The ethanol gravy train rolls on

Opponents make compelling case but can’t derail or even slow this well-protected industry

Guest opinion by Paul Driessen

Like most people I’ve spoken with, I have no innate, inflexible antipathy to ethanol in gasoline. What upsets me are the deceptive claims used to justify adding mostly corn-based ethanol to this indispensable fuel; the way seriously harmful unintended consequences are brushed aside; and the insidious crony corporatist system the ethanol program has spawned between producers and members of Congress.

What angers me are the legislative and regulatory mandates that force us to buy gasoline that is 10% ethanol – even though it gets lower mileage than 100% gasoline, brings none of the proclaimed benefits (environmental or otherwise), drives up food prices, and damages small engines. In fact, in most areas, it’s almost impossible to find E-zero gasoline, and that problem will get worse as mandates increase.

My past articles lambasting ethanol (here, here, here and here) addressed these issues, and said ethanol epitomizes federal programs that taxpayers and voters never seem able to terminate, no matter how wasteful or harmful they become. That’s primarily because its beneficiaries are well funded, motivated, politically connected and determined to keep their gravy train rolling down the tracks – while opponents and victims have far less funding, focus, motivation and ability to reach the decision-making powers.

Ethanol got started because of assertions that even now are still trotted out, despite having outlived their time in the real-world sun. First, we were told, ethanol would be a bulwark against oil imports from unfriendly nations, especially as the USA depleted its rapidly dwindling petroleum reserves. Of course, the fracking (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) revolution has given America and the world at least a century of new reserves, and the US now exports more oil and refined products than it imports.

Second, renewable fuels would help prevent dangerous manmade climate change. However, with the 2015-16 El Niño temperature spike now gone, average global temperatures are continuing the 20-year no-increase trend that completely contradicts alarmist predictions and models. Harvey was the first major hurricane in a record twelve years to make US landfall. And overall, the evidence-based scientific case for “dangerous manmade climate change” has become weaker with every passing year.

Moreover, the claim that ethanol and other biofuels don’t emit as much allegedly climate-impacting (but certainly plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide as gasoline has also been put out to pasture. In reality, over their full life cycle (from planting and harvesting crops, to converting them to fuel, to transporting them by truck, to blending and burning them), biofuels emit at least as much CO2 as their petroleum counterparts.

Ironically, the state that grows the most corn and produces the most ethanol – the state whose Republican senators had a fit when EPA proposed to reduce its 2018 non-ethanol biodiesel requirement by a measly 315 million gallons, out of 19.3 billion gallons in total renewable fuels – buys less ethanol-laced gasoline than do average consumers in the rest of the USA. That state is Iowa.

In fact, Iowans bought more ethanol-free gasoline in 2016 than what EPA projects the entire United States will be able to buy in just a few more years, as the E10 mandates ratchet higher and higher.

And so this past week, after months of battles, debates and negotiations, President Trump hosted a White House meeting with legislators The purpose was to address and compromise on at least some of the thorny issues that had put Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst and other politicians at loggerheads, as they sought to reform some aspects of the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) system while protecting their constituents.

In an effort to expand the reform agenda, by making legislators and citizens better informed in advance of the meeting, 18 diverse organizations wrote a joint letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, underscoring why they believe broad and significant RFS reform is essential. Signatories included major national meat and poultry producers and processors, restaurants, marine manufacturers, small engine owners, consumer and taxpayer organizations, and conservation and environmental groups. They were especially worried about the prospect that the Congress and Administration might allow year-round sales of 15% (E15) ethanol blends in gasoline, but they raised other pressing concerns as well.

* As large shares of domestic corn and soy crops are now diverted from food use to fuel production, poultry, beef, pork and fish producers (and consumers) face volatile and increasing prices for animal feed.

* Ethanol wreaks havoc on the engines and fuel systems of boats, motorcycles and lawn equipment, as well as many automobiles, which are not capable or allowed to run on E15. Repair and replacement costs are a major issue for marine and small engine owners (as I personally discovered when I owned a boat).

* Consumers and taxpayers must pay increasing costs as biofuel mandates increase under the RFS.

* Millions of acres of native prairie and other ecosystems have been turned into large-scale agricultural developments, because the RFS encourages farmers to plow land, instead of preserving habitats. This endangers ecosystems and species, exacerbates agricultural run-off and degrades water quality.

* Biofuel demand promotes conversion of natural habitats to palm oil and other plantations overseas, as well as domestically. Their life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions rival or exceed those of oil and gas.

* Expanding markets for corn ethanol by increasing E15 sales ignores and exacerbates these problems – while benefiting a small subset of the US economy but negatively impacting far more sectors, including the general public and the industries and interests represented by signatories to the Pruitt letter.

Following the meeting, several signatories expanded on these concerns – and noted that the compromise did increase E15 sales, while reducing the RFS impact on small refineries that were being forced to buy paper biofuel certificates because they weren’t making enough gasoline to need mandated real biofuel.

Requiring every American to buy ethanol gasoline “isn’t good enough” for biofuel companies anymore, the National Council of Chain Restaurants remarked. “Now they want a waiver from federal clean air laws so they can sell high blends of ethanol, which pollutes the air in warm weather months, year round.”

“Arbitrarily waiving the E15 [ozone emissions] restriction and permitting year-round E15 sales, without comprehensive reform of the RFS,” merely boosts ethanol sales and justifies future government-imposed increases to the ethanol mandate, the National Taxpayers Union noted. These “hidden taxes,” damage to small engines, and lower gas mileage are “a direct hit” on family budgets, especially for poor families.

The new year-round E15 policy will “cause serious chaos for recreational boaters,” the National Marine Manufacturers Association stated. Over 60% of consumers falsely assume any gasoline sold at retail gas stations must be safe for their equipment. It is essential that EPA launch “a public awareness campaign, improved labeling standards, and new safeguards at the pump that protect American consumers.”

“Granting a Clean Air Act waiver for the corn ethanol industry … would mean doubling down on a policy that has already been a disaster for the environment,” the National Wildlife Federation said. Congress needs to … reform the ethanol mandate before it does more damage.”

“US farmers are in a severe crisis and millions of people around the world are forced to go without food,” ActionAid USA pointed out. “We need policies that guarantee everyone enough food to eat, fair prices for farmers, and protect our environment. Biofuels don’t do that.” In fact, they make the situation far worse.

Unfortunately, a deal was struck. The noisiest and best-connected warring factions got what they wanted. These other pressing concerns were ignored, as the can once again got kicked down the road.

Refiners will now save hundreds of millions of dollars a year, by not having to buy ethanol that they don’t need to blend into the smaller quantities of gasoline they are refining. Corn farmers and ethanol producers will rake in hundreds of millions more a year. All that is good for those industries, their workers and investors, and the politicians who get their campaign contributions.

But what about the rest of America? The Congress, White House and EPA need to address our environmental and pocketbook concerns, too. When will the next negotiating session be held?


Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy.

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Karlos51

start your calculations on how ‘great’ ethanol is with the energy density of the stuff and it quickly becomes apparent it’s a dud as a fuel – add the CO2 emitted during the fermentation process used to produce it and any argument for it’s use by those scared of CO2 is blown completely out of the water.

MarkW

Even the claim that it reduces oil use is exaggerated. At best.

MattS

But you can run a much higher compression ratio with ethanol and for a given engine size get more power. There is a good reason it is used as a racing fuel.

Leo Smith

Its not.Methanol is the racing fuel. Now banned as being too dangerous as it burns with an invisible flame, And in any case modern engine technology can get equivalent power and efficiency out of stock gasoline.

paqyfelyc
Alan Tomalty

Ethanol also damages catalytic converters .
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359431114005717

NCCoder

a lot of guys that make huge power on street driven turbo cars run e85, yes, but especially when made from corn, ethanol is better drunk than burned… The amount of energy required is still greater than what you get out of it.

Reziac

Worse, I once saw a report that concluded that to produce four gallons of ethanol required five gallons of diesel. I don’t know how correct that is, but I’d guess it’s not far off.
My truck’s fuel efficiency on ethanol-laced gas is reduced by about 10%.
My lawn mower gets ethanol-free premium (still available from Cenex) which improved its runtime by about 25% over ethanol-laced regular.

A. Scott

@Reziac I address the net energy balance of ethanol elsewhere in this thread.
Standard process corn ethanol plants generate 2.1 to 2.4 units of energy for every one unit of energy expended. Some area with enhances processes like Minnesota see as high as 4 units of energy produced per 1 unit expended.
Newer processes that incorporate corn residue from the ethanol process and field residue (corn stover) into the process – to provide some of the energy used to process – see up to 8 units of energy produced per 1 unit expended (with residue/stover providing appx 50% of energy).
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045905/pdf

A. Scott

@karlos51 You left out a significant part of the story — Cost.
Yes, ethanol does have lower energy density than gasoline …. straight ethanol is appx 76,300 BTU per gal vs appx 114,100 BTU per gal for straight gasoline (E0) … a difference of appx 33.1%.
Using energy density numbers E10 has appx 111,836 BTU … which is just 1.8% lower than straight gasoline. The various claims that people get 10% or similar lower MPG using ethanol are a physical impossibility.
Energy density of E85 is 81,970 BTU vs E10 with 111,836 BTU … has 26.7% lower BTU
Modern fuel injected engines however, have computer engine management systems that can take advantage of the increased octane of ethanol blends. The fueleconomy.gov site lists a large number of older and modern FFV vehicles measured MPG on E85 and E10.
I have a 2003 Tahoe 4wd 5.3 V8 FFV. The fueleconomy.gov measure data shows 11mpg on E85 vs 14 mpg on E10 … showing my vehicle gets 21.4% lower measured MPG on E85 vs E10.
Over 140,000 miles of real world testing I avg appx. 11.3 mpg on E85 and appx. 13.9 mpg on E10 … 18.7% lower mpg using E85 vs E10 … very close to the fueleconomy.gov reported numbers.
I pay $1.89 for E85 and $2.55 for E10 at local stations.
I get 18.7% lower mpg but pay 25.9% lower price …
A 100 mile trip on E10 would require 7.19 gallons and cost $18.34 … 18.34 cents per mile.
A 100 mile trip on E85 would require 8.85 gallons and cost $16.73 … 16.73 cents per mile.
I save $1.61 every 100 miles using E85 vs E10.

You left out Rain Forest damage. Corn for ethanol means less corn for food. So corn becomes a cash crop in South America. Land (once Rain Forest) becomes one and done cropland (very thin soil). More RF must be cutdown each year. Oops!

higley7

However, the land that is exhausted by a few years of farming is abandoned and the RF takes it back at a furious pace. It basically grows back and all the animals spread back 50 times faster than it is cleared. The Rampaging Jungle.

Mat

If you luv cars/trucks, as I do, you know that it kills fuel pumps, and rust out gas tanks when left sitting for long periods….

Paul Penrose

It’s truly vile stuff, and I won’t run it in my motorcycle or lawn tractor. Unfortunately I don’t have a choice in my car.

Yes, it is okay for most modern vehicles operated daily but it is maintenance intensive in small engines used seasonally. Where I live you can buy premium gasoline without ethanol at a higher price. Well worth it for these uses.

yarpos

Interesting. Stumbled onto a similar commentary 15 minutes ago, same topic in Australian context with unique presentation style

Hugs

Why her hair is upside down? (or his, you can’t know these days)

Shanghai Dan

He lives in Australia, down under, so in actuality it’s growing the right way.

James Francisco

If Shanghai Dan is not in the comedy business he is wasting his time.

paqyfelyc

shang you made my day

Patrick MJD

There are many supporters of E85, used in V8 SuperCar racing, here in Aus, although, thankfully, you cannot get it everywhere at the pump. E10 yes, I will never use that again.
There are two Aussies who do some real cool videos on YouTube in videos called “Mighty Car Mods”. I got on to these guys because of their Honda V-TEC engine swap in a Mini, yes, you read that right! You can barely get an A series engine in the engine bay of a Mini, but they did it. And it works, well thought out. But then they started going on about E85 blah blah blah! They do, however, recognise engines use more fuel to do the same work on E85 tho.

NCCoder

Look up Mini Mania up in Fremont, CA… They’ll sell you a Mini with Vtec here in the States.

Hugs

the 20-year no-increase trend

I really, really don’t like this assertion. It is not very far from being true, because 20-year trends are small when the decadal warming is in the order of 0.2K. On the other hand, it is just untrue. It is as untrue as alarmist positions in the middle of the last El Nino, telling about unprecedented (i.e., mild) warming, that most assuredly took all gain from a known very temporary spike.
I ask you and everybody not to exaggerate good news, like mild warming that maybe reaches 2K / 2xCO2. That’s not bad, it is most probably good, or even necessary! And it is definitely much much better than halving atmospheric CO2 and lowering temperature by 2K. We’d pile in a lot of dead bodies by removing 1/3 of the CO2 in the atmosphere. I mean, it would make national socialism look good in comparison. (autonomic godwin, pretty good eh?)

Samuel C Cogar

Hugs – May 14, 2018 at 4:14 am

I ask you and everybody not to exaggerate good news, like mild warming that maybe reaches 2K / 2xCO2.

You are just “wasting your breath” by asking the above, simply because, ….. what you are claiming (potential warming of 2K / 2xCO2), …… is in fact nothing more than “fake news” and a big majority of the populace loves to exaggerate it in order to further their “warminist” agenda..

Leo Smith

the real question is whether, given the negative feedbacks in climate, carbon dioxide causes any warming AT ALL and if any of the late 20th century warming can be ascribed to it.
It is clear from the pause that something other than CO2 and far more powerful in its effect is affecting climate.

Yes. It has been the steadily rising trend of water vapor (increased 8% since 1960) which has been countering the global cooling which would otherwise be occurring.

Menicholas

I agree.
If there is any hard evidence that CO2 CAUSES warmer temps, let’s see it, plain and simple.
Not correlation, not assertion, not models…evidence!
There is none. Strike One
Hence there is no truth to claims that a certain amount of warming can be ascribed to this amount or that amount of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. There might me some amount, but it is not proved, and what that amount might be is doubly not proved. Strike Two.
And, there is no reason to believe that any particular one or combination of these so-called “fixes” to the non-existent CO2 problem will actually make a tiny bit of difference in the CO2 concentration, which has increased fairly steadily despite massive increases in emissions over the past 68 years. The period with the fastest increase in emissions and the most overall emissions has shown no proportionality between emissions and CO2 increases in the air.
Strike Three…YERRRRRR OUT!
And a whole bunch more strikes could be easily enumerated against this wholesale jackassery.
And that’s a ball game folks!
Good night, drive safely.

Samuel C Cogar

@ Dan Pangburn – May 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm
Me thinks you need to “re-think” your above comment concerning the “effects” of evaporation (H2O vapor).

Sam – It appears that you ‘understood’ too quickly. It’s not the phase change itself that matters, at least in the long run, it is the fact that WV is a ghg and the amount of it in the atmosphere has been on an increasing trend. The numerical data comes from NASA/RSS, is measured by satellite, and is graphed as Fig 3 at http://globalclimatedrivers2.blogspot.com. As you can see from the graph, it is too soon to tell if the uptrend in WV has ended or not but it might have. The WV uptrend must absolutely end eventually.
All reported average global temperatures are now below their trendlines since 1997.

Samuel C Cogar

Dan Pangburn – May 15, 2018 at 11:35 am

it is the fact that WV is a ghg and the amount of it in the atmosphere has been on an increasing trend. [snip]
All reported average global temperatures are now below their trendlines since 1997.

Dan, now I wasa thinking that iffen atmospheric water (H2O) vapor wasa increasing …….. then near surface and high altitude air temperatures had to also be increasing, ……. otherwise the “invisible” water (H2O) vapor (humidity) in the atmosphere would start cooling down, and due to its cohesive properties would collect into liquid water (H2O) droplets to form clouds at high altitude (fogs and mists at low altitude) that blocks incoming solar irradiance, and when said “droplets” became large enough they would fall back to earth in the form of rain or snow.
And Dan, I really don’t think NASA is capable of measuring how much water (H2O) vapor (humidity, clouds, fogs and mists) is resident in earth’s atmosphere at any given time, let alone if it has been increasing or decreasing during the past several years.
Satellites can, per se, “see” clouds (the same as doppler radar), but it can’t “see” the humidity in the air, or all the fogs and mists that form near the surface.

