled at the attitude expressed by one of the local Greens: If you get killed in a bushfire, it’s your fault. That’s the old blame-the-victim game.

    I don’t know if Australian Greens are more misanthropic than their American and European counterparts. It may simply be that the Australian Greens are more out-of-the-closet about it.

    What about the maize-based ethanol subsidies? Almost everyone knows that that policy is dreadfully uneconomic, and that there are no energy savings. Here are a few possible motivations:
    •improving air quality in urban areas, since low concentrations of oxygenated fuel additives–like ethanol–decrease carbon monoxide emissions;
    •both political parties attempting to buy votes in the swing states of the Corn Belt;
    •starving out redundant people in developing countries, because it’s supposed to be ‘good for the environment’.

    Alan’s brief comment may turn out to be spot-on.

  142. I would ask everybody to look at the numbers first, and then try to discuss them:

    http://www.dailyfutures.com/one/grains.html

    My take is, the increase in fuel conversion was more or less compensated by increased corn production.

    If there is a shortage, it is probably not (yet) the availability of land, but (I speculate) more the availability of farmers. Many of them have given up during the 30 years of non increasing corn prices and their average age in the US is now 58 !

  143. davidmhoffer says:
    March 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    nice post, I would LOL,if it were not so damm serious.

  144. Here is an interesting article in the UK Telegraph relating the current increase in food prices world wide to among other things the increase in ethanol use
    “Gloomy Malthus provides food for thought as world’s appetite builds”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/liamhalligan/8363500/Gloomy-Malthus-provides-food-for-thought-as-worlds-appetite-builds.html

    Excerpt “Accounting for 2.5pc of global energy use, biofuels are now serious business. Boosted by huge Western government subsidies, they’re set to meet more than 10pc of global energy needs by 2030. The trouble is that biofuels are shifting land use away from crops for food – which, in turn, is pushing food prices up. The extent of this land shift is uncertain. But a recent Friends of the Earth report said that in Africa, the European-led biofuels land-grab is “under-estimated and out-of-control . . . causing conflict and threatening food-security”. So even mainstream environmentalists now feel that biofuels, designed to lower our hydrocarbon addiction, are actually counter-productive given their impact on food. ”

    The issue is receiving attention in serious mainstream papers here in UK. One wonders if politicians will see the light at well.

  145. danj says:

    In addition to ethanol driving up food prices, the fertilizer runoff from all the Midwest acreage planted for ethanol creates a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico each summer that covers thousands of square miles. We are mandated to subidize and use ethanol for a “cleaner” environment. In the process, we do as much harm to the Gulf as the BP oil spill. This doesn’t make sense.

    No subsidies, no mandates. Make ethanol compete in the market place and see how much consumer demand it drives…

    Good grief people – use some common sense – think for YOURSELF before you pass these kind of judgments …

    One of the biggest attacks is that nasty old corn for ethanol is displacing that land from growing food … in other words THEY ARE GOING TO GROW corn regardless – and that means they are going to irrigate and fertilize … having exactly the same effect

    Sorry, but not only does this claim have little or no basis in reality – but it is simply silly …

  146. Poptech says:
    March 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm
    Larry, “It is biologically natural and benign easily decomposing if spilled. There is no other readily available chemical that can do what it does for the cost.”

    It has it’s own problems if the spill catches on fire,

    Ethanol has fueled Indycars for several years … there are occasional fires during wrecks and in pit incidents … like methanol, the prior fuel of choice, ethanol fires in Indycar are fought largely with water

    And again I have to say comparing a tanker of ethanol on fire with a tanker of gasoline also seems silly to me … neither is a fire that can typically be “fought” – if fully involved the best a fire dept could do in either case is let it burn and try to minimize collateral damage

  147. What about pictures of oil prices or other raw material prices?

    Hockeysticks everywhere I look ;-)

  148. The green regime is full of well intentioned Pol Pots.

    It seems the cruelty of do-gooders knows no bounds.

  149. Corn prices were on the floor a year ago, no agri commodity has kept pace with inflation over the last ten, twenty, thirty years. The farmers % of the final price has been falling consistently for over half a century. If food was in short supply this would not be the case. Europe, US and other developed economies are net importers of food purely for economic reasons. We suck calories out of regions of the world not feeding their own people. Flowers for European tables are grown in Uganda.
    150 years ago Ireland exported food while millions starved, nothing has changed. There is no shortage of food, only a global economy that has not factored in the limitations of capitalism on international food security. Speculation on food commodities is immoral, lack of global policy on food is as short sighted as is the nonsense of a global climate change policy.

  150. CharlieFFoxtrot says:
    To us, it means higher taxes, higher fuel costs, lower mpg, higher fertilizer prices/usage, more water use and water pollution, thousands of trucks of flammable liquids on the roads (you can’t transport it in pipelines), and fire like the one in Ohio recently when a trainload went up.

    However, to poor nations that can’t afford as much food for their people, it means more people starve. It is especially critical this year because of crop failures in various places. There is apparently no surplus, so prices jump. It needs to stop now, even if it ends up costing some bucks. We already spend too much on this fiasco. Lets admit it’s stupid and stop it now.

    Again – factual claims NOT supported by data …

    Higher fuel prices? …. nope

    Ethanol, even E85, costs LESS – not more – than gasoline – per e85prices.com the national avg is $2.90 for e85 and $3.48 for gasoline (E10) – a 16.6% savings

    In my area I pay $2.59 for e85 and $3.38 for gas (e10) – or 23% LESS for e85 … this trend largely holds for areas where e85 is prevalent

    Lower MPG? …. nope – red herring

    Direct MPG is lower with e85 – which makes sense since e85 has lower energy content. But energy content is not the only measure – vehicles designed for flex fuel take into acct the properties (higher octane etc) of e85 fuel and offer greater efficiency than conventional gas fueled engines.

    Again – My 2003 Tahoe flex-fuel gets appx 14.7mpg City normally on E10 gasoline, and avg. 11.9mpg on E85 – a real world difference of just 19% …

    E85 is 23% less than gas – yet my mileage is only 19% lower … I get a NET GAIN in actual fuel economy on a cost per mile basis with E85.

    Higher fertilizer prices/usage? … outright false

    First, FEED corn which is used for ethanol uses far less fertilizer (and water) than FOOD corn …. Second, again – the big complaint is that land is being used for growing corn for fuel instead of growing corn for food – the land has corn grown on it either way and fertilizer and water is used – again, FOOD corn has significantly HIGHER fertilizer (and irrigation) requirements than feed corn used for fuel

    More water use and water pollution? …. and false again

    Ethanol production does use water – but not dramatically more than other energy sources. And ethanol plants have dramatically reduced that water usage by using onsite treatment and reusing much of the water:

    Interesting thing that water use – when you look at perspective:

    WATER USE Ethanol vs Gas vs Electricity:
    1 gal unleaded contains 119000 BTU
    1 gal ethanol contains 76000 BTU
    1 kwh elec contains 3413 BTU

    1 gal ethanol takes 4.00 gals water
    1 kwh elec takes 0.60 gals water
    1 kwh elec takes 0.75 gals water (Nuclear)
    1 gal gasoline takes 3.50 gals water
    1 gal cellulosic takes 6.00 gals water (biochemical process)
    1 gal cellulosic takes 1.90 gals water (thermochemical process)
    Ethanol creates usable, high value byproducts which consume appx 35% of water used and as such a portion of water use should be allocated to production of these byproducts:
    1 gal ethanol takes 2.60 gals water (less byproducts use)
    1 gal cellulosic takes 3.90 gals water (less byproducts use) (biochemical)
    1 gal cellulosic takes 1.24 gals water (less byproducts use) (thermochemical)
    =BTU per gal water 19,000 ethanol
    =BTU per gal water 5,688 electricity
    =BTU per gal water 4,551 electricity (Nuclear)
    =BTU per gal water 34,000 gasoline
    =BTU per gal water 12,667 cellulosic ethanol (biochemical)
    =BTU per gal water 40,000 cellulosic ethanol (thermochemical)
    after byproduct water use credit:
    =BTU per gal water 29,231 ethanol
    =BTU per gal water 19,487 cellulosic ethanol (biochemical)
    =BTU per gal water 61,538 cellulosic ethanol (thermochemical)
    After properly crediting for byproduct value – even current ethanol production – which is pretty inefficient – is comparable to gas for water use – and future thermo technolodies make cellulosic biomass almost twice as efficent as gasoline for water usage

    If we are basing viability of energy generation on water use we should abandon electrical power plants immediately as they are horrible water wasters – and nuclear plants are worse yet … but we do not – because there are offsetting factors

    You can’t transport it in pipelines? …. simply false

    You CAN transport ethanol thru pipelines – they are used in Brazil and several are proposed or in use in the US. In large part however pipelines are not necessary as the plants are located near the feedstock and the ethanol produced is consumed locally as well

    Fire!? …. another red herring

    A tanker of gas or a tanker of ethanol on fire – no effective difference – except that ethanol is less likely to explode than gasoline … neither can be “fought” effectively – they can only be contained and allowed to burn out

    Poor nations that can’t afford as much food for their people? …. true – but completely unrelated to ethanol

    US corn production meets ALL of the domestic food, feed and ethanol demands … PLUS ALL of the EXPORT demand – and there is still grain left over … these country’s could ask for more and we would have it to sell them – using corn for ethanol is NOT reducing availability of corn for food …

  151. Schadow says:
    In the southern US, cotton used to be the major cash crop. So much cotton production has been diverted to corn that cotton is commanding high prices not seen in many years. Has anyone seen the little article (probably in the back pages of your favorite birdcage liner) that clothing prices are rising apace?

    Unfortunately, according to the USDA – that claim is inaccurate as well.:

    2010 cotton production is up 50 percent from 2009, at 18.3 million 480-pound bales. The U.S. yield is estimated at 821 pounds per acre, up 44 pounds from last year’s yield. Harvested area, at 10.7 million acres, is up 42 percent from last year.

    C’mon people – please educate yourselves – go look for the facts yourself – and stop believing (and repeating) what other biased sources tell you … you can get this info directly from the USDA site under crop reports

  152. CNY Roger says:

    Hotrod (Larry) can you explain this defense of ethanol in the link in your post March 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm :

    Jere White, (Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association) claims that: “The fossil energy input per unit of ethanol is lower—0.74 million Btu fossil energy consumed for each 1 million Btu of ethanol delivered, compared to 1.23 million Btu of fossil energy consumed for each million Btu of gasoline delivered.”

    no idea who this guy is or where you got this statement – but it is simply false

    All you need do is search “ethanol net energy yield” on Google and you will find the current information … which will show the typical net energy yield for ethanol from corn is appx 1.5 to 2 units units of energy created for every one unit expended in production … these numbers continue to climb …

    But the real improvement will be cellulosic ethanol processes – which are currently about double the corn yields and could see net energy yields as high as 8 to 1 in foreeeable future

  153. Sorry Roger – its late – my apologies … on a re-reading the statement is accurate …

    0.74 units of energy consumed for each 1 unit produced = 1.23 to 1 net energy yield … more ethanol energy is produced than energy is expended to produce it …

    That statement is apparently from the following:

    Attached was a summary of an Argonne National Lab report written by Michael Wang, who initiated the following claim (from the report):

    As you can see, the fossil energy input per unit of ethanol is lower–0.74 million Btu fossil energy consumed for each 1 million Btu of ethanol delivered, compared to 1.23 million Btu of fossil energy consumed for each million Btu of gasoline delivered.

    The 2nd part about gas is also in that report … and the simple math there shows with 1.23 units of energy consumed to produce 1 unit of energy in gasoline the net energy yield of gasoline = 0.81 to 1

    Your question/comment is correct …

  154. Colin says:
    What a load of utter rubbish from Hotrod and 220mph. They are trying to get around the fact that you cannot divert 40% of the corn crop from the largest producer of maize in the world and that it will not have a large effect on global food supply and price. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room.

    sorry – the “load of rubbish” as you put it, is from folks like you who make unsubstantiated claims with no documentation or support …

    If you have factual support for your claim please provide it and we can discuss … others here have done that – your turn …

  155. Apologies if this has already been posted, but my impression was that a main reason for corn production for ethanol was to encourage the use of marginal farmland that was under utilised. As such it should have had less impact on taking land out of food production.

  156. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    “It is a naturally dry fuel that will never let enough water collect in your tank that you will have fuel line freeze in subzero weather.”

    This is not my experience. Ethanol is what we used to call “dry gas.” Yes, if you add it to your gas it will take care of a few drops of water in your gas, but if there is no water in your gas it still wants to attach itself it H2O, so it sucks the moisture from the air.

    This is not a problem if you use the gas up quickly, refilling your tank every few days, but if you run a lot of small equipment (as I do) such as roter tillers, chainsaws, snow blowers, wood-splitters and so on, you have to be careful because the gas “goes bad.” It sucks too much water from the air, if it sits around. I actually have had to throw away gas, and drain tanks. The ethanol-gas mix goes bad in 3 months in the coldest weather, and in only six weeks in humid summer weather. (You can add a “fuel stabilizer,” but who needs that extra task, and Lord only knows what is in that -bleep-.)

    Add to this the fact ethanol-gas mixes run too hot in 2-cycle engines, so you need to add more oil to the gas and run a smokey blend, (and even then your older equipment tends to burn out piston rings even though it had no problems in ten years, before ethanol,) and you can see why landscapers and small farmers hate ethanol. If they increase the amount in the gas any more a lot of equipment will be basically useless.

    It is just another case of the little guy getting screwed. I don’t see why they can’t offer the option of gas-without-ethanol. I’d buy it, even if it cost more.

  157. Hey … Obama is cornholing the future ….

    It’s not about the corn it’s about using the famland for the thing that produces the highest government subsidy.

    Did you know that you can make liquid transport fuels from coal at about $30 a barrel equivalent? Fischer-Tropsch is it’s name, invented in the 1920s. Used by Germany in WWII … and now being installed in China as state of the art refining plants.

  158. Whatever reserves one may have about the title of Anthony’s post, there is no doubt that it has led to some fascinating comments both for and against (for the moment I remain neutral on that point). I had never heard about the effect of Prohibition on the elimination of alcohol from vehicle fuels (and thanks to Larry L for that titbit). I also wonder about the sources for alcohol high-performance additives.

    When I first came to France in the 1960s, they still had many of the old buses with the rear balcony. They filled the streets with a characteristic pungent odour that apparently came from the their fuel, a mixture of equal parts gasoline, alcohol and what I have seen described as benzol. (I have also heard of castor oil being used).

    The point about ethanol by-products being adapted for animal fodder is also an interesting one — and conversely what food by-products can serve as fuel sources?

    I don’t see any problem with government subsidies for launching innovative technologies for limited periods so long as they don’t turn into permanent crutches.

  159. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    The actual cost of the corn fraction of common food products is trivial, in a box of corn flakes the cost of the corn to make it is less than 10 cents, the real cost is in the packaging and shipping (oil) to get the product to the consumer.

    A most critical point, and perhaps ultracritical when it comes to oil supply.
    Global Traders seek to sell commodities as far afield as possible from point of origin to command the hightest prices. Where we left off just prior to the last oil price crash (which the Saudis fear) was Global Trade run amok that put unbearable pressure on the bunker oil supplies. The bunker oil for ships ran short, so diesel production was dipped into to add bulk to the bunker oil supplies.
    This is where speculation does the greatest damage: At the Global Trade level. Speculating oil to skyrocket prices affects all trade, and thus the pressure is on all commodities, not just food. Unfortunately for people, they have to eat. Double unfortunately too many are out of work worldwide.
    This is a speculative bubble we are witnessing. It will pop, but before it does so many nations/governments will sink into chaos.
    Growing corn for fuel, at this point, is akin to rubbing salt in the wounds of speculative chaos.

  160. I cannot add anything scholarly to the discussion, and after reading about half the comments I jumped down here, so it may have been said already. I am amazed. All the highly intelligent people here…. with the notable of exception of the blip in 2008 on the graph, (which could easily be explained away statistically, I’m sure) didn’t anyone else see a hockey stick?
    And by the way, I visited RC yesterday, and Gavin took a swipe at all of you over here. WUWT?

  161. “Ethanol production continues to increase in efficiency. The latest numbers from USDA’s 2008 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry report show for every British Thermal Unit (BTU) of energy used to make ethanol, 2.3 BTUs were produced. This is a marked improvement from the last report in 2004 when it took 1.76 units of energy to make 2.3 BTUs of energy. The report goes on to say efficiency will continue to improve as the ethanol process evolves requiring less corn per gallon of ethanol plus increasing corn yields will mean more ethanol per acre”

    “A study by the University of California at Berkeley says that use of ethanol as a transportation fuel offers a positive life cycle energy balance, while producing slightly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum fuel use. Dan Kammen and Alex Farrell of the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at the UC Berkeley published their research in the journal Science. While earlier studies suggested that the energy to produce ethanol was greater than the actual energy content of ethanol, this overview work argues that those assertions were incorrect. The ERG research report also noted that most ethanol today is produced through corn and, as such, the subsequent greenhouse gas emissions thought to cause global warming are only marginally cut. That will change, however, when such non sugar feedstock sources as switchgrass are put to use on a large scale, supplanting corn.

    The UC Berkeley study examined several earlier assumptions and then corrected for errors and outdated information as it relates to how much energy it takes to grow corn and then make ethanol. The study says that ethanol produced from corn creates 10-15 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than burning gasoline. Similarly, a study from the International Energy Agency in Paris agrees, saying that while grain-based ethanol requires substantial amounts of fossil fuel inputs, that fuel additive is still responsible for creating 20 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels. “

  162. hotrod ( Larry L ) , “The readers of this blog know all too well how meaningful that requirement for it being a peer-reviewed journal is ! It has about the same significance as insisting the rebuttal be published in a comic book. Read the Wang study or the Michael S. Graboski study and tell us what is wrong with their analysis and errors they pointed out out.

    It has nothing to do with a comic book now you are making yourself look ridiculous. If the criticisms are valid they would publish them because that would allow the author to respond.

    So effectively you have nothing. I am still waiting for you to show me the published rebuttal to the papers I posted where Pimentel or Patzek did not reply or conceded. That means a rebuttal in a peer-reviewed journal that allows the authors to reply.

  163. Italy produced the first Methanol run car in 1936, there are about 500,000 methanol cars in Italy today.
    I have a methanol plant in my basement which is supplied by household waste, and garbage, it heats the house,runs my wife’s car, those that are interested ‘google’
    costs = wife’s car 7,000 km per year
    = heating 260 M2 house 3/4 months
    = cooling 260 M2 house 2/3 months
    cost and installation of methane plant $6,800 (5 years ago)
    maintenance $ 150.00 per year
    Taxes $0.00
    my savings over 5 years $20,000 – $25,000
    Now if some one can tell me why you have not a plant in your basement ?

  164. Here is a link to USDA Grains: World Markets and Trade Archives. http://www.fas.usda.gov/grain_arc.asp

    String a few years of low production together and you have the ingredients for a real crisis. It is a good thing that CO2 is at 390ppm now contributing to world wheat and coarse grain yields which are half again as high as they were 30 years ago. Then again, increased CO2 may not have contributed anything to yield. Anyone know the answer?

  165. One nice thing about ethanol. We don’t have to send young men to the middle east to stabilize the politics and protect our fuel supply when we grow it here. When the disruptions in Libya spread to Saudi Arabia we’ll all be talking about how to grow corn in our gardens and build stills in our backyards.

    On the subject of farm subsidies. The big farmer in my neighborhood who farms nearly 10,000 acres is waiting for the day subsidies go away because it means payment limitations go away. His speculation is that once payment limitations go he’ll be able to take over and drive the remaining small time guys out completely. It is true that farm subsidies hinder farm productivity. On the other hand do we want to deal with farms becoming too big to fail. It’s not inconceivable that a player like ADM could leverage its control of grain processing into control of the planting and harvesting of the crop. If this seems far fetched look at what has happened in the poultry business. It is vertically integrated and mostly in the hands of Perdue, Tyson Foods, and Pilgrim’s Pride. On balance it is probably a good thing because it helps us buy chicken so very cheaply that we can afford the luxury of jumping in a car and going down to get a KFC Double Down – all chicken – no bread sandwich.

    The bottom line-
    There is a price on a barrel of crude at which growing crops to be turned into fuel makes sense. That was how transportation worked when horse feed was grown to fuel our transportation in the horse and buggy days.

  166. When government mandates that gasoline used for autos must have 10% ethanol, they set up a regulatory mandate that has the effect of forcing the fuel distributor to pay whatever price he must in order to acquire the amount of ethanol to blend. This puts the motoring public in the US in direct market competition with every single buyer of US corn and its derivative products no matter where in the world they may be.

    Moreover, the free market functions to economize by making adaption, innovation and behavior modification possible. But some of these ethanol fuel mandates do not have an escape clause when the price of corn gets too high. The well-intentioned politicians and bureaucrats who put these laws and regulations in place didn’t think that when they set about to save the earth, they would set in motion corn prices that would contribute to the overthrow of foreign governments due to food price riots. In short, these mandates force a buyer to pay whatever price and acquire whatever quantity of corn it takes, irrespective of the needs of humans to buy corn for food.

    This was all done in the name of “sustainability”! Yet the human side of this, at least for Egyptians and Mexicans (who rioted over prices last year) is not sustainable.

    Yet another leftist scheme that blows up cause to unintended consequences.

  167. Layne Blanchard says:

    But the EPA isn’t interested in factual data.

    The number of gallons of bio-fuels that refiners must use each year was mandated in the 2007 EISA Act by Congress. The only thing EPA has power to do is determine the mix of source of bio-fuels.

    Unfortunately, all the ‘happy talk’ about how much biofuel could come from cornstalks, grass clippings, wood chips and french fry grease was just ‘happy talk’ with no basis in reality.

    The result is that for all intents in purposes all bio-fuels end up coming from the corn, which was not the original intent of the law.

    There is no shortage of ‘happy talkers’ in the environmental movement who like to talk about ‘theoretical’ possibilities. It’s theoretically possible that I’m going to win the lottery but I’m holding off on spending my ‘winnings’ until I actually win. Unfortunately, in the biofuels game congress confused possible with actual.

  168. Global Food Prices Jump To Record Level Because of Higher Corn Prices

    may 1981 gold 1ounce 479,70 dollar
    march 2011 gold 1ounce 1428,90 dollar

    may 1981 corn metric ton 140,94 dollar
    march 2011 corn metric ton 305,51 dollar

    may 1981 I could buy with 1 ounce of gold 140,94 / 479,7 = 3,40 m ton corn
    march 2011 I can buy with 1ounce of gold 305,51 / 1428,9 = 4,67 m ton corn

    http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=corn&months=360

    http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=gold&months=360

    Today I can buy more corn than I could in 1981 for the same amount of gold so corn is cheaper than it was in 1981. The problem is my paper money is getting worthless.

  169. Bigdinny

    “I visited RC yesterday, and Gavin took a swipe at all of you over here. WUWT?”

    Consider it progress. Gavin deigns to say our name.

  170. 220mph, “Higher fuel prices? …. nope

    Ethanol, even E85, costs LESS – not more – than gasoline – per e85prices.com the national avg is $2.90 for e85 and $3.48 for gasoline (E10) – a 16.6% savings

    In my area I pay $2.59 for e85 and $3.38 for gas (e10) – or 23% LESS for e85 … this trend largely holds for areas where e85 is prevalent

    Sorry but the national average is 16% without adjusting for BTU or subsidies.

    $3.503 – Regular Gasoline (AAA)
    $2.929 – E85 (AAA)

    Now lets get the actual price of E85,

    $3.854 – E85 BTU Adjusted Price (AAA)
    +0.450 – VEETC Subsidy (U.S. Department of Energy)
    $4.304 – E85 BTU and Subsidy Adjusted Price

    So much for that!

  171. harrywr2

    “There is no shortage of ‘happy talkers’ in the environmental movement who like to talk about ‘theoretical’ possibilities”

    I tend to agree with this sentiment about happy talk. On the other hand some soul out there willing to risk capital (or his reputation if he works in a company) is likely to have the seeds of some future innovation happily brewing away in his mind. When I was 20 the idea of individuals being able to afford a personal computer was big time happy talk. Now even my computer has its own computer to handle the graphics part of its task. Happy talk is indeed “just talk,” but there are more innovations in our future waiting to be implemented by the right persons.

  172. John Wright, “I had never heard about the effect of Prohibition on the elimination of alcohol from vehicle fuels (and thanks to Larry L for that titbit).

    Ethanol was never eliminated from vehicle fuels because of Prohibition. Ethanol could still be used in a denatured state, it just had to be mixed with a small amount of another chemical making it undrinkable. Thus if you are mixing it with gasoline it is “denatured”. Ethanol blends stopped being used because gasoline was cheaper no other reason.

  173. I think it might be useful to imagine a real life scenario.

    Sometime in the near future China and India has a major crop failure, and these countries begin to starve. Here in N. America we stop exporting grains, to reserve, our supplies, to ensure, we do not run out.

    As China starves, we continue driving around, blowing corn fumes out our tailpipes. How are we going to feel, at this time?

    Now, put yourself, in the shoes of the poor, starving Chinese, who must endure hunger as they witness us drive around blowing corn fumes out our asses.

    How long before they move on us? GK

  174. Well, I see the usual discussion of ethanol has taken place. It really is sad to see the normally skeptical WUWT readers being sucked in by the bad press on ethanol. You guys are smart enough to read past the lies on AGW, if you took a few minutes to apply the same critical thinking to the ethanol question you would be much better off.

    The facts have been presented by Larry and 220mph. Try to understand them. There is little food shortage or price increase due to ethanol. It’s due to speculation and oil prices. LOOK AT THE FACTS.

    Also, EM Smith told us all a year ago that food commodity speculation was going to increase and would be a good investment. Were you listening? Are you trying to understand what’s happening now? Our monetary policies are doing exactly what real economists have been telling us. Higher food prices are one of the results … and they could go much higher. Our dollar is worth less and less as is any currency tied to the dollar.

    Finally, as has already been stated there are future bio-fuels that will replace corn based ethanol. The good thing is we have an infrastructure for those products that wouldn’t exist without ethanol. Over time this will turn out to be a great deal for any country that has the infrastructure in place. Less foreign imports, increased GDP, lower prices, etc. Also, our need to protect oil in the middle east will be reduced. While I don’t buy some claims of trillion dollar subsidies for oil, one can’t ignore there are costs that probably mirror or exceed the subsidies for ethanol.

