Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?


Guest post by Steve Goreham

Originally published in The Washington Times.

Last week, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other lawmakers introduced legislation in the House of Representatives calling for major changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS is the reason why most US automobile fuel contains ten percent ethanol. The bill would eliminate the current mandate to blend 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol into fuel by 2022 and ban ethanol fuel content over ten percent. But are ethanol mandates good public policy?

For decades, ethanol vehicle fuel was touted first as a solution to reduce oil imports and second as a solution for global warming. The Energy Tax Act of 1978 established the US “gasohol” industry, providing a subsidy of 40 cents per gallon for ethanol blended with gasoline. President George W. Bush promoted biofuels to reduce dependence on foreign oil, stating, “I set a goal to replace oil from around the world. The best way and the fastest way to do so is to expand the use of ethanol.” Last year the Environmental Protection Agency promoted E15, a fifteen percent ethanol blend for cars and trucks, announcing, “Increased use of renewable fuels in the United States can reduce dependence upon foreign sources of crude oil and foster development of domestic energy sources, while at the same time providing important reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.” But it appears that these two reasons for promoting ethanol vehicle fuel have disappeared.

First, US dependence on oil imports is greatly reduced. Net imports of crude oil peaked in 2005, providing 60 percent of US consumption. In 2012, just six years later, oil imports dropped to 40 percent of consumption and continue to fall. Imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries declined from half of US imports in 1993 to 40 percent of imports 2012. Canada is now the largest single-nation supplier of crude to the US, rising from 14 percent in 1993 to 28 percent today. Construction of the Keystone pipeline would switch additional imports from OPEC to Canada.

At the same time, US oil production is ramping due to the hydrofracturing revolution. Oil production from shale fields in North Dakota and Texas led to a boost in US oil production by 30 percent since 2006. Industry experts predict almost all US petroleum will come from domestic and Canadian sources by 2030. There’s no longer a need to force ethanol use to reduce oil imports.

Second, recent studies show that the use of ethanol and biodiesel does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For many years, proponents of decarbonization assumed that the burning of biofuels would be “carbon neutral.” The carbon neutral concept assumes that as plants grow they absorb carbon dioxide equal to the amount released when burned. If true, the substitution of ethanol for gasoline would reduce emissions.

But a 2011 opinion from the Science Committee of the European Environment Agency pointed out what it called a “serious accounting error.” The carbon neutral concept does not consider vegetation that would naturally grow on land used for biofuel production. Since biofuels are less efficient than gasoline or diesel fuel, they actually emit more CO2 per mile driven than hydrocarbon fuels, when proper accounting is used for carbon sequestered in natural vegetation. Further, a 2011 study for the National Academy of Sciences found that, “…production of ethanol as fuel to displace gasoline is likely to increase such air pollutants as particulate matter, ozone, and sulfur oxides.”

Ethanol fuel is no bargain. For example, when gasoline is priced at $3.40 per gallon, the 85 percent ethanol blend (E85) is priced at about $3.00 per gallon. But since the energy content of ethanol is only 66 percent that of gasoline, a tank of E85 gets only about 71 percent of the mileage of a tank of pure gasoline. E85 fuel should be priced at $2.41 per gallon for the driver to break even. According to the US Department of Agriculture, ethanol fuel remains about 25 percent more expensive than gasoline.


World biofuel production has increased by a factor of seven over the last ten years. Corn and soybean prices have doubled over the same period. (US Dept. of Energy, Food and Policy Research Institute, 2011)

Mandates for ethanol vehicle fuel are also boosting food prices. Forty percent of the US corn crop is diverted to produce about ten percent of US vehicle fuel. Global corn and soybean prices have doubled over the last ten years in concert with the growth in ethanol and biodiesel production. Anyone who drives a car or eats food is paying higher prices due to ethanol mandates.

But isn’t ethanol fuel sustainable? Not in terms of water consumption. Studies by the Argonne National Laboratory and the Netherlands University of Twente found that ethanol production consumes twice to dozens of times more water than gasoline produced from petroleum, even from Canadian oil sands.