Samuel C Cogar

Dan Pangburn, as a per se, “refresher study”, please read the following commentary which I authored several years ago, to wit:
Clouds, fog and mists are all forms of water vapor which have collected into larger “droplets” of water and are visible to the naked eye, …. and are the same as humidity which can not be seen with the naked eye. And that is because of the density of the larger “droplets” of water and the fact that any source of light that strikes them will be absorbed more readily and/or reflected away from them more easily.
But now the effects of clouds, fogs and mists relative to incoming solar energy and re-emitted energy from the earth’s surface ….. are quite different (extremely more pronounced) than the effects of humidity. Again, this is because of their density (mass).
Clouds, fogs and mists act as a unidirectional buffer to both the incoming solar energy and the re-radiated energy from the earth’s surface. And the best way to explain this is by examples.
Night time cloud cover or fog will prevent near surface air temperatures from cooling off as fast because they per say buffer the re-radiated energy.
Day time cloud cover or morning fog will prevent near surface air temperatures from warming up as fast because they per say buffer the incoming solar energy.
And this conundrum is what confuses the ell out of scientists who are trying to calculate “average surface air temperatures” ….. and which wrecks havoc with their Climate Modeling Programs ….. because it is such an important but indeterminate variable. ……. And thus, because they can not accurately calculate their affect, …… they completely ignore and omit said from any of their calculations …… and attempt to CTA by blaming everything on atmospheric CO2.
Cheers

Sam – The brief discussion at http://www.remss.com/measurements/atmospheric-water-vapor/ describes how the atmospheric WV data is obtained by satellite
The HTTP link there can get to the latest available monthly report at http://data.remss.com/vapor/monthly_1deg/tpw_v07r01_198801_201804.time_series.txt which is the numerical data that is graphed in Fig 3 in my blog/analysis.
Water vapor is a ghg which means it is NOT invisible to terrestrial IR.
Perhaps you are not familiar with the difference between ‘relative humidity’ which relates to how close is condensation vs. ‘absolute humidity’ which is the mass of water vapor molecules present in a unit volume of moist air irrespective of temperature.
IMO increasing water vapor will lead to increased clouds which makes the whole process self-limiting as discussed in my blog/analysis under ‘water vapor’.

Samuel C Cogar

Dan, I made no mention whatsoever of either ‘relative humidity’ or ‘absolute humidity’, so, why did you disingenuously insinuate that I was …. “not familiar with the difference between” the two measurements, especially given the fact it is immaterial to the discussion?
And now you said this, to wit:
Dan Pangburn – May 16, 2018 at 12:04 pm

IMO increasing water vapor will lead to increased clouds which makes the whole process self-limiting as discussed in my blog/analysis under ‘water vapor’.

When previously you said this, to wit:
Dan Pangburn – May 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Yes. It has been the steadily rising trend of water vapor (increased 8% since 1960) which has been countering the global cooling which would otherwise be occurring.

Do you now see your “problem” in the 1st statement made …… were in you should have stated ….. “steadily rising trend of increasing humidity (water vapor)”.
If the humidity (water vapor) increases during daylight hours, without forming clouds, then the air temperature will increase, but if clouds form then the air temperature will decrease.
Water vapor is a ghg which means it is NOT invisible to terrestrial IR.
Shur nuff, …..but its invisible to human eyeballs. And it comes n’ goes so fast that satellite IR sensors can’t really keep track of it 24/7 over the entire earth’s surface.
Cheers

Sam – Sorry about the humidity vs water vapor thing. Because humidity means different things to different people, I really meant it when I said ‘perhaps’ and I wasn’t trying to insinuate anything. When weather folks talk about humidity, they mean relative humidity while absolute humidity is what matters when looking at water vapor as a ghg. I explicitly try to avoid the possible ambiguity where it matters by using the term ‘water vapor’. Realize that lots of folks besides you read this stuff.
These comments “If the humidity (water vapor) increases during daylight hours, without forming clouds, then the air temperature will increase,” and this “it comes n’ goes so fast that satellite IR sensors can’t really keep track” say that the water vapor content of the atmosphere can change quickly and by a substantial amount. Water vapor content can change only by evaporation of surface water, and, if clouds form, by condensation. Change in water vapor content, especially if the sky remains clear, is comparatively very slow and very low in magnitude change compared to relative humidity in any 24 hr period.
You say “clouds form then the air temperature will decrease”. This, of course, is at least usually true. What might not be so obvious to some folks is that the absolute humidity, i.e. the amount of water vapor, in the clear air below the cloud does not change while the relative humidity will increase as a result of the reduced temperature.

Samuel C Cogar

am – Sorry about the humidity vs water vapor thing. Because humidity means different things to different people, …….

Exactly right, Dan, …. and t’was the reason for my critique of your comment. I am persnickety when science is involved, probably because I love science and the fact that I was educated to be a HS Teacher of the Biological and Physical Sciences.
Dan, please note the use of the word “particular” in the following definition, to wit:

Absolute Humidity, often just referred to as ‘the humidity’, is a measure of the actual amount of water vapour in a particular sample of air:
http://weatherfaqs.org.uk/node/29

And Dan, you went and did it twice again, to wit:

Water vapor content can change only by evaporation of surface water,
….. is that the absolute humidity, i.e. the amount of water vapor, in the clear air below the cloud does not change ….

Dan, do you know why Keeling moved his laboratory to the top of Mauna Loa? Its time you learned, to wit:

A Scandinavian group accordingly set up a network of 15 measuring stations in their countries. Their only finding, however, was a high noise level. Their measurements apparently fluctuated from day to day as different air masses passed through, with differences between stations as high as a factor of two.
Charles David (Dave) Keeling held a different view. As he pursued local measurements of the gas in California, he saw that it might be possible to hunt down and remove the sources of noise. Taking advantage of that, however, would require many costly and exceedingly meticulous measurements, carried out someplace far from disturbances.
Keeling did much better than that with his new instruments. With painstaking series of measurements in the pristine air of Antarctica and high atop the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, he nailed down precisely a stable baseline level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

And Dan, that “noise” sure wasn’t varying amounts of anthropogenic CO2.

Sam – Apparently you have no idea how misinformed this (your) statement reveals that you are: “…larger “droplets” of water and are visible to the naked eye, …. and are the same as humidity which can not be seen with the naked eye.” Water vapor molecules and water droplets interact with EMR entirely differently. Water vapor molecules emit EMR only at explicit wavelengths. You can’t see them because they do not reflect visible light. Liquid water as in fog, mist, clouds, reflects visible light, which allows them to be seen, and emit approximately full spectrum EMR according to the fourth power of their absolute temperature. A typical cloud droplet contains more than a million million (that’s 10^12) water molecules.
Density and mass are entirely different things. Density is mass/volume and it is about the same (1 gm/cc) for all water drops. Apparently when you said density you actually meant size.
You are right about clouds etc. having more influence on average global temperature but it is mostly because they reflect a lot of incoming solar radiation. They are also significant ‘full spectrum’ emitters with average emissivity of about 0.5. Low altitude (<3 km) clouds are especially important. You can learn a bit more about clouds at http://lowaltitudeclouds.blogspot.com
I too am confident that cloud cover slows ground cooling (smudge pots worked but then so does increasing the water vapor). Most people are aware that, on clear nights, it cools faster and farther in the desert than where water vapor is higher. I have yet to see any data that shows the relative effectiveness of clouds and water vapor in slowing upwelling LWIR. IMO WV is more effective.
In your “…twice again,” comment, did you not see my whole statement? “Water vapor content can change only by evaporation of surface water, and, if clouds form, by condensation.” Or do you really not understand how it works? Are you actually not aware that the water vapor content in the area below a cloud does not change simply as a result of the cloud forming? You really should know better.
I looked at CO2 data a decade ago. Various sources are shown in two of the graphs at http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/pangburn.html . There were no significant conflicts. This has been confirmed, global range only about +/- 2%, by OCO-2 as discussed at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/04/finally-visualized-oco2-satellite-data-showing-global-carbon-dioxide-concentrations/
If you are interested in what a (well) seasoned, licensed engineer (MSME in heat/power) who has been researching this stuff for more than a decade has discovered about what does and (more importantly) that CO2 does not cause significant global climate change, click my name.

Samuel C Cogar

Dan Pangburn – May 18, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Water vapor content can change only by evaporation of surface water, and, if clouds form, by condensation.” Or do you really not understand how it works?

Dan, I sorry, I now realize just how much more brilliant and intelligent and sciency educated you are than I am …… and I only realized that fact after reading about “low pressure systems”, to wit:

A low pressure system has lower pressure at its center than the areas around it. Winds blow towards the low pressure, and the air rises in the atmosphere where they meet. As the air rises, the water vapor within it condenses forming clouds and often precipitation too.https://scied.ucar.edu/shortcontent/highs-and-lows-air-pressure

I see now, the winds blow toward a low pressure system …. but it always “blows” dry air (no humidity, no water vapor, no moisture)…. and all that in-blowing “dry air” forces the humid air that’s there …… to rise up in the atmosphere to form clouds.
Gee, Dan, I’se now feel edumacated and almost as brilliant as you.
Next I’m gonna get smartened up like you about “high pressure” ….. to see iffen those winds are “blowing” wet or dry.

Samuel C Cogar

Dan Pangburn – May 18, 2018 at 2:37 pm

If you are interested in what a (well) seasoned, licensed engineer (MSME in heat/power) who has been researching this stuff for more than a decade has discovered about what does and (more importantly) that CO2 does not cause significant global climate change, click my name.

Dan, enough is enough.
Dan, I really don’t think your MSME degree and your 10 years of part time reading n’ researching of climate and/or weather issues …….. even remotely compares to my AB Degrees in both the Physical and Biological Sciences (circa 1963), including my past six (6 + decades) of being an avid “student-of-the-natural-world”.
Hopefully, you are still young enough to “learn a few things” from ole ferts like myself.
[The mods recommend no one throw degrees and experience around to intimidate others. EVERYONE can learn from another person; although the lesson learned may be what not to do, what not to say, or what lesson was learned the wrong way. (And sometimes the fastest way to get an idea into another person’s head seems to be with the sharp edge of a heavy weapon, that too must be resisted. .mod]

Ged

The temperature change rate per doubling of CO2 is currently ~1.3K per doubling. Close to the actual direct, physical CO2 effect of 1.1K per doubling. We are no where near the mythical 2k per doubling, as the hypothesized positive feedbacks have never appeared.
Also, forget not that Climatologists say 17 years is all that is needed for a “climate signal”. So the 20 years is not insignificant according to Climate Science. Playing by their rules, what he said is both accurate and appropriately significant.

Menicholas

Disagree.
There is no direct or even convincing indirect evidence that any of the recent temperature trends are caused in whole or part by CO2, or have anything to do with CO2.
Nothing about recent temperature trends, if they can even be discerned over the period prior to the satellite records, is inconsistent with rates of change seen numerous times in the recent and longer term past.
It has been warmer, and colder, and it has changed as fast, and even far faster…long before human emissions.

Samuel C Cogar

Ged – May 14, 2018 at 12:15 pm

The temperature change rate per doubling of CO2 is currently ~1.3K per doubling.

You are mimicking a “junk science” claim that originated out of “fuzzy math” calculations via use of highly questionable data.

“the 20-year no-increase trend”

I really, really don’t like this assertion.

Yes, notice how it’s not a “17-year no-increase trend,” or a “22-year no-increase trend” (or a “28-year no-increase trend”):
http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_April_2018_v6.jpg
https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/12/19/12-year-old-bet-global-warming-about-pay-out

M.W. Plia

It’s my understanding Ethanol is used as an oxygenate additive for standard gasoline and replaces methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE) which was responsible for considerable ground water and soil contamination.

Bret Highum

That’s true, and it’s not addressed anywhere in this post.

Robert of Texas

Yes, that was my understanding as well. While the energy density is less, it allows the fuel to burn slightly cleaner with less knocking. The rest of the reasons are just BS made up by people making money on it.
I can say from experience that E10 is a pain in the b*tt, but it runs well in my 2011 F150. I compared E0 fuel regular with E10 fuel premium (not by choice so this wasn’t a planned experiment) and actually got better gas mileage from the E10 premium. I know it had 10% ethanol as I tested it to be sure. I also test the E0.
I own an older car and lawn mower that develop leprosy if they even smell ethanol. Its a fairly simple procedure to separate most the ethanol out of the gas if necessary – I have been doing this for years.
I am all for using ethanol in place of a more dangerous chemical to oxygenate gasoline, but forcing it to be used past the point on getting a benefit for it is silly and wasteful. Now I find myself wondering just how much ethanol is actually needed (versus mandated) to oxygenate gasoline. I’ll bet its less than 10%…

R. Shearer

I prefer to use air as my engine’s source of oxygen when given a choice.

R. Shearer

It used to be 2.5 mass% on an oxygen basis. Ethanol is about 34% oxygen so at 10% (by volume I think) it’s overkill. That mandate was for ozone non-attainment areas. I’ve been away from this for a while, so take my comment for what it’s worth.

Catcracking

Matt,
There are better alternatives to ethanol to provide high octane fuel.
High compression engines are very expensive, just look at the cost of a diesel engine.
I owned cars with high compression ratios in a different era and used Amoco white gas with no lead and they ran very well without ethanol. I own a boat and even 10% ethanol causes problems especially with winter lay-up requires frequent carburetor rebuilding and occasional draining the tank and disposing of 30 gallons or more.
What happened to let the consumer decide instead of activists what to put on their tank?

R. Shearer

Many refiners used to get octane rating from aromatics produced by platforming, of course cat crackers do a fine job as well. Anyway, EPA mandates limit aromatics to <25%, so that's that.

M.W. Plia May 14, 2018 at 4:30 am
It’s my understanding Ethanol is used as an oxygenate additive for standard gasoline and replaces methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE) which was responsible for considerable ground water and soil contamination.

That’s exactly why it was introduced, it was necessary to boost the fuel octane rating as lead was phased out. The first choice was MTBE but that was phased out and replaced by ethanol starting in 2000 because of groundwater contamination. It’s not exactly novel since Ford’s Model T was designed to run on ethanol, then in the 20s octane ratings were boosted by the use of tetraethyl lead.

Non Nomen

Don’t mess around with foodstuffs as long as there are children who have to go to bed hungry. This is NOT just a 3rd world problem, there is much hardship in the US, too.

(2104)
https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/3531-u-s-corn-surplus-seen-at-1-63-billion-bushels-down-9-vs-december-estimate
“WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2014 – Unsold U.S. corn supplies before the 2014 harvest will total 1.631 billion bushels, the USDA said today in a report. That’s down 9 percent from the December estimate while almost double a year earlier, after farmers harvested the biggest crop ever.”
No shortage of food in America.
If people are hungry, it’s for other reasons than supply.

Kermit Johnson

Thanks – once again, that needed to be said. If children “have to go to bed hungry” – it is NOT because ethanol has raised the price of food.
It is discouraging that, even on a forum like this, we see comments this uninformed.

MarkW

Nobody said that corn to fuel makes kids go hungry.
What they said was that it raises the cost of food.
And it does.

MarkW

I misread Non-nomens comment as saying that increased cost of food meant parents couldn’t afford it.

Kermit Johnson

“Nobody said that corn to fuel makes kids go hungry.
What they said was that it raises the cost of food.
And it does.”
No, it doesn’t. At the very least, that claim is highly questionable. What it does do is to ramp up production of corn, which is used to produce energy, which competes with oil.
Keeping it simple – why, if corn to fuel limits the amount of corn going to produce food, is there such a massive surplus of corn right now?
Econ 101. Demand increases supply.

secryn

Corn is a world-wide commodity. If its price goes up, poor people around the world who have to work each day to feed their families, will be able to afford less of it. On the lower edge of poverty, the higher price of corn does cause food deprivation.