  175. This many comments and not one mention of the Iowa Caucus (apologies if I missed any).

    For European readers, the Iowa Caucus is a key first post in the horse race to become president of the USA. Here is a link to a site that you can navigate to learn all about the Iowa Caucus – with what is hopefully a relevant starting point :-)

    http://www.iowacaucus.org/ethanol.html

    You can find many links to the political importance of the Iowa Caucus and the ethanol connection. Here is just one example.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/04f0a668-b71b-11dc-aa38-0000779fd2ac.html#axzz1FpsvWT43

    A quote from this article is as follows:

    “If you want to be president and you’re running in the Iowa caucuses, you have to support ethanol,” says Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute, a free-market think-tank in Washington that opposes the industry.

    That has forced some erstwhile doubters to reconsider their stance: Hillary Clinton, who opposed ethanol subsidies before she launched her bid for the Democratic nomination, has since come out forcefully in support of the industry.” end quote

    The discussions above are very interesting, but honestly, the short answer is that were it not for the Iowa Caucus timing we would not be talking about ethanol, because there wouldn’t be any.

  176. Poptech, the price of E85 ethanol is $2.76 and gas $3.54 where I live. It’s kind of interesting that the price of E85 has been tracking about 75% of the price increases of gas when one might think it should be 25% . Why do you think that is?

    I think it’s because the real factors in almost all commodity prices are market driven and energy costs drive much of that. That indicates that future prices will be much more stable if we can reduce our energy costs.

    Also, it’s a bit dishonest to figure in ethanol subsidies while ignoring oil subsidies. It makes your comments less credible.

  177. Biofuels really are not that big of a deal for the US itself. World-wide it has more negative effects in countries that can not produce as much food and give much more subsidies for them, but here its pointless to really guess what actual food production would be without ethanol.

    Point in fact: Anything that is grown for food is price-controlled. The amount of foodstuffs grown is rather constant and the price only changes because of the price on fuel to ship the stuff. Corn for food will never go up in price because its controlled by the Government. I will not argue whether this is a good or bad thing, but this is just common sense. So in essence, food prices in the US are simply related to transportation costs and as such are related to the price of oil.

    Food shortages are common in addition. Look through history and at either shipping costs or famines caused by bad weather. Both happen and regardless its the old story of anything that is sustainable can be taken away due to one storm. Sustainable is a myth, we as a society have never run out of anything that we can mine, but I can point to over 100’s of times in history where we ran out of food that is called sustainable by the same people. Pure and simple, its a myth. The oil in the ground is not going to disapear due to a heat or cold wave. But the biofuels could disappear because of those events.

    Its a very large distinction, its almost like the entire sustainable argument took common sense on its head and turned it around.

    In the end, that argument does not matter either though. The true cost of anything should be analyzed and then let the markets decide if we do indeed live in a free market. Subsidies just bias markets for a “preferred” product.

    That being said, biofuels are harder on engines as a rule. You have to use more products to keep your engine running well with biofuels. You have to get your oil changed more often. You get slightly less MPG. But nothing there is really terrible and can’t be dealt with. You can also start designing engines for usage with biofuels which is what is starting today with some models running just as well with them. But when you engineer for a certain product, you still miss out, because the entire concept of increased BTU’s is paramount there with pure oil.

    But if biofuels ARE cheaper, I see no issues with using them. This takes a very comprehensive cost/benefit analysis. First, remove the subisidies and remove all mandates for its usage. Then if it survives, great. If not, oh well.

    That is what an open market is for. Let the market decide on green schemes that do nothing to help the environment and only make us more susceptible to mother nature. I would prefer the “sustainable” oil drilled from the US then biofuels, but shrug, its an open market for a reason, if it survives well that is the breaks.

  178. 220,

    “First, FEED corn which is used for ethanol uses far less fertilizer (and water) than FOOD corn ….”

    FEED corn is FOOD corn. Table corn – the corn you eat off the cob – is sweet corn, and that is typically not used for ethanol. Table corn makes up a tiny fraction of the FOOD corn grown, however. Most FOOD corn is dent corn, used for corn flour, corn syrup, cornstarch, corn oil, etc. Dent corn is also the most common FEED corn.

    This notion that there are two types of corn, and that one is used exclusively for human consumption and the other is unfit to eat, is a big lie.

  179. #
    #
    Poptech says:
    March 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

    John Wright, “I had never heard about the effect of Prohibition on the elimination of alcohol from vehicle fuels (and thanks to Larry L for that titbit).”

    Ethanol was never eliminated from vehicle fuels because of Prohibition. Ethanol could still be used in a denatured state, it just had to be mixed with a small amount of another chemical making it undrinkable. Thus if you are mixing it with gasoline it is “denatured”. Ethanol blends stopped being used because gasoline was cheaper no other reason.

    The picture is a little more complicated that you want to present the Poptech. The volstad act (Prohibition) did not explicitly prohibit fuel ethanol, and denatured ethanol was still “legal”, it just became unavailable in the open market. By outlawing beverage alcohol they destroyed the industry that would create an adequate supply of fuel ethanol.

    As prohibition was seen to be a soon to be imposed fact, the capital investment and plants of the large scale ethanol producers became nearly worthless, and were sold at fire sale prices many to the Rockefellers (oil industry), and all their skilled brewers and the chemists that supported them were diverted into either the oil industry or went underground into the boot leg industry.

    Likewise the same prohibition on beverage alcohol made it illegal for small farmer still operations that could produce high proof alcohol on the farm. The farmers then could no longer provide their own fuel on the farm for their own farm equipment and transportation they were forced to buy from the only game in town the oil industry.

    At that time the wide spread network of service stations to provide fuel for transportation did not exist, but folks in the rural areas could if they chose make their own fuel. By closing down the rural distributed fuel production economy and removing a secondary income stream from beverage alcohol it became to run most breweries.

    Coors Brewing here in Colorado shut down their brewing operation and shifted into porcelain ware, which is now a second division of the company. That kept the company alive until prohibition ended. Not all brewers had the funding or smarts to make a similar move.

    That concentrated the source of transportation fuel directly in the hands of a defacto monopoly in the oil companies and their suppliers. Even after prohibition was ended, that oil monopoly continued to squash small businesses that sold fuel ethanol. One of their tactics was to black ball fuel distributors that sold ethanol for “bad business ethics”, and refused to sell them kerosene or other petroleum products. In short the oil industry at that time ran a protection racket out in the open, and destroyed any business that sold fuel ethanol, by cutting them out of the supply chain for the other products they needed to run a successful business.

    It was another example of unintended consequences, like the oil crisis in the 1970’s destroyed the majority of the independent gas station owners and left only the corporate chain stations. Many of the independents who went out of business in the 1970’s were selling gasohol and got cut off from fuel deliveries from the major oil chains. They always got their fuel deliveries late, or simply got driven out of business by corporate chain stations down the street selling gasoline at prices below their wholesale prices.

    Larry

  180. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    “I think his red herring of MTBE in the groundwater is just that, a red herring to boost ethanol.”

    Whatever then ins and outs of the ethanol issue, MTBE in groundwater is certainly not a red herring, it’s a bit of a nightmare for those involved in drinking water treatment. Treatment processes that are generally effective for other trace organic micropollutants that turn up in groundwaters – for example pesticides, industrial solvents – struggle with MTBE (basically because it is much more soluble than these other contaminants) and operating costs rise accordingly (largely, directly or indirectly, energy costs).

  181. 220mph says:
    March 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    …THere are MANY peer reviewed works that clearly show the current yield for corn based ethanol averages appx 1.6 units of energy produced for every unit of energy expended in production. Some processes are getting well over 2 to 1 for corn.

    Cellulosic biomass processes have matured and are starting to come online commercially – with Net energy yields as high as 7 to 8 units produced for each unit of energy expended….

    That is remarkable. It is far better than what one would expect from a perpetual motion process. No wonder so many people fall for it, although I think it is generally true that no one falls for perpetual motion anymore.

    It seems to me that important assertions like that deserve citations of the research supporting them.

  182. G. Karst,

    “Now, put yourself, in the shoes of the poor, starving Chinese, who must endure hunger as they witness us drive around blowing corn fumes out our asses.

    How long before they move on us? GK.”

    The Chinese would then use some of the $2 trillion of US debt they are holding and purchase as much grain as they need. As they release these dollars onto the market, the dollar will decline rapidly in value and inflation will be imported into the US. As a consequence, interest rates will rise as investors attach a risk premium to hold US debt. I think it will be the US citizens who will be the most upset.

  183. I think a lot of basics are being glossed over in this discussion. I don’t necessarily think that because the USA squanders 40% of our corn crop on making alcohol that anyone in the world is starving. The effect is to drive corn prices up because of demand. The price of the grain in a box of cereal was a foolish example. But if you grow cattle, hogs or chickens the market price of feed grain plays a very significant role in what you must charge for your product in order to make a profit. We all pay disproportionately more for food than we did 10 years ago. A good measure of this disproportionate increase can be attributed to ethanol mandates. We’re not starving anyone, but ethanol artificially inflates the market value of grains (corn and substitute grains) and drives most prices upwards. The net effect is that the consumer pays more for food because government mandates ethanol use in motor fuel. It is an artificial market distortion.

    Why would we even WANT to burn ethanol in our cars? Well…the rationale I keep hearing is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The USA only produces 35% of the oil we consume. We import the rest. Has ethanol production or mandated use significantly affected a change in the amount of oil we import? No. Oh, some have argued that each gallon of ethanol produced is one less gallon of oil we had to import but this cannot be demonstrated by the numbers. If it has made even a small impact on our imports it came at a dear cost. We have to factor in not just the market price of the ethanol that’s blended in our motor fuel but the taxpayer subsidies we paid to have it produced and subsequently blended plus the additional amount we have to pay for food. If one could factor in each component of the expense one would realize it’s cheaper to buy foreign oil.

    Do we lust for ethanol because it’s SO much friendlier than that evil MTBE? Well…not really. The toxicity of MTBE has been greatly exaggerated and it got into ground water via leaking tanks (which would have leaked anything that was in them). MTBE stinks. People notice it. Ethanol is not necessarily a superior anti-knock agent/oxygenator. Ethanol added to gasoline does NOT produce a product that produces less pollution. It has been argued that it is MORE polluting, but I’m willing to leave it as a wash. We do know that ethanol in gasoline results in diminished fuel mileage. This effect is NOT “negligible”. I have personally noticed about a 10% attenuation in my gas mileage in two different vehicles. A diminution in mpg of 5-15% is very commonly reported. This is not negligible.

    So…if we don’t dilute our gasoline with ethanol to effectively diminish our imports of foreign oil or because it’s the best fuel oxygenator or because it burns cleaner or because it will prevent global warming or because it increases fuel efficiency…WHY do we do it? Your best answers will be found from corn growers, ethanol producers, ethanol blenders and the politicians they own. Taxpayers? Not so much…

    There are a LOT of agricultural subsidies. If they went away tomorrow people would still have to eat, the market would correct following the removal of the artificial distortion. The same is true for all the unnecessary energy subsidies. But if subsidies and government mandates for “renewable” energy, and ethanol in particular, were to “go away” these industries would wither and die very quickly. The reason is that there is no good reason for ethanol.

    Let’s test the theory. End the mandate and the subsidies and let’s see what happens.

  184. I think it’s because the real factors in almost all commodity prices are market driven and energy costs drive much of that.

    Government mandates, subsidies and tariffs are not market forces. So I am well aware the price of ethanol has nothing to do with real factors.

    Also, it’s a bit dishonest to figure in ethanol subsidies while ignoring oil subsidies. It makes your comments less credible.

    Oh, please add them in. Make sure to divide by total domestic oil production!

  185. “G. Karst says:
    March 6, 2011 at 8:13 am
    I think it might be useful to imagine a real life scenario.

    Sometime in the near future China and India has a major crop failure, and these countries begin to starve. Here in N. America we stop exporting grains, to reserve, our supplies, to ensure, we do not run out.

    As China starves, we continue driving around, blowing corn fumes out our tailpipes. How are we going to feel, at this time?”

    No this is the scenario to think through.

    If there is corn grown for ethanol, this will certainly be diverted into the food chain in this case and be highly beneficial. The chinese would pay any price and politicians in the US would order this food aid.

    All or most of this reserve would not exist without ethanol conversion. Actually even part of the food corn would not have been planted worldwide, if prices were as low as they used to be.

    Ethanol production is highly beneficial for world food security.

  186. hotrod ( Larry L ), “The picture is a little more complicated that you want to present the Poptech. The volstad act (Prohibition) did not explicitly prohibit fuel ethanol, and denatured ethanol was still “legal”, it just became unavailable in the open market. By outlawing beverage alcohol they destroyed the industry that would create an adequate supply of fuel ethanol.

    As prohibition was seen to be a soon to be imposed fact, the capital investment and plants of the large scale ethanol producers became nearly worthless, and were sold at fire sale prices many to the Rockefellers (oil industry), and all their skilled brewers and the chemists that supported them were diverted into either the oil industry or went underground into the boot leg industry.

    What you are saying is illogical. If ethanol fuel/additive was economically viable they would have switched to making that. Gasoline put ethanol out of business because it was cheaper. It has nothing to do with Prohibition.

    At that time the wide spread network of service stations to provide fuel for transportation did not exist,

    They didn’t exist for the oil industry either when it was started.

    That concentrated the source of transportation fuel directly in the hands of a defacto monopoly in the oil companies and their suppliers. Even after prohibition was ended, that oil monopoly continued to squash small businesses that sold fuel ethanol.

    One of their tactics was to black ball fuel distributors that sold ethanol for “bad business ethics”, and refused to sell them kerosene or other petroleum products. In short the oil industry at that time ran a protection racket out in the open, and destroyed any business that sold fuel ethanol, by cutting them out of the supply chain for the other products they needed to run a successful business.

    That is all conspiratorial nonsense and would not prevent a cheaper fuel from coming to market. Whatever kerosene or petroleum products they refused to sell, you could buy through a third party. Only the government can stop trade not any one company.

    It was another example of unintended consequences, like the oil crisis in the 1970′s destroyed the majority of the independent gas station owners and left only the corporate chain stations. Many of the independents who went out of business in the 1970′s were selling gasohol and got cut off from fuel deliveries from the major oil chains. They always got their fuel deliveries late, or simply got driven out of business by corporate chain stations down the street selling gasoline at prices below their wholesale prices.

    The oil crisis in the 70s was caused by government price controls on oil enacted under Nixon. Why would a company willfully help their competitor put them out of business? It is illogical and bad business. The fact remained ethanol was still not cheaper than gasoline, it was not used then and now for the same reason. All you have are silly conspiracy theories that have no basis in economics.

  187. Larry, 220mph, Richard M,

    1. Why do you support government welfare for corn farmers?

    2. Why are you against consumers freely choosing to buy gasoline without ethanol?

    3. Why are you against consumers freely choosing to buy ethanol from Brazil?

  188. Richard M, “Well, I see the usual discussion of ethanol has taken place. It really is sad to see the normally skeptical WUWT readers being sucked in by the bad press on ethanol. You guys are smart enough to read past the lies on AGW, if you took a few minutes to apply the same critical thinking to the ethanol question you would be much better off.

    Yeah we are skeptical of a “fuel” that requires government mandates, subsidies and protection tariffs to even exist. We are reading past the lies promoting ethanol very well thank you,

    Myth: Ethanol is Great (Video) (5min) (ABC News)

  189. This talk about how ethanol somehow is bad for engines is baloney. My small engines, 2 lawnmowers, 4 wheeler, 100cc dirt bike, snowblower are all several years old, a couple over 10 and the only difference I have seen is that since I started using the E10 I can get them started much much easier.

    When it comes to big motors, the only problem I have had is that the rest of the car falls apart before the engine gives me trouble. One car had 350,000 miles on it before my nephews girl friend wrecked the car. The engine was still running after the accident. Right now I have 1 car with 201,000 miles on it, one with 108,000 and my pickup that has 54,000 miles, using either E10 or E85. No problems here. Oh and my pontoon boats engine has been using E10 for the last 3 years as well with around 300 hours on it now, with no problems, and Yamaha supports it use in their outboard motors. Never mind the old gas tractors built in the 1950’s that have been running just fine for the last 30 years on E10 as well.

    If your having trouble with your small engines, it’s not the fuel you fools.

    Cropdoc

  190. Oh, please add them in. Make sure to divide by total domestic oil production!

    Ok, what is the price of the wars in the middle east? Do you believe we would be spending billions every day if it wasn’t for oil? Personally, I’m not one that claims gas would be over $10/gal if these costs were factored in, but I also don’t think the cost is zero as you claimed.

    The fact is the cost of food has been more impacted by transporation costs and monetary policies than corn for ethanol and it was predicted to happen by honest economists while ignored by the current administration.

    BTW, I am a big, big supporter of “drill baby, drill”. However, ignoring the facts just like alarmists do, does not help.

  191. 1. Why do you support government welfare for corn farmers?

    The govt subsidies go to the ethanol companies, not the farmers.

    2. Why are you against consumers freely choosing to buy gasoline without ethanol?

    I’m not against it. Why are you FOR increased dependence on foreign dictators for our energy supply?

    See how easy it is to frame a question that ignores many other aspects of the debate?

    3. Why are you against consumers freely choosing to buy ethanol from Brazil?

    Why are you FOR the destructive loss of jobs in the US? Increased imports, decreased exports, etc.?

    Once again it’s easy to frame a question that ignores what is really a more complex situation.

  192. Curiousgeorge has left the building…

    Using food to feed machines is evil. People in rich countries like us spend a very small proportion of our income on food. If the cost doubled tomorrow for whatever reason, only the poorest among us would feel the pinch and then there are plenty of soup kitchens and government assistance programs to make sure no one starves, (thanks to the surplus brought to us by free market capitalism). But in the third world, the cost of food can easily approach 100% of a family’s income so doubling the cost means starvation. When we’re done sucking up all we can of our own resources for ethanol we’ll start in on theirs buying the food right of the starving mouths of third world children in order to burn it in our automobiles.

    Call me conspiratorial but how do we know that starving the third world wasn’t an early consideration for mandating ethanol given that people like Obama’s Energy Czar, John Holdren, have been so concerned with controlling population since the 70’s? In Holdren’s “Ecoscience”, he and the Erlichs considered things like this as a ‘solution':

    Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective, despite widely varying doses received by individuals, and despite varying degrees of fertility and sensitivity among individuals; it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock.

    And that was aimed at US in these here United States so one can only imagine the veys people like him might want to solve 3rd world overpopulation.

  193. Poptech says:
    March 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Larry, 220mph, Richard M,

    1. Why do you support government welfare for corn farmers?

    2. Why are you against consumers freely choosing to buy gasoline without ethanol?

    3. Why are you against consumers freely choosing to buy ethanol from Brazil?

    1. — I don’t, the blenders tax credit goes to the oil companies not the farmers, as they are the ones that actually “blend” the ethanol with the gasoline.
    I do think the farmers should be able to sell their corn at a fair price over the cost of production rather than being paid price supports by the govt, or subsidize chicken growers like Tyson with artificially cheap feed.

    2. — I do not, I want blender pumps installed everywhere so people can dial the fuel blend they want to use, anywhere from straight gasoline to E85, like is done in some states now.

    3. — Because it would be stupid to trade Arab oil for Brazilian alcohol. You would be trading one sole source supplier for another sole source of a critical strategic resource.

    I want the the U.S. to have the standing capacity to produce enough fuel from their own sources, to keep the economy from cratering the next time foreign oil is cut off. The Arab oil embargo only reduced our transportation fuel supplies by about 10% and it nearly wrecked the economy and cost a whole lot of people their jobs, their life savings and their businesses and futures.

    I also want to keep the money spent on fuel in our economy instead of pumping up someone else’s economy.

    Larry

  194. @Richard M says:

    The fact is the cost of food has been more impacted by transporation costs and monetary policies than corn for ethanol

    You might want to reread the OP –

    As shown above, food prices surged to record levels in February despite February wheat and rice prices being essentially flat. Yet, February corn prices are up significantly even with 2010 being the 3rd largest U.S. corn crop ever. Why?

    Is corn somehow a lot more ‘transportation intensive’ then wheat or rice?

  195. 220mph says:
    March 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm
    Don Shaw says:
    Ethanol from cellulosic feed has failed miserably to provide the promised supply of ethanol as mandated from the EPA.

    Sorry 220, The reason Range fuels and other plants are not working is that the technology does not work on a commercial scale. Range fuels has not produced ethanol, they switched to methanol which has no real value. Their failure has nothing to do with the economy except that nobody wanted to throw more money after bad including the government.

    Also you are wrong, The EPA depended on these plants to produce commercial quanities of Ethanol starting in 2009 and and these plants have failed to meet the mandated expectations. Unfortunately except for the Wall Street Journal and a few other sources, the problem was not reported.
    One would not expect MSNBC to honestly report these problems with ethanol supply would you?
    Read more here

    http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2011/02/17/the-medias-role-in-the-range-fuels-fiasco/

  196. The discussion is focusing too much on past results of ethanol (pimentel/patzek), the now (Wang, DOE, EPA, subsidies, mandates, etc.) and not enough focus on the potential that bio-energy has.
    The ethanol-naysayers (I’m sorry guys) are woefully mis informed on how our agriculture system works and uses simplistic (and wrong) assumptions in regards to cause and effect on food prices and an increase in transportation fuels from renewables . The pro guys have made valid points but need to admit that the market must ultimately pass judgement on renewables without trade/market distorting policies.
    I am a corn, soybean, wheat farmer. I do not grow “food”. I grow raw materials that have many diverse uses in the manufacturing, feed, energy and food industries. I am also a stockholder in many of the companies that utilize my products. I have a vested interest in making sure that there are multiple endusers competing for my products.

    The “anti” folks here are missing a key point that I would like them to consider. Oil efficiency is at or near its limit and in some areas (production for one) is declining One barrel of oil can only make a finite amount of products. Increase efficiency of oil products can only come from changes in utilization, ie. lighter cars, hybrids etc. So any increase in demand or disruption in supply has an explosive effect on price—as we are seeing today.
    For ethanol the opposite is true. When I started my farming career in the late ’70s, ethanol production from a bushel of corn ratio was about 1.8 to 2.0 depending on the process and we were producing about 115 bu of corn/acre (national ave). Today that same ratio is 2.8-3.0 and producing 170 bu/acre national average. By 2030, it is likely that corn production on a per acre basis will be over 300 bu/acre. And we do not know what that “production limit” for corn is—or if there is one.
    So, looking to the future, it is obvious that as petroleum costs continue to rise and agricultural efficiency continues to rise the need for any subsidation of renewable products will be a moot point. When do we get to that point? If present short-term trends continue, it will be sooner rather than later. But all this blather about energy content per gallon of ethanol vs gas is irrelevant if the real cost per mile for ethanol goes down while the cost per mile for petroleum goes up.

  197. Anthony,

    High food prices are NOT caused by corn ethanol production. They are caused by high oil prices period! As oil prices go up there is a direct correlation to increased commodity prices, which is also a function of the Feds printing money policy which lowers the value of the dollar. The US is in the process of exporting record amounts of corn overseas this marketing year. The other little fact you are missing is that nearly a third of the 40% of corn used for ethanol is returned as feed (18 pounds of DDGs’/56 pounds of corn). In the 2011 crop year there will be approximately 92 million acres of corn raised and with normal trend level yields the supply of corn carryout will increase once again. But if oil and gasoline prices remain high as they are today, the profitability of processing corn to ethanol will continue to encourage more production as it did back in 2006/7 when the last major expansion took place. Only now while there is a mandate for around 13 billion gallons the upper limit is 15 billion gallons of corn based biofuels, so the growth will be limited to maxing out the current ethanol plants, not the construction of new ones. So, as corn yields continue to climb the corn producer will be faced with the age old problem of too much corn available for the marketplace and will change his planting intentions to the most profitable crop dictated by the markets.

    Cropdoc

  198. Randy says:
    March 6, 2011 at 6:35 am
    “Ethanol production continues to increase in efficiency. The latest numbers from USDA’s 2008 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry report show for every British Thermal Unit (BTU) of energy used to make ethanol, 2.3 BTUs were produced. This is a marked improvement from the last report in 2004 when it took 1.76 units of energy to make 2.3 BTUs of energy. The report goes on to say efficiency will continue to improve as the ethanol process evolves requiring less corn per gallon of ethanol plus increasing corn yields will mean more ethanol per acre”

    I have carefully read the USDA study and unfortunately one finds that they distribute the energy input to the process amongst all the output (by mass) including waste, byproducts, as well as the intended product, ethanol.
    Since there is a lot of byproduct (by mass) in the processing of ethanol, their distribution of the energy consumed is unrealistic since a lot of the energy consumed is assigned to waste.
    A realistic approach would be to assign all the energy input into the farming, fertilizer, manufacture and distribution, etc to ethanol only.
    The USDA rational is that someday someone will find a way to make fuel with the byproducts such as cellulosic ethanol production which has not worked commercially to date.
    No real business would survive if they assigned a portion of the energy costs to their waste in pricing a product.

  199. Richard M, “The govt subsidies go to the ethanol companies, not the farmers.

    That is not what I said, U.S. Corn Subsidies

    I’m not against it. Why are you FOR increased dependence on foreign dictators for our energy supply?

    I am for buying my energy from whomever sells it to me cheaper. Also I already posted debunking this myth,

    5 Myths About Breaking Our Foreign Oil Habit (The Washington Post)

    Why are you FOR the destructive loss of jobs in the US? Increased imports, decreased exports, etc.?

    I am always for the destruction of inefficient jobs that someone else can do more efficiently. There is no set fixed amount of jobs that just get “lost”. I want to increase jobs in this country and that means cheap energy.

    So I see you are anti-consumer choice.

  200. ” What I don’t understand is how you can, with any intelligence at all, justify putting food in your tank, when you can’t eat oil.”

    I’m not anymore. I switched from Arco (10% ethanol) to Chevron – no ethanol but at least 18 cents more a gallon. Which translates to about $3.58, and climbing every time I get gas!
    Hopefully the MPG will go back up to the miserable levels I was getting when I first bought this piece of plastic Korean trash.

  201. jimlion offers a very interesting comment and makes several astute observations from the perspective of a raw material producer. Me…I’m just a hapless consumer. I’m curious Sir, do you receive any government agriculture subsidies? The libertarian in me longs for the end to all subsidies. A whole lot of agriculture and virtually ALL of energy is polluted with federal subsidies. A coal fired power plant receives $0.40 per MWH of electricity produced. A wind farm receives about $23.50 per MWH. Why do we subsidize either of them? Subsidies of any product distort the free market. Subsidies are a form of central planning, a means for government and politicians to pick winners and losers.