Gallons of water consumed per gallon of fuel produced for gasoline, ethanol, and biodiesel from various sources, including irrigation and fuel production, but not including precipitation. Variations in water consumption for three US regions and global averages for ethanol and biodiesel are primarily due to amount of irrigation used and agricultural yield. (Argonne National Laboratory, 2009; University of Twente, 2009)

Suppose we return to using corn for food and gasoline to power our vehicles?

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the new book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania.


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Rob JM

There is a good reason for Using E10, it improves combustion efficiency because of the extra oxygen thus reducing production of CO and carbon particulate which is a very good thing.
However using food for this purpose is completely wrong. Once algal biofuels come along it would be a viable option as you don’t need to use massive amounts of farm land to produce them!

Peter Laux

When a society sees burning food as fuel as acceptable, it’s end is approaching.

Don’t forget, E10 is more dangerous than normal petrol. Ethanol is a potent solvent, which is more than capable of causing catastrophic failure of fibreglass fuel tanks, found in HP sports vehicles and many boats. The ethanol dissolves the fibreglass resin.
It also attacks some plastics used in fuel systems.


Transport for Ethanol has to be a problem.
I’ve not seen any proper data, but BioDiesel may be better. It IS Diesel, not watered gasoline (E15 is likely to damage existing vehicles). I don’t know why corn is pushed over oilseeds.

There is no need to reduce CO2. Nothing bad is happening because of its increase, and the plants love it. Since the US is the only developed nation that has significantly reduced its CO2 production, thanks to the recession, the burden of feeding the world’s plants has fallen on other nations, like China and India. They are doing a great job, and the plants thank them.

Using ethanol to blend with gasoline is not a good idea. It lowers the energy content of the fuel and burns food. They should concentrate on using coal to produce methanol, a much higher energy content fuel than ethanol.


“Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?”
Yes. If it takes a government mandate to market a product, it’s almost assuradly the wrong thing to do.
I also hate rebates, but… nevermind.

This oxygenated fuel farce should be ended, but won’t be. In fact, we’re in the E15 era now, whatever the consequences. There’s money in that corn crop, pa!

Oxygenated fuel such as EtOH are good for reducing CO and VOC tailpipe emissions UNTIL the catalytic convertor lights off, then it doesn’t do much. The change to 10% ethanol was quite costly in engine damage from it’s corrosivity. 15% ethanol will finish off the older cars. Ethanol should be banned for a number of reasons, but I’d bet the Feds won’t see it that way.


I get crappy mileage with ethanol blended gas. 10% ethanol blend gives me 3-5% less fuel mileage. So I have to buy more. We are not saving 10%…..


I thought the whole purpose was because temperatures were going up….
….who would have thought that burning ethanol would make temps go down


Mandates are not a good policy. Leave it to the market. If the crude price is too high, then people will demand E10 if it is cheaper. It has nothing to do with the government. Government intervention in any realm of life almost always leads to misery and destruction.
This is not because government is a bad idea. It is because the members of governments (all of them, in all parties, in all history, all over the world) are a bunch power-crazed self-centered maniacs who could not care less for other people even if they were paid bonuses specifically to care less. They are worthless beings devoid of decency and humanity who add zero and take as much as they can. They would all sell out their own people for a dime and a vote. Why is that? Why are most members of the government like this? It is because in politics sh*t rises faster than Helium and goodness is like a brick in the Ocean.


Several companies are tooling up to produce ethanol from sugar beets. Ethanol in the gas is NOT that bad an idea from a safety standpoint. Let alone that it helps combine extinguishing detergents and water with the gasoline is also displaces many chemicals that otherwise clog up and damage systems involved in efficiency controls and it increases the moisture content of the exhaust helping to reduce the dry particulate plumes that are so dangerous to lunged carbon life forms.
I agree that the primary point should be the conversion of engines to forms of biodiesel mixtures with one very important exception: Soot.
Lethal to me, I have asthma.
Disruptive to the environment, “global dimming”