Samuel C Cogar

Matthew W: “ If people are hungry, it’s for other reasons than supply.
If people are supplied with food …… why don’t they eat it instead of going hungry? Lockjaw, no teeth, stubbiness, ……. what?
Kermit Johnson: “ If children “have to go to bed hungry” – it is NOT because ethanol has raised the price of food.
The ell you say. “DUH”, the ethanol producers with their “freebe” government “cash” subsidies can easily out-bid the food producers for raw product, thus artificially inflating the “cost per bushel” of corn that the food producers are FORCED TO PAY iffen they want to buy any corn.
And iffen the food producers have to pay 10%, 20%, 40% MORE for needed raw product, they sure as ell ain’t gonna …… charge it to the “dust” and let the “rain” settle the debt.
MarkW: “Nobody said that corn to fuel makes kids go hungry.
What they said was that it raises the cost of food. And it does.

“YUP”, …… “corn to fuel” causes an increase in cost of a “bushel of corn”.
An increase cost of a “bushel of corn” causes an increase in cost of producing food.
An increase in cost of producing food causes an increase in retail prices of food.
An increase in retail prices of food PROHIBITS poor families from purchasing enough to adequately feed all family members.
And when a parent cannot provide an adequate food supply …… kids will go hungry (and the schools have to feed some of them sometimes).
Kermit Johnson: “ No, it doesn’t (raise the cost of food). At the very least, that claim is highly questionable.
Yes, it does (raise the cost of food). And you would know that was a fact iffen you had been purchasing food at retail outlets, ….. for home preparation/consumption, …. during the past 10-15 years.
Kermit Johnson: “ It is discouraging that, even on a forum like this, we see comments this uninformed.
Only your like-minded miseducated peers will agree with you on he above.

“Kermit Johnson May 14, 2018 at 6:17 am
Thanks – once again, that needed to be said. If children “have to go to bed hungry” – it is NOT because ethanol has raised the price of food.
It is discouraging that, even on a forum like this, we see comments this uninformed.”

False claims from another concern trollop.

Samuel C Cogar

Kermit Johnson will surely have both his eyes and his mind dead-set at avoiding the context of the following ABC News article, to wit:

Battling Ethanol-Propelled Food Prices —– April 19, 2008
Food prices worldwide have risen dramatically in the past few years, due in part to a similarly dramatic rise in the amount of corn used for ethanol production in the United States. Now, in an effort to make food less expensive, experts are calling for limits on ethanol production, subsidies for corn, and more incentives for biofuels made from nonfood sources.
According to statistics released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor, food prices for the first three months of the year rose at a rate that translates to an annual increase of 5.3 percent (adjusted for seasonal variations). That’s slightly higher than last year’s increase, and much higher than the increases in previous years. From 2001 to 2006, the price of food increased each year by an average of only 2.5 percent. According to the World Bank, the situation worldwide is more dire: food prices have nearly doubled over the past three years. That’s erased a decade of economic gains for the poor in some countries.
Part of this increase is due to corn being diverted from use as animal feed and food to use as a feedstock for ethanol production.

Read more @ https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Weather/story?id=4683795&page=1

If I recall correctly, the main drivers of food price increases are increases in the cost of gasoline and diesel. Using the $3.60/bushel corn that’s in huge surplus to make ethanol is not what causes the price of corn flakes to rise.

Kermit Johnson

@secryn
” If its price goes up, poor people around the world who have to work each day to feed their families, will be able to afford less of it.”
Of course, but you aren’t reading what I actually wrote, are you? Ethanol production has NOT noticeably pushed up the price of corn. And, if it has in a very small way, hardly any of the type of corn produced goes directly to human food. Increased prices have had the effect of increasing supply (which is Econ 101) which then sends prices down. People trying to feed their families are not competing with people driving SUVs – for a constant supply of corn.
@Samuel C Cogar
Sorry, I don’t even know where to begin with you. And that abcnews article is just BS. Remember, these are the same media people who have been pushing CAGW on us! They “cherry-pick” the date – just like they do with picking the date they use to show how we are warming. They ignore cycles just like they do with climate. They also are totally clueless about basic economics and how markets work.
@bhiggum
Good points.

A. Scott

MarkW … how does corn used for ethanol drive up food prices when corn prices are down to 3.51/bu … from over $8/bu at the peak?

A. Scott

Samuel C Cogar … You cite a DECADE OLD article from 2008 that claims to link food prices to corn prices … and claims corn prices increased in 2008 as a result of increased use of corn for ethanol.
Please explain how your claim – that corn used for ethanol drives up food costs – is remotely relevant or accurate today … in a world where corn used for ethanol remains at recent highs – using 40% of the US corn crop – but corn prices have plummeted by more than half … from over $8/bu to $3.51 today?
The truth is your claim was not correct in 2008 and it is absolutely not remotely supported by the facts and data today.
Commodities traders drove up corn prices in that 2006-2009 time frame. It had little or nothing to do with corn being used for ethanol/ The prices of every commodity went up at similar rates and fashion as corn prices. Is it your claim that corn used for ethanol also drove up all other commodities prices at the same time as well?
The facts are there is essentially truth to the claims you are making. Correlation is not causation. Corn used for ethanol did not cause prices to skyrocket any more than they caused prices to plummet since.

Reziac

As one who has been buying corn-based feed by the ton for over 40 years, in my observation the only relevant factor in the price of corn-based products by the time it hits the end-user is… the price of diesel.

Samuel C Cogar May 14, 2018 at 9:22 am
Kermit Johnson: “ No, it doesn’t (raise the cost of food). At the very least, that claim is highly questionable.”
Yes, it does (raise the cost of food). And you would know that was a fact iffen you had been purchasing food at retail outlets, ….. for home preparation/consumption, …. during the past 10-15 years.
Kermit Johnson: “ It is discouraging that, even on a forum like this, we see comments this uninformed.”
Only your like-minded miseducated peers will agree with you on he above.

Here’s some data on the subject.comment image

Samuel C Cogar

A. Scott – May 14, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Samuel C Cogar … You cite a DECADE OLD article from 2008 that claims to link food prices to corn prices … and claims corn prices increased in 2008 as a result of increased use of corn for ethanol.
Please explain how your claim – that corn used for ethanol drives up food costs – is remotely relevant or accurate today

A. Scott, are you delusional, ….. learning disabled …. or just have a nasty habit of “ranting n ‘ raving” silly commentary for “attention” getting purposes?
“DUH”, food prices were increasing a DECADE ago due to ethanol production and they haven’t decrease any since then, thus those HIGH FOOD PRICES are still relevant today.
A. Scott, why the hell do you think the “poor people” are demanding increases in Minimum Wages? Do you actually believe their demands are because the price of cigarettes have increased?
Cease with your liberal garbage “ranting” and accept the facts of the matter, to wit:

Ethanol Blamed for Record Food Prices
by Kevin Bullis March 23, 2011
Federal ethanol mandates in the United States have played an important role in the increase in corn prices, which are approaching $7 a bushel, up from historical norms of $2 to $3. The mandates—called the renewable fuel standard—require fuel distributors to use a certain amount of ethanol each year, with the amount increasing each year.
“In the short run, there’s no doubt that we have more volatile prices for corn because of the renewable fuels standard,” says Wallace Tyner, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. In the long term—in two to four years—if prices stay up, more farmers will plant corn, and supply will catch up to demand, he says. But the ethanol mandates will help keep corn prices higher than they have been in the past. The “new normal” will be something like $3 to $4 a bushel, he says.

The exact impact of ethanol demand on food prices is hard to determine, because of the complex interplay of factors such as weather, market speculation, energy prices and so on. After a similar food price spike in 2007 and 2008, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that increased demand for ethanol accounted for between 10 and 15 percent of the food price increase, an estimate that has been echoed in several other studies.
Read more @ https://www.technologyreview.com/s/423385/ethanol-blamed-for-record-food-prices/

Samuel C Cogar

Phil. May 15, 2018 at 3:38 am

Here’s some data on the subject.

Phil, thanks for posting that graph.
But it would have been nicer iffen you had pointed out to the “naysayers” the FACT that there was a … 50 point increase in the Food Price Index between 1993 and 1996 which was the direct result of corn prices drastically increasing from historical norms of $2 to $3 …… to $7 per bushel …… due to subsidies given to ethanol producers. (see my above post)
“HA”, even if you point of that “50 point increase” to the afore noted “naysayers”, …… they will still ignore, discredit and deny that the food producers had to pay $5 to $4 more per bushel of corn than what they had been paying.

Samuel C Cogar May 15, 2018 at 8:04 am
Phil. May 15, 2018 at 3:38 am
“Here’s some data on the subject.”
Phil, thanks for posting that graph.
But it would have been nicer iffen you had pointed out to the “naysayers” the FACT that there was a … 50 point increase in the Food Price Index between 1993 and 1996 which was the direct result of corn prices drastically increasing from historical norms of $2 to $3 …… to $7 per bushel …… due to subsidies given to ethanol producers. (see my above post)

In 1997 the majority of oxygenate in gasoline was supplied by MTBE not ethanol (269 vs 82 thousands of barrels per calendar day) current production of ethanol is over 1000 thousands of barrels per calendar day.
Looks like it was a spike in sugar prices that was the problem then.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_prices#/media/File:Annual_real_food_price_indices.svg

A. Scott

@Samuel C Cogar The only ranting going on here is from you.
Food price vs corn used for ethanol:
http://www.ncga.com/image/947/600
And perhaps you can explain how corn used for ethanol was also responsible for driving up all these other prices at the same time:comment image?_nc_cat=0&_nc_eui2=AeF5gV6doajhLYuQGixkvwNNJ0t4uDcuCbDIiCisB2UGdGajWgKT_nVrZYlilPOLar3oALTdd1N-B51NvbuZjcHjKi1BkUtLk7SCN3CvUHPaFw&oh=01babe35cd81b93ed54695efc4e65dc0&oe=5B8C7626

Samuel C Cogar

Phil. – May 15, 2018 at 10:52 am

Looks like it was a spike in sugar prices that was the problem then.

Surely you jest.
Phil, …… I thought you knew, …… to wit:

High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is the most commonly used sweetener in processed foods, reports MayoClinic.com.
https://www.livestrong.com/article/296674-corn-allergies-acne/

And that is just “sweeteners” …… and doesn’t include THE THOUSANDS of other food products that are made out of corn and are made with included corn.

Samuel C Cogar

A. Scott – May 15, 2018 at 11:06 am

Food price vs corn used for ethanol:
http://www.ncga.com/image/947/600

A, Scott, me think you need to have your mommy teach you how to interpret graphed data.
Please note the food $ spike in 2006 …… and then corn production caught up with demand and corn prices decreased …….. but no food producer decreased their prices accordingly ….. and thus the public is still paying for that “ethanol” inflated cost.
Ya buy them books, ….. send them to school, ……..

Samuel C Cogar May 16, 2018 at 4:16 am
Phil. – May 15, 2018 at 10:52 am
“Looks like it was a spike in sugar prices that was the problem then.”
Surely you jest.
Phil, …… I thought you knew, …… to wit:
“High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is the most commonly used sweetener in processed foods, reports MayoClinic.com. ”
https://www.livestrong.com/article/296674-corn-allergies-acne/
And that is just “sweeteners” …… and doesn’t include THE THOUSANDS of other food products that are made out of corn and are made with included corn.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is not sugar, the sugar price spiked in that period, not the cereal price.

A. Scott

@Samuelk C Cogar … while you were arrogantly denigrating me – claiming causation between increasing use of corn for ethanol and increasing food prices, despite that the data shows food prices have continued to fall as corn used for ethanol has increased … focusing on the shrt term spike in 2006as supporting your claim – that increased use of corn for ethanol caused increased food prices …. you IGNORED the second part of that post:
… perhaps you can explain how corn used for ethanol was also responsible for driving up all these other prices at the same time:comment image?_nc_cat=0&_nc_eui2=AeF5gV6doajhLYuQGixkvwNNJ0t4uDcuCbDIiCisB2UGdGajWgKT_nVrZYlilPOLar3oALTdd1N-B51NvbuZjcHjKi1BkUtLk7SCN3CvUHPaFw&oh=01babe35cd81b93ed54695efc4e65dc0&oe=5B8C7626
So please go ahead and educate us … if it was increased use of corn for ethanol production that drove corn prices up in the mid 2000’s … then it must have been increased use of corn for ethanol that was responsible for pretty much every other commodity to increasing largely the same time and rate …. right?
Surely you have an answer don’t you?

Robert of Texas

Farmers are actually business people, and are in their business to make a profit – not feed the starving masses. Some people do not seem to be able to understand how capitalism works.
It is the obligation of community, local, state, and federal government to make certain that minimum requirements for all helpless people are somehow met – this would include children.
Farmers will grow and sell crops that make them the most money. You should not hold them somehow morally responsible for starving people. It is almost always the fault of government in the form of corruption failure to take action, and over regulation that results in starving people. Over population doesn’t help a country either.
Corn is a commodity. The corn used in making ethanol is not food grade – it is cattle feed. Most of the bulk of the processed corn is returned to the cattle industry as feed minus a lot of sugar.
If you really feel strongly about feeding the poor, you should take action by joining a church-group that is actively helping. They provide the most efficient form of help directly to the poor of their communities.

Gums

Some good points, Robert.
OTOH….
No problems with capitalism for farmers and ranchers and mechanics and ….., if it is not subsidized by OPM like mine that the government confiscates.
I wonder how well the corn->ethanol-> gas tank profits would do if the origin of the ethanol was not subsidized? A year or so ago the E85 in Colorado was almost 40 cents a gallon cheaper than the E10 and more than that for the ethanol free “recreational” gasloline used for older vehicles and snowmobiles and such. It was the subsidy! If the subsidy per gallon was tacked on to the gasoline at the pump a lotta folks would question all that ethanol propaganda from the warmists and other greenies.
The point about not using “human rated” corn for the ethanol is not fair. So I guess the feedstock corn takes less acres than the human stuff and is grown on acres not suitable for the human corn, huh? It still means that corn for people versus motors is not a win-win deal.
I just would like to see how the game plays out if all the sunsidies were eliminated. The original intent of the ethano seemed right at the time, and I saw gas go from 40 cents a gallon to a dollar a gallon within 6 months. The U.S. really needed fuel without mortgaging our future to OPEC. But then the greenies jumped on the “renewable” word and complaints about ethanol branded one as “climiate deniers” and worse.
/rant off.
GUms sends…

A. Scott

@Gums … please explain exactly what “subsidy” you are talking about.
The VEETC blender credit was the primary, major ethanol subsidy. It was ended in 2011 … SEVEN years ago.

Gums May 14, 2018 at 1:30 pm
” If the subsidy per gallon was tacked on to the gasoline at the pump a lotta folks would question all that ethanol propaganda from the warmists and other greenies.”
The guvment likes to force businesses to put all sorts of warnings on products. Along with the subsidy being posted on the pump:comment image

Menicholas

Price of the steak I like to eat every night went way up right around the same time, and has never gone back to where it was.