    As near as I can tell this nonsense started with FDR in the 1930s. The government ordered the slaughter of thousands of animals to drive the market price up. The perverse thing is that this was done at a time when a significant proportion of the population was starving. Eventually farmers were compensated for NOT growing crops and to this day are rewarded for limiting how much they grow. This central control prevents the free market from functioning as it should. The free market is the most efficient means for allocating finite resources…and food and energy are finite resources.

    I am not necessarily opposed to ethanol as a motor fuel. I am opposed to the subsidies, mandates and tariffs. The mandates are particularly worrisome. What happens to our fuel supply in the event of a couple exceptionally bad growing seasons? Federal law dictates that we add ethanol as an adulterant to our gasoline. We would necessarily have to redirect feed stock into ethanol production at the same time the tariffs would effectively prevent importation of more cheaply produced foreign ethanol. This is idiocy!

    It is entirely possible that ethanol might become a cost-effective motor fuel additive all on its own. But it is NOT now. Right now it is little more than a government “make work” program that benefits farmers, ethanol producers, blenders and politicians. Maybe you can fuel a jetliner with ethanol, but I doubt it. I suspect those silly cavils about energy density, freeze points and chemical properties would get in the way.

    Remove the incentive for politicians to buy votes, get government central planners out of the equation and let the free market function. The true winners will come out on top. If ethanol truly has advantages then it will survive as a competitor in the liquid fuels energy market. If not it die a natural and well deserved death.

  202. You guys are getting to be like the warmists. Nope, the price spikes couldn’t possibly be related to toxic assets flowing into commodities or partially due to crop failures around the world; nope, it’s ethanol.

  203. hotrod ( Larry L ) “1. — I don’t, the blenders tax credit goes to the oil companies not the farmers, as they are the ones that actually “blend” the ethanol with the gasoline.

    No, corn subsidies.

    I do think the farmers should be able to sell their corn at a fair price over the cost of production rather than being paid price supports by the govt, or subsidize chicken growers like Tyson with artificially cheap feed.

    How is a fair price determined? Please provide the objective method that does this.

    2. — I do not, I want blender pumps installed everywhere so people can dial the fuel blend they want to use, anywhere from straight gasoline to E85, like is done in some states now.

    Then the ethanol industry can pay for it.

    3. — Because it would be stupid to trade Arab oil for Brazilian alcohol. You would be trading one sole source supplier for another sole source of a critical strategic resource.

    Allowing consumers to choose is stupid? Is Brazil a friendly or enemy country?

    I want the the U.S. to have the standing capacity to produce enough fuel from their own sources, to keep the economy from cratering the next time foreign oil is cut off. The Arab oil embargo only reduced our transportation fuel supplies by about 10% and it nearly wrecked the economy and cost a whole lot of people their jobs, their life savings and their businesses and futures.

    We do not have the capacity to be energy independent. While we can greatly increase our production if silly environmental restrictions are removed, it cannot replace foreign oil. U.S. government price controls caused the most damage not the embargo. So unless that happens again we will not have any sort of problem like we did. All the embargo could do is increase prices which encourages exploration. That is what led to Prudoe Bay and the North Sea.

    I also want to keep the money spent on fuel in our economy instead of pumping up someone else’s economy.

    So you believe international trade should be abolished? The Arab states have economically viable oil reserves, thus it is worth while to spend our money for their resource so we can have cheap energy which grows our economy. Not using their resources only hurts our economy because the alternative is higher energy prices. There is no economic magic you can use to avoid dealing with the reality of prices.

  204. Poptech ignores my comment about complexity and says:

    So I see you are anti-consumer choice.

    To this the obvious simplistic answer. Many consumers love redistribution of wealth, especially of the liberal persuasion. So, since you are pro-consumer choice then you are clearly FOR it as well. See how easy it is to turn silly simplistic responses against you.

  205. Richard M, “Ok, what is the price of the wars in the middle east? Do you believe we would be spending billions every day if it wasn’t for oil? Personally, I’m not one that claims gas would be over $10/gal if these costs were factored in, but I also don’t think the cost is zero as you claimed.

    Not at all, I believe those countries should provide their own security. I think we should get completely out of the Middle East. Regardless, since we are there I believe Iraq should be paying us back the full cost of the war in oil.

    The fact is the cost of food has been more impacted by transporation costs and monetary policies than corn for ethanol and it was predicted to happen by honest economists while ignored by the current administration.

    Sure, millions of acres used to grow corn to be burned has no affect on food prices if that same land was used to grow food to eat.

  206. rbateman;
    Global Traders seek to sell commodities as far afield as possible from point of origin to command the hightest prices.>>>

    Odd. You can increase the price of something just by shipping it a long way? The customers pay more for commodities shipped long distances than locally produced commodities of the same quality?

    Must be some pretty stupid customers. I bet they could be talked into fending off mass crop failure from global warming by burning their own food too.

    Next they’ll be pointing at rising food prices caused by burning the food plus massive crop failures caused by frost, snow, record low temperatures and saying “see? its happening already! Global warming! We TOLD you! NOW will you listen to us? And about burning the food? We’re not burning enough! We have to double our efforts! Burn more! Burn More! We have to save the world from starvation! Burn it ALL!”

    Nobody could be that stupid.

  207. Larry,

    “By outlawing beverage alcohol they destroyed the industry that would create an adequate supply of fuel ethanol.”

    Your arguements are nonsensical.

    You first claim that ethanol was the dominant auto fuel prior to prohibition, then claim that a beverage alcohol industry was necessary to have an adequate supply of fuel ethanol, then claim that prohibition outlawed the thriving ethanol fuel industry over night, while admitting that prohibition did not outlaw fuel alcohol. Pick a lane.

    “As prohibition was seen to be a soon to be imposed fact, the capital investment and plants of the large scale ethanol producers became nearly worthless, …”

    For beverage alcohol. That equipment would still have been quite valuable to the “thriving ethanol fuel industry” which you alternately claim existed, and did not. And that equipment would have been dirt cheap. And no longer in competition for the corn crop with beverage alcohol, which would have made the feedstock for “the dominant auto fuel” that much cheaper. You are looking at what would have been huge boons to the ethanol fuel industry, and describing them as the means by which the “thriving ethanol fuel industry” was killed. The term for this is “cognative dissonance”.

    It is very similar to the way that you claim that ethanol is a better, cheaper fuel, but that it cannot compete without massive subsidy, protectionist tarrifs, and government mandated use.

    These are the symptoms of someone who has a conclusion that they are pushing, and applying whatever justification they can wave hands around.

  208. Cropdoc says:
    March 6, 2011 at 10:20 am

    “This talk about how ethanol somehow is bad for engines is baloney.”

    _____________________________________________________

    I wish that was a fact. Unfortunately it is not correct.

    Last year many folks found they had a generator that turned out to be a paper weight as a direct result of Corn Gas. The same thing has happened to many small engines. I speak from direct and first hand experience.

    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/may/30/hurricane-season-ethanol-gas-left-generators-may-d/

    Aside from the food implications, you cannot :

    You cannot pipe it. It must be trucked

    It is 30% less efficient than regular gas. .

    It has a net negative value when all of the necessary things to produce it are considered (planting, fertilizing, harvesting, manufacturing, trucking etc)

    All things considered, if it was a viable fuel, it would not need to be subsidized. The market would have carried it on its own. Now switch grass versions may be different.

    The studies are out there if you care tore search them.

  209. Al Gore and the Democrats should be indicted and tried in Nuremberg. Along with all the other asshat AGW proponents. They are going to cause or have caused evil and starvation that will make Mao and Stalin look like girl scouts.

  210. The reason they use corn to make ethanol is its high Sugar content… wouldn’t it be much wiser to use sugar cane?… In cane growing countries they could mix 50% new Cane to 50% processed Cane ( Cane that has had the molasses removed which is still very High in sugar per Kilo ) we don’t use Sugar to feed cattle, pigs, ( people in North america eat far too much sugar anyway ) sugar cane can yield 3 crops a year and would grow like mad in The southern U.S, Central america, The islands, and south america, But the Big corporate Farming conglomerates saw a chance to Jack the price of corn toextortionate rates and thats why the lobbied the govts for funding to setup “alternative green fuel manufacturing centres based on ethenol “…. these with half a brain argfued against this as they knew what would happen…but the Green Nazi’s and Corporate farmers, both wanted it so the govt’s Caved in…. and look where its got us now!
    Lets start the push to use sugar cane, and other High glucose/fructose sources rather than corn in the production of ethanol…ethanol is a great Idea…using Corn to make it IS NOT!

  211. Sure, millions of acres used to grow corn to be burned has no affect on food prices if that same land was used to grow food to eat.

    But it is not burned. As has been explained many times, the process produces almost as much feedstock as would have been provided anyway. Your dishonest replies give you away. Just like alarmists, you ignore the facts when presented to reach the conclusion you want. Very sad.

  212. 220mph says:
    March 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    “So it is TRUE you get lower MPG with ethanol. But the rest of the facts are that ethanol is SIGNIFICANTLY LESS EXPENSIVE as well. ”
    ===============
    Is not, the reason it is less expensive, due to taxpayer subsidies??

  213. Don’t bitch about the “price” of corn if:

    you’ve never worked on a farm
    you’re overweight-quit eating so much
    you drive a gashog
    you’ve never sucked down milo dust that festers every joint and makes your eyes swell shut
    you’ve determined that inflation adjusted corn price is too high, which it isn’t.

    We have enough grain to feed the world; See FAO-ending feed stocks.

    At some point, things will change, right now, you sound like selfish whiners.

  214. “As has been explained many times, the process produces almost as much feedstock as would have been provided anyway.”

    Ooohh! Magic!

    No it doesnt.

    In livestock feed, corn is used for energy. You can not suck any substantial amount of energy out of the feed, and claim that what remains is ‘almost as much’. In reality, distilling corn reduces the quantity (dry weight) by 2/3, and the starch (carbohydrate energy) content of what remains is reduced by 95%.

    Further, distillers grain cannot make up more than about 20% of a cows diet before production suffers.

  215. DaveS (March 6, 2011 at 9:07 am) you said MTBE is a nightmare for groundwater treatment. That is looking at it narrowly. MTBE is rarely going to leak into groundwater unless gasoline goes along with it. The MTBE mixes with the water much more easily. However, ethanol mixed with gasoline will allow the components of the gasoline to permeate the ground and mix into the groundwater.

    Here’s the link: http://ascelibrary.org/eeo/resource/1/joeedu/v128/i9/p862_s1?isAuthorized=no which says “Overall, the preferential degradation of ethanol and the accompanying depletion of oxygen and other electron acceptors hindered BTEX biodegradation, which suggests that ethanol could increase the length of BTEX plumes.” IOW, because ethanol mixed 50/50 with gasoline hindered the natural biodegradation of the nasty stuff (BTEX) in gasoline, the nasty stuff has the potential of getting further into the water supply.

    The bottom line is that natural dirt biodegrades all the bad things in gas, oil and diesel. But add enough ethanol to the mix and the good guys in the dirt get killed off.

  216. With all the comments, I don’t know if this has been addressed. Cotton prices the last six months are through the roof (thank you QE2). A lot of farmers in my corner of the country (Southern Plains) are converting from corn to cotton this year. With food supply already being diverted to fuel, and corn prices are already high, what will happen to corn prices when less acres are planted? Just wonderin’….

  217. Mike M says:
    March 6, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Curiousgeorge has left the building…

    No I haven’t. Just been watching from the sidelines.

    To those who felt it necessary to castigate me for opining that the headliner of this thread was simplistic, I will also opine that the subsequent conversations tend to vindicate my original post.

    Thanks for the fun. :D

  218. OssQss,

    Your article about generators: Did you actually read it, because the mechanic says ethanol may be the problem, but that improper maintenance is the main cause.

    Do you know what gas stabilizers are made from? They are alcohol primarily, so if you use E10, you have stabilized gas, no need to add any.

    Ethanol can be transported in pipelines period. It just needs to be a dedicated pipeline not the type that most are today carrying different products different seasons of the year.

    Ethanol is a viable industry. The blenders’ credit goes to the blenders-oil companies, it was the trade off the oil industry demanded for the replacement of MTBE by ethanol. And since an acre of land producing 200 bushel of corn yields 580 gallons of ethanol at 2.40/gallon today the gross dollars is $1,380/acre. Since cost/acre to put an acre of corn in today is around $800/acre in Iowa, land costs included that leaves $580/acre above and beyond the cost of growing the corn ethanol. Ethanol companies have recently reported quarter earnings of $0.23/gallon of production profit, and remember they are not the ones getting the blenders credit of $0.45/gallon, the retail gas distributer gets that.

    The reduction in mpg is not 30% for E85 compared to gasoline. My experience is about 20% at the most, less if I am pulling a trailer, then maybe 10% if that as it sucks with both around 9 mpg. Otherwise I get about 14 with E85 and 17 with E10. E10 and ethanol free gas gives me the same mileage in both my cars and truck, I’ve tried them all.

    I suggest you take your own advice and check your facts.

    Cropdoc

  219. Interesting comments with a big focus on corn. The plants I worked on in the 80’s and 90’s were all WHEAT based. Same wheat we use in food and feed, along with Barley.

    Mix wet wheat byproducts with Barley for cattle feed.

    Ethanol in those days was only viable with subsidies related to ethanol and the cattle feed industry.

    Energy ratios for ethanol just above 1 for corn and wheat, up to 8 for sugar cane, 5 for gasoline on most sources.

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/08/north-americas-largest-wheat-ethanol-plant-opens-in-canada.php

  220. Cropdoc,
    Suggest you read the study below about the corrosive nature of ethanol.
    You are right, if one tries to ship in a pipeline, it cannot be shipped in a pipe line that is used for other fuel shipments. The liquid fuel and natural gase suppliers have established a huge network of pipeline paid for by the private sector and don’t want to destroy it with ethanol. They do an excellent job using pigs to ship a variety of products through an individual pipeline without problems. They are smart enough not to ship ethanol since it would cause huge problems.
    One of the significant issues we face is that major marine engine mfg. will not warrenty engines with over 10% ethanol. For those of us who lay up our boats in the winter, E 10 causes problems since the fuel will adsorb moisture over a short period. The shel life of E 10 fuel is several months, not 7 months.
    Numerous boat owners have already spent a fortune repairing fuel systems in equipment that is not run frequently. Thats a fact that you cannot deny!!
    I need carburator work every spring after lay up.

    Re shipping in a dedicated pipeline, there is still signifiicant risk that the ethanol will pick up water being hydroscopic and cause problems. The product is exposed to the atmosphere in various storage tanks on the way, thus shipment is normally via tank car or truck using fossil fuels.

    A clarification, the blenders are forced to introduce the ethanol in the fuel by the government. To suggest that the farmers and ethanol producers do not benefit from this boggles my mind. This is the point where the feds collect the road taxes and if you are going to subdize ethanol this is the place since it reduces the road tax that is paid. The $$$ still flow to the feds. No one is foolish to mix the ethanol earlier since the entire batch could be ruined by the short shelf life of ethanol. It is disingenuous to suggest that this is a subsidy to the fossil industry rather than the ethanol industry. Of course it makes good press to mislead the public and count it as a subsidy for fossil fuels.

    http://www.saeindia.org/Control/download_file/12~22~2008~12~34~40~PM/129.pdf

  221. Cropdoc,
    You are confused, the stabilizer I put in my boat gas tanks in the fall is not ethanol.
    We used to put dry gas in our autos in the winter to remove water. That’s not what we stabilize our gas with anymore.

  222. ‘High food prices were among the triggers of street protests that recently swept North Africa, where wheat dominates the region’s diet. Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of the grain. Governments across Asia are using subsidies and price controls to shield their consumers from inflation.”

    http://tinyurl.com/4cbcskt

  223. Lerry (hotrod) and 220 mph.

    I noticed that you 2 hopped on board when the discussion regarding corn to ethanol began on this board. I think that you are both promoting an agenda.

    Larry, the first shift began with you at 4:07 pm on 3/5/11 with 13 long comments over a 6-hour period. I assume that you had a break between 7:00 and 8:00 pm or were you updating 220 mph as he/she came on shift. You apparently had about a 1 hour overlap as 220 mph began posting at 8:42 pm on 3/5/11 220 mph, posting long comments only 2 minutes apart and totaled 11 ea over the next 7 ½ hours ……..WOW!!!

    You 2 must be really fast thinkers and writers and researchers to compose such posts with such efficiency. Or could it be that you are part of a team (think boiler room) to crash any discussion involving ethanol. I don’t remember the tags/handles used, but I saw a very similar approach on theoildrum.com several months back. It seems that the arguments were the same also. It was fairly obvious then too. I guess that when the $$$ dollars at stake are as high as it is with keeping the corn to ethanol myth alive, a boiler room with pre-composed, cut and past, arguments to post on the internet blogs would be a good investment from a business standpoint. Just another consensus, I guess.

    If I have the time, I’ll check back with theoildrum.com and leave references on this site. Who knows, maybe someone has been plagiarizing your work.

    The arguments that were presented there were just flat wrong re: ‘the great value in using E10 and E15’. That was a dead giveaway then and is the same here. Using E10 when it became mandated dropped my hwy mileage from 20+ to less than 14 mpg. I spent a lot of time and money trying to fix a problem that didn’t exist, and when I found an independent gasoline retailer with pure gasoline, mileage went back up to 20. If I had the time now, I could pick your posts on this board apart. I am a “lurker” and seldom post, but if that were you and your crew posting on the oil drum, had I had the time I would have torn those posts up big time.

    So I feel fairly confident that you may be a shill for the ethanol lobby. That is my personal consensus.

  224. b Barker says:
    March 6, 2011 at 6:57 am
    Here is a link to USDA Grains: World Markets and Trade Archives. It is a good thing that CO2 is at 390ppm now contributing to world wheat and coarse grain yields which are half again as high as they were 30 years ago. Then again, increased CO2 may not have contributed anything to yield. Anyone know the answer?

    The answer is…
    570 results from experimental and Real World tests of a 300 ppm increase from ambient in hundreds of studies of rice, wheat, corn and soy…

    Triticum aestivum L. [Common Wheat]
    Statistics
    300 ppm
    Number of Results 235
    Arithmetic Mean 32.1% increase in dry bio mass
    Standard Error 1.8%

    Glycine max (L.) Merr. [Soybean]
    Statistics
    300 ppm
    Number of Results 179
    Arithmetic Mean 46.5%
    Standard Error 2.8%

    Zea mays L. [Corn]
    Statistics
    300 ppm
    Number of Results 20
    Arithmetic Mean 21.3%
    Standard Error 4.9%

    Triticum aestivum L. [Common Wheat]
    Statistics
    300 ppm
    Number of Results 235
    Arithmetic Mean 32.1%
    Standard Error 1.8%

    Corn, soy wheat and rice all grow significantly quicker, produce greater bio-mass. endure heat cold and drought better, when exposed to 300 ppm increase in CO2.

    Water and land are a resource. It is not rationally disputable that the more land and water that is devoted to corn for fuel, raises the cost of both land and water. The reasons for food prices rising are multiple, Corn fuel is one of those reasons.

  225. Blaming global warming scare for biofuels production and biofuels for world hunger is an easy takeaway in public discussions, because most people are so poorly informed but still have strong opinions.

    When one of the prominent sceptics uses this easy shot, it will probably be the moment, when the camera shows the CNN host nodding emphatically. But I still think sceptics should leave this out and stick to facts and not emotions. Eventually only this will pay off.

    AGW alarmists like Gore and his ilk have no problem to give up biofuels. This would actually make them look self critical and balanced in the eyes of the uninformed, even though they sacrificed a good thing to continue to persue their bad agenda.

  226. Poptech says:
    March 6, 2011 at 7:50 am
    220mph, “Higher fuel prices? …. nope

    Ethanol, even E85, costs LESS – not more – than gasoline – per e85prices.com the national avg is $2.90 for e85 and $3.48 for gasoline (E10) – a 16.6% savings
    In my area I pay $2.59 for e85 and $3.38 for gas (e10) – or 23% LESS for e85 … this trend largely holds for areas where e85 is prevalent”

    Sorry but the national average is 16% without adjusting for BTU or subsidies.

    $3.503 – Regular Gasoline (AAA)
    $2.929 – E85 (AAA)

    Now lets get the actual price of E85,

    $3.854 – E85 BTU Adjusted Price (AAA)
    +0.450 – VEETC Subsidy (U.S. Department of Energy)
    $4.304 – E85 BTU and Subsidy Adjusted Price

    So much for that!

    meaningless pablum …

    I and others presented real world cost per mile numbers based on real prices of e85 and gas (e10) and real world MPG comparisons … I showed in my personal case I pay appx 23% less for e85 than gas (e10) – and that when using ethanol I get appx 19% lower MPG … for a net positive balance when I use e85 – others (or if you use sticker numbers) experience a slight net loss in mileage

    You choose to ignore real world data – presenting meaningless

  227. eyesonu says:
    March 7, 2011 at 12:11 am
    Lerry (hotrod) and 220 mph.

    I noticed that you 2 hopped on board when the discussion regarding corn to ethanol began on this board. I think that you are both promoting an agenda.

    Larry, the first shift began with you at 4:07 pm on 3/5/11 with 13 long comments over a 6-hour period. I assume that you had a break between 7:00 and 8:00 pm or were you updating 220 mph as he/she came on shift. You apparently had about a 1 hour overlap as 220 mph began posting at 8:42 pm on 3/5/11 220 mph, posting long comments only 2 minutes apart and totaled 11 ea over the next 7 ½ hours ……..WOW!!!

    You 2 must be really fast thinkers and writers and researchers to compose such posts with such efficiency. Or could it be that you are part of a team (think boiler room) to crash any discussion involving ethanol

    what a ridiculous, if not expected, statement … I have no clue who Larry is …. I have zero ties to the ethanol industry, and I was an ethanol skeptic before I became a proponennt

    The classi mark of one who cannot debate facts and issues is when they attack individuals rather than ideas …

    congratulations – you would make a perfect warming alarmist

  228. eyesonu says:
    Lerry (hotrod) and 220 mph.

    I noticed that you 2 hopped on board when the discussion regarding corn to ethanol began on this board. I think that you are both promoting an agenda.

    The arguments that were presented there were just flat wrong re: ‘the great value in using E10 and E15’. That was a dead giveaway then and is the same here. Using E10 when it became mandated dropped my hwy mileage from 20+ to less than 14 mpg. I spent a lot of time and money trying to fix a problem that didn’t exist, and when I found an independent gasoline retailer with pure gasoline, mileage went back up to 20. If I had the time now, I could pick your posts on this board apart. I am a “lurker” and seldom post, but if that were you and your crew posting on the oil drum, had I had the time I would have torn those posts up big time.

    So I feel fairly confident that you may be a shill for the ethanol lobby. That is my personal consensus.,/i>

    And therein is the proof … the ‘your positions and claims suck and I could make you look like idiots if I wanted, but I can’t be bothered’ approach … the normal tool of one who cannot intelligently rebut

    If you disagree then get off your lazy duff and make your case – including factual support for your claims and position

  229. David says:
    b Barker says:
    March 6, 2011 at 6:57 am
    Here is a link to USDA Grains: World Markets and Trade Archives. It is a good thing that CO2 is at 390ppm now contributing to world wheat and coarse grain yields which are half again as high as they were 30 years ago. Then again, increased CO2 may not have contributed anything to yield. Anyone know the answer?

    The answer is…
    570 results from experimental and Real World tests of a 300 ppm increase from ambient in hundreds of studies of rice, wheat, corn and soy…

    Corn, soy wheat and rice all grow significantly quicker, produce greater bio-mass. endure heat cold and drought better, when exposed to 300 ppm increase in CO2.

    Water and land are a resource. It is not rationally disputable that the more land and water that is devoted to corn for fuel, raises the cost of both land and water. The reasons for food prices rising are multiple, Corn fuel is one of those reasons.

    Your claim correctly noted that increased CO2 DOES increase growth – it correctly notes that it increases biomass … what you failed to include from the tudies looking at increased CO2 effet on corn growth is that they found that while biomass increased it was at the expense of the ‘energy’ content (my term) of the corn ….in simple terms there was more plant quanity but less corn quality – and in effect a lower yield …. increased CO2 would be excellent for cellulosic ethanol which uses biomass, but worse for corn based ethanol as the energy in the plant was lower

  230. 1. Farmers respond to higher prices by producing more food. Watch 2012.
    2. Farmers share of final price is c. 20% of consumer price (in europe)
    3. Share in 1960 greater than 40%
    4. Price spike is speculation.
    5. Fuel security is important.
    6. Farmers and consumers do not benefit from price volatility. Numerous examples include The N.E. COMPACT OF THE 1980S.
    7. Deal with it in the normal WUYT fashion, expert contributionplease.

  231. eyesonu says:
    March 7, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Lerry (hotrod) and 220 mph.

    If you spend a few minutes checking, you will find out I have been a regular participant on this forum for several years and post quite often on all manner of subjects including ethanol discussions. This is the first time I have ever seen 220mph post here. I have regularly posted on fuel ethanol for years on many forums because I got tired of folks who have no clue what they are talking about pushing bad information about it.

    Why did I have so many posts in such a short time — because I spent all but about 6 hours of the last 58 hours working on line from home, working on 3 different computers. In fact I am about to get the first full nights sleep since Thursday night as soon as I finish this post. This discussion was very helpful in keeping me focused and alert while I watched a complex computer job stream run to completion.

    I have driven with ethanol added fuel in my gas tank for over 30 years, and know it does not do harm to well cared for cars, and most of the “common knowledge” about ethanol in gasoline is not only wrong but in many cases the exact opposite of the truth. It sort of reminds me of the mis-information in the AGW community as a matter of fact. It is the scape goat for lots of mechanical problems and lots of mechanics use it as an excuse to rip off their customers for unnecessary repairs. I have used E85 in my personal cars for 8 years now, and I do encourage others to learn about it and use it if it fits their needs.

    I also post on lots of other forums about a variety of subjects and fuel ethanol is a topic I do regularly contribute on when it comes up on the forums I regularly visit, but the oil drum is not a forum I have ever visited except to occasionally follow links others have posted to some of their more amusing threads, and I do not post there.

    You can surmise what ever you want, but I do find it amusing that you are looking behind the curtains for some sinister plan, instead of looking at the information presented in this discussion and doing a little research on your own regarding fuel ethanol.

    If I am a shill I sure would like to know where my pay check is!

    Larry

  232. eyesonu, they are all shills for ethanol. It doesn’t matter in the least whether they are paid or coordinate. What I love the most is their “scientific” claims of mileage. They run their truck on crappy ethanol, it can barely get out of its own way, then they claim the mileage isn’t so bad. Well duh! You would think these farmers and farm help would have a sense of what is practical, but they are all buying into the same circle jerk.

