We Had To Pave The Environment In Order To Save It

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Trading food for fuel, in a world where high food prices already affect the poor, has always seemed like a bad idea to me. If I have a choice between growing corn to fuel SUVs versus growing corn to make tortillas, to me that’s a no-brainer. I’ve known too many people for whom expensive tortillas are unobtainable tortillas to vote any other way.

Oil from corn fieldFigure 1. The preferable kind of corn-field-based fuel, brought to you by a corn field in Michigan. SOURCE

As a result, I’m a long-time opponent of turning corn into fuel. I think it is a crime against the poor, made the worse by the unthinking nature of the ethanol proponents as they advocate taking food out of poor kids’ mouths.

But that’s not the only way that our monomaniacal insistence on renewable energy is taking food from the plates of the poor. For example, tropical forest has been cleared for oil-palm plantations for fuel. But even that is not what this post is about. This post is about trading food for energy in California, the breadbasket for the nation. Here’s the headline:

Fresno County judge rules in favor of I-5 solar project

Jan 03 – The Fresno Bee, Calif.

A Fresno County judge has ruled that a solar energy project along Interstate 5 can move forward despite arguments from the state farm bureau that it will eat up valuable California farmland.

The decision, which comes as good news to the state’s burgeoning solar industry, is the first handed down in the ongoing land war between solar developers seeking real estate for renewable energy and Central Valley farmers trying to protect their tillage.

While the ruling pertains only to the Fresno County project, the decision sends a message across the Valley that agriculture doesn’t necessarily reign supreme.

“I do think it gives a boost to the solar development community,” said Kristen Castanos, a partner at the law firm Stoel Rives in Sacramento who has represented energy ventures and tracked solar efforts on farmland. “This gives counties and developers a little more confidence in moving forward.” SOURCE

This is unbelievably short-sighted. The only good news is that compared to say buildings, it’s much easier to remove a solar installation and return the land to actually producing food. Not easy in either case, but easier for solar. But the good news stops there.

The bad news is, the power thus produced will be much more expensive than power from either fossil fuels or hydropower. But both fossil fuels and hydro are verboten under Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown’s plan to get 30% of all electricity from renewable sources, with “renewable” meaning “renewables other than hydro”. Thirty percent! This madness has already given us some of the highest electrical rates in the country, and we’re not even near to 30% renewable yet.

The worse news is what the dispute was about. California has a strong farmland act, called the Williamson Act. If you put your farmland under the Williamson Act, you can’t develop it, it has to stay farmland. In exchange you get various tax advantages. The important thing to note is that it is a legal contract between the State of California and the owners of the land. This is to prevent the landowner from taking the benefits and then developing the land.

In this case, the article cited above goes on to say (emphasis mine):

Superior Court Judge Donald Black found last month that Fresno County officials acted appropriately two years ago when they canceled a farm-conservation contract that allowed a solar development to proceed on ag land near Coalinga.

The California Farm Bureau Federation sued the county, alleging that the Board of Supervisors did not have the right to cancel the contract put in place under the state’s farm-friendly Williamson Act.

Black said county supervisors met Williamson Act requirements for canceling the contract.

“All parties concede the development of renewable energy is an important public interest both in the state of California and in Fresno County,” Black wrote.

I’m sorry, but there is no public interest in wildly expensive solar power. Nor should  County officials be able to break a legal contract at their whim, based on some fanciful claim of a public benefit. The only people being benefitted here, above the table at least, are the owners of the project. The owners will be paid a highly inflated price for their power, which I and other ratepayers will be forced to subsidize. Expensive subsidized energy is not in the public interest in any sense.

In any case, breaking a Williamson Act contract to put in a solar installation definitely reveals the profound hypocrisy of the people behind the project and the useful idiots that support it. They’re approving massive, hideous development on prime farmland in order, they claim, to save the environment. Yeah, pave it to save it, that’s the ticket …

It also sets an extremely bad judicial precedent for future breaking of Williamson Act contracts. Since Kelo vs. New London the expansion of the “taking” powers of governments under the infinitely flexible rubric of “public interest” has ballooned unbelievably. Now we are to the point where they can even take away Williamson Act protections.