Samuel C Cogar

@ Gums – May 14, 2018 at 1:30 pm
That was fine, well thought out, commentary.
Thank you for posting it.
Sam C

Samuel C Cogar

Matthew W – May 14, 2018 at 6:15 pm

The guvment likes to force businesses to put all sorts of warnings on products. Along with the subsidy being posted on the pump:

Blowing smoke again, …… HUH?
Matthew, save your silly claims, accusations, explanations and insinuations for the oblivious, clueless, dueless, miseducated, learning disabled and/or highly partisan “leftist” lemmings because they will believe most anything you tell them.
“DUH”, your cited North Carolina gasoline cost/gallon does not include any “payback” of/for Federal subsidy money that is given to ethanol producers. The cited 56.15 cents/gal is the total of the Federal Excise Tax (18.40 cents) and the North Carolina State Tax (37.50 cents).
Matthew, ….. whether you like it or not, …… the literal facts are, to wit:

The taxes and other fees on retail gasoline and diesel fuel, in cents per gallon, as of January 1, 2018:
———————– Gasoline ———– Diesel
Federal —————- 18.40 ————– 24.40
Average state taxes — 28.31 ————- 29.33
Federal taxes include an excise tax and a Leaking Underground Storage Tank fee of 0.1 cents per gallon.
https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=10&t=10

A. Scott

@Samuel C Cogar said:
“… your cited North Carolina gasoline cost/gallon does not include any “payback” of/for Federal subsidy money that is given to ethanol producers. ”
What ethanol subsidy would that be?
The major, primary subsidy was the VEETC blenders credit … which ended years ago … in 2011.
So please explain which “Federal subsidy given to ethanol producers” you are talking about …

Samuel C Cogar

A. Scott May 17, 2018 at 11:44 pm

So please explain which “Federal subsidy given to ethanol producers” you are talking about …

A. Scott, are you afflicted with a “short term” memory problem, ….. or what?
“DUH”, just to renew your memory of past events, …… it was the Federal subsidies that initially “triggered” the increase in food prices.
You really need to purchase a few pads of “Post-it Notes” to help with your “recall” problem.

NavarreAggie

Not to mention the impact on beef prices. I still can’t believe how nearly impossible it is to find a ribeye for less than. $9-10 per pound. While drought in ranching country has probably played a part, I’m sure the diversion of corn to ethanol is also a driver of those, in my opinion, ridiculous prices.

Kermit Johnson

Again, this is NOT because ethanol production has increased the price of corn. We currently have a very large surplus of corn, and the price is cheap. Beef is expensive to produce, compared to pork – and especially compared to something like chicken. Plus, it is in demand by the people who make most of the money. If you can’t afford a ribeye steak, find a job that pays more.

Look at this link. What caused the 2008 and 2011 spikes in corn prices?
Corn Prices – 45 Year Historical Chart

Kermit Johnson

“Look at this link. What caused the 2008 and 2011 spikes in corn prices?”
There has been a normal cyclic pattern in corn prices going back a long way. I was ready for that cycle high. Of course, I knew that it did not *have to* happen, but it had happened previously, and all of the “ducks were in a row” for it to happen again. The dates when it happened previously were into the highs of 1917-1920, 1946-1948, and 1973-1974. It appears to be a roughly thirty year cycle. Once the high is in place, in each of those past three cycles, prices did not reach their lows for twelve years – once the chart rolled over the top. Lows came in 1932, 1960, and 1986. *If* history does repeat, corn prices should not see the final low for this cycle until 2024. However, in each of the past three times, there was a counter trend rally that, today, should take price back to an average monthly cash value of $5.50/bushel.
Of course, this can change. Global cooling could change this pattern, couldn’t it? Currency problems could easily change this pattern, couldn’t it? But, absent a change like one of these, I expect corn prices to see a counter trend rally followed by a decline into the final cycle low in about six years.

It appears that Corn had increased in price by 40% since 2007. I’m not a corn price expert, so I can’t argue your cyclical hypothesis. However, 2007 was around the time when ethanol was becoming more popular.

Robert of Texas

“A truck driver called in to Levin’s show on Friday night to say that the price of corn that usually sells at $3.20/bushel has now more than doubled to $7.85/bushel because of the lack of corn being planted this year due to the cold weather and the rain.”
Weather played the biggest role.
http://therightscoop.com/levin-corn-prices-are-about-to-skyrocket/

Kermit Johnson

@Jeff in Calgary
“It appears that Corn had increased in price by 40% since 2007.”
Yes, that was just leading into the thirty year bull market that unfolded into 2008-2012. The last year of that time period was a severe drought. In 2007, corn was very much undervalued, and as I said, it seemed obvious to me that the “ducks were in a row” for the thirty year bull.
Here, again, think about global warming. The dates used by the alarmists were usually from the mid 1800s – a very cold time. Of course, the world has been warming. This is similar to corn prices in 2007. The telling part now, however, is that corn prices have fallen substantially – as they were expected to fall! We are back to having a huge surplus of corn again. There is no shortage of corn causing prices to be high right now. Quite the opposite is true!

Menicholas

Sophistry.
Several years ago a drought caused a spike in prices of all grain, and hay was in tight supply due to land being preferentially used for corn. The spike in grain caused a huge spike in the cost of eggs, and chicken, and every kind of meat. This in turn caused all foods to increase in price.
Potato and other kinds of chips and snacks became far more expensive…twice as much or more, although part of the increase was disguised by smaller amounts per package.
The whole issue was interrelated…it was not one thing being more expensive.
One of the effects was to cause ranchers to drastically cut the size of herds.
That is what caused a large part of the increase in beef prices, to never before seen prices. Eggs were $2 a dozen or more.
Everything was more, and a large part of the reason was increased diversion of corn to motor fuel.
Beef herds once diminished by that amount were never restored to previous levels…either ranchers found some other way to make money or else it just takes a very long time to increase herds.
Yes, prices have since declined, and more corn was planted.
Of course.
The drought ended.
Prices spiked, so naturally everyone who could grew more acreage of corn.
To get more water for the sometimes marginal lands now being grown in corn, massive numbers of new wells were drilled…for an entire year well motors and pumps and motor control boxes were sold out.
The suppliers, like Franklin Electric warehouse in Sanford Florida, which had for the previous 10 years or more (I had only been buying them for ten years, so I do not know how much more) had stacks of every diameter and voltage and horsepower rating of well pumps and motors was empty for months and months and months. Ditto for Grundfos warehouse in Allentown and Fresno.
Those prices spiked and never went back down.
The cost of chips never went back down.
The cost of beef never went back down.
Some prices for some of the prices that had gone way up came down eventually…like eggs…they are not much more than before… I do not think, but it is hard to be sure.
Beef and other meats never went back down by much at all, and are still sky high. And it started then.
Potato chips are still twice as much per ounce as prior.
Prices of many things are sticky, for many reasons.
The Arab Spring which led to the war in Syria which is ongoing to this day, and which caused mayhem and thousands of deaths in Egypt, and problems that persist in many countries…began as food riots in response to the sharp spike in grain prices after the ethanol mandate went into effect.
We have had far more cooperative weather conditions since, and prices have dropped, partly due to increased acreage and partly due to increasing yields, and likely also due to less demand from cattlemen to feed smaller herds.
Ripple effects.
Had there been no mandate, the price spike from a bad drought would have been less severe than the spike to record high prices that occurred.
However cheap it is now, it would be cheaper, marginal lands would not have been put into production, groundwater would not be being drawn out faster than ever.
And the next drought or production problem will likewise be more severe than otherwise.
There is no one reading or talking here that can claim there is no law of supply and demand.
And no one can jaw away the problems we all lived through and are still paying for.

A. Scott

@Robert of Texas …. you noted the price increase in the 2011 season … correctly noting it was weather that was primarily responsible for the price increase in 2011 … this story confirms exactly that.
And 2012 was to turn out far worse yet – with the extended and pervasive drought.
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/corn-futures-rise-after-usda-cuts-crop-outlook-2011-06-09

A. Scott

@NavarreAggie What impact on beef prices? Corn has dropped from over $8/bushel to $3.51 today. The cost of corn for animal feed has dropped by over HALF in the last 6 years.
IF corn used for ethanol actually DID have any impact on beef prices your beef should cost substantially less today.
It does not.
And that is not in any way related to corn, or corn used for ethanol.

Reziac

I don’t know for sure but I’d bet on how the cattle shipping industry has basically squeezed out the small producers by ending local pickup (which was no longer profitable given the increase in fuel prices). Now, if you don’t have at least 25,000 head ready to ship at a crack, you’ll have to find your own way to get it to market, via some some fairly expensive small shipper. This in turn has killed off the small local slaughterhouses, so most meat is shipped out, cut, then shipped back, with distribution markup every step of the way (and a lot more losses due to the meat deteriorating at the warehouse… meatcutter friend told me when he worked for a big grocery chain, they had to discard a third of every box).

Patrick MJD

I watched a YouTube vid “Joe Leno’s Garage” one w/e where her started up a restored Merlin V12 engine. One of the comments struck out to me as “Well informed”. He said something like “Ethanol is the worst fuel to use in an engine…”
I think Leno knows what he is talking about.

Kermit Johnson

Older engines – yes.
New engines? Why, if it is so bad, do the new engines seem to go on and on and on? 100,000 miles now is not high mileage.

There is a sticker on the fuel tank of my Yamaha WR-250R – and the same warning in the owner’s manual – that using 15% ethanol fuel will damage the engine. I want the option to buy fuel that is not contaminated.

littlepeaks

My 2015 Honda Fit owner’s manual says to use Top Tier fuel. I wonder if fuel in the Tier 3 program contains ethanol. Tier 3 gasoline is formulated to prevent carbon buildup in the engine. Tier 3 is an EPA program. I think Top Tier is a trademark for tier 3 gasoline.

Kermit Johnson

“There is a sticker on the fuel tank of my Yamaha WR-250R – and the same warning in the owner’s manual – that using 15% ethanol fuel will damage the engine. I want the option to buy fuel that is not contaminated.”
And, as I said – you should have that option! Can’t you buy pure gasoline where you live?? Does the sticker say that 10% ethanol mix is dangerous for that engine?
Informed choice should be everyone’s right.

kermit, no. 10% ethanol is ubiquitous, at least in colorado, from what I have seen

Pillage Idiot

You can now web search for ethanol-free gasoline in your area. (Some of these sites are crowd-sourced, so they may not be 100% accurate.)
We only use E0 gasoline in our small engine equipment on the farm. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to fuel and lubricate your equipment in the spring – and have every single item fire right up!
I think I paid about a 28 cent premium for “regular” E0 (86-87 octane). My brush-cutter runs on higher octane, but you can also find premium E0 gasoline in our area. Your small engine carburetors will thank you.
(I am a U.S. based Idiot.)

D. J. Hawkins

@kermit;
In NJ you can only get it in 5 gallon pails, for about $85. Not really much of a choice.

Menicholas

Ethanol is a hydrocarbon with an OH group attached.
It behaves just like water. It attracts water out of the air, and it contains less energy.
It is harder to ignite, which is the how octane is measure Harder to ignite=higher octane.
Large motors and even small ones can be built that will run on gas with higher than 10% ethanol, because engineers can build about anything.
But the ones that are not built for it are damaged by it.
It damages not just the fuel system from corrosion and the carburetor systems because of moisture, but above a certain concentration, ethanol damages rubbers parts, seals and gaskets and such.
Yes, some motors are fine with it, the rest are damaged, often badly and expensively.
The longer the gas sits in a tank the more moisture is accumulated in the gas due to a property of ethanol…it is hygroscopic. Since it has a part of the molecule which is chemically like water…polar and partially self ionized, it draws it from the air like a magnet. Where it stays, and settles to the bottom and draws more water in.
There is a property of mixed liquids which prevents removing all of one or another by any evaporative process…water and ethanol form what is called an azeotrope…this is why grain alcohol is only 190 proof. It takes expensive chemistry to remove that last ten percent of the water which is left by even the most thorough fractional distillation.
Ditto in gas…whoever said it was easy to get the ethanol out of the gas is wrong. Some can be removed, most remains. Along with the water.
As for oxygenation…methyl tert butyl ether (MTBE) was an excellent oxygenating agent for gas. It does cause gasoline to become more soluble in water and thus can migrate it through groundwater, and probably lets it move through dry soil more easily as well.
But ethanol is a poor substitute. It causes incomplete combustion of the gas, and the products of this incomplete combustion, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, react with air to from high levels of ozone…far more than from pure gas or gas oxygenated with MTBE.
This is beyond dispute.
Gasohol exhaust produces 2.4 times as much ozone as pure gas, and for all pollutants in air is rated as 1.7, where pure gas is 1.0.
These are facts.
Chemistry is like that.

Menicholas

Excuse me, I should have said that the ethanol water azeotrope is 5% water, not 10%.

Menicholas May 14, 2018 at 8:46 pm
As for oxygenation…methyl tert butyl ether (MTBE) was an excellent oxygenating agent for gas. It does cause gasoline to become more soluble in water and thus can migrate it through groundwater, and probably lets it move through dry soil more easily as well.
But ethanol is a poor substitute. It causes incomplete combustion of the gas, and the products of this incomplete combustion, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, react with air to from high levels of ozone…far more than from pure gas or gas oxygenated with MTBE.

MTBE also produced aldehydes in the exhaust stream.

Kermit Johnson

“kermit, no. 10% ethanol is ubiquitous, at least in colorado, from what I have seen”
That’s a political problem. That’s like all the wind towers around here. Forced malinvestment. Consumers should always be given a choice.
“We only use E0 gasoline in our small engine equipment on the farm.”
Same here. Ethanol does not store well.

Menicholas

Ethanol stores fine.
Mixed with gasoline in a fuel tank, which are never airtight, it sucks water out of the air by a chemical affinity.

Rob

The ethanol in gasoline, and bio diesel are one giant disaster for the consumer. I only buy number one gasoline and diesel now that are free of corruption. I bought 25 litre can of number two diesel last year by mistake for my compact tractor, and end up having to throw most of it away. If it sat around for a little while the water in it pooled so badly it wouldn’t even run. It would just plug up the fuel filter.

Patrick MJD

Diesel, as well as brake fluids, is highly hygroscopic. I am not sure about gas, but don’t leave it around for long exposed to air.

Keith J

Mineral diesel is not hygroscopic. Biodiesel is.

Rob

I had never seen so much water in diesel before, and water will wreck your pump. I was watching the farm channel one day about 3 months ago, and part of the show was on bio diesel. They were at some diesel repair shop in Saskatchewan, and they were showing injection pumps that had been running bio diesel though them, and the pumps were destroyed. I wonder how long it will be before there is a class action lawsuit against the oil companies and the government for all the damage they’re causing.

Menicholas

Gas is not hygroscopic, although it will gradually turn to a lacquer like sludge and foul engine parts.
Ethanol is very hygroscopic, and even more so when it is mixed with gas and stored in a non-airtight fuel tank. The water does all sorts of bad things.

Kermit Johnson

Don’t lump the two together. You should be able to buy pure gasoline if you want to, and you also should be able to buy pure diesel fuel if you want to. If you can’t (where you live), vote someone in who will change things.
FWIW, I agree with you completely on biodiesel. It is garbage. If consumers are given the choice, and if they do a bit of research, biodiesel would not be a choice for long.

a few years ago, I drove the northern route across Montana. ONce out of the Glacier Park area, it is relatively flat, and gas stations there and in N. Dakota carried both E 10 and regular gas, so I alternated when I filled up. I found that I got about 10% worse mileage with the E10. So in essence, it was as if 10% of the gas had been removed from every gallon. How is this environmentally or economically favorable, especially once ethanol subsidies are figured in?

And without the subsidies, biodiesel’s period of choice would be much shorter.

A. Scott

@Ken Van Doren E10 has appx 111,836 BTU of enegrgy per gallon. E0 (straight gas) has appx 114,100 BTU per gallon … E10 has 1.9% lower energy content. The worst loss in MPG you could get would be 1.9%.

A. Scott

@Ken Van Doren … and the VEETC blender credit for ethanol – which was the primary “subsidy” for ethanol was eliminated in 2011.

Reziac

…and @A. Scott
Yeah, while it’s theoretically only 1.x % difference, that isn’t what I found in the Real World. I used to keep meticulous track of my truck’s gas mileage. At the time both E10 and the truck were fairly new… E10 cut my fuel economy by a consistent 10% and the truck ran considerably hotter than normal — which might account for the lost efficiency. It also had noticeably less power, to the point that when E10 became the rule, I had to use premium when towing. Occurs to me that reduced power meant the engine had to work harder to move the same mass, another factor?

Menicholas

Mr. Johnson, it is very peculiar that you only dispute factual information, and do so vigorously, as it applies to ethanol in gas.
Or more particularly using corn to make ethanol and using that in motor fuel.
One might almost come away with the distinct impression you are not exactly being scientifically objective, but in fact are biased.
One might further imagine such a bias might be explained by some self interest on your part in the whole matter.
You see, many of us here, after many years of experience, have a well honed ability to detect this particular phenomenon.
Not that anyone needs to be psychic to see it in your case.