  233. Richard M, “Poptech ignores my comment about complexity… To this the obvious simplistic answer. Many consumers love redistribution of wealth, especially of the liberal persuasion. So, since you are pro-consumer choice then you are clearly FOR it as well. See how easy it is to turn silly simplistic responses against you.

    But that has nothing to do with “consumer choice” which is an economic principle not a political one. Redistribution of wealth has nothing to do with consumer choice. You are confusing economic principles with political ones. All supporters of government intervention in the ethanol industry have the same problem and an inability to separate the two. What I have noticed is how easy it is to point out the logical fallacies in your arguments. Either you support free-markets or you support government intervention. So do you support government intervention? Because if you do then you are anti-consumer choice.

  234. 220mph, “meaningless pablum … I and others presented real world cost per mile numbers based on real prices of e85 and gas (e10) and real world MPG comparisons … I showed in my personal case I pay appx 23% less for e85 than gas (e10) – and that when using ethanol I get appx 19% lower MPG … for a net positive balance when I use e85 – others (or if you use sticker numbers) experience a slight net loss in mileage

    You choose to ignore real world data – presenting meaningless

    I provided national average prices between E85 and regular gasoline from AAA. Are you saying they are lying? That is a much more honest way then cherry picking prices from an ethanol friendly state like you did or the other extreme, California or Hawaii.

    Nothing you stated could be substantiated. You stating something is not “real world evidence” of anything. Everything I have shown has been supported with sources,

    2011 Fuel Economy Guide (PDF) (EPA, pp. 21-24)

    These numbers are confirmed in this study,

    E85 and fuel efficiency: An empirical analysis of 2007 EPA test data (PDF)
    (Energy Policy, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp. 1233-1235, March 2008)
    – Matthew C. Roberts

    This study utilizes 2007 EPA fuel economy test data to arrive at the conclusion that in the currently offered flex fuel vehicle fleet, the average difference in fuel economy from using E85 and gasoline cannot be distinguished from the energy differences between the two fuels. These vehicles, however, exhibit a range of fuel efficiency differentials, however, so that although the average fuel economy differential cannot be statistically distinguished from the energy differential, certain vehicular characteristics are strongly associated with a smaller differential.

    The usage of a BTU adjustment is a statistically accurate way to get a good estimate of the expected loss in fuel economy between ethanol blends and regular gasoline.

  235. 220mph, “I was an ethanol skeptic before I became a proponennt

    So are you also a proponent of government subsidies to corn farmers and the ethanol industry, government mandates and government tariffs that protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers?

  236. You are confusing economic principles with political ones.

    No, it’s more a false logic … exactly like you’ve been doing for your last several posts. Sorry if the fact that you’ve been making illogical statements over and over again has evaded you. I’m simply pointed out how easy it is to make illogical statements. Obviously went right over your head.

  237. So are you also a proponent of government subsidies to corn farmers and the ethanol industry, government mandates and government tariffs that protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers?

    Another example of illogical thinking. Just because a person may support subsidies to corn farmers and/or the ethanol industry does not imply anything else you wrote in that sentence. I can see why you can’t hold a conversation. You derail yourself from simple logic all the time. Do yourself a favor, take a simple course in logic.

  238. Dr Dave,
    Sorry for the response delay, but I had some Reallife things going on yesterday!
    You asked some important questions that deserve to answered.
    Corn subsidies–all kinds of people here throwing knives at subsidies–and rightly so–but not as big a deal as some here may think. Here’s an explanation of my Farm Program benefits.
    Every year, I sign a contract with the federal government that entitles me to program benefits if I farm a certain way. (mostly having to do with conservation practices)
    The program benefits can be seperated into 3 specific areas:
    1. Direct Payment: Is not crop specific. Payment is fixed and based on crop history and productivity. My payment amounts to roughly $18/acre. I do not know what the average is–but my payment is based on some pretty productive soils. To put that in perspective in my overall per/acre budget:
    Production 200 bu/acre
    Price $5.50/bushel (prices are spiking higher,but this what I can getnow)
    Total Gross Revenue: $1,100/ acre
    DCP Payment: $18.00/acre or approx. 2% of total gross revenue
    This payment used to be much higher as a percent of total revenue when corn prices were down around $2.00/bushel.
    2. Marketing Loan/Loan Deficiency Program
    A short explanation of this complicated program because it is simply not a factor and I have not benefitted from it in years—which is a really really good thing. Basically a counter-cyclical program. When crop prices plummet to extremely low level this program sets a floor price. The government would pay me the difference between the set market price and the floor price. Real life example: there was a period of time in the ’90s when corn prices plummeted to about $1.48/ bu. (dont look that up on CBOT charts you techies–its not there. Program based on cash price which is not CBOT futures price–cash nearly always lower) Floor price is (and still is today) $1.98/bu, so that year I recieved about a $0.50/bu payment on this program. It kept me in business in some very tough,tough times. The reason this program means very little today is pretty obvious, the floor price has not moved, but my costs have–dramatically. I’m underwater if corn prices would drop to $3.50/bu. I’m broke @ $1.98 and this doesnt kick in until lower than that.
    3. Crop Insurance : Federal government shares the cost (ok subsidizes) of nearly all crop insurance policies. Used to be that govt. share approached 50%, but that has reduced over time to where I think its around 35%. The reason behind govt. subsidy on crop insurance was to encourage farmers to adopt modern risk-management practices. Farmers overall are risk-adverse–but previous generations were also very suspicious of insurance, and insurance companies to indemnify their crop risk. Today a little over 70% of cropland in the US is covered by some type of insurance. There could be a whole discussion on when/if the govt should get out of the risk management business that is not germain here. My insurance premium last year was about $10,000 (I do not cover all my acres–different discussion), so my subsidy on insurance was about $3,500.
    That’s it–as you can see, Farm program is complicated (and I’ve have hugely simplified it here) but for a corn farmer in N. IL is not nearly as critical as is being made out here in this blog. In regards to being paid to fallow land that has been mentioned, the set-aside programs were phased out after the 1996 Farm Bill. The CRP program (Conservation Reserve Program) is not a set-aside program. The Federal government basically “rents” the acres enrolled and tells the owner what to grow on those acres.(usually prairie grasses/ shrubs) They are environmentally sensitive lands that have high erosion issues or have wildlife habitat benefits. The CRP lands are hugely popular with the duck/pheasant hunters in the pothill country in the Plains.
    Sorry to be so long-winded, and I hope that I answered your question.

  239. 220mph says:
    March 7, 2011 at 1:41 am

    “Your claim correctly noted that increased CO2 DOES increase growth – it correctly notes that it increases biomass … what you failed to include from the tudies looking at increased CO2 effet on corn growth is that they found that while biomass increased it was at the expense of the ‘energy’ content (my term) of the corn ….in simple terms there was more plant quanity but less corn quality – and in effect a lower yield …. increased CO2 would be excellent for cellulosic ethanol which uses biomass, but worse for corn based ethanol as the energy in the plant was lower”

    Dear 220, you have no idea what studies I looked at. In regard to “energy content” “your term” is not scientific at all. I showed several hundred results from over 50 studies. The result you speak of incidcated a possibility that there is a slight reduction, (about 7%) in protein concentration, but on overall increase of about 35% in bio mass. The end result of a SMALL decrease in concentration, but LARGE
    increase of mass is MORE, not lesss, It is simply less concentrated.

  240. @Gel says:March 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm The reason they use corn to make ethanol is its high Sugar content… wouldn’t it be much wiser to use sugar cane?

    That’s what they use in Brazil who produces more ethanol than we do and put up to 25% in their gasoline. It doesn’t affect the Amazon rain forest… YET. You could say that our tariff protections against cheap Brazilian sugar ethanol which protects US farmers and continues the need for US taxpayer funded supports/ federal mandates is also protecting the Amazon rain forest. Cut it down and we can have LOTS MORE cheap ethanol for a long time with little pressure on food prices – until it also eventually becomes insufficient to feed all the cars in China.

    “A Note on Rising Food Prices”

  241. If using cropland to grow food is so important, why do we grow tobacco?

    Farming is a business. Car companies prefer to manufacture SUVs because they have a greater profit margin. Why do you expect farmers to behave differently? If growing corn for ethanol or growing tobacco for cigarettes is more profitable than growing food, the farmers will act appropriately. The solution to this problem is very simple: Make growing food more profitable!

    Farmers are getting paid similar prices for a bushel of wheat that was received 50 years ago. Would you agree to work for the average wage that was being paid in 1960? Meanwhile, farmers are paying more for fuel, more for fertilizer, more for seed, etc. Often, there is no profit at all in growing food. If the price of food is going up, I say “Great!” Food is more important than upgrading your 42″ tv to a 60″ LED screen. Budget appropriately. The farmers deserve to earn a living too.

  242. ew-3 says:
    They are trying to shut down as many sources of energy as they can. They are strangling the country.

    …exactly as was promised. Only nobody was really listening.

    I’m becoming convinced that the best thing we can do is to let the Greens have their way completely, as quickly as possible. Start pushing their agenda more than they are. Let’s go green all the way – and let’s see how the general public likes it.

  243. Richard M, “No, it’s more a false logic … exactly like you’ve been doing for your last several posts. Sorry if the fact that you’ve been making illogical statements over and over again has evaded you. I’m simply pointed out how easy it is to make illogical statements.

    No it is your false logic of improperly using an known economic term for political reasons and demonstrated you have no idea what you are talking about. Everything I have stated has been logical.

    BTW if you support subsidies, you support wealth redistribution.

    So are you also a proponent of government subsidies to corn farmers and the ethanol industry, government mandates and government tariffs that protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers?

    Another example of illogical thinking. Just because a person may support subsidies to corn farmers and/or the ethanol industry does not imply anything else you wrote in that sentence. I can see why you can’t hold a conversation. You derail yourself from simple logic all the time. Do yourself a favor, take a simple course in logic.

    So you support wealth redistribution to the corn and ethanol industries? Why do you support socialist policies? So far you have been attempting to evade the cognitive dissonance in your arguments,

    Do you support government subsidies (wealth redistribution) to corn farmers and the ethanol industry?

    Do you support government mandates that limit consumer choice and hurt consumers?

    Do you support government tariffs that protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers?

  244. jimlion, “When crop prices plummet to extremely low level this program sets a floor price. The government would pay me the difference between the set market price and the floor price. Real life example: there was a period of time in the ’90s when corn prices plummeted to about $1.48/ bu. (dont look that up on CBOT charts you techies–its not there. Program based on cash price which is not CBOT futures price–cash nearly always lower) Floor price is (and still is today) $1.98/bu, so that year I recieved about a $0.50/bu payment on this program. It kept me in business in some very tough,tough times. The reason this program means very little today is pretty obvious, the floor price has not moved, but my costs have–dramatically.

    There should be no such welfare system for farmers. If you cannot make money selling your crop, you should either adapt (sell something else) or go out of business. Keeping inefficient businesses alive only weakens the economy long term by robbing private capital via subsidies from economically viable production to those that are not. Those that can sell at those prices stay in business because they are more efficient and thus lower the cost to the consumer.

    I’m underwater if corn prices would drop to $3.50/bu. I’m broke @ $1.98 and this doesnt kick in until lower than that.

    Either way not my problem and the government should not be involved.

    3. Crop Insurance : Federal government shares the cost (ok subsidizes) of nearly all crop insurance policies.

    That is because if you had to get real insurance you would be paying real premiums based on what the market would allow.

    The reason behind govt. subsidy on crop insurance was to encourage farmers to adopt modern risk-management practices. Farmers overall are risk-adverse–but previous generations were also very suspicious of insurance, and insurance companies to indemnify their crop risk.

    What do you think premiums do in a free-market? The higher the premiums means the practice is more risky to insure. You do not need government to force farmers to adopt risk-management practices, market forces does this on their own. With the biggest reason to adopt them – the ability to go out of business! Something government insurance and subsidies make less likely. Government insurance encourages risk taking because the premiums are not set by the market but by what some idiot bureaucrat thinks they should be – much lower than market rates. Government intervention in farming has hurt the consumer with higher prices by allowing inefficient farmers to stay in business.

  245. Tain, “If using cropland to grow food is so important, why do we grow tobacco?

    Because growing tobacco is profitable and the amount of farm land growing it is in relation to consumer demand and profitability.

    Farming is a business. Car companies prefer to manufacture SUVs because they have a greater profit margin. Why do you expect farmers to behave differently?

    Car companies would prefer to make their cars out of 24 carat gold but that is irrelevant to what is actually sold. I don’t expect farmers to behave differently which is why I want all the government subsidies, mandates and protectionist tariffs removed.

    If growing corn for ethanol or growing tobacco for cigarettes is more profitable than growing food, the farmers will act appropriately. The solution to this problem is very simple: Make growing food more profitable!

    That is called competition and allowing inefficient businesses to fail. The ones that stay in business will be profitable.

    Farmers are getting paid similar prices for a bushel of wheat that was received 50 years ago. Meanwhile, farmers are paying more for fuel, more for fertilizer, more for seed, etc. Often, there is no profit at all in growing food.

    So? Who cares? Then go out of business! Let the efficient farmers take up the slack.

    If the price of food is going up, I say “Great!”

    Why am I not surprised to here a populist farmer be happy about the poor paying more for food just because they do not know how to efficiently run a business.

  246. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 7, 2011 at 4:08 am

    eyesonu, they are all shills for ethanol. It doesn’t matter in the least whether they are paid or coordinate. What I love the most is their “scientific” claims of mileage. They run their truck on crappy ethanol, it can barely get out of its own way, then they claim the mileage isn’t so bad. Well duh! You would think these farmers and farm help would have a sense of what is practical, but they are all buying into the same circle jerk.

    Yeah your right— E85 really sucks at high performance — it only holds several land speed records at Bonneville, and kicks butt at the drag strip.

    Drag Chevette on E85

    [video src="http://s272.photobucket.com/albums/jj161/DragChevette/?action=view&current=ChevetteWheelie.mp4" /]

    E85 camaro

    [video src="http://s29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/Eric68/?action=view&current=M2U00144.mp4" /]

    Honda S2000 8.429 @ 168.05

    383 small block 30 psi boost — 1300.7 HP at 7600 RPM

    Mustang 10.57 @ 136.52

    EVO VIII GSR running 8.75@162mph at the July 5th NSCRA event at PBIR.

    BMW M5 running 10.57@130mph.

    Mustang 251.741 mph at Bonneville on E85

    http://www.rockettbrand.com/techsupport/videos/video.html

    Chevy Cobalt SS Bonneville land speed record
    156.073 mph with E85
    172.680-mph with nitrous on E85

    http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/women-take-bonneville-by-ethanol-storm.html

    E85 drag boat

    899 hp dyno pull on a RX-7 E85 fuel

    Larry

  247. jimlion,

    Thank you, Sir for your very thorough and erudite explanation of ag subsidy. Most of us are not farmers and poorly understand the issue. If you’re in northern Illinois you obviously have some of the richest, most fertile farm land on the planet. I lived in Aurora for a couple years after after school and then practiced in Springfield for a year (actually 11 hideous months). When people who have never lived there hear “Illinois” they think of Chicago. Me, I think of miles and miles of crop land. I’ve seen the corn grow so high on both sides of I-55 that I felt like I was driving in a tunnel.

    So let me ask you. Do you personally agree with federal subsidies? Do you believe they are actually necessary? Wouldn’t an unencumbered free market function more to your advantage? I hate the concept of subsidies, mandates and tariffs or centralized economic control of any industry. On a personal level I don’t begrudge subsidies to independent farmers nearly as much as loathe the practice of dumping subsidies on the energy industry. In the larger view farm subsidies are every bit as reprehensible as any other federal subsidy. You might not reap tremendous benefits from these subsidies but you KNOW that ADM enjoys a very significant benefit.

    Again, thank you for your response. It was very instructive.

    Dave

  248. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:
    March 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

    “Yeah your [sic] right— E85 really sucks at high performance — it only holds several land speed records at Bonneville, and kicks butt at the drag strip.”
    ____________________________________________________
    Forgive me, Larry, but this was a very “Duh” response. Alcohols, both methanol and ethanol lend themselves wonderfully for use in high compression, high performance engines. This is nothing new. The real story is fuel efficiency. I drive a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with a straight 6. I very rarely need to drive faster than about 80 mph but I hate filling up the 19 gal tank. I have a 1994 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 out in the driveway. It drinks premium gas and has a high compression engine. I keep the damn thing only because it’s so fun to drive. It’s faster than hell but I seldom drive it simply because it’s not a practical vehicle.

  249. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 7, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Hi Larry, thanks for the all the racing engine examples. How about your truck?

    I don’t have a truck.

    I do have Subaru WRX that holds the local strip record for the stock engine and turbo in that car, but it is slow compared to the other guys running E85. They run in the 10’s at 130+, I only manage very low 13’s and 103 mph, but it is a daily driver on street tires too, that gets 20 mpg on E85, vs 24 mpg on pump premium, although with the original stock turbo I got 22 mpg on E85. At that time it was costing me about 10 cents a mile on E85 vs 12.2 cents a mile on pump premium which was saving me over $350 a year on fuel, and giving me much better performance.

    The car was rated at 227 hp from the factory at the flywheel and stock WRX’s typically put down 175 hp to the wheels at this altitude. I was making 220 hp at the wheels on E85 with the stock turbo, or about 261 hp at the flywheel, but I was only running 16.5 psi boost on that turbo. The serious WRX racers up here are running over 30 psi boost on E85 putting 500+ hp to the ground on a street driven car that will do 10.5 at 135 mph at this altitude.

    Larry

  250. Dr. Dave and Poptech,
    I very much agree with both of you in regards to the basic macro-economic principles that you have both espoused.
    Poptech, to be clear, I was not defending the practice of subsidation in agriculture–only trying to clarify what the economic benefits actually are within the Farm Bill as opposed to the hyperbole being said here and elsewhere.
    Dr.Dave, I have personally struggled with your question my whole career. From a strictly abstract free market point of view, I abhorred the system I had to work within. It was contrary to everything that I had learned and believed in. However, I recognized that I did not live and farm in a vacuum. Agriculture profitability was absolutely tied to exporting our excess production or finding additional uses for it here (voila’ ethanol) and every country that we exported to had extensive agricultural tariffs or outright import quotas. European Common Market (now EU) were (and still is) the worst offenders. Huge producer subsidies, export dumping and ridiculous phyto-sanitary issues used to keep out “cheap” US grain. Basically I came to understand that as much as I wanted to operate as a “free market” business, the global barriers prevented. I eventually had to come to terms with reality and the “at least we are not as bad as they are” mentality set in. Add to the fact that despite all the “programs” that were supposed to minimize ag boom/bust cycles, we still had the boom of the late’70s, and then the embargo put on Russia by Carter brought on the crushing depression in the mid-eighties that we are only now shaking off. I would guess that most reading here never knew/forgotten that not so long ago we were literally drowning in corn and there was a great effort by many individuals to do exactly what you talked about Poptech. Change your product line or go out of business—most went out of business.
    Anyway, enough of the history lesson, I hate subsidies and governmental interference in my business, but I reconcile that with global realities.

  251. Not all environmentalists were pushing ethanol. That is an unfair generalization. There are those of us who are sane and prefer nuclear power rather than hokey ‘renewable energy’ schemes.

  252. I never knew enviros ever pushed ethanol—they never liked farmers because we used evil chemicals and also because we were too good at what we did—feed more people!

  253. jimlion,

    Thanks for the reply. I rather suspected you were “one of us”. At the same time I understand you have to eat what’s set before you. I do remember when we were going to “feed the world” and how many farmers got burned due to politics far beyond their control. Informed opinion from your perspective is very valuable and I thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

    Dave

  254. Poptech: “I want all the government subsidies, mandates and protectionist tariffs removed.”

    So do I. It is American and European subsidies and trade barriers that are so badly skewing the global agricultural market for the rest of us. Please, do get rid of them. Then the farmers from around the world who have already had to get efficient to compete with subsidized American products will benefit.

    Your counter-arguments, however, do not challenge one whit my main point. Farmers are not fools. We understand economics just fine. We know when planting a field with corn engineered to create ethanol will pay better than planting a field with corn to make high fructose corn syrup. We understand that politicians have created an artificial market by requiring ethanol in gasoline. But, what would any business person do given a similar situation? To use an example that Anthony may recognize, do you not think that Software developers will divert their resources into creating 64-bit compliant programs now that MicroSoft if pushing its 64-bit version of Windows 7? So long as their is a more profitable line for agricultural products, whether it is ethanol, tobacco, cotton, hemp, sod, flowers, etc. etc. resources will be put into growing those things. This will naturally cause scarcity in food items until the price of food rises in relation to demand. Then, when food prices reach parity with the other non-food products, farmers will shift resources back into raising crops for food. You cannot blame the farmers for this. If you want someone to blame, then blame the politicians and the green lobby for creating the ethanol market.

    Your comment about “the poor” being unable to afford food is irrelevant. Nobody cries when the “the poor” cannot afford an iPad. Why should food be treated differently? Besides, the way that food prices are kept low is… guess what? Subsidies. Which you have already come out against. Sorry, but you cannot have it both ways.

  255. ” To proclaim that we are taking food out of the mouths of people by producing corn for ethanol is simplistic at best.”

    Opportunity cost. Using land, water, fuel, equipment, labor, and ag materials to grow corn for fuel drives up the price of over things that could have been grown there instead.

    And for what? To kill my gas mileage, cost me a couple hundred more dollars a year, and screw up my gas powered equipment.

    Oh, and also to line a bunch of people’s pockets – which is what it’s really all about.

    I don’t care if some rich gearhead gets good performance in their toy with some other blend of fuel. I have to drive a real vehicle to do real work for a living. When I fill up some place I’ve never been to before I have no idea if I’m going to get 400 miles to a tank or 320, because there really isn’t any way to tell what they’re selling now.

    I’m sitting in a cold house right now because the increase in gas prices means that I don’t have any money left over to heat it. I think about all the money I’ve wasted on E10 and I’m about ready to start breaking out the pitchforks and torches.

  256. (1) Even when corn is used for ethanol about half of it becomes high-grade cattle feed. And small parts of it become various parts of human food such as brewer’s yeast, and brewer’s grains which are added to breakfast cereal. (2) If it were not for the ethanol industry, the corn wouldn’t have been planted in the first place. You can’t run the experiment of finding out what would have happened if ethanol weren’t made so you can’t have any certainty what caused the problem. But other grain prices (not used for ethanol) are also up, so the evidence suggests other things than ethanol. (3) The problem is not insufficient food, it’s insufficient money for food. American farmers pay big dollars for fuel needed to farm and this contributes to high food prices a heck of a lot more than the decrease in corn. Look at the Fed and the US budget, this is the start of inflation. (3) Despite fuel conversion, US exports of corn are near record highs. (4) If we sell enough corn overseas to drop the price of it, the result will not be that it is eaten (the corn is not generally a human food), but instead it will be at best fed to cattle and will compete with US meat exports. At worst it will be converted to ethanol by our competitors (every one of which has an active grain to ethanol program) and the result will be that we will have to import yet more $105/barrel oil. (5) The people who used to tell you that corn to ethanol is “inefficient” were green liars who are against all factory farming. They lost the battle over the efficiency of corn ethanol and now are arguing that it is bad because it brings on land use changes which negate its carbon advantage. (6) Whenever you have high oil prices and (relatively) low corn prices, the effect will be that private industry will turn corn into ethanol and cattle feed. This is a very profitable business. It’s done all over the world. If it is suppressed in the US, it will appear that much stronger overseas and US import/export balance will be that much worse and you will pay that much more for the fuel you put in your car.

  257. Converting corn to ethanol for fuel just doesn’t make sense, period. If you want to use it for fuel, just burn it, as is already done for heating.

    Sample links:
    Corn stoves (room or small building heating):
    Note: These tend to be fancier (and pricier) than needed for visual appeal.

    http://www.cornflame.net/

    http://www.pinnaclecornstoves.com/

    http://www.harmanstoves.com/products/details.asp?cat=stoves&prd=pellet-stoves&f=STVPPC45 (high end)

    Central furnace (hot air heating):

    http://www.cornheat.com/corn_furnace.html

    Central boiler (hydronic heating):

    http://www.cornheat.com/corn_boiler.html

    Note these units can be multi-fuel, capable of burning corn, wood pellets, even wheat.

    Burn the corn for heat, displace #2 heating oil. It’s basically road diesel without all the additives, thus it’s relatively easy to make more diesel instead of #2. With more diesel available the price will drop, reducing transport costs thus reducing prices on practically everything, and it will prompt interest in diesel vehicles which currently can be more efficient than gasoline vehicles including hybrids.

    Waiting for cellulosic ethanol? Just convert the raw material to pellets, burn them.

    This removes the inefficiencies of the solid-to-liquid fuel corn-to-ethanol process, and related distribution problems. Shelled corn can be directly burned as it comes from a silo, cellulosic pellets (wood or otherwise) can likewise be treated, a relatively simple bulk transport of a dry substance is all that’s needed to go from source to point of use.

    If you really want an efficient solid-to-liquid fuel process, for the displacement of imported oil, pursue coal-to-oil. That’s a proven economically-viable method. Don’t bother changing corn to ethanol for liquid fuel, it just doesn’t make sense.

  258. Tain, “We know when planting a field with corn engineered to create ethanol will pay better than planting a field with corn to make high fructose corn syrup. We understand that politicians have created an artificial market by requiring ethanol in gasoline. But, what would any business person do given a similar situation?

    I never blame anyone for taking advantage of government policies as it is only human nature, my complaints are with those who defend and endorse those policies.

    Your comment about “the poor” being unable to afford food is irrelevant. Nobody cries when the “the poor” cannot afford an iPad. Why should food be treated differently? Besides, the way that food prices are kept low is… guess what? Subsidies. Which you have already come out against. Sorry, but you cannot have it both ways.

    You will find the concern for whether the poor can eat or enjoy an iPad to be drastically different with the majority of people on an ethical level. Subsidies do not keep food prices low, they simply allow inefficient farms to stay in business. What keeps food prices low is free-market competition.

  259. Hotrod,

    I recall watching, over twenty years ago, a racer leap from his car and start jumping up and down waving his arms. The pit crew immediately shot what appeared to be a CO2 extinguisher at the car. The man kept leaping about waving his arms, because he himself was on fire. In the bright sunlight the flames were invisible, being ethanol flames. Finally the crew caught on, and spayed the white jets on the driver rather than the car.

    I understand hotrods like to use ethanol, Hotrod. However you need to understand that is a totally different world from the world of a hard-working country boy, to whom a chainsaw is a major investment. Such fellows want their saws to last for years, and often used to make their saws last for decades.