R. de Haan

In Germany E85 is cheaper compared to Super 95 octane led free car gasoline. My car according to the specs of the manufacturer can handle the E85 but I never fuel up my car with the stuff. Why? 1. I don’t support the concept of burning food. The US and Europe are responsible for the Arab Spring Revolutions which started as a food price protest. Food prices hiked after we decided to process food into car fuel and I simply refuse to play the game. Besides the price hike because of mixing expensive fuel with relative cheap fuel is one. The other aspect is the fact that bio fuel production is subsidized. As a result the rental price of an hectar of agricultural land in North Rhein Westfalen went up from 350 euros per year to 1100 euo per year, As a result no farmer is able to compete with agricultural products on the international markets. Farmers went for the green madness or went belly up. If we count all the costs related to the bio fuel (and biogas) mandate we have to conclude that we are killing the poorest of the poor because they can no longer afford the price of food and we are setting ourselves up for a famin because we are rooting out our farmers. 2. Besides the fact that ethanol is carcinogenic when in touch with bare skin or breathing vapors. It increases the risk of vapor combustion due to static electricity discharges when fueling up the car. 3.E85 has a limited conservation date of 2 months, which means you can have it in your tank when your car is left in the garage for the winter period. 5. Ethanol attracts water in the tank. People in cold frosty area’s have encountered problems like frozen fuel lines and fuel pump. 6. It’s bad stuff for your engine, pumps, engine oil as it promotes engine wear. I am sure therse are some more arguments but 6 on a role should do it. Screw the socialist pack of wolfs who set the Middle East on fire with bloody mandates, because that’s what they are, BLOODY MANDATES.

R. de Haan

Rob JM says:
April 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm
“There is a good reason for Using E10, it improves combustion efficiency because of the extra oxygen thus reducing production of CO and carbon particulate which is a very good thing.
However using food for this purpose is completely wrong. Once algal biofuels come along it would be a viable option as you don’t need to use massive amounts of farm land to produce them!”
No there isn’t. Modern cars already filter out most particles and burning ethanol only makes exhaust emissions a tiny bit better. If it was for clean fuel we should use Liquid Petrol gas (LPG) or propane for our cars. This is a great high octane fuel great for your engine.


I think it’s time for dual fueled cars: gasoline and natural gas. Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home. All we need in the garage is a compressor to fill our tank. A small 5-7 gallon “reserve” tank of regular 87 gets us by when we need it…..


pyeatte says:
April 16, 2013 at 5:57 pm
Using ethanol to blend with gasoline is not a good idea. It lowers the energy content of the fuel and burns food. They should concentrate on using coal to produce methanol, a much higher energy content fuel than ethanol.
If you want to go blind from driving behind people with a lead-foot, sure. Methanol will also burn the aluminum from your block, erode most fuel gaskets and it has a nasty tendency to run away from the gasoline in the storage tank. It isn’t viable. Even at only 10% it would turn even the simplest accidents into a catastrophe waiting to happen.
The more fuel we replace with alcohol, the more fuel can be made into diesel instead of gasoline.


And another thing! Do you know what we need more than E10 Petrol?
Cheap food and cheap fuel!
People are starving and freezing to death because the price of food and energy is so high. It is SICKENING AND EVIL (excuse capitals, but people *are* dying) that some people are pushing for subsidies to grow crops for fuel rather than for people to eat and pushing for more taxes on top of energy bills.
It does not matter to those who are currently starving and freezing to death that the planet may be a degree warmer in 50 years. They need to eat today. They can worry about how to keep cool later.
Do you know what a compassionate government would do? Failing of course each member doing the honorable thing and swallowing a Cyanide capsule. It would make sure that people do not starve and freeze to death by scraping all tax on fuel, and offer free fuel and food to those who genuinely cannot afford to buy it.
And if anybody tells me that we cannot afford such a policy then I will point you to the $11 Million EVERY DAY that we appear to be able to afford to give Israel in Military Aid with no conditions attached. Any ideas how much Co2 a military jet or tank blows into the atmosphere? Yes, before you say it, we could also use all of the other money we give to other nations in military aid too. That money could be used to stop people starving and freezing to death, and the Israelis and whoever else are free to go and get their own money to fund their military if they so choose to waste their own resources in that way. Perhaps if the Israelis had to pay for their military machine out of their own taxes rather than mine then they would be a bit more critical of the overspending and misuse?