The Williamson Act is there to protect the totally irreplaceable, amazingly productive farmlands of California. The Fresno County officials are breaking the intent and spirit of the Williamson Act so that private developers can make a fortune picking the ratepayers’ pockets … and that’s supposed to be in the public interest? Spare me. For me, a kid who grew up on the good rich California earth, that’s a very sad day.

So yes. The idea that you shouldn’t allow the development of solar installations on some of the world’s finest farmland, not just any farmland but farmland legally protected under the Williamson Act, appears to be history in Californica. Infinitely stupid.

Y’know, I love the land here—the fold and break of the coastal hills dropping into the ocean; the wide valleys full of farms; the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where I grew up, towering over the Central Valley; the crazy, blazing deserts; the forests and groves full of deer and fox and mountain lion; and my own little corner where I live in the middle of a redwood forest, with a tiny triangle of the sea visible through the coastal hills. What’s not to like?

But I am roundly fed up with the government, and with the ‘lets power the world on moonbeams, we can all ride high-speed unicorns for transportation and just eat veggie-burgers’ crowd of folks that thinks losing irreplaceable farmland is a good thing in a hungry world, and thinks that hydropower is not renewable energy …

Regards to all,

w.

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As far as the corn is concerned, and these facts have been presented to you by varous commentators time and time again, False dichotomy. We don’t raise the kind of corn you can make tortillas from. The surplus the government engineers us to raise will either rot on the ground at the elevator or be converted into distillers grains for cattle feed and alcohol to lower your exhaust emissions. The infrastructure is not in place for switching to flint corn, either.

Martin

This is a fascist response to a fascist intiative, leading nowhere but downwards. Fascism from an economic standpoint consists of private “ownership” with state control. The state should be forbidden constitutionally from regulating the use of land for any purpose. It’s a private matter.

Greed and Karma….
Re Kelo v. City of New London
Wikipedia:
In spite of repeated efforts, the redeveloper (who stood to get a 91-acre (370,000 m²) waterfront tract of land for $1 per year) was unable to obtain financing, and the redevelopment project was abandoned. As of the beginning of 2010, the original Kelo property was a vacant lot, generating no tax revenue for the city. It is still vacant.

Ken Mitchell

I’m all in favor of building privately-financed solar power facilities on suitable land; for example, in deserts such as Death Valley. But here in CA-CA land, our senator “Ma’am Barbie Boxer” has blocked a Death Valley solar proposal – because it might impact some underground tortoise or something.
Too bad the orchard owners can’t find some rare tree slug that needs to be protected!

Willis, you need to understand that farming is environmentally nasty. It’s dusty, dirty, they use chemicals and it displaces the natural wildlife. Replacing all that nasty farmland with nice, clean solar is a net positive. So what if the electricity is more expensive, the net CO2 reduction is 0 because you have to have conventional electrical capacity on line to make up for lows and it displaces food? We have the rich to tax for subsidies and food stamps for the poor. It’s all covered. Besides, do you think people own the land? The government owns the land, so they can do with it as they please. Besides, there is more tax money and more graft in the solar, so why wouldn’t they want to steal the land?

Jim Clarke

Who is John Galt?

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead back in Kurdistan

Right on, Willis. they are mad. I hate ad hominem, but I’m sorry, there is no other means to describe modern government as protector of the human interest.

John Phillips

Steve Schaper said “As far as the corn is concerned, and these facts have been presented to you by varous commentators time and time again, False dichotomy. ”
I’ve never heard that before, not that I hear everything. But I’m quite sure I could take any hybrid of corn, grind it up into flour, and make a tortilla out of it. But even if what you say is true, because the price of corn is so high, most likely because of the diversion to ethanol, the acreage devoted to corn has gone up considerably. Therefore, there is less farmland to devote to other crops. So all prices on all crops have gone up, not just corn. The farmers love it. They are getting rich.

You know… that “$1 per year” part of the Wikipedida article on Kelo v. City of New London reminds me of “16th section land” in Mississippi and similar things from other states.
As originally envisioned and laid out, the revenue from every 16th section of land was to be used to finance the operation of the school system. This land remained the property of the government and could only be leased, not sold, to private entities.
Generally it was leased out at a dollar per year to people with connections to members of the government.