    If you think ethanol doesn’t screw up small engines, I suggest you go visit someone with a small-engine-repair shop. They will tell you the truth.

    Until then, I humbly suggest you live in a world divorced from mine.

  260. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm
    “Converting corn to ethanol for fuel just doesn’t make sense, period. If you want to use it for fuel, just burn it, as is already done for heating.”
    Amen!!
    I have said many times you will never get more energy out of corn, etc than you get when you burn it efficiently.
    It is simple thermodynamics.

  261. Can E15 Gasoline Really Damage Your Engine? [Yes] (Popular Mechanics)

    Alcohol is corrosive and can degrade plastic, rubber or even metal parts in the fuel system that weren’t engineered to use alcohol-bearing fuel. Consequently, that antique Evinrude outboard or ’60s lawn tractor you bought at the swap meet might need some upgrading to stay together on today’s gas. That means corrosion-resistant tanks, alcohol-tolerant rubber lines, seals and fuel-pump diaphragms, and plastic fuel-system parts that won’t swell up in the presence of alcohol. Vintage boats with internal fiberglass tanks often have issues with the coating inside the tank failing, ­sometimes requiring massive structural modifications. Highly tuned two-stroke engines will run leaner (and consequently hotter) on the lower Btu/gallon alcohol mix, potentially leading to melted pistons and scuffed cylinder walls. Alcohol will also scour varnish and deposits out of the fuel system that have remained in place for years, which will eventually wind up in the filter or main jet, choking off the engine’s fuel supply. Worse yet, the alcohol itself ­oxidizes in the tank and produces a tenacious brown glop that’s far more damaging to fuel systems than the ­varnish we’re used to seeing in pure petroleum fuels. In warmer weather, you can see varnish starting to form within a month of dispensing fresh fuel into a vehicle tank or storage can.

    Popular Mechanics or Larry and friends? You decide.

  262. Caleb says:
    March 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Hotrod,

    I recall watching, over twenty years ago, a racer leap from his car and start jumping up and down waving his arms. The pit crew immediately shot what appeared to be a CO2 extinguisher at the car. The man kept leaping about waving his arms, because he himself was on fire. In the bright sunlight the flames were invisible, being ethanol flames. Finally the crew caught on, and spayed the white jets on the driver rather than the car.

    I understand hotrods like to use ethanol, Hotrod. However you need to understand that is a totally different world from the world of a hard-working country boy, to whom a chainsaw is a major investment. Such fellows want their saws to last for years, and often used to make their saws last for decades.

    If you think ethanol doesn’t screw up small engines, I suggest you go visit someone with a small-engine-repair shop. They will tell you the truth.

    Until then, I humbly suggest you live in a world divorced from mine.

    I agree with you entirely when I buy tools I expect them to last for years not months. I also get pissed off when the stuff I buy turns out to be crap. My father was a mechanic and I worked in a service station and as a machinist for many years. I have spent a lot of time laying on my back on a gravel driveway fixing cars because I could not afford to have someone else fix them. I have tools that are over 60 years old that my father and grandfather used. I’ve cut down a lot of trees for firewood, both with hand ax and chainsaws, and split them by hand the old fashioned way with a hammer and wedges.

    You obviously do not understand my point on this issue though.

    I have no doubt you have seen equipment that was damaged, but it was not damaged by the ethanol, —- it was damaged either by poor owner maintenance (no slight to you) or by the brain dead engineer or cost accountant that decided to build a tool without considering how it would be used, or due to some secondary cause like a careless gas station owner that was not bright enough to clean out his fuel tanks properly.

    Ethanol added gasoline has been required by law here in Colorado since 1988. In the Denver Metro area it has been impossible to buy “straight gasoline” for 23 years. People around here have no major issues with ethanol added gasoline in small engines and yard equipment. It is the only fuel they can buy. I know folks that are still using chainsaws, portable generators and lawn mowers that they bought 20-30 years ago. They use this gasoline in boats, ATV’s and weed wackers with no corrosion issues or other problems.

    I know folks in the midwest that have done the same, and used ethanol added gasoline in small engines for years with no problems. There is guy I know here in Denver that drilled the jets in his lawn mower and runs it on E85 and several people that run pump E85 in motorcycles.

    The problems you describe are due to manufactures taking short cuts in design and selling junk equipment, poor maintenance, or repair shops ripping off their customers and blaming ethanol gasoline while they run up a bogus repair bill.

    Let me tell you about my experience with ethanol added gasoline when it first came out around here in the 1970’s. When gasohol was first introduced there were issues where people had problems with equipment. The vast majority of it fell into two specific areas.

    One was the ethanol cleaning all the crap out of the fuel system left by plain gasoline. Plain gasoline if left a long time unused or in older fuel systems where there has been time to accumulate deposits, builds up varnish and tars on the inside of the fuel system as it partially oxidizes while stored (this is why folks add things like Stabil fuel stabilizer to their fuel). This residue slowly builds up a varnish like coating on the inside of the fuel system, that is quickly dissolved by ethanol when it is first introduced. The result is all that crud ends up plugging fuel filters (or if you don’t run a fuel filter) goes into the carburetor and plugs up the small passages. The solution is to replace the clogged fuel filter ( or clean the carburetor then install the fuel filter that should have been there to begin with).

    Occasionally a car will be so crapped up it takes 2 filter changes to get all the goo out of the fuel system. This showed up here shortly after gasohol was introduced as the Denver Police Department had a rash of car stalling problems the first week or so after they switched. Once they replaced the fuel filters the problems went away never to return.

    The problem is that a lot of mechanics will use this sort of situation as an excuse to sell carburetor rebuilds, even engine rebuilds, drain and flush fuel tanks, even replace fuel tanks, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, when a $3.00 fuel filter is the problem.

    The second is someone leaves a law mower out in the rain and puts it away wet without starting it and getting it dried out. When it rusts in stead of admitting they screwed up they just blame the new gasoline as it is a lot easier on the ego, than admitting it probably would have rusted up with gasoline too.

    In the 1970’s Holley carburetors had a cork and rubber gasket between the carburetor body and the float bowel that did not like ethanol, they were phased out 20 years ago. Same goes for some carburetors that had foam plastic floats that would gradually soak up fuel after ethanol was added — they have been phased out for decades. I had a 1969 VW square back that a week after gasohol was introduced had a fuel line let go — it started leaking like a sieve. It was a 20 year old, rubber and fabric fuel line that was on its last legs anyway. I replaced it with new NAPA fuel line and never had another problem with it.

    Fuel pump diaphragms failed periodically before ethanol was added to the fuel, gaskets leaked and sometimes you just have bad breaks and bad things happen because you put something away wet or did not follow the manual instructions to run the weed wacker motor dry and left fuel in it for 9 months in a hot garage.

    A lot of folks that complain about major fuel mileage problems are really seeing the change in fuel mileage due to cold weather which can change fuel mileage by 10% or more due to thick oil on cold starts long warm ups, and the changes in the fuel blends that the gas companies make every winter to make sure you can start your car when it is -20 F outside and it has 2 ft of snow on it.

    In controlled tests (ie lab test that run the cars under controlled conditions on flat ground long enough to really measure changes in fuel mileage) show that the real reduction in fuel mileage due to 10% ethanol added to gasoline ranges from 0%-4% depending on the car. Some modern cars with active tuning in the ECU actually get better fuel mileage on ethanol blends due to the higher octane.

    If you are losing more than 4%-5% in fuel mileage (over several tanks of fuel), you need to get your car fixed, the problem is not the fuel but some other issue like a dirty fuel filter.

    The other issue is that when ethanol fuels are first introduced a lot of gas station owners do not properly clean their underground storage tanks and the ethanol picks up water that has been in there for years and causes them to pump “bad gas” for a few months until they fix the problem created by their lack of proper maintenance or the ethanol carries all the condensate out.

    This is again not the fuels fault, but the station owners fault for being an idiot. When I worked in a gas station one of my jobs was to stick the tanks every day, and once a week or so check them for water, by putting a paste on the end of the stick that would change color if it was exposed to water in the bottom of the tank. Lots of station owners do not do that. As a result someone gets a tank of bad gas that has been contaminated with water that never should have been there in the first place, and have car problems until they go to a different station and buy “straight gasoline”.

    They fixed the problem but blame it on the wrong reason. The new station has clean ground tanks and the old one did not, the fact that they pumped different fuel blends is irrelevant other than that the addition of ethanol made the poor maintenance at one station obvious and their lack of care and good practice bite their customers in the ass.

    Like I said at the beginning, you should not be having maintenance issues on ethanol blended gasoline. If you are, the issues are caused by other factors than the gas because 100’s of thousands of drivers have been using the stuff for decades with no issues.

    You are simply uncovering other issues that need to be addressed.

    I know how frustrating it is to have a tool fail to work when you need it and I have been there done that where I had to decide if I was going to eat buy gas or pay the rent any 2 I could do, but not all three. When I was working as a mechanic and a machinist I have saved up for months to buy tools I needed. I’ve been so tight on budget I had to coast down every hill to get home because I could not afford to buy gas.

    Ethanol is not the problem. Clean E-10 does not cause problems with well maintained modern equipment.

    Larry

    By the way the incident you are recalling was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in all likelihood when they were using straight methanol fuel, it does burn with an invisible flame, E85 does not, it has a yellow flame due to the gasoline content.

  263. http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/dec2010/bw20101221_927461_page_3.htm

    the 45 cent-per-gallon blending tax credit to put ethanol into our fuel was due to end on Dec. 31. (As was the 54 cent-per-gallon tax on ethanol imported from countries like Brazil.)

    Refiners would no longer be encouraged to use ethanol because tax credits wouldn’t make blending it too lucrative to pass up. And after all, when there already is a hard and foolish mandate that 13.95 billion gallons of ethanol must be used, why would any tax credits for adding a filler to the nation’s gasoline supplies be necessary?

    They could have allowed the 45 cent-per-gallon ethanol blending tax credit to expire at the end of this month. That would have immediately saved $6.25 billion in revenue for 2011; it’s a small amount, but every little bit helps.

    All that’s moot now, though, because both the ethanol blending tax credit and the tariff on imported ethanol were extended.

  264. Eric (skeptic) says:
    eyesonu, they are all shills for ethanol. It doesn’t matter in the least whether they are paid or coordinate. What I love the most is their “scientific” claims of mileage. They run their truck on crappy ethanol, it can barely get out of its own way, then they claim the mileage isn’t so bad. Well duh! You would think these farmers and farm help would have a sense of what is practical, but they are all buying into the same circle jerk.

    The classic mark of someone unable to intelligently discuss or debate an isue – and wholly unable to support their position.

    More importantly one totally and completely uninformed and just plain wrong.

    Ethanol is HIGHER OCTANE than gasoline. It offers higher performance and allows higher compression engines. There is a reason the racing community uses ethanol in many racing programs.

    Comments like yours show the outright ignorance of the facts, the unwillingness to learn, and the stubborn insistence n plodding along promoting the same flawed agenda.

    It is sad to see that mentality at a site like this – with the many clear thinking folks interested in learning about the global warming fiasco

    Reply: I fixed your italics ~ ctm

  265. Poptech says:
    March 7, 2011 at 5:48 am
    220mph, “meaningless pablum … I and others presented real world cost per mile numbers based on real prices of e85 and gas (e10) and real world MPG comparisons … I showed in my personal case I pay appx 23% less for e85 than gas (e10) – and that when using ethanol I get appx 19% lower MPG … for a net positive balance when I use e85 – others (or if you use sticker numbers) experience a slight net loss in mileage

    You choose to ignore real world data – presenting meaningless”

    I provided national average prices between E85 and regular gasoline from AAA. Are you saying they are lying? That is a much more honest way then cherry picking prices from an ethanol friendly state like you did or the other extreme, California or Hawaii.

    Nothing you stated could be substantiated. You stating something is not “real world evidence” of anything. Everything I have shown has been supported with sources,

    2011 Fuel Economy Guide (PDF) (EPA, pp. 21-24)

    The usage of a BTU adjustment is a statistically accurate way to get a good estimate of the expected loss in fuel economy between ethanol blends and regular gasoline.

    My experience is a very good ACTUAL example of the real world – and that it reflects an area where ethanol distribution is more enveloped, where ethanol is more used and available, is EXTREMELY relevant.

    It shows that as ethanol becomes more available it does get used more and the prices fall. They fall to a point where there is, as my experience shows, virtually no difference between ethanol and gas in real world driving. The lower price for more readily available ethanol offsets the lower fuel economy.

    If you would take the time to actually read what I posted, you’d find I ALSO showed an example using AVERAGE manufacturer reported new car fuel economy, and using national AVERAGE e85 and gas prices as reported on http://www.e85prices.com thus eviscerating your claim of cherry picking.

    The BTU adjusted price is a meaningless exercise when it comes to understanding the real world costs of the difference between e85 and standard gasoline (e10) … it offers no context whatsoever – and shows no relation to the real cost per mile driven difference between e85 and gasoline

    One more time – since you refused to acknowledge the first time. Directly from http://www.e85prices.com ….

    Average national Gas Price: $3.53
    Average national e85 Price: $2.93
    Avg national Difference: 16.3%

    And for a vehicle lets pick as “average” a car as possible – a 2010 Chev Impala 6 cyl, 3.9 L, Automatic 4-spd, FFV, Gasoline or E85 … according to http://www.fueleconomy.gov it gets:

    Gas – 17 City MPG
    e85 – 13 City MPG

    e85 is 23.5% lower MPG than Gas

    Using national average fuel prices the NET difference is:
    e85 is just 7.2% net difference vs gas
    At $3.53 gas has a 20.7 cents cost per mile
    At $2.93 e85 has a 22.5 cents cost per mile
    For a 100 mile trip gas costs $20.70
    For a 100 mile trip e85 costs $22.50
    For someone who drives the avg 12,000 miles per year:
    Total gas costs would be $2,484 annually
    Total e85 costs would be $2,700 annually

    For the average person driving an average flex fuel vehicle an averagae 12,000 miles per year using 100% e85 vs 100% gasoline would cost them:
    $216 extra per year
    $ 18 extra per month
    $ .60 cents extra per day

    If you drive that same car in an area with more readily available ethanol like mine – with a 23% difference in price – and the net difference between e85 and gasoline for the 2010 Impala is ZERO.

    And according to the http://www.fueleconomy.gov site that same Impala has a 9.3 carbon footprint using gas vs. a 7.1 carbon footprint using e85 – on e85 the carbon foot print is reduced by 23.7% …

    I don’t know about you – but I think reducing carbon footprint whether we think it important or not, and more importantly; (a.) reducing reliance on foreign oil, and (b.) using a RENEWABLE fuel source, is well worth $216 per year under the national average

    Don’t you agree?

  266. Hey 220, my comment was answered over a day ago by Larry with the racing car examples. I asked him what about your truck (low compression engine). He answered that he didn’t have a truck. Now you gave the same answer. How about your truck? I am not unwilling to learn, just unwilling to listen to talking points about specially tuned high compression racing engines that I could care less about.

  267. Tell you what – you support your claim here – with facts …. show exactly what the subsidies you refer to are, how they are applied, and explain how you believe they “protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers and I’ll be happy to answer your question …

    Make your case and support it with factual data and I will respond

    And to answer your and other “shill” question yet again I will repeat – I am a serious climate skeptic and WAS an ethanol one as well. But like with my personal research and subsequent education on climate science, the same investigation of ethanol claims – looking at the facts and applying the same intelligent review as with climate science – convinced me that ethanol does not deserve the reputation those like you hammer it with … the facts simply do not support the position or claims those like you repeatedly make

    I read WUWT virtually daily. I have written as a pure layman extensively about the global warming idiocy. I have mostly been here at WUWT to learn and thus haven’t posted often. Here I had relevant knowledge and felt it worthwhile to share it.

    That you and other attack the contribution – make you little better than the climate alarmists in my opinion – you are doing exactly what they do – refusing to address the facts and instead trying to shout down what you disagree with, while ignoring and failing to address your position with facts, data and well reasoned opinion.

  268. let me try this again – tried to be cute with HTML:

    Poptech says:
    220mph, “I was an ethanol skeptic before I became a proponennt”

    So are you also a proponent of government subsidies to corn farmers and the ethanol industry, government mandates and government tariffs that protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers?

    Tell you what – you support your claim here – with facts …. show exactly what the subsidies you refer to are, how they are applied, and explain how you believe they “protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers and I’ll be happy to answer your question …

    Make your case and support it with factual data and I will respond

    And to answer your and other “shill” question yet again I will repeat – I am a serious climate skeptic and WAS an ethanol one as well. But like with my personal research and subsequent education on climate science, the same investigation of ethanol claims – looking at the facts and applying the same intelligent review as with climate science – convinced me that ethanol does not deserve the reputation those like you hammer it with … the facts simply do not support the position or claims those like you repeatedly make

    I read WUWT virtually daily. I have written as a pure layman extensively about the global warming idiocy. I have mostly been here at WUWT to learn and thus haven’t posted often. Here I had relevant knowledge and felt it worthwhile to share it.

    That you and other attack the contribution – make you little better than the climate alarmists in my opinion – you are doing exactly what they do – refusing to address the facts and instead trying to shout down what you disagree with, while ignoring and failing to address your position with facts, data and well reasoned opinion.

  269. @ The Folks Ranting about Ethanol and asserting things about E-85 in California:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/oil-and-gasoline-prices/

    Has a data point for you in it. It leads with a photo of a local Chevron station that also is the ONLY place selling E-85 for as far around as I’ve looked (and that’s a ways…) This is from San Jose, California, about 50 miles south of San Francisco.

    Prices (obligatory 9/10 cent left off):

    Reg – 3.89
    Mid – 3.99
    Sup – 4.09
    E85 – 3.12

    Which I make (or rather Excel makes) about 76% to 80% per gallon for the E85 or a 20% to 24% discount.

    BTW, gasoline prices have gone up since the picture. Last time I passed, only the regular was below $4 and it was $3.99 / gal. Don’t remember the others exactly, but it was about $4.10 and $4.20/ gal.

    I’ve no dog in this fight, just providing a data point.

  270. David says:
    March 7, 2011 at 6:35 am
    220mph says:
    March 7, 2011 at 1:41 am

    “Your claim correctly noted that increased CO2 DOES increase growth – it correctly notes that it increases biomass … what you failed to include from the tudies looking at increased CO2 effet on corn growth is that they found that while biomass increased it was at the expense of the ‘energy’ content (my term) of the corn ….in simple terms there was more plant quanity but less corn quality – and in effect a lower yield …. increased CO2 would be excellent for cellulosic ethanol which uses biomass, but worse for corn based ethanol as the energy in the plant was lower”

    Dear 220, you have no idea what studies I looked at. In regard to “energy content” “your term” is not scientific at all. I showed several hundred results from over 50 studies. The result you speak of incidcated a possibility that there is a slight reduction, (about 7%) in protein concentration, but on overall increase of about 35% in bio mass. The end result of a SMALL decrease in concentration, but LARGE
    increase of mass is MORE, not lesss, It is simply less concentrated.

    The reports I have read, and I admit going from memory, stated that while the “biomass” of corn plants increased the energy content decreased slightly. The biomass referred to was the leaves, stalk etc of the plant as opposed to the ear of corn – which is where the energy and value of the plant comes from.

    I believe I noted this in my earlier post – that for purposes of CORN ethanol increased growth from higher CO2 levels was not much benefit but could well be a boon for cellulosic ethanol which relies on the biomass not so much the energy in the ear – in the kernels – of corn

    For CORN based ethanol – again – what is important is the amount of energy (and yes that is an intentionally simplistic term) in the kernels and ear or corn – that si where CORN ethanol and related byproducts come from today …

  271. Mike M says:
    March 7, 2011 at 6:41 am
    @Gel says:March 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm The reason they use corn to make ethanol is its high Sugar content… wouldn’t it be much wiser to use sugar cane?

    That’s what they use in Brazil who produces more ethanol than we do and put up to 25% in their gasoline. It doesn’t affect the Amazon rain forest… YET. You could say that our tariff protections against cheap Brazilian sugar ethanol which protects US farmers and continues the need for US taxpayer funded supports/ federal mandates is also protecting the Amazon rain forest. Cut it down and we can have LOTS MORE cheap ethanol for a long time with little pressure on food prices – until it also eventually becomes insufficient to feed all the cars in China.

    And therein lies another problem …

    US produced ethanol lowers our dependence on foreign energy – whether it be oil or ethanol – and I strongly believe that is a good thing – even if it costs us slightly more.

    I also take strong exception to the position we should buy ethanol from Brazil for example because its cheaper, while IGNORING that doing so may well eventually involve serious negative environmental impacts – which would not be allowed to occur in our country

    We have already risked our long term financial well being to China in exchange for the cheap Chinese products that last a fraction of the time of US goods. We’ve trading huge sums to oil producing countries, many times enriching our enemies, in echange for foreign oil.

    And now some want to trade on the “cheap Brazilian ethanol” mentality to save a few pennies today while ignoring the admitted likelihood of significant environmental damage as a result.

    This is short sighted, not to mention poor environmental stewardship …

    Which do you want – cheap price, with a pretty clear likelihood of environmental damage, or a domestically produced renewable fuel that employs Americans, and where there are our US laws in place to reasonably protect the environment?

    I will gladly pay a little extra for all these benefits and protections

  272. Poptech says:
    March 7, 2011 at 9:15 am
    jimlion, “When crop prices plummet to extremely low level this program sets a floor price. The government would pay me the difference between the set market price and the floor price. Real life example: there was a period of time in the ’90s when corn prices plummeted to about $1.48/ bu. (dont look that up on CBOT charts you techies–its not there. Program based on cash price which is not CBOT futures price–cash nearly always lower) Floor price is (and still is today) $1.98/bu, so that year I recieved about a $0.50/bu payment on this program. It kept me in business in some very tough,tough times. The reason this program means very little today is pretty obvious, the floor price has not moved, but my costs have–dramatically.”

    There should be no such welfare system for farmers. If you cannot make money selling your crop, you should either adapt (sell something else) or go out of business. Keeping inefficient businesses alive only weakens the economy long term by robbing private capital via subsidies from economically viable production to those that are not. Those that can sell at those prices stay in business because they are more efficient and thus lower the cost to the consumer.

    Sorry poptech … this just shows how little you understand ….

    This was not “welfare” for farmers … it was to protect an industry VITAL to our existence – one where good people toil for long hours – to make virtually nothing.

    It was and is to insure that in catastrophic times (you’ll note it has rarely been used – never in recent times) – when many or even all farmers are experiencing catastrophic hardship – that the farmers who feed our country manage to survive

    Without them we are quite literally dead.

  273. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:
    March 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Thankyou for that very informative post Larry. I’ve used e10 in my 6 cylinder Ford Falcon on and off but have avoided it like the plague for my cherished Honda power equipment.
    Your post has caused me to think about it. Thankyou

  274. I would also reply to poptech that I too would be in favor of eliminating subsidies …. if we lived in a perfect world …. which we do not

    First, there are legitimate reasons to subsidize – we subsidize many things we “want” – without subsidies in early stages desirable “stuff” often doesn’t have a chance – the goals of ethanol; renewable alternative fuel, domestically produced, and lowering carbon footprint vs fossil fuels are all worthwhile goals.

    But with a chicken you can’t have eggs. Without availability of ethanol there will be few vehicles produced that use it. Subsidies and mandates created a finite base level initial demand. That gave the car companies a reason to build flex fuel vehicles. As the number of flex fuel vehicles has increases so to has availability of e85.

    As of today the technology is such that ethanol is not the same price as gas. And for some reason Americans are loath to pay a penny more, even if there are significant benefits.

    I showed above that using national average prices for e85 and gas (e10) that a 2010 Chev Impala costs appx $216 a year more , just 60 cents a day, using all e85. And in many areas where ethanol is more available that difference drops to essentially zero.

    That is including the blenders credit subsidy some want to get rid of. For e85 that amounts to 38 cents per gallon. For the same Impala eliminating the blender credit saves just over $30 a month – put another way it costs the taxpayers just $1 a day for that car to run 100% renewable, domestic e85 (12,000 miles driven/12mpg e85=1000 gals used x 38 cents per gallon subsidy)

    For the 25% lower carbon footprint thats a pretty good deal for the government. Add renew-ability, and the other benefits of ethanol and its a pretty good deal overall.

    Shortly the blenders credit won’t be important. As number of flex fuel cars increase and ethanol becomes more widely available, ethanol prices will continue to decrease.

    For corn ethanol crop yields are predicted to continue to increase – from the appx 170 current to some say as high as 300 bushels per acre in next 15 years. This will drive down cost of corn ethanol further.

    But the big gains come with cellulosic, and a little down the road other bio-fuels – cellulosic net energy balance will be at least double current corn values – as these plants come online over next 5 years overall ethanol prices should drop significantly. As they do the subsidies can and should be removed.

    The oil companies receive big subsidies – massively higher dollar amounts than the comparatively small $6 billion ethanol receives annually.

    Other energy source receive similar subsidies. If you eliminate one you must eliminate them all.

    Most nations have an import tariff on fuel ethanol, and comparatively the U.S. tariff is nearly non-existent.

    Many claim we should buy Brazilian ethanol because it is cheaper. But is it?

    The US has one of the lowest import tariffs – just 2.5% – of any country on ethanol. Imported (including Brazilian) ethanol pays a 45 cent per gallon (for e85) secondary import tax. The reason for that tax however is NOT to make them less competitive with US ethanol. It is to OFFSET the fact that the US Courts ruled that the BLENDERS subsidy, intended for domestic producers, was required to also be paid for imported ethanol.

    We PAY Brazilian importers 38 cents a gallon (again assuming e85) for every gallon of ethanol imported. In return the pay a 45 cent per gal (e85) tariff … the net cost to them is just over 6 cents per gallon.

    And therein is exposed the – sorry, no other way to say it – stupidity – of the “no subsidy” crowd. If we eliminate all subsidies for ethanol and we eliminate the tariff – Brazilian ethanol is still MORE – 6 cents a gallon more – than US ethanol.

    I suggest people review the history of the Brazilian ethanol program as well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil

    It provides a good roadmap of issues and successes.

    An added bonus link – you CAN transport by pipeline:
    Brazil ethanol pipeline to cut transport costs 20 pc

    http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFN0114014220110301

  275. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 8, 2011 at 2:29 am
    Hey 220, my comment was answered over a day ago by Larry with the racing car examples. I asked him what about your truck (low compression engine). He answered that he didn’t have a truck. Now you gave the same answer. How about your truck? I am not unwilling to learn, just unwilling to listen to talking points about specially tuned high compression racing engines that I could care less about.