If memory serves me, it takes more energy to create ethellno (misspelling intended) than it provides. Most of that from fossil fuels to boot.
Thank you for the reminder in this post of how unrealistic the use of such really is. Let alone the food problems for 3rd world countries this program has created ………


‘Suppose we return to using corn for food and gasoline to power our vehicles?’
Suppose instead you actually read the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It clearly phases out the use of starch-based fuels for the use of cellulosic fuels.
There has also been a correlating growth in corn production. It jumped 24% in the year this legislation was introduced ( .
Unless you’re a cow, goat or some other animal which chews its cud you should not be too concerned about food competition from bio-fuels in the future based on the current legislation. Grasses, wood and algae are plentiful.


Using the natural vegetation data is yet another fallacy. They don’t allow for many other factors, like the grazing of native animals, bush fires, perenials vs trees etc etc. It’s another statistical lie. Don’t just accept data because it “proves” your point without ensuring it’s not dodgy or you weaken your argument demonstrably.

John Slayton

I believe ethanol was mandated for oxygenating CA gas because MTB was turning into an environmental problem.

Leonard Lane

1. Peter Laux says:
“When a society sees burning food as fuel as acceptable, it’s end is approaching.”
Excellent point, and for more than economic reasons. What is the morality of burning food to solve a non-existent problem while wasting billions of pounds of food that could go to help the hungry?
All at the taxpayers’ expense.
2. Adam, hard to find fault with what you say.

Tom J

Remember the ‘cash for clunkers’ program. Oh, how the Obama misadministration loves to spend money. Other people’s money. First; they paid $4,000 dollars for a any old rotted relic. This was fine for the people who could afford a new car (those who managed to remain employed despite Obama’s scintillating, stimulating, stimulus policies), but for those newbies on the unemployment lines, not so much. That’s because it automatically drove up the floor price for any used car regardless of how crappy it was. Second; among those vehicles that were perfectly serviceable but surrendered to the program, well, they trashed them to insure they wouldn’t return to the road. Some maggot-like compound was poured into the oil with the engine running and these chemical maggots proceeded to eat the engine from the inside out. The internal components and the engine blocks themselves were not salvageable. Memo to people with common sense: This is not creative, capitalistic destruction. It’s simply destruction. (And, the talking heads wonder why the economy’s in the toilet.) And, memo to environmentalists: This is NOT good recycling policy either.
Anyway, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help escape the notion that the 15% ethanol mandate is the mother of all clunker programs. In disguise. His royal highness in Washington has repeatedly said that he wants to tackle Climate Change in his second term. (Why not the first term, Barry, eh?) One way would be the 15% mandate which is guaranteed to destroy the fuel systems on older cars, getting a whole slew of them off the road. Then Barry just whips out that golden pen and commands those hapless owners to buy electrics, like it or not. Can’t afford one? Take a high speed rail to…
As far as ethanol containing extra oxygen for cleaner combustion? Well, the O2 sensors in the exhaust will tell the computer to recalibrate the mixture anyway.


Ethanol blended gas was supposed to be to save the environment and make everything wonderful.
However, if you run a chainsaw and leave that half tank of ethanol it will do some combination of: 1) eat out all the gaskets and valves in your engine, 2) deposit lacquer throughout the motor ruining it, and 3) draw water and decompose to the point where you can’t run the saw on it.
So, what happens is that operator gets to the end of the day and then dumps the remaining (biofriendly, earth saving, good for farmers) fuel onto the ground so his saw will work tomorrow or next week.
Its funny, if you like farce three steps from tears of rage.
(for those of you that want to say, “but buy clear gas, dude” the answer is, I wouldn’t have to if you didn’t do stupid things administratively, but instead you will make me pay extra to avoid damaging my equipment on your utopian vision. As usual.)