AndyG55

Is there a count of how many trees are chopped dowm to make way for wind turbines, or to provide access to land for wind turbines ? …………………….
WHY ARE THE GREENS SOOOOOOOO ANTI-ENVIRONMENT ????????

tgmccoy

We do convert food to fuel-due to the acreage of the land being taken to grow fuel crops.
Agree 100%…

pkatt

Ken that is exactly the way to fight such bureaucracy, use their own rules against them. Im sure there is an endangered creature somewhere out there 🙂 🙂

TomE

This is the same logic which allows windmill farms that kill 1000’s of birds but blocks harvesting of timber because it might impact a bird, the spotted owl. The logic and the hypocrisy of the enviros is beyond my comprehension. I would call it bad science but I see no science involved.

Isn’t there a desert or two in California?

Willis Eschenbach

Steve Schaper says:
January 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm

As far as the corn is concerned, and these facts have been presented to you by varous commentators time and time again, False dichotomy. We don’t raise the kind of corn you can make tortillas from.

Steve, you miss the point. You can use the same land either to grow food or to grow fuel. That is what we call a real dichotomy. Call me crazy, but I vote for growing food. One reason is that the world has a much greater thirst for energy.
I just ran the numbers. According to the FAO’s fantastic dataset FAOSTAT, humans in 2009 consumed about 2.9E+16 joules of food energy.
During the same year, the BP Statistical Workbook says that humans used 4.6E+20 joules of primary energy in all forms.
This means that we are using ten thousand times as much fuel energy as food energy. Which in turn means that given the chance, filling only a few percent of global fuel consumption could use every hectare of arable land on earth …
Finally, the most infuriating part of the equation is that it is imposed by force. Refiners are forced to adulterate perfectly good gas with an inferior diluent. That’s sputter-inducing. If it were a valid solution to the energy problem, people would be falling all over it. But it’s not. It is a bogus solution to an imaginary problem, held in place by government fiat at my expense … which is why I sputter. That’s why at the end of the day the numbers don’t matter.
w.

TimTheToolMan

Keb writes “I’m all in favor of building privately-financed solar power facilities on suitable land; for example, in deserts such as Death Valley.”
I’m in favour of decentralised Solar installation. Solar panels on every roof. Centralised power generation is better suited to large efficient methods like nuclear, gas turbine or even coal.
If every one of the proposed panels were to be placed on someone’s roof instead, then there is no need to use the farmland at all for the same energy output. And less need (probably no need) to change the transmission infrastructure.

Dr. John M. Ware

To Mr. Schaper: The ground in question can raise many crops, not just corn, I’m sure. Out of production is out of production, whatever the other contemplated or mandated use. Stupid ideas remain stupid, whatever the rationalization. Solar power still depends upon expensive and land-hungry installations to produce part-time electricity that has to have a back-up elsewhere in order to be useful. Willis’s point remains valid.

Bill Illis

The Law of Unintended Consequences. Green projects hurting the poor once again. Most Green supporters do not understand that this what their policies are actually doing.
They are promoting them because they think they will do good. But they are causing pain instead and are hurting poor people while making some investors richer. Opposite to what they wanted. They need to understand this.

Kermit

So, Willis, you want central planning. Well, so do the climate alarmists. All we need to do then, is to decide who is going to do the planning! This just re-enforces my long held view that when someone is very bright in one area, he tends to make up for it in some other area.
Looking at corn production and consumption, I can make a case that this year having acres in corn production that was planned to go for ethanol could very well have limited the price increase in this drought year. Corn that was planted to go to ethanol has been diverted into production of (mostly) meat. We have imported large quantities of ethanol made from sugar to replace some of the domestic product. IMHO, there is no better method of allocating resources than the marketplace. We’ve seen just how central planning has turned out in recent history, but we still think it must work here in the US.
Probably the most ironic thing about central planning is how Greenspan thought he could plan the economy. Think about it – one of the inner circle of Ayn Rand. He seemed to think that central planning would work – as long as he was doing the planning. Well, we see where that has led us.
Let the marketplace work. If you feel the need to help people buy the necessary food to live comfortably, that is a political problem, and money can be provided so that they can buy what they need in the marketplace. If there is demand, believe me, the market will respond much better than any centrally planned economy.