    My older (2003) Tahoe is a flex fuel vehicle and likes e85 just fine – there is no loss of power at all – it may be just perception – but I believe it runs better on e85 than gas

    If you have a car that doesnt like premium gas it wont likely like e85 … which is higher octane yet ….

  276. 220mph, “My experience is a very good ACTUAL example of the real world

    Your “experience” cannot be verified and thus meaningless.

    …and that it reflects an area where ethanol distribution is more enveloped, where ethanol is more used and available, is EXTREMELY relevant. It shows that as ethanol becomes more available it does get used more and the prices fall. They fall to a point where there is, as my experience shows, virtually no difference between ethanol and gas in real world driving. The lower price for more readily available ethanol offsets the lower fuel economy.

    No it doesn’t, it shows basic market fundamentals that the closer you are to production with lower transportation costs, the cheaper the price.

    If you would take the time to actually read what I posted, you’d find I ALSO showed an example using AVERAGE manufacturer reported new car fuel economy, and using national AVERAGE e85 and gas prices as reported on http://www.e85prices.com thus eviscerating your claim of cherry picking.

    But you did not use those average prices to support your argument. Not to mention the prices on e85 are user submitted, while AAA is based on actual credit card transactions. I correctly stated you cherry picked your prices because you did and then used your unverified numbers (23% less) to support your argument.

    The BTU adjusted price is a meaningless exercise when it comes to understanding the real world costs of the difference between e85 and standard gasoline (e10) … it offers no context whatsoever – and shows no relation to the real cost per mile driven difference between e85 and gasoline

    Incorrect, I have supported that the BTU adjusted price is a statistically accurate way to get a good estimate of the expected loss in fuel economy between ethanol blends and regular gasoline,

    E85 and fuel efficiency: An empirical analysis of 2007 EPA test data
    (Energy Policy, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp. 1233-1235, March 2008)
    – Matthew C. Roberts

    This study utilizes 2007 EPA fuel economy test data to arrive at the conclusion that in the currently offered flex fuel vehicle fleet, the average difference in fuel economy from using E85 and gasoline cannot be distinguished from the energy differences between the two fuels. These vehicles, however, exhibit a range of fuel efficiency differentials, however, so that although the average fuel economy differential cannot be statistically distinguished from the energy differential, certain vehicular characteristics are strongly associated with a smaller differential.

    220mph, “If you drive that same car in an area with more readily available ethanol like mine – with a 23% difference in price – and the net difference between e85 and gasoline for the 2010 Impala is ZERO.

    You have not verified your numbers and you are not counting the VEETC subsidy of $0.45 nor the corn subsidies which artificially reduce the price below market rates.

    And according to the http://www.fueleconomy.gov site that same Impala has a 9.3 carbon footprint using gas vs. a 7.1 carbon footprint using e85 – on e85 the carbon foot print is reduced by 23.7% …

    This is incorrect,

    Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change
    (Science, Volume 319, Number 5867, pp. 1238-1240, February 2008)
    – Timothy Searchinger et al.

    Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuels for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gases because biofuels sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products.

    220mph, “I don’t know about you – but I think reducing carbon footprint whether we think it important or not, and more importantly; (a.) reducing reliance on foreign oil, and (b.) using a RENEWABLE fuel source, is well worth $216 per year under the national average Don’t you agree?

    I think reducing our “carbon footprint” is a waste of time feel good measure pushed by economically illiterate environmentalists,

    BS – Being Green (Video) (29min)

    I have already debunked the nonsense about “energy independence”,

    5 Myths About Breaking Our Foreign Oil Habit (The Washington Post)

    I suggest reading,

    Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence (Robert Bryce, 2008)

    and,

    Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future (Robert Bryce, 2010)

  277. 220mph, “Tell you what – you support your claim here – with facts …. show exactly what the subsidies you refer to are, how they are applied, and explain how you believe they “protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers and I’ll be happy to answer your question …

    All I do is support my claims with facts. I have already provided the VEETC subsidy and the Corn Subsidies,

    Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) (U.S. Department of Energy)
    U.S. Corn Subsidies (Environmental Working Group)

    and the tariffs,

    Import Duty for Fuel Ethanol ($0.54 per gallon) (U.S. Department of Energy)

    So are you also a proponent of government subsidies to corn farmers and the ethanol industry, government mandates and government tariffs that protect inefficient businesses from competition and hurt consumers?

  278. Wow, all the knownothing ethanol-bashers lighting up the internet.

    Agronomically illiterate commenters who push this garbage apparently don’t read the peer-reviewed literature.

    Poptech says:
    March 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm
    “Economically illiterate politicians who push this garbage apparently don’t read the peer-reviewed literature,… David Pimentel.”

    Haha. Pimentel. Anybody that wants to be taken seriously ought to review Pimentel’s garbage science. Ofcourse you’ll need to be qualified to do so which obviously does not include any of the ethanol-bashing trolls in this thread.

  279. Btw, Timothy Searchinger has only a law degree. Funny how skeptics quote warmongers when it supports ethanol-bashing.

  280. 220mph, “US produced ethanol lowers our dependence on foreign energy – whether it be oil or ethanol – and I strongly believe that is a good thing – even if it costs us slightly more.

    This is your perpetual strawman argument that has no relation to reality. We will always be dependent on foreign oil unless you want to pay $10 a gallon for gasoline because we do not have the oil reserves to fully replace cheap foreign oil or an economically viable alternative to oil for a transportation fuel. Mandating something that is not economically viable like ethanol only hurts our economy.

    I also take strong exception to the position we should buy ethanol from Brazil for example because its cheaper, while IGNORING that doing so may well eventually involve serious negative environmental impacts – which would not be allowed to occur in our country

    We have no control over the environmental policies of Brazil, that is up for their government to deal with. There is growing evidence that the Rainforests are actually expanding,

    Index of Leading Environmental Indicators: 2009 Report (Pacific Research Institute)

    “Growing evidence that the tropical rainforests may now be expanding faster than they are being cut down.”

    In the end consumers should be free to choose where they would want to buy ethanol from and can come to their own moral decisions on their own.

    We have already risked our long term financial well being to China in exchange for the cheap Chinese products that last a fraction of the time of US goods.

    Buying products that are made more efficiently in China benefits the U.S. economy by reducing the cost to do business. There is no evidence that Chinese made products last a fraction of the time of US Goods. I have dealt extensively with very high quality computer components made or assembled in China. The reliability of the product has to do manufacturer not the manufacturing location.

    What I want is the freedom to use the most economically viable sources of energy available.

  281. 220mph, “Sorry poptech … this just shows how little you understand ….

    No I have studied economics extensively.

    This was not “welfare” for farmers … it was to protect an industry VITAL to our existence – one where good people toil for long hours – to make virtually nothing.

    Yes it is. It only protects inefficient farmers. We will always need food and the market will determine how much based on prices. As food supplies become scarce the price rises which sends a signal to farmers to produce more. If not enough is being produced then someone will if it is profitable and at a certain price just about anything is. If the price goes down that generally means supply is more plentiful and they should either become more efficient or produce something else if they cannot afford to at those prices. The problem comes in with farmers who do not adapt to market signals or are too inefficient to compete with other farmers, foreign and domestic. These farmers should go out of business but instead their trade groups lobby government for subsidies or protectionist measures that keeps them operating like zombies producing what the market is not demanding or at prices higher than the market would allow.

    It was and is to insure that in catastrophic times (you’ll note it has rarely been used – never in recent times) – when many or even all farmers are experiencing catastrophic hardship – that the farmers who feed our country manage to survive

    Real insurance is what deals with catastrophes. We will always need food and farming will always survive in some form. What will not survive if you remove all the subsidies, mandates and tariffs is the inefficient farmers. The end result will be lower prices for the consumer and a more robust agricultural industry that can better deal with “catastrophes” and changes in the market place.

  282. 220mph says, “If you have factual support for your claim please provide it and we can discuss … others here have done that – your turn …”

    Go read the US farm report for 2010 for yourself.
    I have better things to do than waste time on shills for ethanol.

  283. John Q. Galt, a little late to the thread, were you at an ethanol drinking party? I can tell by the glazed talking points. Please provide a bit of substance if possible.
    220, how about loading up the trailer and testing uphill acceleration for both fuels. Presumably the engine auto-adjusts for the fuel, so you should see little difference in the fully loaded performance. The MPG test is a lot tougher since it can’t be done in a strictly controlled manner. But pick a stretch of really open highway (same stretch for both tests), no wind, and run it with cruise control with both fuels. Then get back to us with a fact-based emotion-free argument.

  284. 220mph, “I suggest people review the history of the Brazilian ethanol program as well. It provides a good roadmap of issues and successes.

    No it doesn’t. Anyone that cites wikipedia should immediately disqualify themselves as having any remote ability to research a subject. There has been no ethanol success in Brazil, they are using more oil than ever.

    - Brazil is the 7th largest oil consumer in the world (EIA)
    - Brazil has only 81 motor vehicles per 1000 people vs. 765 per 1000 people in the U.S. (Source)

    The Myth of Brazil’s Ethanol Success (Energy Tribune)
    Brazil’s Ethanol Program – An Insider’s View (Energy Tribune)

  285. Poptech,
    I understand that you want to be a purist in economic principle–and that’s fine.

    So explain to me–in real terms–how you would introduce a new transportation fuel into our present system. I’m making you a magic wand (somewhat limited) that enables you to produce a liquid transportation fuel that replaces, but is compatible with and can blend, with currently used petroleum based products.
    (gasoline only) Your fuel is slightly better than straight gasoline by say 0.5%. Your estimated cost of production at startup (50 million gal plant) is 10% higher than regular gas–but your models show that once you hit 10billion gals of production your wholesale cost is 10% less than straight gas.
    You have angel funding of $250 million
    Your development costs have been $50 million
    Your startup plant will cost $250 million
    The petroleum refiners are hostile and won’t talk to you and have already funded two studies @ $10 million a pop that refutes your claim of compatability.

    What do you do now?

  286. John Q. Galt, “Btw, Timothy Searchinger has only a law degree. Funny how skeptics quote warmongers when it supports ethanol-bashing.

    His credentials are more than that,

    Timothy D. Searchinger, B.A. Summa Cum Laude, Amherst College; J.D. Law, Yale Law School; Former Senior Editor, Yale Law Journal; Former Law Clerk, Judge Edward R. Becker, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; Former Deputy General Counsel, Pennsylvanian Governor Robert P. Casey; Former Senior Attorney on Agricultural Policy and Wetlands, Environmental Defense Fund; Co-founder, Center for Conservation Incentives; Former Special Adviser, Maryland Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources; National Wetlands Protection Award, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Law Institute (1992), Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States; Senior Fellow, Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute, Georgetown University Law Center; Visiting Research Scholar, Princeton Environmental Institute and the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University (2007-2008), Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer, Princeton Environmental Institute and the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University (2010-Present)

    Not to mention his paper had eight co-authors, such as:

    Richard A. Houghton, B.A. Biology, Hamilton College (1965), Ph.D. Ecology, State University of New York at Stony Brook (1979), Research Associate, Biology Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory (1967-1974), Research Associate, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory (1975-1984), Assistant Scientist, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory (1984-1987), Associate Scientist, The Woods Hole Research Center (1987-1989), Senior Scientist, The Woods Hole Research Center (1989-Present), Visiting Senior Scientist, Office of Mission to Planet Earth, NASA (1993-1994), Deputy Director, The Woods Hole Research Center (2005-2008, 2010), Acting Director, The Woods Hole Research Center (2009, 2011)

    Try again.

  287. jimlion, “Poptech, I understand that you want to be a purist in economic principle–and that’s fine. So explain to me–in real terms–how you would introduce a new transportation fuel into our present system. I’m making you a magic wand (somewhat limited) that enables you to produce a liquid transportation fuel that replaces, but is compatible with and can blend, with currently used petroleum based products. (gasoline only) ….

    If such a fuel existed that is cheaper to produce than gasoline, gets the same or more mileage and works in existing vehicles then it would get private investors on it’s own that would fund whatever is needed to bring it to market. That is how markets work. The problem is no such fuel exists. Ethanol (especially corn based) is not cheaper to produce than gasoline (without subsidies, mandates and tariffs), does not get the same or more mileage and does not work trouble free in all existing vehicles without being blended in low ratios.

  288. jimlion said “The petroleum refiners are hostile and won’t talk to you and have already funded two studies @
    $10 million a pop that refutes your claim of compatability”

    The only reason such a study was done or would be done is that the venture was political and there are competing rent-seeking interests. A venture capitalist would neither need nor read such a study pro or con, so the study would not exist.

    Imagine for a moment that Bill Gates wrote an operating system for IBM, but IBM requested an internal study for $10m and decided to go with CP/M instead. Or Gates read the study and figured he better not copy CP/M and become a billionaire because the study says he shouldn’t do that.

  289. Poptech,
    Sorry, but you avoided answering the question. I was hoping that you would recognize the monopolistic nature of our present system which naturally serves to destroy innovation.(which I view with as much dismay as government intervention)
    Private investors do not like to lose money and going up against the power of the petroleum industry does not excite investors.
    You also had a chance to address the issue of the strangelhold that refiners have over retailers.
    Your adherence to market principles is admirable, but you paint yourself (and the rest of us)into a corner that we must wait until the perfect fuel is developed to replace what we have. I shudder at the potential economic disuption that could ensue if we do not pursue alternatives while petroleum is affordable to our economy.

  290. Hot Rod,

    Thanks for taking the time to write that lengthy reply.

    I’ll pass on a copy of your reply to the local small engine repair man. Get his opinion, (though you were a bit less than diplomatic towards such fellows, I’ll confess.)

    I just wish I could get some gasoline without ethanol in it. Let me conduct my own tests.

  291. I’m amazed this comment thread is still relatively active. Obviously we have a number of ethanol fans here. I don’t believe converting corn to ethanol for use as a motor fuel is starving anyone here or abroad…yet. The mandated demand for ethanol has increased the demand (and market price) of corn. This is beneficial for grain farmers but results in higher expenses for the meat industry. Everyone ends up paying slightly more for food because government mandates ethanol use. Still, even this market distortion would be acceptable if ethanol production significantly offset the oil we import.

    No matter how you slice it, ethanol contains less energy than gasoline. This nonsense about “octane” is irrelevant. One may be able to build a high-compression engine to burn alcohol (been done for many, many years) but the alcohols remain a less energetic fuel. When you dilute gasoline with 10-15% ethanol you produce a less energetic motor fuel. Every vehicle burning these blends will get fewer miles to the gallon of fuel. The difference may be slight in some vehicles, more pronounced in others but it is still very real. The total economic impact over, say 15,000 miles of driving in a year is likely not that drastic relative to your total fuel costs. Still, it is a very real added cost just like food.

    The more significant expense to the taxpayer and the consumer is the subsidy paid to the ethanol producer and the fuel blender. This is what annoys me.

    Ethanol was born of good intentions: stop global warming, make lass polluting fuels, support the American farming industry, invent an entirely new industry (ethanol production), lessen our dependence of foreign. It was a politician’s wet dream. Trouble is…it wasn’t a very good idea. There are several dead giveaways. The most damning is that government had to mandate the use of ethanol. Also telling is that had to bribe the fuel producers with taxpayer money to get them to add to gasoline.

    Ethanol hasn’t delivered much on the promises. It has had almost no affect on oil imports. It has made our motor fuel less efficient but not less expensive. It has had no effect of real pollution and may in fact have made it worse. We’re forced to use it by legislative fiat then taxed to support it. It delivered on ONE promise. It resulted in the development of the ethanol industry.

    If ethanol had ever made any good economic sense the subsidies, mandated use and tariffs would be utterly unnecessary. If it made good sense to use as a motor fuel the private sector would have developed it. But now that the ethanol industry is well developed the subsidies should no longer be necessary. Further, if ethanol has indeed proven to be a viable technology the mandates should no longer be required.

    In truth the ethanol industry is the pernicious spawn of politicians. No matter what the advocates here say, without government dictated demand and taxpayer subsidy the industry would dramatically shrink (perhaps not collapse) overnight.

  292. Jimlion,

    ” jimlion says:
    March 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Poptech,
    Sorry, but you avoided answering the question. I was hoping that you would recognize the monopolistic nature of our present system which naturally serves to destroy innovation.”

    Your argument sounds reasonable on the face of it. A monopoly exists and private money cannot break into the market with this new fangled product – so the Government steps in and says ‘We’ll fund it guys.’

    Leaving aside whether or not the monopolist would benefit economically by developing the product itself, the problem with your ‘solution’ to the monopoly problem is that the Government has to make a business decision on what taxpayers should be investing their money on.

    But what if the Government were wrong? What if they chose a particular course of action, not because they have assembled a team of business experts and concluded that this is a superior product that will reduce the costs to society, but because it is seen to be ‘on message,’ or seen to be ‘doing something to save the planet,’ or for any other political reason? What if the whole strategy is fatally flawed; if the new product does not deliver on its promises, but actually ends up burdening society with hidden costs of enormous magnitude?

    Does that seem like a rational decision to you?

  293. One additional comment. I think Poptech alluded to this earlier. That is the myth of “energy independence”. No country that uses more oil than it produces will ever be energy independent – at least not in the next few decades. We can make all the electricity we will need with existing resources. We can heat our homes and businesses with natural gas. But like the rest of the world we need high energy density liquid fuel for transportation. The entire western world is in the same boat in this regard. We can’t possibly make ENOUGH ethanol to change this.

    A smarter application of the billions we have squandered on corn ethanol would have been the development of a viable coal-to-liquids industry. It’s tragic that the wealth wasted chasing the AGW fraud and cooking up moonshine could have been applied to the development of thorium reactors and more meaningful forms of “alternative energy” like CTL. Ethanol is a technological dead end.

  294. jimlion, “Sorry, but you avoided answering the question. I was hoping that you would recognize the monopolistic nature of our present system which naturally serves to destroy innovation.(which I view with as much dismay as government intervention)
    Private investors do not like to lose money and going up against the power of the petroleum industry does not excite investors. You also had a chance to address the issue of the strangelhold that refiners have over retailers. Your adherence to market principles is admirable, but you paint yourself (and the rest of us)into a corner that we must wait until the perfect fuel is developed to replace what we have. I shudder at the potential economic disuption that could ensue if we do not pursue alternatives while petroleum is affordable to our economy.

    I directly answered your question which has nothing to do with some imaginary scenario you laid out. There is no monopoly for vehicle fuels, there is simply ones that are more economically viable than others. Oil (gasoline and diesel) is primarily used because it is the most economically viable. The only thing that can stop the introduction of a competing fuel is the government. Successful private investors are not stupid and will not invest in something that is not a better alternative than oil (gasoline and diesel). The refineries are privately owned by oil companies and do not have to work with any company they don’t want to, especially a competing fuel. The Ethanol industry should build it’s own refineries if it wants and if the government is preventing that, well that is a problem with the government not the oil industry. If the Ethanol industries “success” is based on gasoline blends and it is not economical for them to do this in their own refineries, too bad – that is a bad business plan. The Ethanol industry sounds like a bunch of cry babies because their major competitor does not want to be used, “we can’t use their refineries, we can’t use their gas stations.” This is like Burger King complaining that McDonald’s will not sell their hamburgers and let them use their distribution facilities and that is why they cannot compete.

    Markets are very efficient and highly competitive if there is no government intervention. When the market price of oil reaches a point where another fuel is economically viable, it will be adopted on it’s own. Governments have no ability to pick winners in an economy and every time they attempt to it is an absolute failure and a waste of tax payer money.

  295. Caleb, “Thanks for taking the time to write that lengthy reply.

    I’ll pass on a copy of your reply to the local small engine repair man. Get his opinion, (though you were a bit less than diplomatic towards such fellows, I’ll confess.)

    I would not take anything he says as valid no matter how long winded it is without supporting documentation. He has stated repeatedly false claims here repeatedly.

  296. 220mph, “First, there are legitimate reasons to subsidize – we subsidize many things we “want” – without subsidies in early stages desirable “stuff” often doesn’t have a chance

    No there isn’t. Anything economically viable always has a chance, new products are introduced all the time that become successful.

    the goals of ethanol; renewable alternative fuel, domestically produced, and lowering carbon footprint vs fossil fuels are all worthwhile goals.

    This is all emotional rhetoric that does not have any basis in economic reality.

    Without availability of ethanol there will be few vehicles produced that use it. Subsidies and mandates created a finite base level initial demand. That gave the car companies a reason to build flex fuel vehicles. As the number of flex fuel vehicles has increases so to has availability of e85.

    Yes malinvestments relating to the Ethanol industry would not be possible without subsides, mandates and tariffs, that is correct. Instead the capital would have been properly allocated to what was most economically viable. The consumer and the economy would be better off.

    As of today the technology is such that ethanol is not the same price as gas. And for some reason Americans are loath to pay a penny more, even if there are significant benefits.

    Americans want to spend their money how they please not how you want them to spend it. They do not hold your emotional views when they do spend it.

    But the big gains come with cellulosic, and a little down the road other bio-fuels – cellulosic net energy balance will be at least double current corn values

    The magical gains from cellolosic ethanol do not exist.

    The oil companies receive big subsidies – massively higher dollar amounts than the comparatively small $6 billion ethanol receives annually. Other energy source receive similar subsidies. If you eliminate one you must eliminate them all.

    Not when the divide by total domestic oil production. That is fine remove them it still will not make Ethanol competitive.

    Most nations have an import tariff on fuel ethanol, and comparatively the U.S. tariff is nearly non-existent.

    It is irrelevant what other countries have. Another countries import tariff is never a reason to have one here. The tariff here is $0.54 per gallon and is very significant as it prevents competition from more energy efficient sources of ethanol such as ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil.

    Many claim we should buy Brazilian ethanol because it is cheaper. But is it?

    Obviously it is otherwise the tariff would not be necessary.

    Imported (including Brazilian) ethanol pays a 45 cent per gallon (for e85) secondary import tax. The reason for that tax however is NOT to make them less competitive with US ethanol. It is to OFFSET the fact that the US Courts ruled that the BLENDERS subsidy, intended for domestic producers, was required to also be paid for imported ethanol.

    No they pay $0.54 per gallon. Of course the reason is to make them less competitive! Are you delusional? There should be no subsidy for ethanol and the inefficient American industry should be forced to compete internationally, instead of punishing the American consumer so they can maintain their Ethanol monopoly here.

  297. Dr. Dave says:
    March 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm
    One additional comment. I think Poptech alluded to this earlier. That is the myth of “energy independence”. No country that uses more oil than it produces will ever be energy independent – at least not in the next few decades. We can make all the electricity we will need with existing resources. We can heat our homes and businesses with natural gas. But like the rest of the world we need high energy density liquid fuel for transportation. The entire western world is in the same boat in this regard. We can’t possibly make ENOUGH ethanol to change this.

    You mis-state my comments and those of many others, including the industry …

    There is no claim, never has been one, that ethanol will ever result in energy “independence” …. the claim is ethanol and other alternative energy fuels REDUCE our DEPENDENCE on foreign oils. They also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

    Those goals – along with the other positive benefits of ethanol – are real attainable results.

    Every gal of ethanol DOES reduce our use of foreign oil

    Every gal of ethanol used DOES reduce our use of finite fossil fuels.

    Further every gal of ethanol is renewable – we can simply grow more – the re-supply for that one gallon is infinite (note I did not say ethanol supply is infinite – its not – its limited by availability of feedstock to produce it – current meaning land to grow feedstock on)

    Notwithstanding the soundly and thoroughly “dis-proven” (since I don’t want to continue the hair-splitting with poptech over “rebutted/refuted”) claims of Pimetel, Patzek and Searchinger – who are each outliers when compared to the multitude of other studies and reports – every gallon of ethanol used creates more energy than is consumed in making it.

    And every gallon of ethanol produced and used decreases emmisions and carbon footprint.

    We CAN and ARE making enough ethanol to make a small, but significant impact on use of foreign oil and finite fossil fuels.

    The complaints over the subsidies are in the big picture really quite ridiculous. The people who complain about them have not bothered in my opinion to understand them – or place them in context.

    We produced appx 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol in 2010 … we exported appx 400 mllion gals and imported just appx 100 million gallons … net US ethanol in 2010 was appx 12.9 billion gallons …

    The total VEETC subsidy was appx $5.8 billion.

    The 54 cent TARIFF is a TAX – which generates revenue for the US – regardless it has all but been eliminated …. Brazil exported almost no ethanol to the US in 2010, and is now importing ethanol themselves. The majority of the small amount of ethanol we import pays NO tariff thru exemptions in the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the CAFTA agreements.

    We consumers paid virtually nothing in import tariffs this year or last.

    And as I showed above ….. using national average gas and e85 prices and the new car MPG difference between e85 and gas (e10) and driving a standard apx 12000 miless annually… today the ethanol benders credit (VEETC subsdy) costs appx $1 dollar per car per day

    Seems a very small price to pay for the benefits received.

  298. Poptech,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your responses and agree wholeheartedly. Carbon footprint? Yeah…horsespit! Before anyone gets too dreamy-eyed for cellulosic ethanol they might want to consider what the stuff they propose to make it out of is used for (e.g. compost and tillage).

    I’ve been on this planet for 54 years. Name ONE thing (other than ethanol) that came into existence due to subsidies in my lifetime. OK…let’s make it a little tougher. Name one USEFUL thing. Subsidies, mandates and tariffs are all artificial distortions of the free market. Remove them and all non-viable markets collapse.

    Good job!

  299. Dr. Dave says:
    March 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm
    Poptech,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your responses and agree wholeheartedly. Carbon footprint? Yeah…horsespit! Before anyone gets too dreamy-eyed for cellulosic ethanol they might want to consider what the stuff they propose to make it out of is used for (e.g. compost and tillage).

    Sorry Dr Dave, but thats a picture perfect example of refusal to educate yourself on a subject yet passing judgment regardless.

    You are concerned because cellulosic ethanol is made from “compost and tillage”?

    Whatever reason could there be that using these products to generate fuel would be a problem or issue for you?

    If the point you are trying to make is you cannot make fuel out of these products, all I can do is shake my head.

    Even the least educated among us understand that for example decomposition of these products creates methane gas – fuel from compost and tillage. Simplistically put the cellulosic process is a souped up version of natural processes.

    There are MANY feedstocks suitable for ethanol and/or bio-fuel production … trees, switchgrasses, yard waste, garbage, and many more …. they are all RENEWABLE resources

  300. Poptech,
    I am trying very hard to find areas of agreement–but you make it tough.
    “Markets are very efficient and highly competitive if there is no government intervention.”
    I agree completely—- in the energy arena—-name one.