The time to end it was many years ago.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Yes, please get rid of the ethanol NOW.
I put a new carb on the lawn tractor two years ago, ethanol gas killed the old one. About two months ago, after having it stored dry (no gas in tank or carb) as recommended, I put some gas in to move it, left it in. Now the engine runs, until the carb bowl empties and doesn’t refill fast enough because the system is screwed up by the alcohol gas AGAIN.
Plus there’s the small weed whacker I’ll be replacing as it’s not worth getting serviced, which was killed by the alcohol gas.
And then there’s the snow blower that wasn’t used this past winter because its carb was screwed up by the alcohol gas and it didn’t run…
Plus if you don’t add in special ethanol fuel stabilizers, which you must purchase yourself and mix into your own stored gasoline, or add to the gasoline in the tank of a rarely used vehicle, the fuel will start going bad and must be discarded after only one month.
Yes, you can park a vehicle over a season, like a motorcycle or RV, and find you have to get the tank drained, the fuel system flushed, fuel injectors and other components replaced, etc, for using the ethanol as it comes straight from the pump.
And there are many dead weed whackers, chainsaws, lawn mowers, even power washers and generators, that are found dead and useless only months after having been set aside in perfect running condition.
All of these replacement parts, all this replacement equipment, all the extra servicing… That’s a huge chunk of carbon emissions right there, from fabricating the replacements, transporting, and installing all of that.
Exactly where did all these eco-geniuses figure in all these losses and unnecessarily added emissions when they concluded using E10 ethanol was such a great all-around benefit, E15 will be even better?
What are they expecting? 50% more rainbow-colored candy-scented unicorn plops for everyone?

Ethanol mneeds to go. It corrodes engines and shortens engine life and results in net increases in fuel consumption. As usual, the enviros have it bassackwards.
Getting rid of ethanol subsidies (along with wind and solar subsidies, and “global warming research” grants) would sure help balance the budget.
Maybe the greenies will figure a way foir us to burn excrement in our cars, so that we can do like poor people in Africa do when they cook their food. (Obully sure does like them burning excrement – after all, that’s biomass, right?. With all the excrement coming out of kleptocrat politicians’ mouths, there shooldn’t be a shortage of it for fuel. /sarc


“James says: Don’t just accept data..without ensuring it’s not dodgy”
Why I should accept your unsubstantiated claims as anything but dodgy?

John F. Hultquist

MattN says:
April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm
“Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home.

Maybe so, but not me, or the next house, or the one on the other side of that, nor the next, nor the next . . .

MattN says April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm
I think it’s time for dual fueled cars: gasoline and natural gas. Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home. All we need in the garage is a compressor to fill our tank. A small 5-7 gallon “reserve” tank of regular 87 gets us by when we need it…..

Have you seriously looked at this in detail from an engineering practicality standpoint? How big a tank would be needed for the CH4? How the required tank would *subtract* from usable internal ‘carry’/transport space? The gas pressures involved? The *demand* placed on fixed the nat gas delivery (infrastructure) system?
Any of that?

John F. Hultquist

jabre says:
April 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm
“Unless you’re a cow, goat or some other animal which chews its cud you should not be too concerned about food competition from bio-fuels in the future based on the current legislation. Grasses, wood and algae are plentiful.

I note the word future in this statement. Does this mean that today no bio-fuels from “grasses, wood, and algae” exist? If some does exist – how much? And what is the cost? If there is none, or essentially, none – then when will the bio-fuel future arrive?

jabre says April 16, 2013 at 6:54 pm
‘Suppose we return to using corn for food and gasoline to power our vehicles?’
Suppose instead you actually read the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It clearly phases out the use of starch-based fuels for the use of cellulosic fuels.

A mandate that ‘phases out’ one form of alcohol in hopes that the other is available and is actually possible (and economically feasible) are two different things; is cellulose-based fuel ‘creation’ any where near being ‘production ready’ yet (meaning: at the volumes of fuel actually needed)?

MattN says April 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm
“Dang near everyone has natural gas piped to their home.”
John F. Hultquist says April 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm
Maybe so, but not me, or the next house, or the one on the other side of that, nor the next, nor the next . . .

Same here; living in an “All-electric neighborhood” (subdivision even!)

John F. Hultquist

Following my comment @ 8:11: On further reading I note “based on the current legislation” in jabre @ 6:54.
A little searching and I learn the US Gov is fining refiners for not blending cellulosic ethanol into gasoline. The refiners are not using cellulosic ethanol because it doesn’t exist commercially. Those fines do make it to the bottom line of the companies and/or to the price of gasoline. There’s a plan only a _____ can love.