Kermit Johnson

@Menicholas
“You see, many of us here, after many years of experience, have a well honed ability to detect this particular phenomenon.”
And I have a very well honed ability to detect BS – which is obvious in your case.
All I’m saying is that, of all the people on all the forums on the net, we should be able to use FACTS and LOGIC here at WUWT. I’ve posted here many times about the fallacies of computer models making predictions (projections) many years into the future. I’ve posted about not only the necessary use of fudge factors in the models (they call them sensitivity factors – for an obvious reason), but I’ve posted about the absurdity of every climate model having to have its own unique fudge factor. If we use the same logic here, the simple measure of the ethanol question is – does the consumer have the CHOICE in what he buys? In most places, the answer is yes, and the consumer chooses to purchase the ethanol blend – BECAUSE IT IS SIGNIFICANTLY CHEAPER – and – almost as good.
Then, of course, the question is – what effect does producing ethanol have on the US economy? I have yet to see a reasonable argument that it is bad to have the extra economic activity.
So, you might take your “well honed ability” into the bathroom and look in the mirror.

Reziac May 14, 2018 at 8:06 pm
…and @A. Scott
Yeah, while it’s theoretically only 1.x % difference, that isn’t what I found in the Real World. I used to keep meticulous track of my truck’s gas mileage. At the time both E10 and the truck were fairly new… E10 cut my fuel economy by a consistent 10% and the truck ran considerably hotter than normal — which might account for the lost efficiency.

Sounds like your ignition timing needs to be reset, that would account for both the fuel consumption and the temperature, sounds like you should advance the timing.

ripshin

Kermit,
It’s only a choice if E-free gas is actually readily available. I know of only one location in my city where it’s available, so it’s not a realistic choice for me on a regular basis. Even making the sporadic drive out to it for fuel for my small engines is a pain.
Furthermore, you can’t seriously make the argument that free market forces are at work (responding to your “basic economics” comments) when the market is distorted by massive government intervention.
The truth is that if we had the real freedom to decide for ourselves, outside of any government manipulation, of course we wouldn’t use ethanol based gas. At least, not in the form it currently takes.
rip

A. Scott

@ripshin The availability of E0 (or lack thereof) is EXACTLY whats some here are clamoring for … the free market dictating …
IF there was a sufficient DEMAND for E0 gasoline, retailers most certainly would be providing it.
It is truly ironic that one of the few minor programs left that at least in part, benefit ethanol (along with other alternative fuels) – the support for increased installation of new blender pumps – would address your concern.
These blender pumps make it SIMPLE for stations to offer MULTIPLE fuel types … including E0

Robert of Texas

Ack, don’t throw it away! If the ethanol starts separating its because of water it has somehow absorbed. Just drain the gas into a container with a spigot, let it settle for 20 minutes, then drain the clear stuff off the bottom (should not be more than 10% of the total, likely less), and you have clean gasoline with far less ethanol in it. On a tractor you might be able to perform this process right at the gas tank.
You can actually add a little water to gas with ethanol to force it to separate, then drain the water+ethanol off the bottom. This removes most of the ethanol. Make sure you let it settle and you drain all of the water.

R. Shearer

That has the potential to remove gasoline additives, especially detergents. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend that as a routine practice, not withstanding the potential exposure to carcinogens and neurotoxins.

Menicholas

“This removes most of the ethanol. ”
Sorry, nope.

dan no longer in CA

I have yet to see a well-researched and honest study on whether burning ethanol produces less CO2 than burning fossil gasoline. When adding the fuel needed to plant, irrigate, and harvest the crop, then trucking the crop to the conversion plant, then the energy used in conversion (and CO2 production), trucking the ethanol to the refineries and energy needed to blend it, is it really CO2 neutral? Oh, yes, and be sure to include the greater amount of energy needed to deliver the gasoline from the refineries to the retailers because it weighs more than the equivalent energy content of gasoline.
Can anyone point me to such an analysis?

joe - the non climate scientist

Such a study doesnt exist because ethanol produces more co2

A. Scott

@joe … an absolutely false statement. Ethanol reduces greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions AND tailpipe emissions including NOx, CO and particulates …
And the increasing use of biomass (corn residue from ethanol and field residue/corn stover) in the corn ethanol production process is greatly increasing the reduction in emissions further.
A 2017 USDA paper:
https://www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/mitigation_technologies/USDAEthanolReport_20170107.pdf
Argonne Labs 2012 paper:
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045905/pdf

Menicholas

Hogwash, A. Scott.

A. Scott

@Menicholas Hogwash? Now that’s a brilliant retort.
If you have an intelligent credible rebuttal, please post it – and support it with your own documented sources and references which refute a thing I posted.

R. Shearer
R. Shearer
A. Scott

@R. Shearer That paper – conducted by University of Michigan Professor John DeCicco, ignores the findings and standards of the majority of researchers in the field. Much like Patzek and Pimentel’s wildly inaccurate “outlier” claims DiCicco’s work has been refuted in detail.
Purdue University, University of Minnesota, Oak Ridge Natl Labs, the FAA and Argonne Labs researchers all addressed the fundemental failure in his work.
Also – like Patzek & Pimetel – this similar “outlier” work by DiCicco was funded by the American Petroleum Institute.
DiCicco published a similar paper in 2015 – which was also soundly refuted.
His claims outright ignore the critical distinction between biomass and oil based fuels. Oil takes carbon deposits that have been sequestered for millennia – that would have remained out of Earth’s atmosphere if not for human intervention. Burning oil releases all that carbon that had been sequestered..
Biomass fuels simply takes carbon out of the atmosphere, stores it in the plant during the growing process, and releases the same carbon back to the atmosphere shortly thereafter.
Release of oil based carbon INCREASES atmospheric carbon levels. Biomass based ethanol creates NO net change in emissions – simply returning the same carbon the plant took in right back to the atmosphere.

Menicholas

Mr. Scott, that is not true at all.
The point is that all of the fuel used to produce the ethanol must be counted.
Try this…create a farm which grows corn using nothing at all but corn for all energy needs.
See how far you get.

A. Scott

@Menicholas I suggest you actually read the papers – and others I’ve posted in this thread.
Every credible study reviews the entire ‘well to wheels’ cost … including ALL inputs including growing the corn , shipping it, and distributing the finished product.
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045905/pdf

R. Shearer

@A_Scott. That’s a good paper. Wang accounts for fertilization production by natural gas and other fossil inputs, which are incorrectly ignored by many. Nevertheless, some have criticized the GREET model he uses but I’m not competent to address that. I will point out the external effects, such as nitrogen run off into the Gulf of Mexico and just the general market distortion created by ethanol subsidies are not considered.

I was first turned off on Trump during the Iowa primary where he extolled the virtues of the ethanol farmers.
If the swamp drainer supports it ………………………..

Samuel C Cogar

Matthew W, the is no such thing as an “ethanol farmers” …….cause there is no such thing as an ethanol “seed” that can be planted in the ground.
Are you a city-slicker that has never been off of concrete?

I disagree. The most successful “ethanol farmer” has been ADM, who reaped a harvest of $1.5 Billion in subsidies a few years ago. Not sure the current figures, but I bet similar. But without subsidies, the entire fraudulent, redistributive, uneconomical enterprise fails.

R. Shearer

Just down the road near the beer farmer.

Out of respect for this blogs host and general polite decorum, I’ll not post the proper retort that is deserved.
Say goodnight Gracie.

Samuel C Cogar

Matthew W – May 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm

I’ll not post the proper retort that is deserved.

Don’t be bashful, ….. Matthew, …. go ahead and tell us that you have actual, factual, ….. absolutely, positively, sure-fire believable “proofy” evidence that Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker and all the other whiskey distilleries are in fact nothing more than “ethanol farmers”.
“WOW”, such brilliant thinking on your part is deserving of a Nobel Prize

A. Scott

@Samuel C Cogar Quit being a dick. If you disagree with what someone posts, then post your own credible rebuttal, supported by your own documented references and sources.
WUWT is a place were at least minimal civility and a modicum of decorum are still important.
As to your comment – please go ahead and post how one type of alcohol producers is significantly different than another type of alcohol producer.

Samuel C Cogar

A. Scott – May 15, 2018 at 11:43 am

@Samuel C Cogar Quit being a dick.

A. Scott, look in a mirror, ….. you are one of those that has been screwing up the education/learning process hereon via your posted/mimicked “tripe n’ piffle”, junk science, half-truths, false claims, etc., etc., …… while averting your eyes and your mind to any and all things that are the least bit contrary to your nurtured neo-science Politically Correct beliefs.

If you disagree with what someone posts, then post your own credible rebuttal, supported by your own documented references and sources.

I do post scientifically credible rebuttals to your pseudo-science mimicry ……. but you ignore it as if it never happened.
A. Scott, …… GETTA CLUE, ….. it is NOT my own, ….. your own, ….. her own ……. or his own credible rebuttal to be posting ……. because the ONLY source of said “credible rebuttal” is the science of the natural world. Your apparently beloved “consensus of opinions” don’t mean diddly poop in the grand scheme of things.
If you won’t listen, then you will have to feel, ……. feel the embarrassment and bruised ego of being verbally corrected/reprimanded.

Thomas Homer

Like wind and solar, energy production from ethanol is a function of Earth’s surface area. This means that like wind and solar, ethanol is not scalable.

Patrick MJD

Well it is, we just need a bigger planet, Al’s Uranus will do. Simples!

Menicholas

NASA has probed Uranus for gas and found it has plenty, but it smells like rotten eggs.
Maybe the planet Urectum…

Menicholas
R. Shearer

One cannot return from a black hole.

A. Scott

@Thomas Horrner … absolutely incorrect. The net energy balance of corn ethanol has been increasing since its inception. Current standard ethanol production processes generate appx 2.1 to 2.4 units of energy for each unit expended.
Increasing the use of corn residue and field residue/corn stover is increasing the net energy balance dramatically. Using corn residue/stover for just 50% of the energy to produce ethanol increases the net energy balance to appx 8 units of energy produced for each 1 unit expended.
Additionally, corn yields have continued to increase significantly – thus increasing the ethanol produced per acre.
At the current 2.1 to 2.4 units of energy per 1 units expended avg net energy balance for corn ethanol – the 40% of the US corn crop (88 million acres planted in 2018) used for ethanol today supplies 10% of US transportation fuel needs.
By using residue/stover for just 50% of the energy used to produce the current ethanol the 4 fold increase in net energy balance would increase production sufficiently to supply 40% of the US transportation fuel needs using the same acreage.
There is most certainly substantial ability to scale up corn based ethanol …

Menicholas

Scale into you false equations the fact that adding ethanol wrecks the MPG of the entire tank of actual motor fuel you started out with before contaminating it.
We all know if the right person is torturing the data, it will confess to anything.

A. Scott

@Menicholas Again, if you disagree with what someone posts here, the response is to write a credible, intelligent rebuttal – with your own documented sources and references – that refutes the claims or comments you disagree with.
There is nothing “false” about the information I provide. It is supported with documented references from credible mainstream scientific and professional sources. There are simply facts and findings – no need to “torture” anything.
So lets look at your claim ethanol “wrecks the MPG” of the entire tank of fuel….
The energy contents (in BTU) of various fuels:
E0 – straight gas = 114,100
E10 – 87 octane unleaded = 111,836
E85 – 85% ethanol blend = 81,970
E10 has just 1.89% lower energy content than straight gas (E0)
E85 has 26.7% lower energy content than E10
Your claim that ethanol blends have lower energy content than gas is correct. But that is only a PART of the story. You left out the highly important ‘rest if the story’ … cost.
Because of widely disparate tax rates and retailers profit margins the best measure of ethanol and gasoline prices are to use the wholesale prices on the futures market.
Currently Ethanol (E100) is trading at $1.485 (CBOT Ethanol Jul18) and gasoline (E0) is trading at $2.2026 (RBOB Gasoline Jul18) … which guves us these blended prices:
E0 = $2.2036
E10 = $2.1317
E85 = $1.5928
E100 = $1.485
https://quotes.wsj.com/futures/ETHANOL
https://quotes.wsj.com/futures/UNLEADED%20GASOLINE/
E10 is 3.26% cheaper than straight gasoline but has just 1.89% lower energy content.
E85 is 25.28% cheaper than E10 gasoline and has 26.7% lower energy content.
On a straight BTU basis E85 has 26.7% lower BTU than E10 but, as shown above costs, 25.4% less.
As a validation of the price difference, at my local station, part of a chain of higher tech blender stations offering multiple ethanol grades, I pay $1.89 for E85 (typically a 70% blend but lets ignore that for now) … and $2.55 for E10 regular fuel … my real world shows E85 is 25.8 % cheaper than E10 at my local stations.
But that isn’t the end of the story. There are more than 20 million flex fuel vehicles on the road today, and growing substantially. And modern engine management systems in FFV’s are able to take advantage of the higher octane of ethanol blends.
The fueleconomy.gov website provides MEASURED data on fuel economy differences between E85 and E10 fuels in new and older flex fuel vehicles. For my 2003 Tahoe Z71 4WD 5.3 V8 FFV they measured 11 MPG using E85 and 14 MPG using E10 … meaning my vehicle gets 21.4% lower measured MPG on E85 vs E10.
My real world experience confirms this … over 140,000 miles – using E85 more than 85% of the time – I average appx. 11.3 mpg on E85 and 13.9 on E10 … I get appx 18.7% lower MPG using E85.
Using the national gas and ethanol wholesale prices above, which again strips out varying retailer profits and local tax differences …
At 14 mpg it takes 7.143 gals of E10 to go 100 miles. Using the national numbers, at $2.1317 wholesale per gal for E10 – the cost for 100 miles would be $15.23, or 15.23 cents per mile.
At 11 mpg it takes 9.09 gals of E85 to go 100 miles. Using the national numbers, at $1.5928 wholesale price per gal for E85 – the cost for 100 miles would be $14.48, or 14.48 cents per mile.
Using my LOCAL numbers ….
E10 @ 14mpg for 100 miles = 7.143 gals @ $2.55 = $18.21 per 100 miles or 18.21 cents per mile
E85 @ 11mpg for 100 miles = 9.09 gals @ $1.89 = $17.18 per 100 miles or 17.18 cents per mile
Using my local numbers it would cost me $2,577 to drive 15,000 miles a year using E85 … and would cost $2,731 … Using E85 – after accounting for the decrease MPG and lower price – saves me $154 per year over 15,000 miles.
Sorry Menicholis … your claim is NOT SUPPORTED by data and facts.

Simon from Ashby

Kiss goodbye to the Orangutan. It’s rain forest habitats are being cut down to replant with palmoil groves. The Orangutan might well be “Climate Change’s” first extinction.

R. Shearer

Very sad really, that’s one reason there is backlash in the EU against biodiesel.

Richard Pell

What can we do to eliminate the use of ethanol in our gasoline? There is actually a very simple, Constitutional way to do this. The Constitution give us the right, even at the local level (Tarrant County, Texas) in my opinion, by virtue of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.
The 18th Amendment was called prohibition. It was repealed by the 21st Amendment. Let’s look at the 18th Amendment:
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Notice the term intoxicating liquors. This means alcohol, actually ethanol. There are many types of alcohols that are used in many products. The only alcohol product that can be used in beverages for human consumption is ethanol. That’s right. The same ethanol that we put into gasoline. It can be argued that the ethanol used in motor fuels has been modified by the addition of other chemicals or processes, but the core product is still ethanol. If the ethanol was not added, the other additives would not be necessary. In fact, the mere addition of ethanol to gasoline makes a product than cannot be consumed by humans. So the 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, and importation in the U.S. jurisdiction of ethanol specifically for use as a beverage. They clearly state that ethanol added to a beverage was what they were prohibiting.
Now let’s look at the 21st Amendment:
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
The 21st Amendment allows states and even counties to prohibit the importation of intoxicating liquors (ethanol) into their territories, for any use. It does not limit it to beverage use. In fact, after Prohibition was repealed, there were several “dry states” and even “dry counties” in Texas. At the time, no one thought of its use in gasoline. It would appear that Texas, and even Tarrant County, can pass a law prohibiting the importation of ethanol in gasoline, and override the EPA regulations. Clearly, the 21st Amendment gives the local jurisdictions the sole power to control the issue of allowing the importation of intoxicating liquors (ethanol) into their territory for specific purposes. Not even the U.S. Congress can over-rule it.
I think it is time we take away some of the power the EPA wields over us. We need to introduce legislation to prohibit the transportation or importation into our jurisdiction of intoxicating liquors (ethanol) in gasoline.
I am not a Constitutional Attorney, but I am a firm believer that the reason the Constitution was written in plain English was so that the people could understand it.
Richard Pell
Arlington, Texas

Samuel C Cogar

Richard, you might have something therein , ……. but with so many liberal Federal Judges who are little more than “walking-talking” hand-puppets whose strings are being pulled by wacko liberal Democrat and/or their partisan lefty political donors, ….. those Judges will Rule that your Constitutional claim is illegal on account they don‘t like it.