    “But the big gains come with cellulosic, and a little down the road other bio-fuels – cellulosic net energy balance will be at least double current corn values”

    The magical gains from cellolosic ethanol do not exist.

    Amen, and not because I’m a corn producer, if I can produce a fuel crop and make money off of it–I’ll do it, but the cellulosic promise has been “5 years away” for about 25 years. Everytime a technological hurdle has been passed there have been more in the way. And no one has been able to deal with the feedstock logistic issue. I have a local startup company that is wanting to use corn stover as a feed stock for a gasification plant. I have to bale the stover, store it, and load it for delivery–for free. My supposed benefit is that I wont have trash management issues the following year. Huh–guess they never heard of soil organic content depletion.

    “The oil companies receive big subsidies – massively higher dollar amounts than the comparatively small $6 billion ethanol receives annually. Other energy source receive similar subsidies. If you eliminate one you must eliminate them all.”

    “Not when the divide by total domestic oil production. That is fine remove them it still will not make Ethanol competitive.”
    What???? I have no idea how you can make such a sweeping statement. The benefits received from the government by the oil industry is not a hard number–its such a subjective glop that any discussion is meaningless. The ethanol subsidies that you take so much umbrage with have-at most- 2 years of life left. The tax reconciliation package passed in December extends the blender’s credit (@ the $0.45 level) for two years. The industry is very much aware that the congress critters will not extend past that. In fact, were it not for a division of opinion between the 2 lobby players (RFA/Growth Energy) of how to proceed without it–a better compromise would have been reached. Of course the tariff will go once the blender’s credit sunsets. The Commodity Title within the Farm Bill is going to be dismantled in the name of deficit reduction–we know this is coming. So what is the basis for your assertion? Do you have a crystal ball that tells you what oil price will be–a month from now? 6 months?
    And every move up in oil price makes ethanol more competitive-without mandates, subsidies, tariffs.

  301. 220mph,

    Forgive me for asking, but have you ever taken a college level course in physics or organic chemistry? Judging by your responses I’m guessing the answer would be no. If you remove substrate for compost or tillage you have no more compost or tillage and all the benefits these yield. Shucks…you CAN make fuel out of this stuff…in theory (although currently not in practice on a practical scale). The question one must ask is should we? We can remove a proportion of feedstock and convert it into to corn liquor motor fuel without much harm.

    But even you, I assume, can realize that we can’t take a whole lot MORE than 40% of our country’s corn production for ethanol production with suffering some untoward consequences. We have uses for everything from corn cobs to garden waste. Do you suppose this might be altered by unfettered ethanol production? If there were mountains of unused, rotting corn cobs that might be one thing, but farmers are pretty smart (having had centuries to refine their craft). Modern farming is much like a modern slaughterhouse. There ain’t much waste. No matter what you start with you have to make ethanol out of organic material.

    The bitter truth is that we can’t possibly produce enough ethanol to make a significant difference in our demand for foreign oil (i.e. liquid transportation fuel). You can wish and want ethanol to be everything you hope for…but even under the best of circumstances, it ain’t. It’s a dead end like the steam powered automobile.

    I don’t care if you want to pursue it for for e85 vehicles…I just don’t want to pay for it.

  302. 220mph, “There is no claim, never has been one, that ethanol will ever result in energy “independence” …. the claim is ethanol and other alternative energy fuels REDUCE our DEPENDENCE on foreign oils. They also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

    Who cares about reducing our use of economically viable foreign sources of energy? We are more depend on foreign countries for computer equipment manufacturing than oil and our modern economy will not work without computers anymore than it will oil. Who cares about reducing our reliance on the most economically viable source of transportation fuel (oil)?

    Every gal of ethanol DOES reduce our use of foreign oil

    So does more people riding bikes and walking.

    Every gal of ethanol used DOES reduce our use of finite fossil fuels.

    All energy sources are “finite”, the Sun is “finite”,

    Myth: The World is Running Out of Oil (Video) (5min) (ABC News)

    Notwithstanding the soundly and thoroughly “dis-proven” (since I don’t want to continue the hair-splitting with poptech over “rebutted/refuted”) claims of Pimetel, Patzek and Searchinger – who are each outliers when compared to the multitude of other studies and reports – every gallon of ethanol used creates more energy than is consumed in making it.

    The papers I have presented do not have published criticisms where the author failed to respond or conceded. If the criticisms are valid they would be published.

    And every gallon of ethanol produced and used decreases emmisions and carbon footprint.

    False, as I have shown repeatedly. BTW most people here really don’t care about the ridiculous notion of their “carbon footprint”.

    The complaints over the subsidies are in the big picture really quite ridiculous. The people who complain about them have not bothered in my opinion to understand them – or place them in context.

    What is ridiculous is those who defend government welfare for corn farmers, government protectionism for the inefficient Ethanol industry and preventing consumer choice. Ethanol proponents do not want consumers to have the freedom to choose what fuel they can buy. It is green energy fascism.

    The 54 cent TARIFF is a TAX – which generates revenue for the US – regardless it has all but been eliminated …

    Taxes are bad for the economy and bad for the consumer. The government gets plenty of revenue they don’t need anymore.

    Brazil exported almost no ethanol to the US in 2010, and is now importing ethanol themselves. The majority of the small amount of ethanol we import pays NO tariff thru exemptions in the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the CAFTA agreements.

    No kidding Brazil did not export any ethanol because they cannot afford to with the tariff! If we import almost no ethanol and the ethanol we do import does not pay the tariff how is the tariff generating any revenue? You are like a perpetual contradiction.

    We consumers paid virtually nothing in import tariffs this year or last.

    Yes we did!!! They paid higher prices for gasoline and E85 because of cheaper ethanol that was NOT imported. Do you even understand economics?

    Seems a very small price to pay for the benefits received.

    No one except your fellow green energy fascist friends care about your emotional reasoning.

  303. 220mph, “Simplistically put the cellulosic process is a souped up version of natural processes. There are MANY feedstocks suitable for ethanol and/or bio-fuel production … trees, switchgrasses, yard waste, garbage, and many more …. they are all RENEWABLE resources.

    Your magic energy sources all sound great! Let me know when they are economically viable without government subsidies, mandates and tariffs.

  304. Dr.Dave,
    A very conservative friend of mine was very fond of saying that of all the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on NASA and the space program, only one useful product came of it—-

    Tang!! lol

    However–you really can’t be serious. Countless products have been government funded, especially on the the basic research side before private industry commercialized the process–including the medium we are using this very moment.
    One that I’m very proud of (since I am from the city) was the Northern Research Facility based in Peoria that developed the process for producing Penicillin.

  305. Eric (skeptic) says:
    March 8, 2011 at 8:12 am
    John Q. Galt, a little late to the thread, were you at an ethanol drinking party? I can tell by the glazed talking points. Please provide a bit of substance if possible.

    Hey Eric, go eat some corn smut. You can’t handle substance. You ethanol-bashers are as qualified to discuss agronomics as the first semester college hippies with Huffington Post blogs are qualified to discuss the carbon cycle.

    Poptech says:
    March 8, 2011 at 9:11 am

    His credentials are more than that

    Uh, no they aren’t. How is a career in eco-nazi policy advocacy something a AGW skeptic suddenly gets hard nipples for?

    Not to mention his paper had eight co-authors, such as

    Ah yes, the best non-agronomics science taxpayer money can buy. You sound just like a standard eco-tard with your appeal to authority.

    Facts:

    Corn produces 7,571 lbs dry matter per acre on 33% of grain producing farmland
    Soybeans produce 2,296 lbs dry matter per acre on 30% of grain producing farmland (less food)
    Wheat produces 1,920 lbs dry matter per acre on 23% of grain producing farmland (less food)

    Wheat is grown for various reasons none of which is due to efficient production of food.

    Wheat is tasty.
    Wheat makes tasty bread.
    Wheat is a winter cover crop and a co-product of hay crops.
    Wheat is a cool season crop to hedge against main season crops.
    Can’t grow corn.

    Soybeans are the miracle crop. Soybeans are 40% high-quality protein and 20% oil. Soybeans are more expensive by 300% relative to corn. Better be some damn high-quality protein.

    Any time we can replace more expensive crops is a good time. Growing corn instead of soybeans or wheat and then converting that corn into ethanol and protein replaces the services both soybeans and wheat provide to the marketplace: balancing the high-yielding, high-starch corn. When distillers grains are fed to livestock other sources of protein and energy are not fed to the livestock. This is called replacement. Because these other feed sources are not fed to livestock they are not produced. This frees up land for the crop that will be fed to livestock: corn. Corn is a more efficient crop to produce. Soybeans and wheat incure opportunity costs which are obvious when average yields are compared to corn. Opportunity costs are nothingness. Use it or lose it. That large empty space below corn’s 7,500 lbs av. DM yield is what nothingness looks like. Because we live in an Idiocracy where retarded children grow up feeling good about themselves simply because teacher gave them a banana sticker when they fail yet another test, people think not creating something is better than creating something and using it in a way that doesn’t immediately assist some crying African baby.

  306. jimlion, “I agree completely—- in the energy arena—-name one.

    I agree in the energy area governments are highly involved causing all sorts of problems.

    What???? I have no idea how you can make such a sweeping statement. The benefits received from the government by the oil industry is not a hard number–its such a subjective glop that any discussion is meaningless.

    Yes this is true but I am commenting on the numbers I have seen commonly argued before.

    So what is the basis for your assertion? Do you have a crystal ball that tells you what oil price will be–a month from now? 6 months?

    What assertion? All my arguments are based on current and past pricing.

    And every move up in oil price makes ethanol more competitive-without mandates, subsidies, tariffs.

    Yes the price of oil is artificially moving up thanks to government restrictions on domestic production, taxes, regulations (including mandated blends) and monetary inflation. Ethanol in reality it is not more competitive, the government is artificially making oil less competitive.

  307. Poptech,
    ” That is fine remove them it still will not make Ethanol competitive.”

    “What assertion? All my arguments are based on current and past pricing.”

    First line is an assertion. You are saying that even if you “level the playing field” that ethanol can never compete.
    It is also untrue.
    There was at least one period in time (2008 2nd quarter if I remember correctly) in which the wholesale price of ethanol was lower than spot rack for straight unleaded. Blenders were making a killing blending ethanol at a lower price, pocketing the credit, and were enjoying a rise in pump price all at the same time. Win, win, win for the petroleum blenders while at the same time ethanol plants were shutting down because of negative margins.
    You don’t need to repeat the chorus of “that’s the market with government interference”– and I am not whining—I agree –it is what it is.
    But these broad statements in regards to such a volatile market that we’ve had the past several years just cannot be supported.

    “Yes the price of oil is artificially moving up thanks to government restrictions on domestic production, taxes, regulations (including mandated blends) and monetary inflation. Ethanol in reality it is not more competitive, the government is artificially making oil less competitive.”

    At first I was going to break these two statements apart and try to dissect out the part I believe is true–but I can’t get past the use of the word “artificial” in both sentences. Monetary inflation induced by QEII, PIGS debacle, continued incredible federal deficits–here and abroad–resulting in rapid commodity price rises—can be called “artificial” all day long–but you might as well wade out in the ocean and try to hold back the tide. Not to mention that you are ignoring the fact that US oil production does not set or even hardly influences the global marketplace. The perception/reality of mideast unrest is the ballgame now. Obama could lift every restriction there is to US oil exploration/production and the market would yawn. The only folks that would be exercised about it would be the Grist.com, Huffington Post, and Salon.com people.

  308. Poptech says:
    March 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm
    220mph, “There is no claim, never has been one, that ethanol will ever result in energy “independence” …. the claim is ethanol and other alternative energy fuels REDUCE our DEPENDENCE on foreign oils. They also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”

    Who cares about reducing our use of economically viable foreign sources of energy? We are more depend on foreign countries for computer equipment manufacturing than oil and our modern economy will not work without computers anymore than it will oil. Who cares about reducing our reliance on the most economically viable source of transportation fuel (oil)?

    Your position is our reliance on foreign oil is no problem whatsoever? Do you read the papers? Watch the news? Have you checked oil prices or bought gas lately? You don’t think the oil price spikes because of the unrest in the Middle East is anything of concern? Your position becomes increasingly silly the more you go on …

    “Every gal of ethanol DOES reduce our use of foreign oil”

    So does more people riding bikes and walking.

    So notwithstanding your red herring and attempt at misdirection, you actually admit and AGREE that using ethanol reduces use of foreign oil

    “Every gal of ethanol used DOES reduce our use of finite fossil fuels.”

    All energy sources are “finite”, the Sun is “finite”, Myth: The World is Running Out of Oil (Video) (5min) (ABC News)

    No rational human being believe there is an infinite inexhaustable supply of fossil fuels on this planet. I do NOT think we are in imminent danger of running out, and I DO think such claims are over-exaggerated. I also absolutely think we should be drilling for our own oil.

    That said to take the position we should ignore energy conservation and ignore alternate fuel options is simply ridiculous.

    “Notwithstanding the soundly and thoroughly “dis-proven” (since I don’t want to continue the hair-splitting with poptech over “rebutted/refuted”) claims of Pimetel, Patzek and Searchinger – who are each outliers when compared to the multitude of other studies and reports – every gallon of ethanol used creates more energy than is consumed in making it.”

    The papers I have presented do not have published criticisms where the author failed to respond or conceded. If the criticisms are valid they would be published.

    ANY person who has researched the issue of net energy balance in even the least detail will know or find that Pimentel and Patzek have been the extreme virtually single outlier since the early 1990’s.

    A large number of other scientific reports and studies have come to dramatically different conclusions – all remarkably similar. Pimetel and Patzek – and Searchinger as well – stand virtually alone in their findings – while a myriad of other reports and studies all find similar results – at the opposite end of the spectrum from the claims of P&P and Searchinger.

    Additionally – there ARE a number of reports, reviews and the like that address the specific problems with P&P and Searchinger’s claims.

    Just a few of them – note these are specific rebuttals – there are at least a dozen separate papers and studies published that perform the same analysis on net energy yields as P&P do – and virtually all come up with conslusions dramatically different than P&P – all that I am aware of find a positive net energy balance:

    Michael S. Graboski of Colorado School of Mines and the National Corn Growers Association is one of the biggest challengers to Pimentel’s studies and conclusions:
    “A Rebuttal to ‘Ethanol Fuels: Energy, Economics and Environmental Impacts’ by D. Pimentel”. Dr. Michael S. Graboski of the Colorado School of Mines and National Corn Growers Association – Says Pimentel’s findings are based on out-of-date statistics (22 year-old data) and are contradicted by a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.

    “Comparison of USDA and Pimentel Net Energy Balances”. Dr. Michael S. Graboski Colorado School of Mines. Retrieved 9.30.07 — “The USDA analysis clearly shows, contrary to the Pimentel paper, that US farming and ethanol manufacture are very energy efficient, and that the energy content of ethanol delivered to the consumer is significantly larger than the total fossil energy inputs required to produce it. USDA estimates that ethanol facilities produce at least 1.23 units of energy as ethanol for every fossil BTU included considering all energy inputs related to corn farming, corn transport, ethanol production, and distribution and transport of finished ethanol.”
    Michael Wang and Dan Santini have composed multiple studies rebutting Pimentel’s findings:

    “Corn-Based Ethanol Does Indeed Achieve Energy Benefits”. Michael Wang and Dan Santini. Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory. August, 2001 – “Prof. David Pimentel’s 1998 assessment of corn ethanol concluded that corn ethanol achieved a negative energy balance (which is usually defined as the energy in a product minus energy used to produce the product). Unfortunately, his assessment lacked timeliness in that it relied on data appropriate to conditions of the 1970s and early 1980s, but clearly not the 1990s… With up-to-date information on corn farming and ethanol production and treating ethanol co-products fairly, we have concluded that corn-based ethanol now has a positive energy balance of about 20,000 Btu per gallon.”
    Michael Wang and Dan Santini of the Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory composed analyses on energy and emission impacts of corn ethanol from 1997 through 1999, which was said by one source to have debunked Pimenel’s 1998 study.

    They argue that Pimentel had been recycling his already-ancient data for at least 10 years.

    “NCGA Refutes Claims of Energy Imbalance of Ethanol”. National Corn Growers Association. Retrieved 9.30.07 – “Pimentel clearly does not understand the economics of ethanol manufacture” — a full rebuttal, from the US National Corn Growers Association.

    “And every gallon of ethanol produced and used decreases emissions and carbon footprint.”

    False, as I have shown repeatedly. BTW most people here really don’t care about the ridiculous notion of their “carbon footprint”.

    No you have not shown any such thing. Once again – you show a SINGLE paper – Searchinger – which is not supported by any other similar work I am aware of – while, as with net energy balance – there is a large body of work by many reputable sources – that clearly shows a reduction in emissions including GHG’s … which show ethanol benefits the environment in many significant ways.

    And these studies also show that the positive environmental benefits are dramatically increased, as is the net energy balane, when cellulosic ethanol is the process

    “The complaints over the subsidies are in the big picture really quite ridiculous. The people who complain about them have not bothered in my opinion to understand them – or place them in context.”

    What is ridiculous is those who defend government welfare for corn farmers, government protectionism for the inefficient Ethanol industry and preventing consumer choice. Ethanol proponents do not want consumers to have the freedom to choose what fuel they can buy. It is green energy fascism.

    No – it is a decision made after weighing all the evidence by a government of duly elected representatives. If you do not like it there is a simple solution. Vote the buggers out. Us conservatives just did that – and in a big way. And we are seeing the results of that public vote – with newly elected politicians stepping up and some making hard choices and taking unpopular hard positions.

    “The 54 cent TARIFF is a TAX – which generates revenue for the US – regardless it has all but been eliminated … ”

    Taxes are bad for the economy and bad for the consumer. The government gets plenty of revenue they don’t need anymore.

    How simplistically silly. Its like arguing with a rock. Taxes are NOT inherently good or bad. You clearly do not understand the purpose of the tariff in the first place.

    “Brazil exported almost no ethanol to the US in 2010, and is now importing ethanol themselves. The majority of the small amount of ethanol we import pays NO tariff thru exemptions in the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the CAFTA agreements.”

    No kidding Brazil did not export any ethanol because they cannot afford to with the tariff! If we import almost no ethanol and the ethanol we do import does not pay the tariff how is the tariff generating any revenue? You are like a perpetual contradiction.

    another grossly uninformed statement – yet it doesn’t stop you from rushing to your preconceived judgment. To claim Brazil didn’t export because they cannot afford to do so because of the tariff’s is, sorry … just laughable. First, the tariff costs Brazil virtually nothing – they paid 54 cents per gallon to the US but were paid the blenders credit which offset the tariff.

    Second – Brazil does not export because they do not HAVE ethanol available to export. They are current IMPORTING ethanol to meet their own needs.

    And had you bothered (or cared it seems) to try and understand, or done a little research on you own, you would have learned why the ethanol we do import pays no tariff (CBI and CAFTA exempts Carribbean and Central American country’s) and that indeed I made the point (see below) the tariff is NOT collecting hardly any money. It may still be on the books but it is not coming into play as there is little ethanol exported to US by country’s subject to the tariff.

    “We consumers paid virtually nothing in import tariffs this year or last.”

    Yes we did!!! They paid higher prices for gasoline and E85 because of cheaper ethanol that was NOT imported. Do you even understand economics?

    Once again totally false. First there was little or no ethanol available for export from country’s subject to the tariff. There was no cheaper ethanol supply available.

    More importantly – the claim of cheaper ethanol is effectively a fallacy. It is not simply true. Which I have already explained above. You have been clear you want ALL subsidies and tariffs eliminated. When you do that – if you eliminate 54 cent tariff paid to US by Brazil and eliminate 45 cent VEETC blenders credit paid to Brazil by the US – then Brazilian ethanol – even IF there was some available for export – would be almost exactly the same price as US ethanol…. there is NO “cheap” ethanol in Brazil

    “Seems a very small price to pay for the benefits received.”

    No one except your fellow green energy fascist friends care about your emotional reasoning.

    And that shows your true self. You cannot intelligently refute or rebut. So you call names. To call me a green fascist is so gigantically wrong all I can do is laugh.

  309. Pimentel and Patzek – a couple examples of the type serious flaws …

    They use outdated, old data – on things like fertilization levels, crop yeilds, efficiencies of the ethanol process etc – from memory I believe his 2005 study used 1979 data in a number of places …

    Another serious flaw is they

    (a.) gave zero value to beneficial valuable by products like high value distillers dried grains animal feed in the calculations, and worse;

    (b.) they assigned ALL inputs – all energy expended in the ethanol process – to the ethanol produced, despite the creation of a number of valuable byproducts – again things like distiller dried grains animal feed (which is a high value supplement vastly better for cattle and other feed uses) … they essentially treated these valuable byproducts as “waste” with no value

    That is what they call “cooking the books”

    An example – for illustration only and not intended to represent actual data …

    Assume creating one gallon of ethanol also creates distillers dried grains animal feed, plus an amount of corn oil, plus the remaining feedstock after processing is pelletized for burning as fuel …

    Lets assume when looking at the overall value of the all the products that:

    Ethanol is 60% of total value of all
    DDG animal feed is 30% of total value
    Corn oil/bio fuel is 8%
    And pelletized fuel from waste is 2%

    A legitimate proper study would assign 60% of the energy expended to ethanol, 30% of energy expended to DGS animal feed, 8% to corn oil and 2% to pelletized fuel.

    Pimentel assigns 100% of the energy “cost” – the energy expended – to the ethanol created – when in fact it only reflects a portion of the overall total value of all products created – in doings so he intentionally, purposely and knowingly inflates the energy required to produce ethanol.

    This combined with the other inaccuracies and old, outdated data are why Pimentels work is rebutted and not taken seriously – except by those with agenda’s …

    Unlike AGW there is a large degree of consensus – almost every study and report except Pimentel – that net energy yield is positive for ethanol …. just as the vast majority of similar studies on environmental impacts show a significant positive benefit to the environment from ethanol use

  310. Ethanol byproducts have a number of possible uses …. the distillers dried grains are used a a high energy, high quality animal feed … a very large quantity of DDGs is created with ethanol manufacturing process …. using these DDGs byproducts is generally considered superior to feed cattle corn – which they are physiologically ill suited to process.

    Feeding DDGs also reduces significantly the farm lands required to grow animal feed.

    Additionally studies have shown hown that DDGs have potential as an organic fertilizer and for weed control

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080712143153.htm

    Yet another study shows DDGs could be used as a non-petroleum-based filler in plastics – DDGS have a high fiber content and a molecular structure suitable for binding—two attributes that make it a candidate as a filler in plastics

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629075630.htm

    Another study also shows that DDGs could be used for food – The new foods could include cookies, breads and pastas that are low in calories and carbohydrates, but high in protein and fiber. The cookies are smaller than those made with all-wheat flour because the high-protein/low-starch combination keeps the cookie batter from spreading as easily as batter made with 100 percent wheat. But the batter bakes consistently. The main problem right now is appeal. The fermentation process used to make ethanol often imparts a bitter off-flavor and odor to distiller’s grains. But DDGs flour is often more nutritious than regular flour, because ethanol processing tends to concentrate the grain’s protein and fiber three- to nine-fold.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625221440.htm

    Used of this byproduct could well alleviate the claims about land use – expansion of acreage – and about ethanol replacing food … as of today it appears the primary issue stopping use for food is taste. Starving people each a lotta things it seems that don’t taste that good … but I also suspect intelligent people can overcome the taste issue with a little effort.

    NONE of my comments are intended to imply I’m a significant supporter of corn ethanol. I am not. I DO believe it is, within limits, a good interim PARTIAL solution … but I also believe that cellulosic ethanol along with various other biofuels from things like waste, algae etc will be a much more significant solution

  311. Poptech says:
    I directly answered your question which has nothing to do with some imaginary scenario you laid out. There is no monopoly for vehicle fuels, there is simply ones that are more economically viable than others. Oil (gasoline and diesel) is primarily used because it is the most economically viable. The only thing that can stop the introduction of a competing fuel is the government. Successful private investors are not stupid and will not invest in something that is not a better alternative than oil (gasoline and diesel).

    I feel I should point out that there ARE some private investors putting money into some alternative fuels – especially biodiesel. Willie Nelson and his biodiesel truck stop come to mind.

    I don’t recall hearing about any subsidies for his venture, though.

  312. Tony,
    Biodiesel receives a $1.00/gallon tax credit–and this credit goes directly to the producer. I do not know of any alternative energy research, development, operations that do not receive some form of grant, subsidy, tax credit, or mandate at the state/federal level.

  313. The notion that ethanol could not be competitive in a free market is not well founded; nor is the notion that cellulosic ethanol is technologically or industrially unproven or impracticable. In 1971, long before ethanol became a political football, and long before it attracted any subsidies, it sold commercially in the UK at 2.92p/lb, most of it produced by sulphuric acid hydolysis of cellulose. At that time when petrol was 34.5p/gall (4.73p/lb), of which 22.5p/gall was duty. Had the ethanol been used as an additive it would probably have attracted a duty ~1.85p/lb, for a total of 4.77p/lb. As such it would have been a cost effective octane enhancer for unleaded petrol, in the region of 5-10% by weight (though at that time we used leaded petrol almost exclusively). It would not have been cost effective as a mass market alternative to petrol (in the E85 region), assuming the same level of duty, but it wouldn’t have fallen far short either. Production and demand were low by today’s standards, but ramping them up would probably have meant significant reductions in unit cost, improving ethanol’s competitiveness further. There is no reason to believe that ethanol and petrol prices would be radically divergent in a free market (if one were actually on offer!); I suspect that the most probable outcome would be the continued use of ethanol as a 5-10% additive, with the continued dominance of petrol (including synthetic petrol) as the main fuel component.

    Please remember that just because the government imposes a mandate or creates a subsidy, it doesn’t follow that the mandated economic shift wouldn’t have happened without them. It is common practice for governments to introduce such measures so they can claim credit for improvements that would have occurred anyway (though possibly a little more slowly and more efficiently).

  314. Jimlion,

    “I do not know of any alternative energy research, development, operations that do not receive some form of grant, subsidy, tax credit, or mandate at the state/federal level.”

    The polywell (inertial electric containment) didn’t receive any funding at state/federal level. It was financed by the Navy, but the expenses were hidden within other headings, to prevent it from being discovered by the Government or the scientists at the big fusion research.

    I raised this point to illustrate that governments do not fund every line of research, and go with the mainstream. Governments are strictly consensus investors.

  315. Vince,
    I really don’t mean to be specious here–but I am very glad to be corrected that the Navy, DOD, DOE, and the 2009 economic stimulus act are not a part of the Federal government.

    Otherwise, I am glad that you mentioned this project–I vaguely remembered reading something about it several years ago–but you prompted me to look it up—Thanks!