I just spent a lot of money having one of my antique tractors fixed. According to the mechanic, it was ethanol that was causing all the problems. Now I’m going to have to drive to another town to find someone who sells ethanol free gas, just so I don’t have to throw more money away on fixing it. Who knows what damage that horrible stuff has already caused to all the rest of my equipment.


There is so much bad information in here it hurts. I don’t even know where to start. At least thunderloon is in here with some common sense!
E10 was originally introduced to phase out the oxygenate MTBE, which is poisonous. Alcohol is far more benign. R. de Haan, do you not realize how poisonous gasoline is???
To say we shouldn’t use ethanol because old engines aren’t compatible with it is so unbelievably short-sighted. Maybe we shouldn’t have switched from leaded fuel either since that created complications for old engines too. Right?
Some people mentioned the energy density deficit as compared to gasoline. Did anyone consider that ethanol runs at a ~30% richer stoich mixture, which almost entirely offsets the energy deficit on paper? Or, did anyone consider how much more efficient engines would be if they were actually /designed/ to take advantage of E85’s incredibly high 100+ octane rating? If engines were designed to run exclusively on alcohol and not 93-octane gasoline, they could effectively eliminate the knock limit which would translate into a much more efficient engine. These two factors alone should nearly close the mile/gallon gap between gas and E85, and would undoubtedly look more favorable in terms of pollutants emitted. You’re comparing the performance of E85 in an engine that wasn’t designed to run on it!
The government created these mandates because they’re trying to stimulate the industry to accept ethanol as a fuel. If no one produces ethanol, then no one is going to make cars that use it. If no one makes cars that use ethanol then no one is going to install E85 blending pumps. Ethanol needs government help to help industry embrace it. The benefits of the fuel are indisputable, and the current drawbacks people are complaining about are trivial and silly.
With that said, corn->ethanol is not the way to go, and we need to get cellulosic ethanol plants pumping out more of this stuff asap.
/steps off soapbox

Bryan A

On the subject of California gas—I took a trip to Seattle fromgot 21Santa Rosa Ca and filled up north of Redding in Yreka Ca. We then refilled in south of Eugene and got 21mpg on the California formula. We then drove through to Bothell Wa and refilled there. I was damaged to see that the Oregon gas allowed us to travel 311 miles on just 10.05 gallons. Cal gas 21 mpg Ore gas 31 mpg

A couple of months ago, I was able to fill my car’s tank with non-ethanol gasoline. On that trip, I had gotten a max of 26 mpg, and after I filled up with non-ethanol fuel, my car got 30 mpg. I know this is anecdotal, but it is indicative of the higher energy content of gasoline compared to ethanol alcohol.
The whole ethanol program is a bad idea. People are hungry, and we burn their supper on the way to work.

Mike Wryley

Ethanol, ,,
Made, makes ADM and Cargill billions ( follow the money in DC),,
Has driven up the price of foodstuffs, farmland, rent, farm machinery, fertilizer, beef, pork, chicken,,
Is a sorry fuel by almost any standard
This solution to an imaginary problem ranks right up there with wind energy and the ban of CFCs
as a way to enrich the politically well connected and screw the common man.

David L. Hagen

Politicians panicked into “green” legislation forcing
Taxpayers to buy ethanol
and to subsidize ethanol
Raising the price of grain that
Raises taxpayers’ food prices
Forces taxpayers to pay food stamps for the poor, and
send international aid to help the poor starving over higher grain prices
while starving 192,000/year of the extreme poor!
All to increase total CO2 emissions
and increase global warming
out of green fear!
Fire the politicians and elect real Statesmen to steward our resources and planet!
Could biofuels increase death and disease in developing countries?
Indur M. Goklany, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 16 Number 1 Spring 2011, pp 9-13


Removing farm subsidies has always produced economic shock. When something as basic as food becomes suddenly LESS expensive, the preferred near-constant-slight-inflation condition that most people presume is the best run economy goes haywire. Instead you get a bizarre condition of almost enforced deflation that can be hard to deal with.
/not that I think deflation would necessarily be a bad thing.