Gail Combs

GRRRRRrrrrr….
You already know my feeling on this subject Willis.
The word Traitor comes to mind.

This madness has been over the top for a long time. The only thing that is going to speed up the death of this scam is anger from the ordinary citizen. Fortunately they are waking up and beginning to frown. The Greenie promise is proving false, and stirrings are beginning. That’s reflecting through the way politicians are beginning to hesitate on all things Green, particluarly Green waste and Green lies. It’s coming. Painfully slowly, but it is coming.

tommoriarty

Nobel prize winning biochemist, Helmut Michel, says all biofuels are “nonsense.”
See…
http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/nobel-prize-winning-biochemist-says-all-biofuels-are-nonsense/

Lew Skannen

Has anyone worked out how much diesel alone goes into each litre of ethanol produced. I suspect that it is getting close to a litre…

John M. Chenosky, PE

Ken Mitchell said: ” To bad the orchard growers can’t find a rare tree slug that needs protecting”
Au contrare it is the Waxman slug.

Willis Eschenbach

Kermit says:
January 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm

So, Willis, you want central planning. …

Dang, is my writing that bad? Did anyone else think that was what I said?
What I want is for the Williamson Act contracts to be honored, instead of being improperly nullified via a government “taking”.
w.

Jeff L

Not sure of the validity of this , but I was sent this link from my sister, who lives in Orange Co., CA, & is totally fed up with the state of the CA govt (and is quite discouraged by this link as they want to tax them leave the state). Imagine, being taxed if you leave the state. Note in the article that the revenue generated by the tax to leave the state will be used ” to acquire shares of specified corporations to influence environmental policies and practices.”
Yeah, that sounds like something the government should be involved with (sarc). See link for more :
http://www.conservativecrusader.com/articles/exit-stage-left-california-s-proposed-departure-tax
If true & it passed, this is not going to make things better in the Golden State, but is certainly in line with the decision referenced in this post

Mike Smith

It makes me angry too. Even worse, I see no respite. A huge proportion of the sheeple support this nonsense. The more “educated” they are, the more they support it — because all of the leftist indoctrination in the public schools and our universities. Sadly, they are churning out new Moonbeam and Obama voters at a rate that is truly frightening.

Ian W

And as you fill your ‘flexfuel’ tank with 10% or more ethanol from corn – remember that every 5 seconds a child dies from hunger. http://www.bread.org/hunger/global/
So wasn’t it a good money making idea to mandate using land that could grow food crops should instead grows crops for fuel. Nothing to do with the destruction of the grain reserves so that hedge funds could do future trading in food-stocks of course. (As you read this another 2 children have died – who cares?! – look how much money the hedge funds are making)

john

This site will occupy 90 acres and supply enough power for 18,000 homes. Solar power cost is now.less.than $2 per watt. Please try and tell the truth.

Chris Riley

Private markets allocate resources efficiently. When Government over-rules markets the result is an inefficient allocation of resources, and a reduction in national income. We now have a political system that is designed to produce poverty and it is doing so. Why is anyone surprised?

john robertson

The Regulatory Class is ever here to help us.
Usually into oblivion.
But they are helpfully destroying the society they live off of.
Will your opinion of your govt, be higher tomorrow?
I was not this cynical before I watched that movie,narrated by the bulbous hypocrite, which gave my BS detectors a massive overload.
CAGW Belief complete with the law of unintended consequences, created by govt, pushed by govt and protected by govt.
Using our tax dollars to attempt to destroy the Nation state, which all civil servants swear an oath to protect, is called treason.
Whats funny is the people who still insist that their contract with government will be honoured, while they stand silent (or in support) as govt disregards contracts and steals from the public.
Must be a post modern thing, the laws the law except for when it applies to me?

starzmom

I am horrified. My family has been asking if our conservation easement (sale of development rights to the state) protects the land from future development. I have said that it does–it is supposed to be an easement in perpetuity. But if we were in California, I guess not. Willis is right, contracts and easements must be honored. Otherwise, what’s the point? This owner has received the benefits of a farmland easement (of sorts–not sure of the law in California), and now will enjoy the benefits of this renewable project to the detriment of productive farmland. Does he have to refund his easement benefits?