  316. (Emphasis added)

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Business/A-Senior-HSBC-Economist-Warns-Of-Food-Riots-In-The-UK-If-Prices-Continue-To-Soar/Article/201103215948496

    Warning Of ‘Food Price Riots In The UK’
    10:23pm UK, Tuesday March 08, 2011
    Peter Hoskins, senior business producer

    A senior economist at the worldwide bank HSBC has warned of civil unrest in Britain if food prices continue to soar.

    Speaking on Jeff Randall Live, senior global economist Karen Ward cautioned that the UK could experience the kind of food riots seen in other countries.
    (…)
    She went on to highlight the link between high food prices and the escalating cost of crude oil.

    “More and more we are seeing that some of these foodstuffs are actually substitutes for energy itself, particularly biofuels. So I think the energy markets are a significant contributor to these food price gains.”

    The comments come as the United Nations warned the cost of food is now at the highest level for 21 years and set to rise further.
    (…)

    The rising cost of fossil oil makes the costs of food rise. Therefore we divert resources that could be used for growing food (when there’s a high demand and high prices for food) and instead grow crops for biofuels, causing further reductions in food supplies with still higher food prices. That makes sense? High fuel costs are making biofuels look more attractive. So will we be (eventually) producing enough biofuels to drive down fuel costs? Nah. What’s currently driving up fossil oil prices is speculation based on turbulent political conditions, not an actual lack of supply. These times shall pass, the prices shall drop, and the suppliers of fossil oil are smart enough to let those prices drop low enough to wipe out biofuels as an economically-viable alternative in a free market. They can raise prices after the capacity to make biofuels goes away, keeping them just above the potential biofuel prices to dissuade investment and the rebuilding of capacity. Only government intervention, likely as high fuel prices, will keep biofuels as viable with sufficient capacity in place for use as an alternate. Note, the high fuel prices can come from assorted taxes, but also from mandated use of biofuels as suppliers will be motivated to limit available supplies to maximize profits (here comes Bio-OPEC).

    It’s also an illogical displacement. Currently in the US we can’t grow enough stuff to convert to biofuels to displace our fossil fuel usage, even if we had the capacity to make that much biofuel, let alone increase the supply and reduce fuel costs, and that’s without still growing enough food to feed ourselves, let alone doing so affordably. But we can relatively easily develop new US sources of fossil petroleum (oil and gas), even pursue coal-to-oil, and drive down fuel costs while reducing food costs. We would be better off building nuclear plants for electricity, displacing coal as an energy source for electricity that would then be freed up for coal-to-oil, than switching to biofuels like ethanol.

    And yes, the goal should be thinking in terms of fuel and food self-sufficiency, for matters of trade balances if not in actual practice. We can, for example, sell Honduras some wheat while buying some bananas, but we don’t want to be caught where they stop buying our wheat but we must still buy their bananas as we are growing no substitutable crops.

    For those awaiting cellulosic ethanol or even algae oil, good luck. We can be successfully doing coal-to-oil right now while waiting for those biofuels to be competitive. If we did build up a successful coal-to-oil infrastructure, would those biofuels still be competitive? And for the cellulosic ethanol enthusiasts, how is it better than simply burning the raw material for heat (including electricity generation, even co-generation)? Or even simply running a composting operation making methane (natural gas) and mulch? Composting can generate substantial amounts of waste heat which can also be utilized.

  317. jimlion says:
    Biodiesel receives a $1.00/gallon tax credit–and this credit goes directly to the producer. I do not know of any alternative energy research, development, operations that do not receive some form of grant, subsidy, tax credit, or mandate at the state/federal level.

    I was not aware of that. I stand corrected – looks like Willie is getting subsidized after all.

  318. jimlion says:
    March 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

    “Vince,
    I really don’t mean to be specious here–but I am very glad to be corrected that the Navy, DOD, DOE, and the 2009 economic stimulus act are not a part of the Federal government.”

    Although I appreciate sarcasm as much as the next man, I really think you are missing the point. The Navy did fund polywell, and they are indeed part of the DOD. However, the point to note is that the Navy funded this in a clandestine way without the knowledge of the DOD and government, which was why the expenditure was kept below a threshold so that it avoided being a separate line item in the accounts.

    I hope you agree with my assertion that governments only fund mainstream science.

  319. Looks like there are legitimate problems with Ethanol and Small Engines,

    Is There A Killer In Your Boat? (Boating Magazine)

    To ascertain ethanol’s effect on performance, we ran separate tests of a 2008 Boston Whaler 180 Dauntless with the 150 hp Verado, once on E10 and again on ethanol-free gasoline. The ethanol-powered motor showed a slight fall-off in our performance tests. At maximum throttle, the engine running on ethanol dropped only 10 rpm from when it ran on gasoline. Acceleration time from a standstill to 30 mph was off by a 10th of a second — about 2 percent.

    Our fuel-flow numbers resulted in a similar gap between ethanol and straight gas. Economy fell off with E10 at a rate of a half-gallon per hour difference at 3,000 rpm, or $2 for every cruising hour.

    Mercury engineers weren’t surprised at our performance or fuel economy results. The company’s engines are tuned to hit horsepower, torque and fuel-burn targets with either E10 or unblended gasoline. “We’re actually calibrating our engines slightly richer to protect the customer who burns E10,” says Tim Reid, director of engine design and development for both Mercury and MerCruiser. This protection is needed because E10 contains oxygen molecules not present in straight gasoline. For a preset ratio of air and fuel, E10 burns leaner, increasing cylinder and exhaust temperatures. Adding a bit more fuel to richen the mix cools things down with E10, but wastes a bit of fuel when burning straight gasoline. [...]

    Many problems have arisen because ethanol is a polar solvent — electrically charged to make or break chemical bonds much the way magnets repel or attract each other. Gasoline is comprised of mostly nonpolar compounds.

    “I think it’s the interaction that’s causing the problems,” says Frank Kelley, Mercury marine’s fuels and lubricants specialist. This interaction strips years of gasoline varnish from the inside of fuel tanks, rapidly clogging fuel filters. It also rankles engineers who for decades assumed strong polar solvents like ethanol wouldn’t find their way into fuel. High-end builders, for example, preferred fiberglass fuel tanks, since they would — and did — outlast aluminum tanks many times over. But ethanol breaks down polyester resins, destroying tanks built in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and ruining attached engines in just weeks. [...]

    Ethanol does have innocent victims. My brother-in-law filled his 10-year-old 30-foot center console with E10 and then ran to his slip. A few days later my wife and I ran the boat barely two miles before deteriorated hoses choked its 225 Optimax outboards to a sputter. While the boat shouldn’t have fallen victim to ethanol, our Florida Keys vacation was a fatality. The inner liner of the fuel hose simply fell apart, clogging the fuel system. Jim Lawrence of J&B marine in Tavernier, Florida, had seen it before. “I found particles and pieces in the [fuel] filter,” Lawrence says. “Particles from the fuel tank should be flat, but these had a radius to them. When I pulled the hose off, it was pretty obvious.” In fact, rubber hose deteriorations are plaguing Floridians on boats only three years old.

    So why does ethanol attack supposedly resistant hoses? “Ethanol changes the chemical environment,” Kelley says. Years of soaking in ordinary gasoline and exposure to heat, cold and sun also affect hose chemistry unpredictably. “It would be awfully difficult to replicate [those conditions in a laboratory],” Kelley says. Still, he doesn’t see this as the likely cause for hose problems in South Florida. Instead, he blames phase separation, which occurs because polarized water molecules bond with polarized ethanol. In small quantities, the two stay suspended in gasoline, but add too much water and the mixture separates and settles. “We’ve always had phase separation. When you don’t have ethanol, it can take a few parts per million to get phase separation,” Kelley explains, meaning water in the bottom of gasoline tanks years ago also contained polar compounds from the gasoline. “With E10, instead of a few hundred parts per million of something coming out of the gasoline, it’s more like 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 parts per million. There’s no place for that amount of material to hide.”

    Kelley says the resulting cocktail expands anywhere from two to eight times beyond the original volume of water. “It gets sucked up into the engine. It doesn’t burn, and the combination of water and ethanol is extremely corrosive.”

    Phase separation might explain the geographic or sporadic nature of some problems. Two years ago on Long Island, for example, boats that had been running E10 for years suddenly had hose problems identical to those in the Keys. That also happened to be a particularly rainy summer. South Florida is certainly prime territory for water in fuel, but problems occurred even when tanks seemed fine. The key might be that phase separation is temperature dependent. Lake water and seawater buffer temperatures in fuel tanks, but fuel in hoses, filters, carburetors, fuel pumps and vapor separator tanks may phase-separate when temperatures drop — these are costly components that are inexplicably failing on boats using E10. “You’re getting a concentration of all things that damage polymers,” Kelley says. [...]

    South Florida also has long had problems with water in fuel. “My phone has been ringing off the hook for 35 years. Ethanol just made it ring more,” says Skip Trent, whose business is removing contaminants from gas and diesel tanks from Miami through the Florida Keys. [...]

    Unfortunately, when E10 phase-separates, it loses one or two octane points, so it has to be discarded. “With [unblended] gasoline, I could clean your fuel and tanks and return the good fuel. You’d lose maybe 10 gallons,” Trent says. “Now, if I test it and it [contains] ethanol, I’m going to dispose of [all] this material.”

  320. jimlion, “First line is an assertion. You are saying that even if you “level the playing field” that ethanol can never compete. It is also untrue. There was at least one period in time (2008 2nd quarter if I remember correctly) in which the wholesale price of ethanol was lower than spot rack for straight unleaded. Blenders were making a killing blending ethanol at a lower price, pocketing the credit, and were enjoying a rise in pump price all at the same time. Win, win, win for the petroleum blenders while at the same time ethanol plants were shutting down because of negative margins.

    I have seen nothing to support this claim. It is also irrelevant because a single quarter does not make something competitive.

    Monetary inflation induced by QEII, PIGS debacle, continued incredible federal deficits–here and abroad–resulting in rapid commodity price rises—can be called “artificial” all day long–but you might as well wade out in the ocean and try to hold back the tide. Not to mention that you are ignoring the fact that US oil production does not set or even hardly influences the global marketplace.

    It is still artificial and does not represent a true market price for oil. I was not talking about U.S. oil production but U.S. monetary policy which has a global effect on commodity prices, especially oil which is pegged to the U.S. Dollar since it is the world’s reserve currency.

    Obama could lift every restriction there is to US oil exploration/production and the market would yawn.

    Absolute nonsense. If every U.S. restriction was lifted you would see a significant drop in the price of oil. There are trillions of barrels of oil reserves in the U.S.,

    – 1.8 to 6 Trillion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Oil-Shale Reserves (DOE)
    – 100 Billion barrels of heavy oil are estimated in the U.S. (DOE)
    – 90 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the Arctic (USGS)
    – 89 Billion barrels of immobile oil are estimated recoverable using CO2 injection in the U.S. (DOE)
    – 86 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (MMS)
    – 60 to 80 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in U.S. Tar Sands (DOE)
    – 32 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in ANWR, NPRA and the Central North Slope in Alaska (USGS)
    – 4.3 Billion (167 Billion potential) barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana (USGS)
    – 3.65 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Devonian-Mississippian Bakken Formation (USGS)
    – 1.6 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Eastern Great Basin Province (USGS)
    – 1.3 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Permian Basin Province (USGS)
    – 1.1 Billion barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Powder River Basin Province (USGS)
    – 990 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Portion of the Michigan Basin (USGS)
    – 393 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. San Joaquin Basin Province of California (USGS)
    – 214 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Illinois Basin (USGS)
    – 172 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Yukon Flats of East-Central Alaska (USGS)
    – 131 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Southwestern Wyoming Province (USGS)
    – 109 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Montana Thrust Belt Province (USGS)
    – 104 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Denver Basin Province (USGS)
    – 98.5 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin Province (USGS)
    – 94 Million barrels of oil are estimated in the U.S. Hanna, Laramie, Shirley Basins Province (USGS)

  321. 220mph, “Your position is our reliance on foreign oil is no problem whatsoever? Do you read the papers? Watch the news? Have you checked oil prices or bought gas lately? You don’t think the oil price spikes because of the unrest in the Middle East is anything of concern? Your position becomes increasingly silly the more you go on …

    No, I have no problem with using economically viable foreign sources of energy. Why would I want to pay more for energy? Do you even know where our oil comes from?

    – The largest supplier of oil to the U.S. is Canada (EIA)
    – The second largest supplier of oil to the U.S. is Mexico (EIA)
    – Only 14% of U.S. oil imports come from the Middle East (EIA)

    So notwithstanding your red herring and attempt at misdirection, you actually admit and AGREE that using ethanol reduces use of foreign oil

    Your argument is so absurdly ridiculous. Yes using a more expensive gallon of ethanol that reduces fuel economy, has to be subsidized, mandated and protected by tariffs reduces the use of a gallon of economically viable foreign oil.

    Using any other fuel besides foreign oil would reduce the use of foreign oil, that does not mean it makes sense or is economically viable. Why not just ban foreign oil all together? That would REALLY reduce our use!

    That said to take the position we should ignore energy conservation and ignore alternate fuel options is simply ridiculous.

    Who is ignoring them? What part of economically viable do you not understand? I take it you never heard of Jevons Paradox?

    The Efficiency Paradox (Peter Huber, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
    The Jevons Paradox (CounterPunch)

    ANY person who has researched the issue of net energy balance in even the least detail will know or find that Pimentel and Patzek have been the extreme virtually single outlier since the early 1990′s.

    Incorrect,

    A Comprehensive Energy and Economic Assessment of Biofuels: When “Green” Is Not Enough
    (Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, Volume 20, Number 1, pp. 71-106, January-February 2001)
    – Sergio Ulgiati

    I conclude that the biofuel option on a large scale is not a viable alternative based on economic, energy and eMergy (amount of available energy [exergy] of one form [usually solar] that is directly or indirectly required to provide a given flow or storage of exergy or matter) analyses of the case study data and estimated possible improvement of yield and efficiency. This is true for developed countries due to their huge energy demand compared with what biofuel options are able to supply as well as for developing countries due to the low yield of their agriculture and competition for land and water for food production.

    Additionally – there ARE a number of reports, reviews and the like that address the specific problems with P&P and Searchinger’s claims.

    They are either not peer-reviewed or are not published criticisms of the papers I presented. If their criticisms were valid they should have submitted them to the journal so the authors had a chance to respond to them.

    No you have not shown any such thing. Once again – you show a SINGLE paper – Searchinger – which is not supported by any other similar work I am aware of – while, as with net energy balance – there is a large body of work by many reputable sources – that clearly shows a reduction in emissions including GHG’s … which show ethanol benefits the environment in many significant ways.

    Incorrect,

    Effects of US Maize Ethanol on Global Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Estimating Market-mediated Responses
    (BioScience, Volume 60, Number 3, pp. 223-231, March 2010)
    – Thomas W. Hertel et al.

    Releases of greenhouse gases (GHG) from indirect land-use change triggered by crop-based biofuels have taken center stage in the debate over the role of biofuels in climate policy and energy security. This article analyzes these releases for maize ethanol produced in the United States. Factoring market-mediated responses and by-product use into our analysis reduces cropland conversion by 72% from the land used for the ethanol feedstock. Consequently, the associated GHG release estimated in our framework is 800 grams of carbon dioxide per megajoule (MJ); 27 grams per MJ per year, over 30 years of ethanol production, or roughly a quarter of the only other published estimate of releases attributable to changes in indirect land use. Nonetheless, 800 grams are enough to cancel out the benefits that corn ethanol has on global warming, thereby limiting its potential contribution in the context of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

    What is ridiculous is those who defend government welfare for corn farmers, government protectionism for the inefficient Ethanol industry and preventing consumer choice. Ethanol proponents do not want consumers to have the freedom to choose what fuel they can buy. It is green energy fascism.

    No – it is a decision made after weighing all the evidence by a government of duly elected representatives. If you do not like it there is a simple solution. Vote the buggers out. Us conservatives just did that – and in a big way. And we are seeing the results of that public vote – with newly elected politicians stepping up and some making hard choices and taking unpopular hard positions.

    It is not “conservative” to support socialist economic policies, subsidies, mandates and tariffs are economically illiterate populist and progressive ideas.

    How simplistically silly. Its like arguing with a rock. Taxes are NOT inherently good or bad. You clearly do not understand the purpose of the tariff in the first place.

    Taxes are always bad for whomever in the economy is taxed. They are only good for the government. They are thus always negative towards economic growth. I understand tariffs incredibly well. They are a protectionist measure to protect inefficient businesses from competition with more efficient ones. I do not support protecting inefficient businesses from competition nor do I support the result which is increased consumer prices for the product that the tariff is applied to.

    another grossly uninformed statement – yet it doesn’t stop you from rushing to your preconceived judgment. To claim Brazil didn’t export because they cannot afford to do so because of the tariff’s is, sorry … just laughable. First, the tariff costs Brazil virtually nothing – they paid 54 cents per gallon to the US but were paid the blenders credit which offset the tariff.

    What are you talking about? Receiving the 45 cent blenders credit does not offset a 99 cent advantage to U.S. Ethanol producers who are not paying the 54 cent tariff. Brazilian ethanol producers are at a 54 cent disadvantage to U.S. ethanol producers due to the tariff.

    First there was little or no ethanol available for export from country’s subject to the tariff. There was no cheaper ethanol supply available.

    Of course no one would invest in increasing exports when the tariff makes that venture not economically viable. Don’t you understand that any such tariff discourages investment in exports to a country for the product a tariff is applied to?

    More importantly – the claim of cheaper ethanol is effectively a fallacy. It is not simply true.

    Then there would be no need for the tariff.

  322. Research on cellulosic ethanol (inspired by Paul Birch’s comment on March 9, 2011 at 8:15 am):

    Great review of the processes, historic and “emerging” methods, with yield info, dated 2002:

    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-017.html

    Near the bottom is “A partial listing of companies developing ethanol-from-cellulose technologies.” The first is BCI, “Plant to break ground in 2002″, using bagasse as the feedstock, a leftover product of sugarcane processing.

    Nice 2000 journal article on products of sugarcane processing, mentions BCI:

    http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/ci/30/i11/html/11taylor.html

    Bagasse is basically free for the shipping, making it attractive as a feedstock. It’s currently used for compost, animal feed, and is a source of furfural, from which valuable chemicals are derived. Note that in the above review, furfural is an undesirable product of acid hydrolysis, a first stage of cellulose-to-ethanol where the cellulose is converted to sugars but then the sugars rapidly break down into furfural and other degradation products, and those products can be poisonous to fermentation microorganisms. Bagasse may also be used for paper and particleboard.

    Found in the journal article:

    (…) Bagasse will be the feedstock when BCI (Dedham, MA) rebuilds a failed grain-to-ethanol plant in Jennings, LA, into a bagasse-to-ethanol plant (13). The technology for the plant is based on a genetically engineered strain of Escherichia coli developed by Lonnie Ingram at the University of Florida, Gainesville, which converts five- and six-carbon sugars to ethanol. The celluloses in the bagasse will be hydrolyzed with sulfuric acid and then subjected to fermentation with the patented Ingram bacteria.

    An article in Chemical & Engineering News (Dec 7, 1998) quoted Harry Parker, a professor of chemical engineering at Texas Tech University: “Mark your calendar for 18 months from now. I’m betting there will be no cellulose-to-ethanol plant in sustained commercial operation in Jennings.”

    As he predicted, the plant is yet to be built, although a groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 20, 1998. However, Louisiana’s bond commission has approved the sale of up to $120 millon in tax-free bonds to finance the plant (14), and BCI negotiated an $82 millon contract with a construction firm (15). Although the economic success of the plant is in question, the essentially “free” starting material and the 54¢/gal federal subsidy for ethanol are in its favor. Negative factors are the cost of shipping the bagasse from Louisiana’s 18 sugar mills to Jennings and the plant’s dependence on government aid. Making value-added products could eventually offset the high costs.

    Note the strange shift, BCI apparently went from rebuilding a “failed grain-to-ethanol plant” to “breaking ground.”

    Another BCI mention from 2000 is here, they opened a new development lab at the University of Florida.

    The project is partially supported by a $455,000.00 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Research Laboratory (NREL) located in Golden, Colorado. The NREL grant is one of the first steps taken by the Administration to support private sector initiatives in response to the President’s August 27, 1999 Executive Order: (…)

    BTW, that was President Bill Clinton’s E.O.

    Google found a 2006 BCI reference here on an apparently abandoned site, BCI is one of two ethanol companies mentioned. This yielded the following web site address, same as the address in the other 2000 mention:

    http://www.bcintlcorp.com/

    Don’t bother clicking, it’s a zombie site, the type that looks like it has content, has terms like might have been on the old site, but actually just serves up search results, as in “sponsored” links. I’ve seen this used before with the addresses of former companies, luring in people looking for the old site.

    The other company mentioned was Pacific Ethanol, a marketer and “traditional” producer of ethanol on the West Coast (uses corn). A March 7, 2011 newspaper article mentions how they had gone bankrupt, closed down, and are now restarting 3 of 5 production plants to take advantage of high fuel costs. Also (bold added):

    “Ethanol is an important part of the country’s energy picture these days,” said Neil Koehler, chief executive of the Sacramento, Calif., firm.

    That’s largely because of Uncle Sam. Concerned about U.S. reliance on foreign oil, federal lawmakers mandated that the nation quadruple its use of biofuels from 2008 levels, to 36 billion gallons annually by 2022. Corn-based ethanol is assured a 15 billion-gallon share of that market. Plus, it’s heavily subsidized. The federal government gives producers a tax credit of 45 cents a gallon. A number of states provide subsidies as well.

    On Pacific Ethanol’s site, “Latest News” item #2 (pdf) is about a 180 day extension being granted, they now have until June 27, 2011 to get their share price up to the $1 minimum to retain their NASDAQ listing. Currently, by the indicator on their site, they’re at 71 cents, with zero trading volume, and zero change.

    Under “Investors” they have their 3rd Quarter 2010 financial results, as a PowerPoint presentation converted to pdf. Near as I can tell from the unaudited numbers, they might have been profitable during those three months, or at least the adjusted EBITDA number is positive. Note the “Changes in Accounting Practices” slide, someone more well-versed in financial statements could find something off with recent changes, as well as the numbers.

    From slide 9 (pdf pg 10), “Executing Growth Strategy,” comes:

    Capitalize on growth opportunities afforded by state and federal regulations to increase the amount of renewable fuels in the transportation supply

    From the next slide, “Investment Rationale,” comes this in their list of recent accomplishments (bold added):

    Positioned company to leverage rowing market opportunity augmented by positive regulatory changes

    To mention it, that’s a rather glaring error (should be “growing”) in a document for current and potential investors. What does that say about this company?

    Adding everything together, it is clear that government-mandated use of (corn-based) ethanol and government-provided subsides, with the assist of high fuel prices, rescued Pacific Ethanol from mothballed status. Actually they failed before even with the federal subsidy (tax credit) of an amazing $18.90 per US oil barrel (42 US gallons), and while the current higher fuel prices may help, it is clear the California-based company is pegging their hopes on the “state and federal” government-mandated artificial demand for their product.

    In a free market, without government mandates, Pacific Ethanol would cease to exist, if it would have existed at all.

  323. Interesting Note:
    I’ve discovered another major reason for the surge in popularity for cellulosic ethanol. From Wikipedia’s Ethanol fuel in the United States entry, “Tax Credits” section (needs some updating, bold added):

    Blenders of transportation fuels receive a US$0.45 tax credit for each gallon of ethanol that is blended with gasoline, regardless of the feedstock; small producers receive an additional US$0.10 on the first 15 million gallons produced; and producers of cellulosic ethanol receive credits up to US$1.01. Tax credits to promote the production and consumption of biofuels date back to the 1970s, and the current credits are based on the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, and the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, and are due to expire on December 31, 2010.[29]

    Reference 29: “Using Biofuel Tax Credits to Achieve Energy and Environmental Policy Goals”, Congressional Budget Office, July 2010 (link to pdf).
    Those numbers are found in Table 1, on pdf pg 12, document pg 2. Some clarifications found there:

    A supplemental credit of 10 cents per gallon is currently available on the first 15 million gallons of ethanol made by “small producers” (those with a total annual productive capacity not in excess of 60 million gallons).

    and

    The cellulosic biofuel credit is $1.01 per gallon except that for cellulosic ethanol, the credit is reduced by the credits in effect for the mixture of ethanol with gasoline and for small producers. Accordingly, producers of cellulosic ethanol get the reduced cellulosic biofuel credit but are also eligible for the ethanol tax credit of $0.45 and may also qualify for the $0.10 credit for small producers.

    How does this all add up? From document pg VIII, pdf pg 10, among “CBO’s main conclusions”:

    After adjustments for the different energy contents of the various biofuels and the petroleum fuel used to produce them, producers of ethanol made from corn receive 73 cents to provide an amount of biofuel with the energy equivalent to that in one gallon of gasoline. On a similar basis, producers of cellulosic ethanol receive $1.62, and producers of biodiesel receive $1.08.

    But that $1.62 for a gallon gasoline equivalent isn’t the whole story.

    The costs to taxpayers of using a biofuel to reduce gasoline consumption by one gallon are $1.78 for ethanol made from corn and $3.00 for cellulosic ethanol.

    From here, in case you were wondering, is mention that the cellulosic ethanol tax credit was also extended to 2012. (BTW, the USDA is providing loan guarantees for cellulosic ethanol developers, for loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars. With loan providers thusly shielded from losses due to loan defaults, speculative lending increases.)

    Thus it is noted:
    1. Cellulosic ethanol receives about 2 1/4 times the subsidy of corn-based ethanol. That alone is a major incentive to develop and produce cellulosic ethanol.
    2. If a US taxpayer at the pump could decide between using gasoline or cellulosic ethanol, not only would they be paying $3 for every gallon of gasoline they decide to not buy, they’d still be also paying for the cellulosic ethanol they buy. That’s a pretty hefty cost for something the CBO concluded still isn’t commercially viable even with the $1.01/gallon tax credit.

  324. Remember, ethanol is taxed at the same rate as gasoline at the u.s. federal and most state levels and so the net tax rate at the pump is approximately 50% greater when corrected for btu content (net mileage). It’s even worse when compared to diesel considering greater engine efficiency on that platform. The exception to this is when it is blended with gasoline where it is not taxed at all at the federal level. The same per-gallon tax rates also apply to sales taxes and other fees.

    Comment jockeys with some scientific graphing software feel free to visualize the data found in these charts: http://www.api.org/statistics/fueltaxes/

Comments are closed.