Janice Moore

@ John F. Hultquist — Thank you, so much, for your 4/14/13 encouragement (the Milton quote was startlingly on point, Providential!) to post: voila!
@Melody Harpole (4/16/13 8:31PM) — An antique tractor collector — cool. I drive Big Red (a 1986 Chevy Suburban) to a nearby town where the CENEX (oops, maybe I shouldn’t say that so loudly…) station sells the only ethanol-free gas in the area. Hope you have such a station near you.

Dan in California

Melody Harpole says: April 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm
I just spent a lot of money having one of my antique tractors fixed. According to the mechanic, it was ethanol that was causing all the problems. Now I’m going to have to drive to another town to find someone who sells ethanol free gas, just so I don’t have to throw more money away on fixing it. Who knows what damage that horrible stuff has already caused to all the rest of my equipment.
Melody: Go to your local small airport and fill a portable gas can with 100LL avgas. It won’t form gum or varnish when it sits for a year, it has no alcohol, and it won’t small as bad when you spill it over your hands. I use avgas in my generator, chain saw, and lawn mower and I never drain them when storing for a year. DO NOT put avgas into any machine that has a catalytic converter as it has lots of tetraethyl lead. 100LL is also good for pre-1970 engines that rely on some lead in the gas to put a lubricating coating on the valves.

James from FNQ

Jabre – Don’t accept what I’m saying. That’s the point.
You obviously use your brain, so do the research.
The carbon trading gang have been using this dodgy premise about natural vegetation for years to skew the figures, it is designed to make all commercial agriculture look bad. The reality is that these are farms not native wilderness. The land would not return to wilderness if they weren’t growing ethanol and the land wasn’t wilderness before ethanol farming. So that shouldn’t be factored in unless of course they are demanding that all ethanol farmers return their farms back to wilderness. (sounds a bit like Gaia worship don’t it?)
Needless to say the ethanol debate will rage for years to come, as it should.
eg. E85 produces less of some pollutants like NOX and more of others like formaldehyde.
I don’t agree with government mandated renewable fuel percentages because they skew the market and increase the cost of food. (this is a proven fact)
However I like cars and the individual freedom that they have given the past few generations and I hope my grand kids get to experience that freedom at an affordable price. So if in the future it becomes genuinely cheaper (ie without govt subsidies or regulation) , to grow corn or cane to make ethanol or grow canola to grow bio-diesel rather than pay extortionist prices to our friends in the Middle east then why wouldn’t we do it?
BTW Our prayers are with all the people in Boston today.

John F. Hultquist

Janice Moore @ 9:23


I support biofuels and I think their benefit is overwhelming:
1. We always used a significant part of food production for transportation (coaches, horses, donkeys) and farming (bulls), actually much more in the past than today.
2. Today, there is globally more food per capita available than at any time before in history. That means, biofuels did not cause a reduction in food production.
3. Corn prices went up since 2006, but so did most other soft commodities as well.
4. There is no better incentive to produce more food than a good price. With too low prices, too few will plant for the next season and hunger in programmed. If biofuels help to achieve good prices for corn, they help feeding the planet.
5. The extra amount of biofuel plants can be regarded as a gigantic, unprecedented reserve for mankind. Whenever there will be a shortage of food in the future, governments will have the option to redirect this reserve into the food channel. This is an option which past generations sadly did not have.
6. Food prices have not risen for over 30 years after 1974.
Before the introduction of biofuels, farming incomes were declining for decades and many farmers eventually had to give up. The average age of a farmer has risen to 57 in the USA in 2007. Biofuels and good extra income gives farmers the opportunity to continue and to attract a younger generation. This is a long term benefit for food production.