Richard Pell

Sam, you are probably right. I am hoping that with recent changes in the Supreme Court, at least it would become an issue. I told this theory to a Texas State Representative and her response was “if we take out the 10% of ethanol, what would we replace it with?” I said, How about 10% gasoline produced in Texas instead of corn liquor made in Iowa. Most people don’t know that the ethanol has to be mixed locally as it can’t be shipped by pipelines. As such, it is easier to control.
Richard

Richard Pell May 14, 2018 at 10:56 am
I told this theory to a Texas State Representative and her response was “if we take out the 10% of ethanol, what would we replace it with?” I said, How about 10% gasoline produced in Texas instead of corn liquor made in Iowa.

Well if you wanted to keep the same octane rating for the fuel that wouldn’t work, you’d need to replace it with iso-Octane or higher octane rated hydrocarbons.

R. Shearer

Ethanol manufacturers are already required to add a denaturant to make the ethanol unsuitable for consumption, so that I presume the 21st Amendment doesn’t apply.

Menicholas

One sip and you will agree…gasoline is a very convincing denaturant.

R. Shearer

Yes, in fact natural gas liquids or natural gasoline are favored for their awful flavor. 🙂

Richard

I have been hearing how bad E10 is for engines forever. I have never had a problem with it, and have used it in every engine (boat, car, mower) I have.

Robert of Texas

It generally depends on the small engine. Most modern engines, even small ones, will work with 10% ethanol (E10) just fine (but avoid the higher concentrations). The major problem is that ethanol will serious degrade the older synthetic materials (rubber-like and plastic pieces) on older engines. Most modern engines use materials that are not seriously degraded by ethanol.
Aircraft engines do not use ethanol due to vapor lock and separation issues when it gets cold enough at altitude. Most aircraft engines are not constructed with ethanol in mind, so their rubber/plastics would likely be degraded by it.

Yawrate

Yes, ethanol damages small engines. You really need to use premium fuel in all your small engines from lawn mowers to chain saws to jet skis to snow mobiles.

Motorcycles – you left out motorcycles. I’ve got about $30k worth of machinery in my garage for which I have to buy VP racing fuel (at about $80 for 5 gallons) so I don’t grenade the engines.

JimH in CA

General aviation,certified piston engines are prohibited from using any ethanol in the fuel. So, we all use 100 octane ‘low lead’ , av gas. Many of us have an stc,[ supplemental types certificate], to use 87 octane ‘auto gas’. However there are no airports in California, and neighbor states were any E0 fuel is sold.
I would be happy to use 93 octane, E0 auto gas and save $1 per gallon. The cost savings over the life of the engine would pay for the overhaul, and eliminate the TEL we put in the local air…!
BTW, I use 100 LL in all my 2 stroke engines, chain saws and weed-wackers.

HDHoese

I watched older fiberglass boats with formed in gas tanks disappear. Bertram, as I recall, was one.
And this is just part of the problem, as any fuel around water is full of potential problems. Don’t alcohols have better uses than as fuel? Last summer I bought a fancy self-propelled lawnmower whose manufacturer had installed a prominent cut-off valve specifically to run out the fuel. I had a riding lawnmower for years, great machine, too many safety and save the planet devices. Talk to any small engine mechanic.
The problem is that the engineers overcoming the problem were too good and those in power have not been held accountable for the damage they did. Where are the modelers?

Kermit Johnson

Let the market decide! There is no better way to allocate capital than the marketplace. Central Planning does not work.
Ethanol should be a choice for consumers. It should not be required when you fill your tank. It also should not be restricted by Big Oil, as they have been trying to do for a very long time. (They do not like the competition.) Right now, where I live, ethanol is a choice. Why does it sell – compared to pure gasoline? Simple – because it is noticeably cheaper!
Again – this should be simple. Allow consumers to have the choice – and resist Central Planning. LET THE MARKETPLACE WORK!

MarkG

“Central Planning does not work.”
But it makes a lot of people very rich without having to do anything to actually satisfy customers.

beng135

Ethanol is cheaper? OK, but is that due to subsidies?

Kermit Johnson

No, it is not due to subsidies – at least at the farm level. The only subsidy currently in effect is a modest one for crop insurance. That subsidy, by the way, has the effect of keeping the price of corn cheap over time – and so maintaining high production. An strong argument can be made that the modest subsidy for crop insurance does nothing to benefit farmers – at least the smaller family farmers.

Menicholas

A bunch of people who grow corn and a bunch of paid off politicians have no right to force everyone to buy gas with ethanol in it.
It is wrong, bad, and odious.
It sucks.
It is useless for the originally stated purpose.
You will not find many people here who will tolerate yet another massive government backed pie that costs us all money.
Everyone here knows all the ins and outs, all the changing the goalpost and baffle them with fake studies BS.
We see it every day, for years and years now.
Another load of swill with a different label aint gonna fly.

Kermit Johnson

@Menicholas
“A bunch of people who grow corn and a bunch of paid off politicians have no right to force everyone to buy gas with ethanol in it.”
In most places – – THEY ARE NOT FORCING “everyone to buy gas with ethanol in it”!
If they are not giving a choice, either vote them out – or leave – or just accept that the majority of people want it that way.
“You will not find many people here who will tolerate yet another massive government backed pie that costs us all money.”
What will “cost us all money” is if Big Oil is allowed to buy politicians and force us to only buy their product. Ethanol blended gasoline is cheaper than pure gasoline – that’s a fact. What do you think will happen to the price of gasoline if ethanol is taken out of the mix?? Is it somehow OK for Big Oil to buy politicians and force us to pay more for gas?
“Another load of swill ”
Yes, but it’s coming from you.
[??? .mod]

Dr. Bob

This statement from the EPA is very telling:
Ethanol Waivers (E15 and E10)
A 1977 amendment to the Clean Air Act required gasoline additives to be substantially similar to those used in certifying vehicles to emission standards. EPA may grant a waiver to these requirements under certain circumstances. Ethanol has been granted two such waivers.
In 1978 a Clean Air Act waiver allowed the use of 10 volume percent ethanol in gasoline, known as gasohol or E10. Today, almost all gasoline are E10 blends.
In June 2011, EPA approved blends of 15 volume percent ethanol in gasoline for use in model year 2001 and newer passenger cars, light-trucks and medium-duty vehicles.
Learn more E15 partial waivers.
Learn more about E15 regulations.
Learn more about E15 misfueling mitigation plans.
Learn more about E15 survey plans.
Learn more about E10 waivers.
https://www.epa.gov/gasoline-standards/ethanol-waivers-e15-and-e10
Ethanol does not reduce emissions in any way. Catalytic Converters take care of all regulated emissions so essentially the only real emissions above ambient levels comes during the cold start cycle of the emissions test AKA Bag 1 Emissions. Everything else is below ambient levels in most cities, so the warmed up vehicle emits cleaner exhaust than the air coming into the engine. This is particularly true for PM. When measured by the University of California, Riverside emissions lab, all intake are must be ultra filtered to remove PM so that they get a true measurement of the engine exhaust PM. The inlet air is dirtier than the regulations.
And remember, back in the early 1970’s, 1/2 of the hydrocarbon emissions in the LA Basin were from plant life and nothing has been done about that in 50 years!

ResourceGuy

I bought pure gasoline for my lawnmower over the weekend and I have fuel choice blended or unblended close by. It looks like undoing the monumental policy mistake of ethanol is going to be harder than either federal tax reform and NAFTA reform (with its import transhipping end arounds through Canada and Mexico). At least there are some executive order workarounds for refiners on RINs.

Cointreau

It’s snowing in Southern France, and the Alps, Pyrenees and parts of America. Al!
https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/Heavy-May-snowfall-surprises-south-Massif-Central

beng135

I’d agree that this is crony capitalism. A collusion of greenies, bureaucrats/politicians, ethanol-plant operators/owners/employees, railroads, and alas, farmers. Going to be hard to resist it because it does generate income domestically.

Kermit Johnson

“Crony capitalism” is when a consumer does not have choice, isn’t it? If you want to mandate the elimination of ethanol, isn’t that “crony capitalism”? It certainly is what Big Oil has wanted for a long time. Certainly it is Central Planning.
Ethanol blended gasoline is working fine for the vast majority of consumers. Those who have difficulty with it should have the option to buy pure gasoline – at whatever the market prices it at. Mandated biodiesel, however, is Central Planning, and it should never be allowed. Choice has been, in places, taken away from the consumer.

Menicholas

Ok, I have decided now you must be being intentionally ridiculous.
No one can be that mealy mouthed.

Kermit Johnson

@Menicholas
“Ok, I have decided now you must be being intentionally ridiculous.”
And I have finally figured you out. You are a troll. You are being intentionally stupid just to provoke a response out of me.
No one can argue against informed consumer choice and not be a troll!

Randy

Matthew W and Kermit Johnson are refreshingly correct!! The USDA says that if you account for corn everywhere it appears in their food price index, it represents about $.02 out of every $1.00. Labor represents about $.40 out of every $1.00!! Corn prices follow the price of oil very closely because farming is a very energy intensive industry. If our government eliminated the ethanol mandate, farmers would only grow enough more food corn to replace the spent grain from ethanol production. They would not grow any more than that because they have no market for it. E15 88/89 octane fuel is made from 85 octane gasoline plus ethanol. Some newer vehicles are designed to get more gas mileage on 91-93 octane gasoline. It takes more energy to make 91-93 octane gasoline plus you get fewer gallons from the same amount of crude oil compared to 85 octane fuel. Thus the difference in price. There have been food riots mainly because of the price of wheat. Ethanol in the US is made from corn. Good grief!!

Tom in Denver

It irks me how Ethanol has been distinguished from other hydrocarbons by calling it a ‘Biofuel’. The fact is that all hydrocarbons are Biofuels. It all comes from organic material that was fed by the Sun. The only difference is that oil, natural gas, and coal are formed naturally by heat and pressure over time underground. Whereas Ethanol is created through a manufacturing process. Using enzymes to convert starch to sugar, and then fermentation uses part of that sugar to convert to Ethanol, then concentrating the Ethanol through distillation. Basically their just giant industrial stills that require huge amounts of water and energy to manufacture, and yield large volumes of contaminated waste water.
There is nothing Green about the ethanol fuel manufacturing process. But just like the wind and solar industries, corporations are making huge profits and are paying lobbyist huge amounts of money to keep the gravy train going. Even Al Gore has admitted that the Corn ethanol mandates was a big mistake.

Kermit Johnson

But, is it any less “green” than production and refining of crude oil?
Yes, corporations are making huge profits – at the expense of other (Big Oil) corporations. Meanwhile, we import less oil. Farmers work to produce the energy. In addition to farmers, companies like John Deere, CaseIH (and many others), provide good jobs to countless numbers of Americans. Those people raise families and pay taxes.
I would see the lobbyists as a necessary evil – countering the lobbyists of Big Oil.
The “mandates” were necessary in the beginning, of course – but remember why they were there. Now, ethanol blended gas competes with pure gasoline very well, it seems. Consumers CHOOSE it over pure gasoline!
What’s wrong with consumer choice??

Tom in Denver

Kermit Re: “What’s wrong with consumer choice??”
There is nothing wrong with consumer choice, but in this case THERE IS NO CHOICE. It is MANDATED by the government.
If it were just a choice, then there would be not argument here.
And your ‘Ethanol vs. import’ argument no longer hold water. See Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #315 and the Number of the Week, US now exports more hydrocarbons than it imports, Oil production has increased 220% in th past 10 years, thanks entrepreneurial Independent oil companies, (the majors had little to do with this revolution).
And before you go on the the “Big OIL” trope let me remind you that the average size oil & gas exploration company is about 11 employees. This is a small business success story and not a Big Oil boogyman.

Curious George

Where can I get an ethanol-free gasoline?

Kermit Johnson

If you do not have a choice, look for the problem in your local politics – not ethanol. (But, I see that you said that in your post, so you already know that – right?)
You don’t think it is advantageous for us to export energy? We send over a half-trillion dollars overseas – every single year – and you don’t think it is important for us to increase exports?
I worked in the oil industry in Alaska for a decade. I’m aware of the economics, including the economics of the small producer. Oil, big or small, should not be able to keep a competing product off the market by the use of lobbyists and bribes.

Menicholas

Kermit is a troll.
Ignore him.
“You do not have to have ethanol if you do not want it” If you cannot get it, that is a political problem.”
Yes…which is exactly the point of the article and every person here objecting to the mandate.
OMG…do you listen to yourself?

Rob

What is the ethanol rate that removes the need for MBTE in fuel? That is probably the only advantage in real pollution terms as MBTE leakage can do some damage. I am sure it probably less than 5% so nothing to do with these mandates.

Kermit Johnson

I knew at one time, but my aging brain doesn’t retain everything it once seemed to. It is less than the current 10%, however. But, now ethanol does not need that to compete – as long as Big Oil isn’t successful in killing the industry. (Remember the post above about “crony capitalism??)

Menicholas

There is no rate.
MTBE made gas that created less smog forming emissions.
Ethanol from corn does the opposite…it is worse than gas alone.
Pay no attention to Kermit…he is a lying troll.

Menicholas May 14, 2018 at 9:37 pm
There is no rate.

Thereby indicating you don’t know what you’re talking about!
Ethanol is in gasoline as an octane booster, the blending Octane Number of ethanol is 112. To get a tank of gas with an octane rating of 87 you’d have to replace the ethanol with similar octane rated fuel. The base fuel without ethanol has an octane rating of ~81. MTBE had a slightly higher Octane Number so could be used at a slightly lower %.

A. Scott

@Menicholas … If you DISAGREE with what Kermit, myself, or anyone else here states then post an intelligent, credible rebuttal – with your own documented references and sources that support your claims.
That us how it works here at WUWT.
Simply being a dick does not further the discussion in any way.

Sunsettommy

Where are those environmentalists?

Dr. Bob

This is what the World Bank paper says about biofuels:
Policy Research Working Paper 5513
Abstract
This study analyzes the long-term impacts of large-scale expansion of biofuels on land-use change, food supply and prices, and the overall economy in various countries or regions using a global computable general equilibrium model, augmented by a land-use module and detailed representation of biofuel sectors. The study finds that an expansion of global biofuel production to meet currently articulated or even higher national targets in various countries for biofuel use would reduce gross domestic product at the global level; however, the gross domestic product impacts are mixed across countries or regions. The expansion of biofuels would cause significant land re-allocation with notable decreases in forest and pasture lands in a few countries. The results also suggest that the expansion of biofuels would cause a reduction in food supply. Although the magnitude of the impact on food supply at the global level is not as large as perceived earlier, it would be significant in developing countries like India and those in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural commodities such as sugar, corn, and oil seeds, which serve as the main biofuel feedstocks, would experience significant increases in their prices in 2020 compared with the prices at baseline due to the expansion of biofuels to meet the existing targets.
http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/454291468154776919/pdf/WPS5513.pdf
At least one UN organization appears to have at least a tinkle of logical thought processes.