Willis — Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments about the folly and inhumanity of subsidizing and/or mandating ethanol, but I wonder if you lost a few zeroes in your calculation for food consumption — Best regards — Goks

AllanJ

Kermit and Chris Riley are right that the marketplace is best at allocating resources. But when the government requires that some percentage of fuel include ethanol it disrupts normal marketplace allocations. It drives up the price of ethanol and has the same result as a direct subsidy.
The percentage of our economic activity that is market driven as opposed to regulation driven is an interesting measure of our remaining liberty. I am afraid that in the case of renewable energy the market has very little influence.

OssQss

Plow, plant, fertilize,water, harvest, process, and truck.
Corn requires more energy than it produces to make the end resulting 30% less efficient fuel.
On Solar, I live near a 150,000,000 dollar solar plant that serves 3,000 people,,,, part of the time.
Does anyone actually think a solar field is natural and Eco-friendly?
Have you actually ever viewed one in person?
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-b5JZbJNzixA/T_xP6gQOWwI/AAAAAAAAZGY/4HkZ_dWVdng/s1600/Obama%2Bat%2Bthe%2Bsolar%2Bfield.jpg

S. Meyer

Hi Willis,
As always, a thought-stimulating post. Now, I have noted that many people posting here are very much opposed to government regulation, incentives, taxes etc to influence the way we produce energy. My question then is this: Imagine there was no government involvement at all, no energy-related taxes, no requirement to put ethanol in gas, no subsides for biofuel.. If that were the case, and some entrepreneur would find it profitable to build solar panels next to I5 – would you still be opposed? (I would, because the area is just too beautiful to desecrate like that..)

Chuck Nolan

Steve Schaper says:
January 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm
As far as the corn is concerned, and these facts have been presented to you by varous commentators time and time again, False dichotomy. We don’t raise the kind of corn you can make tortillas from. The surplus the government engineers us to raise will either rot on the ground at the elevator or be converted into distillers grains for cattle feed and alcohol to lower your exhaust emissions. The infrastructure is not in place for switching to flint corn, either.
——————–
That still doesn’t make using corn for gas a good idea.
cn

Grey Lensman

Willis,
A very simple question for you.
What is the current actual achieved Kw/Hr per acre of Solar power in California? The actual 24/7 averaged figure.
Answering this simple question, opens up many more, such as why do they need so many “pilot” or “test” or “concept” plants? Seems they get billions in “research ” dollars is one simple answer.

Steve: I thought most of the corn grown in the US was field corn, which is what Mexican tortillas are reportedly made from. The US exports corn to Mexico for this purpose. Recipes for corn tortillas start with dried field corn. Don’t cattle eat dried field corn, as do horses, ducks, etc? What kind of corn do we grow?

Willis
A technical point. Several years ago I did a project to measure the solar viability of the land at the Techachapi wind park. It turns out at the altitude in question that it is far more productive than just about anywhere in the state AND the electrical infrastructure is in place to handle the power in a much more environmentally friendly way.
I also have access to 83 acres of land in the middle of the park.
If any of the attorneys for the opposition would wish to contact me about this, Anthony has my email address.
All that has to be shown is that there is a greater public benefit for using land already set aside for this activity than by taking Williamson Act farm land. This can easily be done.

john robertson says:
January 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm
“…Using our tax dollars to attempt to destroy the Nation state, which all civil servants swear an oath to protect, is called treason…”
*
Totally agree. It’s the same here in Australia – and Gillard is guilty of treason as I understand it. It is the same in many countries. The whole Green agenda is designed to destroy civilization.
Perhaps “treason” is a term we need to introduce into the thoughts of ministers and senators more frequently. Perhaps into the press, too, as at least that smells of something exciting. Perhaps our “leaders” need to be reminded that they are meant to be working for the people, not enslaving them, not crippling them, starving them and killing them through neglect and willful criminal behaviour. The “leaders” most into this scam know full well it is a mockery of science and a lie.