William McClenney

Peter Laux says:
April 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm
“When a society sees burning food as fuel as acceptable, it’s end is approaching.”
Prophetic, Peter.
I just can’t seem to get my head wrapped around ethanol. “The ethanol industry purchases approximately 40% of the U.S. corn crop and is the largest purchaser of corn in the United States.” states the Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc., 2012, “Ethanol’s Lost Promise An Assessment of the Economic Consequences of the Renewable Fuels Mandate”
But I am informed that such a small, 40%, portion of the US crop had nothing to do with food prices/riots/etc. that have eerily paced ethanol production…….
But it might just be worse than we thought~~~~~~~~~
““We are overlooking soil as the foundation of all life on Earth,” says Andres Arnalds, assistant director of the Icelandic Soil Conservation Service. Arnalds is an eloquent spokesperson for the unheralded emergency of soil erosion, a problem that is reducing global food production and water availability, and is responsible for an estimated 30 percent of the greenhouse gases emissions. “Land degradation and desertification may be regarded as the silent crisis of the world, a genuine threat to the future of humankind.”
…..according to
“Arnalds is dead serious when he calls soil erosion a crisis. Each year, some 38,000 square miles of land become severely degraded or turn into desert. About five billion acres of arable land have been stripped of their precious layer of topsoil and been abandoned since the first wheat and barley fields were planted 10,000 years ago. In the past 40 years alone, 30 percent of the planet’s arable land has become unproductive due to erosion, mainly in Asia and Africa. At current erosion rates, soils are being depleted faster than they are replenished, and nearly all of the remaining 11 billion acres of cropland and grazing land suffer from some degree of erosion.
“Not surprisingly, land prices and rents in the corn belt have jumped upward, creating additional pressure to “mine the soil to pay the mortage.” Farmland has been a popular investment for many years, and in some states, half of all farmland is rented. This reduces the incentives for soil conservation, since the farmer who works the field is not the permanent caretaker of the land. Ethanol-driven land degradation will not disappear even if the much-touted cellulosic ethanol technology is commercialized. The cellulosic process uses crop residues like corn stalks and wheat straw (rather than grains like corn or soy) to make ethanol. While cellulosic ethanol won’t directly use food as fuel, the loss of crop residues would further expose soils to erosion. And it would also reduce organic matter in soils, greatly diminishing their fertility, Cox says. “I’m very concerned there will be serious consequences for soils if cellulosic ethanol goes forward.”
“Farmers have only been able to escape the impacts of this massive loss of organic carbon thanks to cheap chemical fertilizers made from fossil fuels. But that short-term solution is just making matters worse, according to a new study out of the University of Illinois. In examining crop records and soil samples from the Illinois Morrow Plots dating back 100 years, soil scientists were surprised to see corn yields falling on plots that had received the most chemical nitrogen fertilizers and crop residues. It turns out that even with additional crop residues, fertilized soils have much less soil carbon, likely resulting in higher releases of carbon into the atmosphere.
“Keeping carbon in the soil may be one of the quickest ways to reduce global carbon emissions. And if that’s not enough reason to substitute carbon storage for crop yield as the ultimate goal of farming, then the improvements in soil fertility and declines in erosion that will give us a chance at feeding a crowded world ought to.
“Blaming the farmer for these problems is futile, since we’ve created the economic system they operate in,” says Fred Kirschenmann, a North Dakota organic farmer who works at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. That system forces farmers to produce as much as possible no matter what the cost, Kirschenmann says.”
The case is therefore made for not neutering soil-nurturing, moisture-friendly, soil-binding agent organic detritus, aka cellulosic ethanol. Because, as counter-intuitive as it might seem, to modern-day hominids, there may be more than just one variable at play here…….

Third Party

Ethanol is way superior to methanol, but food based transportation ilo petrofuels is ignorant and counter-humanitarian.


Gas from food has ALWAYS been a function of political calculus and never a policy based on sound ethics, economics or physics.
An interesting twist of fate is that the first Presidential Caucus is IOWA, so politicians sold out their souls and the country to buy Iowan farmers’ votes with MASSIVE ethanol subsidies.
Had the first state primary been Alaska, then we’d probably have Fishanol… If Florida, Geritolinol…, Georgia, Peachanol.., ad nauseam.
Food oil is the most despicable form of theft and genocide imaginable. These subsidies have cost the lives of millions of poor by doubling the prices of food staples like wheat, corn, soybean, meat, rice, etc. for no other reason than vote buying. It’s pathetic.
Hypothetically, had all the 100’s of billions of ethanol subsidies and subsequent added food costs been spent by the private sector to build a few hundred Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, the world would have a much higher standard of living, America would be 100% energy independent, some stupid wars would never have been started, the Middle East would be less of a basket case and millions of poor would still be around today.
I realize one can’t play the shoulda-woulda-coulda game, but the last time I checked, it’s still OK to dream big…