JP

Ethanol distilleries use an incredible amount of water. Most smaller, rural communities now want nothing to do with them. On a market note, ethanol mandates come down to nothing but a huge federal subsidy. If ethanol mandates went bye-bye today, farmland prices would collapse tomorrow in the Corn belt. What we now have is an artificially engineered price set in concrete. Farmers produce way too much corn, ignore other less profitable crops, and use the inflated land prices to borrow.
It should be noted that all of the modern mandates can be traced to Bush43 and the GOP Congress. Big Ag met Big Green, and Crony Socialism did the rest.

Kermit Johnson

BS! To say that rural communities want nothing to do with them – well, I just don’t know what to say about that! What shape do you think those rural communities would be in if ag prices collapsed? Where would the money for the schools come from? The money that drives the local economy?
So, ethanol mandates “come down to nothing but a huge federal subsidy”? Ethanol blended gas being significantly cheaper than regular gas refutes that argument. Consumers CHOOSE the blended gas – because it is cheaper! The mandates are only so that Big Oil cannot freeze ethanol out of the market and force consumers to pay more for pure gasoline.
But, again, the simple question is – do the mandates increase the price or not? In the case of wind towers, government mandates clearly force consumers to pay more. In the case of ethanol blended gas, however, consumers, when given a choice, choose to buy the blended gas. Without subsidies.

JP

Ethanol mandates have their root in the fighting AGW, Global Warming. It has nothing to do with pollution. We are subsidizing a fantasy. The added cost to our economy by these mandates are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. US farmers laughed all the way to the bank when corn rose from $2.50 a bushel in 2003 to $10 a bushel in 2010. Corn prices now mirror oil prices, thanks to the mandates. It’s simply welfare for corn farmers.

Alan Tomalty

No the reason non ethanol gas is more expensive is that the federal government has quotas on the minimum % amount of ethanol that gasoline companies must sell compared to non ethanol gas.The amount is ~ 7%. So because there is 15 times as much ethanol gasoline produced as there is compared to non ethanol gasoline, the economies of scale in the fractionalization gasoline plants mandate a more expensive price for the non ethanol gasoline because of shorter production runs. Everytime a plant has to switch over to produce a product that is miniscule in relation to the other product then the economies of nonscale kick in. Without the ethanol quota the high octane gasoline prices would come down. Here in Canada you cant buy regular gas without having 10% ethanol in it which damages catalytic converters. So I buy premium gas which doesnt have ethanol in it but I pay 11 cents more per litre. That price difference is mostly because of the market disturbing quota on total ethanol sales. Whenever the government intervenes to affect the supply demand curve evetything gets messed up. There should be no subsidies and no quotas of any kind.

R. Shearer

The “root” for ethanol (oxygenate) went all the way back before cars had catalytic converters, and it had the effect of reducing carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. Catalytic converters do a much better job today.

Menicholas

“Consumers CHOOSE the blended gas – because it is cheaper! ”
A pure lie.
Seriously Kermit…you are wasting everyone’s time trolling the thread like this.
This is so far from reality it is stupefying.
Just stop it.

Alan Tomalty May 14, 2018 at 12:02 pm
The amount is ~ 7%. So because there is 15 times as much ethanol gasoline produced as there is compared to non ethanol gasoline, the economies of scale in the fractionalization gasoline plants mandate a more expensive price for the non ethanol gasoline because of shorter production runs.

Non ethanol gasoline will be more expensive because producing 87 octane gasoline requires more cracking than producing the 81 octane gasoline that it now produces to blend with ethanol.

Kermit Johnson

@Menicholas
I have to admit – now you have me laughing. I realize that I’ve been sucked into responding to a master troll.

A. Scott

@Menicholas … no YOU please stop it. Stop taunting with your juvenile denigrating ad hominem attacks devoid of a shred of actual reasoned cogent response or supporting sources and references for your claims.
It is most certainly not “a pure lie” as you claim that ethanol blends are reducing consumer costs.
As I showed above at the wholesale price level, which strips out varying retailer margins and taxes, E10 is 3.26% cheaper than straight gasoline but only has 1.89% lower energy content.
In the bigger picture however, the overall use of ethanol – its providing 10% of our US transportation fuel needs – serves to reduce overall gas costs to the consumer.
In a recent (2011) paper by the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), economists from Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin found that the use of more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol reduced gasoline prices by an average of $0.89/gallon in 2010 …and further, that for the first decade of the 2,000’s, growth in ethanol production and use helped keep gasoline prices cheaper by an average of
25 cents per gallon.
Real research by highly credible professionals with specific, direct domain experience … I’ll take their scientific expertise over unsourced, unhinged rants every time.
http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/103916/2/11-WP_523.Du-Hayes.pdf

Ethanol plants can use a lot of water, but it’s much improved from the initial plants that discharged more of their waste water. Modern plants reuse most of the water for fermentation and other processes, and use less than 2.5 gallons of water to make a gallon of ethanol. Guess how much water it takes to refine a gallon of gasoline? 1.5-2.5 gallons.
There’s a lot of other issues with modern farming practices that I agree with you on.

JP

I know of at least a half dozen rural towns in Indiana that said no to ethanol plants after researching the water use problems ethanol plants put on local supplies.

Menicholas

Ethanol does not reduce gasoline usage, and in fact in all likelihood increases it.
On top of everything else it reduces gas mileage.
It likely takes nearly as much fuel to create the ethanol as the yield.
If it was cheaper, in farm country they would all be driving ethanol tractors and burning ethanol to fuel the distilleries.
It is a lie…just another ho@x, a scheme to extract money from everyone to benefit a few.
If not, there would need be no mandate.
Everyone would be jumping to use it.

A. Scott

@JP … it is another simply false claim that ethanol plants use “incredible” amounts of water.
Early ethanol plants (1990’s) used appx 5.8 gals of water per 1 gal ethanol. A 2010 report by University of Illinois found the average ethanol plant used appx 2.76 gal of water per 1 gal of ethanol …. and returned appx .46 gal of clean water to the watershed. In 2012 POET was down to 2.33 gal of water per gal of ethanol.
Water use has continued to fall in the years since. Today water use has been reduced further – and water is recycled onsite and reused. Additionally plants are turning to treated effluent – “gray water” from sewer treatment plants for water needs.
At 2 gal per 1 gal ethanol a 40mgy (million gal/yr) ethanol plant – assuming ground water (not gray water) use – uses a bit more than 200,000 gallons per day.
A single golf course uses appx 130,000 gals per day.

Menicholas

Yeah, but people LIKE to play golf, and do it of their own free will.
It is not being forced on us all via a wasteful unnecessary and onerously burdensome requirement that costs us all money and hassle.
You can repeat the BS as often as you like…we are used to it here…people by the dozens and hundreds have been refuting one self serving bullshit story after another for a very long time and we will never stop refuting bullshit because WE ARE SICK OF IT!

A. Scott

@Menicholas You have not made one SINGLE intelligent credible rebuttal of anything here. Not a single one of your many comments contains a even one cogent, reasoned rebuttal – with facts and data – and you’ve not provided one single source or reference to support your claims.
Not one … of anything. The ONLY content of your posts is to denigrate and demean others with claims that several have proven to be absolutely false and unsupported.
But go ahead … surprise us … pick a single point you disagree with, write a reasoned, intelligent rebuttal and include documented sources and references that support you claim.
We’ll wait …
I predict … nothing more than a bunch more simple, unhinged, undocumented and unsupported attacks.

JimG1

At the very margin, raising food prices by using ethanol in fuel will cause more kids to go hungry, somewhere. However, most kids who go hungry, in the US at least, do so due to ethanol being consumed by their parents and/or drugs or simply being idiot parents or nonexistent parents. Most other arguments against using it in fuel as noted here are probably legitimate and the political process involved is well described in this article and posted comments. My 15 year old honda vtx seems to not have suffered from it as well as my riding mower of similar age. But then honda bikes are much more resilient than those oil leaking harleys.

Kermit Johnson

“At the very margin, raising food prices by using ethanol in fuel will cause more kids to go hungry, somewhere.”
No. At least, not noticeably. Increased demand for corn brings on increased production. Price is the incentive for increased production. With that increased production comes lower prices. Currently, we have massive surpluses and cheap prices. We have never had problems producing food. Some people, however, do have problems making enough money to buy it. This is not a problem that ethanol production causes, however. (Actually, ethanol production has a byproduct that is a high protein meal that is very valuable.)

Randy

Per my remarks above “The USDA says that if you account for corn everywhere it appears in their food price index, it represents about $.02 out of every $1.00. Labor represents about $.40 out of every $1.00!!”

Curious George

You don’t remember that Arab Spring uprisings were caused by raising food prices.

Kermit Johnson

“You don’t remember that Arab Spring uprisings were caused by raising food prices.”
Of course. And, where is the price of corn now? (We are talking corn prices here, aren’t we?)

Randy

Response to Curious George. Those Arab spring riots were about bread, wheat and rice.

Menicholas

Shortage of one raised the price of all like dominos.
Some harms have repercussions from long hence in addition to the fresh ones being heaped upon daily.
How many dies in Syria since the cost of corn “went down”?
And how about next time?
And what gives anyone the right to force everyone in the country to water down our gas and damage our equipment and waste our money?
You should be ashamed of yourself for defending the indefensible.
You do not even try to deny that this policy you love because you benefit from it has killed tens of thousands if not millions, and caused a mass migration into Europe which might yet cause allied countries to become enemies once the people who hate us multiply sufficiently to take over.

Randy

During the Arab Spring riots wheat prices the farmers in the US received peaked at $8.16(monthly average for May 2011). 3 years earlier the price of wheat peaked at $10.60(monthly average for March 2008). Why weren’t there food riots in 2008 when prices were 29.9% higher?

Randy

“However, most kids who go hungry, in the US at least, do so due to ethanol being consumed” Per my remarks above “If our government eliminated the ethanol mandate, farmers would only grow enough more food corn to replace the spent grain from ethanol production. They would not grow any more than that because they have no market for it”

JimG1

Randy,
You did not quote me accurately. Consumed by their parents, not so much in gasoline but in beverages along with drugs etc. Perhaps I was not clear in my intent.
Kermit,
At the margin, when consumption goes up supply takes a little while to follow and at the margin some kids, somewhere will suffer in the food chain. In my significant experience, parents, for whatever the reason, are still the primary problem for their kids’ problems, not always the case but most of the time when it comes to little children. And of course many times it is government right in there with them as a causal variable.

Kermit Johnson

“And of course many times it is government right in there with them as a causal variable.”
Yes, government can have a short term effect on prices. Economics shows, however, that that short term effect has long term effects too, and that tends to be opposite. Make the price of corn higher short term, and the longer term (and more lasting) effect is lower prices than otherwise would have been the case. Similarly, keep the price low, and the longer term effect is supply reduction and higher prices.
The corn market is the perfect example of this. Today, we have huge surpluses and the (real) price for corn is very low.
BTW, a trip to the butcher shop is interesting. Beef is high – relative to what it has been in the past – but that is not due to high corn prices. Beef is expensive to produce, and the best cuts, being the most in demand by people making good money, appear to be high. Pork is cheap. Very cheap. Chicken is unbelievably cheap. Also, we have a huge oversupply of milk (just going on my recollections here). Food – quality food – is very affordable in this country.

Steve

Only one reason to use a starch crop in lieu of a sugar crop (cane or beets) – powerful lobby. Topsoil loss for either.
Snow

Oh, there’s more than one reason.
Have you ever tried growing sugar cane in South Dakota?
Or storing sugar beets over winter to feed to cattle?
Corn has some pretty serious advantages as far as weather hardiness, storage and handling.

Juan Slayton

Mr. Dreissen,
Is it your thinking that Congress should eliminate the oxygenation requirements for motor fuel?
Here is an old link (2002) that reflects how ethanol became the only game in town for California. Problems with the additive MTBE led to California’s request for a waiver on the oxygenation requirement, which was denied by the EPA. Ethanol was all that was left.
https://www.ogj.com/articles/print/volume-100/issue-2/general-interest/mtbe-vs-ethanol-sorting-through-the-oxygenate-issues.html
The problem is what to do when MTBE is phased out, especially if the phase-out is over a relatively short time, as is clearly the case in California. California’s answer was to request a waiver of the oxygenate requirement, a request the EPA denied in June 2001. Without a waiver, the only way to replace MTBE is with a massive expansion in the use of ethanol….

Juan Slayton

Apolgies for misspelling your name

Cliff Hilton

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4173660-exxon-mobil-loses-foe-gains-ally
As with all things, change is slow. Ethanol will go…one day. In the meantime, Exxon has gotten a lot of support in Oakland and San Fransisco. Here is a quote from seekingalpha.com author:
“The company also benefited from two developments, one expected and one very unexpected, involving the various climate change investigations and lawsuits that it is defending itself against. The expected (but no less important) development was the filing of an amicus brief by the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ] that had been requested by the judge hearing the climate change lawsuit brought by San Francisco and Oakland against Exxon Mobil and four of its competitors.
While the Trump administration was always unlikely to file a brief in favor of the plaintiff cities’ claims, the DOJ’s brief ultimately lends heavy legal support to Exxon Mobil. First, the brief makes clear that the lawsuit is contrary to the interests of the federal government, both in the form of a recent Executive Order promoting energy independence and past bipartisan legislation making greenhouse gas emission regulation a federal matter. Lawyers for Exxon Mobil and the other defendants have argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed on those same grounds, so having the DOJ reaffirm that argument lends it additional credibility.
The DOJ went one step further and also answered some of the questions regarding legal precedents invoked by the lawsuit that the federal judge overseeing the case had earlier required the plaintiffs and defendants to both respond to. Not surprisingly, the two sides had opposite answers to the questions given that the judge is currently weighing whether or not to dismiss the lawsuit at the request of Exxon Mobil and its competitors. The DOJ’s response leaned on a heavy body of court rulings at the federal level to show exactly why precedent requires that the lawsuit be dismissed.”
The link is well worth reading, in full. Within the article, there are various links to supporting documents, well.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel. For those in the way, that’s a train. For others, it’s hope this mess continues to crumble.
Cliff

usurbrain

Can someone please explain to me how we reduce CO2 emissions by using E10 or E15 when the 15
– 20% decrease mileage means that you are burning 15 – 20% MORE gasoline? Over the last fifteen years I have carefully kept track of my mileage and MPG. On my annual trips to visit my grandchildren, a 1600 mile round trip on interstate highways the MPG is always 15+% worse when filled with the ethanol blend. (In cruise control most of the trip.) City traffic decreases the MPG to the point it is cheaper to use Premium Grade Ethanol free.

Schrecken

That sounds kind of like the low-flow toilets that are supposed to reduce water usage, but sometimes you have to flush twice anyway to get the job done! And of course flushing twice simply uses as much if not more water….Or low flow shower heads where you have to shower longer because it takes longer to get the soap out of your hair. It is really bizarre (and sad) that some people still believe that there really is such a thing as a free lunch……

usurbrain May 14, 2018 at 8:08 am
Can someone please explain to me how we reduce CO2 emissions by using E10 or E15 when the 15
– 20% decrease mileage means that you are burning 15 – 20% MORE gasoline? Over the last fifteen years I have carefully kept track of my mileage and MPG. On my annual trips to visit my grandchildren, a 1600 mile round trip on interstate highways the MPG is always 15+% worse when filled with the ethanol blend. (In cruise control most of the trip.) City traffic decreases the MPG to the point it is cheaper to use Premium Grade Ethanol free.

There’s no way that E10 should give you that big a reduction in performance, I suggest you get your ignition timing looked at.

usurbrain

My results are about the same with three different vehicles over the last 15 years. Vehicle is filled within 1/2 mile of my home and driven the ~800 miles to my sons home. Where it sits till we drive home and is filled again at the same Gas station. One trip is with Non Ethanol and the next year it is only with Ethanol fuel.
If my timing needs adjusted why do I still get 10% better than the US Government Fuel Economy Estimates.
Also, How do I adjust override the computer auto adjustment?
Have you purposely measured your mileage over a long distance with only one and then only the other? If not try it.

usurbrain May 15, 2018 at 9:19 am
If my timing needs adjusted why do I still get 10% better than the US Government Fuel Economy Estimates.
Also, How do I adjust override the computer auto adjustment?
Have you purposely measured your mileage over a long distance with only one and then only the other? If not try it.