Robert of Ottawa

I heard somewhere, once only, that the initial “Arab Spring” riots were, in fact, food price riots.
It is morally criminal to burn food in engines or cover agricultural land with umbrellas. I bet the solar farm owners also spray all sorts of herbicides to prevent plants growing up between the solar panels and shading them.
As for that one green job, it is a man with a long broom walking between the rows of useless panels brushing dust off them in a vain effort to maintain efficiency, if you can call it that.

AllanJ, Kermit, Chris Riley, and others
The marketplace is, indeed, best at allocating resources, but there are other factors that have to be considered, e.g., property rights, contracts, rule of law, which may very well (should) have precedence. Thus, for example, we do not sacrifice our rights under the constitution even if insisting on them is economically inefficient.

TRM

I’m with Ken Mitchell and TimTheToolMan. There are so many options that are way better than the government’s plan.
Take any building and look at its base load (the lowest amount it needs) then put panels on the roof and offset half of its base directly. No batteries required. Other ideas try to match energy source with use so no storage is required. Solar seems to work best at the same time that air conditioning is required (hot sunny days) so perhaps directly use solar to feed the AC? There are already solar powered (DC) water pumps for irrigation which also seem to work when the plants are the thirstiest (hot sunny days).
So instead of getting rid of agricultural land why not use the solar power to water it? Nah we’ll just get rid of those pesky plants and trees then lose half the electricity in conversion and transmission. Sigh 🙁
Of course these and any other ideas should be done without the taxpayer on the hook for it. You’d think we’ve seen enough boondoggles out of governments in this arena.

Ray

john says:
January 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm
This site will occupy 90 acres and supply enough power for 18,000 homes. Solar power cost is now.less.than $2 per watt. Please try and tell the truth.
Er John, I’m paying less than $0.00013/WattHour (0.12061/KiloWattHour to be precise) and really enough pwr for 18,000 homes from 90 acres day or night rain or snow? Your post is so silly that I’m embarrassed to be responding…. if real, $2 / WattHour creates what the Brits call Fuel Poverty. Fuel Poverty is where people freeze because they can’t afford the energy needed to heat their homes. Go suck eggs.

Brian H

The reasons they exclude hydro are that a) it’s too cheap and efficient, and makes all the others look bad; b) it’s very limited, constrained by available geography, and c) it doesn’t generate ‘subsidies for all’, and hence is of no value to the lobbyists.

Tom in Texas

john says:
January 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm
This site will occupy 90 acres and supply enough power for 18,000 homes.
John, I live on 1/3 of an acre. Are you saying I can provide 65 of my neighbors (plus myself) with electricity, if I cover my house and lawn with solar panels?

Ray

John,
That would be Freeze as in “Freeze To Death”. Suck some more eggs.

Brian H

typo: hyrdro hydro

William

The conversion of food to biofuel is an illogical green scam. The practice is illogical as there is no significant reduction in CO2 due to the practice – for corn converted to ethanol – and the cost of the corn based ethanol is five times the cost of conventional gasoline.
Rather than converting corn to biofuel, the US and other Western countries could construct nuclear power plants which are expensive, but do result in a reduction in CO2, which is not a problem anyway.
AGW alarmists do not care about cost or logic. There is no extreme climate change problem to solve. The planet’s response to change in forcing is to increase or decrease clouds in the tropics thereby reflecting more or less sunlight of into space, negative feedback. The extreme AGW cases require the planet to amplify the CO2 warming. If there is negative feedback rather than amplification a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will result in less than 1C of warming with most of the warming occurring at high latitudes which will expand the biosphere.
The AGW alarmists protest, lobby, and lie if necessary to push the irrational agenda. The conversion of food to biofuel supports the assertion that the extreme AGW agenda is irrational.
It is a travesty, that news organizations such as the BBC continue to support irrational scams.
Vast amounts of agricultural land are being diverted from crops for human consumption to biofuel. Currently roughly, 40% of the US corn crop is being converted to ethanol for example.
The immediate consequence of converting food to biofuel is a dramatic increase in the cost of basic food such as a 140% increase in the price of corn.
As it is a fact that there is limited amounts of agricultural land and requirement for food for humans, vast regions of virgin forest are being cut down for biofuel production. The problems associate with this practice will become acute as all major Western governments have mandate a percentage of biofuel.
Analysis of the total energy input to produce ethanol from corn show that 29% more fossil fuel input energy is require to produce one energy unit of ethanol. If the fuel input to harvest the corn, to produce the fertilizer, and to boil the water off to distill ethanol/water from 8% ethanol to 99.5% ethanol (three distillation processes) to produce 99.5% ethanol for use in an automobile, produces more green house gas than is produced than the production consumption of conventional gasoline, if the energy input of the waste corn stock is not included. (The corn stock can be used to feed cattle but is not relevant in terms of amount of biofuel produced. (i.e. The food value of the waste stock helps to reduce the cost of the conversion processes not the energy required for the conversion.)
The cost of corn based ethanol is more than five times the production cost of gasoline, excluding taxes and subsides. Rather than subsiding the production of corn based ethanol the same money can be used to preserve and increase rainforest. The loss of rainforest is the largest cause of the increase in CO2.
http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/bioenergy/NewsReleases/Biodiesel%20Energy%20Balance_v2a.pdf
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html
The Clean Energy Scam
The U.S. quintupled its production of ethanol–ethyl alcohol, a fuel distilled from plant matter–in the past decade, and Washington has just mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade. Europe has similarly aggressive biofuel mandates and subsidies, and Brazil’s filling stations no longer even offer plain gasoline. Worldwide investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010, thanks to investors like Richard Branson and George Soros, GE and BP, Ford and Shell, Cargill and the Carlyle Group.
But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it’s dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.
Meanwhile, by diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year. Harvests are being plucked to fuel our cars instead of ourselves. The U.N.’s World Food Program says it needs $500 million in additional funding and supplies, calling the rising costs for food nothing less than a global emergency. Soaring corn prices have sparked tortilla riots in Mexico City, and skyrocketing flour prices have destabilized Pakistan, which wasn’t exactly tranquil when flour was affordable.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-04-14/biofuel-production-a-crime-against-humanity/2403402
Biofuels ‘crime against humanity’
Massive production of biofuels is “a crime against humanity” because of its impact on global food prices, a UN official has told German radio. “Producing biofuels today is a crime against humanity,” UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler told Bayerischer Runfunk radio. Many observers have warned that using arable land to produce crops for biofuels has reduced surfaces available to grow food. Mr Ziegler called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to change its policies on agricultural subsidies and to stop supporting only programs aimed at debt reduction. He says agriculture should also be subsidised in regions where it ensures the survival of local populations. Meanwhile, in response to a call by the IMF and World Bank over the weekend to a food crisis that is stoking violence and political instability, German Foreign Minister Peer Steinbrueck gave his tacit backing.
http://news.yahoo.com/prime-indonesian-jungle-cleared-palm-oil-065556710.html
Prime Indonesian jungle to be cleared for palm oil
Their former hero recently gave a palm oil company a permit to develop land in one of the few places on earth where orangutans, tigers and bears still can be found living side-by-side — violating Indonesia’s new moratorium on concessions in primary forests and peatlands.
Prime Indonesian jungle to be cleared for palm oil
Their former hero recently gave a palm oil company a permit to develop land in one of the few places on earth where orangutans, tigers and bears still can be found living side-by-side — violating Indonesia’s new moratorium on concessions in primary forests and peatlands.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-04-14/biofuel-production-a-crime-against-humanity/2403402
Biofuels ‘crime against humanity’
Massive production of biofuels is “a crime against humanity” because of its impact on global food prices, a UN official has told German radio. “Producing biofuels today is a crime against humanity,” UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler told Bayerischer Runfunk radio. Many observers have warned that using arable land to produce crops for biofuels has reduced surfaces available to grow food. Mr Ziegler called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to change its policies on agricultural