No have not recently. However I ran an engine research lab for over twenty years and conducted research for GM, Ford, Yamaha, Honda, VW and Fiat. There’s no way you should get results that bad, as for adjusting the timing control that would depend on your vehicle. If you’re hitting fuel economy standards with one fuel then a 15% reduction means you aren’t with the other.

The politics of ethanol is more compelling than the science. But – Please let’s SLOWLY undo the mess we have created. You have no idea how disrupted the farm economy would be is you suddenly ended the ethanol mandates. End them slowly – we are turn almost fifty percent of the total corn crop into ethanol.

MikeyParks

I spent a ton of money having my motorcycle serviced – to remove algae from the carburetor. This is a direct consequence of corn in my gasoline. I shudder to think of using the new 15% blend. And all for NOTHING!

Kermit Johnson

THEN DON’T USE IT!
It’s called consumer choice. And, if you don’t have a choice, talk to your politicians and make them provide you with a choice.
You aren’t saying, are you, that you expect to purchase pure gasoline at the same price ethanol blended gasoline is offered at? Ethanol blended gasoline is cheaper to produce than pure gasoline with the same octane rating.

Your responses are so naive and childish. TELL YOUR REPS! oh good god, seriously? Again with this horsehockey? What is the last item you “MADE” your politician provide? get a grip man

Kermit Johnson

“TELL YOUR REPS! oh good god, seriously? ”
Yes, seriously – tell them at the voting booth! And don’t blame the ethanol industry for your stupidity in electing people who won’t give you a choice in how you wish to spend your money.
In case you can’t tell by now, I hate Central Planning. I also hate having one industry with so much power that they can refuse to allow competition to their product.
I would strongly suggest that you get your head out from where the sun don’t shine and learn how markets work. NOTHING works as good as the marketplace in allocating resources. If the oil companies had their way and could eliminate ethanol blends from the marketplace, what do you think the price of gasoline would do?? What do you think the net effect would be to our economy – and to countless local economies – if production of ethanol was halted?
Yes, you had better “TELL YOUR REPS” – preferably in the voting booth.

Menicholas

Kermit, you make me sick.
You are really an awful person.

That’s a direct consequence of leaving the fuel stand in the tank for extended periods of time and not having a good seal on the tank. If you’re going to leave the bike standing for long periods then top it up.

Randy

Curious George, those Arab spring riots were about bread wheat and rice.

Dennis J Feindel

Paul, My pet pieve on Ethanol is that it takes MORE energy to distill it than what we get back in our automobiles. Sad very sad..

A. Scott

@Dennis J Feindel … another completely false claim.
Average ethanol plants generate 2.1 to 2.4 units of energy for every 1 unit if energy expended. In areas with more advanced processes like Minnesota, yields are up to 4 units produced for 1 unit expended.
Upgraded process plants that incorporate corn residue from corn ethanol production and field residue (corn stover) to provide 50% of the power req’d to produce the corn are generating 8 units of energy fir every 1 unit of energy expended in production.
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045905/pdf

dmacleo

Like most people I’ve spoken with, I have no innate, inflexible antipathy to ethanol in gasoline.

try storing many thousands of dollars of small engines over the winter then get back to me.
even draining and pouring stabil into tanks does not stop issues.

A. Scott

@dmacleo … It’s been well understood for more than a decade that ethanol blends were not compatible with older small engines. Why do you continue to use ethanol in them?

dmacleo

because there are NO non-ethanol facilities here, closest is hours away,

jpatrick

Interesting you should write this, as last evening, I just finished un-gumming a picky high-maintenance female carburetor on a generator. Almost certainly the trouble was exacerbated by ethanol in the gasoline. I read several articles on what ethanol in gasoline does to small engines, just 2 days ago. I have a lot of small engines, and some carburetors will eat anything, and a couple others won’t. The pickiest ones are on the generator and on the wood chipper.
The advice of most good mechanics is to use pure gasoline in your small engines, even if it means getting premium gas.

MattS

The only damage will be to old engines whose rubber parts arent designed to handle ethanol, the same was true about old engines not handling lead free fuel, parts need changing, time will phase out old engines, so this isnt a valid reason no to use E10.
Old engines also have a lot of crud in them, ethanol is a strong solvent which picks up these residues and can block the jets in the carb. So the problem here is that there is crud in the fuel system that needs cleaning before ethanol fuel is used.
As for “In reality, over their full life cycle (from planting and harvesting crops, to converting them to fuel, to transporting them by truck, to blending and burning them), biofuels emit at least as much CO2 as their petroleum counterparts.”
Compared to discovering oil fields, drilling, transporting the crude oil, refining it, etc to produce petrol I find it hard to believe the CO2 production of planting-harvesting-fermenting-distilling is any higher.
As for transporting the finished fuel by truck, that’s the same for both fuels.
Of course the burning of the fuel produces, per hp, roughly the same CO2, the big difference is that of course as a crop the plant the sugar is obtained from takes up CO2 as part of photosynthesis. This isn’t true of gasoline.
Alcohol is a nice fuel. It can support a much higher compression ration than gasoline so for a given engine capacity can produce much more power. There is a reason it is used as a racing fuel, and this is it.
It also burns more cleanly, since it has oxygen in the fuel (this is why it needs to run richer than gasoline, alcohol needs less air to burn). The result is less carbon monoxide.
All in all alcohol is an excellent fuel for cars, and has been used for a long time in Brazil, where both Fiat and VW have made cars with rubber work suitable for ethanol.
Engine design, handling, and transport are exactly the same, so it is an easy fuel to switch to.
Its production could well be the focus of much genetic engineering, and I believe progress has been made in creating algae that have higher sugar production. Perhaps super yeasts that can live in high alcohol solutions. It is an interesting field.

Kermit Johnson

Thanks for an interesting and informative post.
I actually expected more posts like yours here on this particular forum. It is surprising to me to see the closed-mindedness exhibited here on a forum that (rightly) is skeptical of something like CAGW.
Your comment on alcohol supporting a much higher compression ratio than gasoline is why it is so economical for use in raising octane levels in gasoline, isn’t it? Also, my guess is that if engines were designed to run only on a blend, they could be made to be more efficient than they currently are.
Again, my thought is that if any forum should be accepting of letting the marketplace make the decision about what energy source should be used, this forum should be it. Forget the Central Planning. Insure that Big Oil does not have the power to force consumers to buy only their products. This forum has been fighting the good fight over Central Planning forcing us to pay for pet green research/products for many years. It is discouraging to see that many here are no different than the CAGW alarmists in that they have such a strong bias that they cannot even use logic to think this through.

MattS

There is sadly much polarisation in the subject of AGW. 🙂
Puns aside, those who are anti are anti everything, and those who are pro are pro everything, and there is little common ground, which is a shame, and wrong.
CAGW is a crock, the biggest fraud in history, but alcohol is a good fuel.

dmacleo

none of our 35,000 $ worth of small engines are old, oldest one is just now turning 3.
all have had to have fuel pumps and carbs replaced (the 2 strokes mostly on carbs) due to pitting/corrosion on needle valves/jets/float seats.
sadly the nearest place we can get non E10 is about 115 miles away.
ethanol is good for racers, built a few engines using it, but those engines also torn down and rebuilt often.
consumer engines don’t get that and race engines do not see 100 deg F in summer and ALSO -30 deg F in winter.
nor do they deal with, in spring, 50+ deg F temp swings from this last 10 days alone here) temps of 34 deg F at 5am to 84 deg F at 2pm. these temp swings cause lot of performance issues in small engines with E10.
loved using it in the race engines.but higher octane (needed for 14:1 or so compression ratios and NO variable valve timing) is usually actually about 10% less btu per gallon than non E10 and E85 (which I used for race engines) was even bigger difference.
hate it in my cars in winter here, takes longer to heat up engine.

A. Scott

@dmacleo … small engines with carbs will – IMO _ always be somewhat susceptible. You should not typically have an issue with a couple year old small engines however. At least not from decent credible suppliers. Cheap foreign knockoffs – like generators etc – are going to be hit or miss.
If your problems are with reputable manufacturer – and with equip only a few years old – I would contact them. Those new engines should have no problems with E10 blends.
I have a 2003 Tahoe 4WD 5.3 V8 FFV. I used E85 90% of the time and have never had a problem – and in Minnesota, where it sits outside all winter, we often see -20 deg F real temps.
My cost per mile using E85 ($1.89) is less than using E10 $2.55) …

MattS

Jets and seats of plastic? Fuels pumps with rubber diaphragms? If alcohol is dissolving those then you have an old engine, old in design, if not years. VW and Fiat have been making alcohol burning cars for decades. It is a good fuel.

A. Scott

@MattS I’ve never really paid attention … but I suspect the preference of dirt cheap foreign crap with small engines – generators for example that cost a few hundred dollars – when a similar good Honda or similar high end generators is closer to $1,000 … is the culprit.
No one pays attention to quality – no one much cares … all they want is that cheap price.
And no – that is not directed at you dmacleo … its a generalization of our population as a whole these days.

dmacleo

husqvarna and toro commercials running (for the zero turns) either kohler or kawasaki engines. presently all are under 2 years old.
the storage from september to may is really the issue, due to climate (weather) they sit and see temps from -25 F to 30 F for a few months with no run time. pitting happens on carbs and even the fuel injected toros develop lower (primary) fuel pump issues.
think this fall I will advocate to haul a 250 gallon tank down to nearest non e-10 station grab 150 gallons or so and run them through systems ( total of 10 engines right now, multiple diesels not issue) before applying stabil.

Joel Snider

The way the consequences are brushed aside is a good illustration of the elitism that is inherent in high-brow greenies.

That’s why I ride a bike. I don’t want to get corn-holed.

Kermit Johnson

Just looking at the points made in the article above (by the 18 “diverse organizations”:
“producers (and consumers) face volatile and increasing prices for animal feed.”
I think this has been shown to be BS. The market adjusts, and the net result of higher prices is increased production and lower prices. I know that is difficult for some to comprehend, but that is the way the marketplace works.
“Ethanol wreaks havoc on the engines and fuel systems of boats, motorcycles and lawn equipment”
No argument here. There must be an alternative to blended gas. Where I live, unblended gas is sold right at the pumps.
“Consumers and taxpayers must pay increasing costs as biofuel mandates increase under the RFS.”
Are the increases in ethanol really mandatory? I wan’t under that impression, but I could be wrong. I read that sales of E15 “may be allowed” – not mandated. Am I wrong?
“Millions of acres of native prairie and other ecosystems have been turned into large-scale agricultural developments”
I don’t know about that. This is not a battle about ethanol, however, it is a land use battle – if true. Yields have about doubled over the last forty years. Grassland HAS been put into row crop production. This, of course, expands the economy – and without that, can we really make everything work? These sound like the same people who desperately want to stop us from developing oil production too.
“Biofuel demand promotes conversion of natural habitats to palm oil and other plantations overseas, as well as domestically. Their life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions rival or exceed those of oil and gas.”
Land use overseas? Is this our business? As far as CO2 emissions – it’s a beneficial gas, and it seems that there is more evidence for it being a good thing than a bad thing.
“Expanding markets for corn ethanol by increasing E15 sales ignores and exacerbates these problems – while benefiting a small subset of the US economy but negatively impacting far more sectors, including the general public and the industries and interests represented by signatories to the Pruitt letter.”
Now, here we finally have it! Who are these “interests” that are being negatively impacted? How exactly is the “general public” being negatively impacted? We had better generate more economic activity here at home – we already send over a half-trillion dollars overseas – every single year – due to the trade deficit! Any person who actually thinks about this has to realize what a ticking time bomb this is.
When these points are really thought about, it’s quite clear who wants to benefit from killing ethanol.

Menicholas

Seriously, you are a reprehensible, lying, vacuous, moronic waste of space.

Kermit Johnson

Now you do have me laughing out loud!
I assume that you are not serious – I assume that you are a master Troll.
Because, if not . . . the only thing I can visualize you as . . . is an educated idiot who has absolutely no knowledge about how the world really works.
But, I prefer to think that I’ve been trolled by one of the best. (VBG)

A. Scott

@Menicholas And you have become a laughable buffoon … obsessed with stalking, denigrating and demeaning someone whose opinion you disagree with … all why NEVER making a SINGLE intelligent, documented and sourced rebuttal.
Truly pathetic … but pretty darn funny …

ResourceGuy

There is no consumer choice in most areas and there is a financial burden on refiners for RINs that is also passed along to consumers where possible.

A. Scott

@ResourceGuy If there is no consumer choice in some area’s it is because the MARKET in those areas does not support it . There is a significant cost to offer additional blends in many retailers. Which ironically is one of the few, small supports benefitting ethanol …. assistance to add more blender pumps at retailers …. which benefits ALL fuels – and allows retailers to choose just about any blends customers want.

subtle2

The Friends of Fermentation Society, Vancouver Chapter, advises that it is very much against using the products of fermentation in cars and trucks.
Bob Hoye, President For Life

A. Scott

I generally support CFACT’swriting … Mr. Driessens apparent infatuation with attacking ethanol’ however, crosses far over the line.
His repetition of old, outdated and outright false claims and attacks – not supported by the facts and professional research and data – is not only wrong, but comes across as a vendetta.
Corn used for ethanol does not drive up food costs. It does not take production land away from food production. No one in America or the world is starving because of ethanol grown for corn.
Ethanol does have a lower energy content than gasoline, but also costs significantly less. For modern flex fuel vehicles in many cases the cost per mile is the same or lower using E85 ethanol as compared to regular E10 gasoline.
The 10% of US transportation fuels provided by ethanol IS an important contribution to the US breaking the hold of the middle east oil cartels.
Ethanol is cleaner – with fewer overall net emissions – both greenhouse gases, but most importantly tailpipe emissions …. NOX, CO, particulate and the like… which is why the American Lung Association supports and endorses ethanol.
The net energy balance is 100% absolutely, beyond all doubt positive – and that is based on its entire lifecycle, growing the corn, refining it, and distributing it. In most cases 2.1 to 2.4 units if energy are produced for every 1 unit of energy expended – with up to 4 units per 1 unit expended in certain areas like Minnesota.
Improved, advanced refining methods are increasing this net energy balance substantially. Incorporating corn residue – waste from the ethanol process – along with field residue (corn stover biomass) … for just 50% of the energy required to process ethanol – increased net energy balance to as much as 8 units of energy produced for every unit expended.
As more biomass is incorporated into the process net energy balance increases dramatically further.
The US is, and has been for a century, the worlds corn supplier. We supply 100% of the US domestic demand for food, feed and fuel. We supply 100% of the export demand from countries around the world. And the US corn industry still makes significant contributions to US corn reserves virtually every year.
Countries like Mexico, Guatemala and others import US food corn to LOWER the cost of food in their countries.
Corn prices did increase as corn production for ethanol use was ramping up in the mid to late 2000’s. But correlation is not causation … prices of ALL commodities increased in the same fashion and rates. Inflation, driven by commodities speculators, is what forced prices of corn, and all commodities skyward – not the use of corn for ethanol.
The same with the claims about corn for ethanol driving up animal feed costs. This is simply untrue – on several levels.
First, any increase in feed costs due to increases in corn price fall apart with the fact corn prices have dropped by over half … which means costs for corn used as animal feed have dropped by over half as well.
Second, every bushel of corn used produces nearly 3 gallons of ethanol, some corn oil and corn meal, and 17.4 lbs of Distillers Dried Grain Solids – a high quality animal feed. DDGS are significantly better than the corn itself – to the extent that DDGS co-product replaces nearly half of the corn used for ethanol.
If, as those like CFACT erroneously claim, the increased use of corn for ethanol did actually drive up corn prices and thus food prices, then they have a major problem now … explaining how corn prices have dropped by over HALF in recent years – from over $8/bu down to $3.51/bu today … despite corn for ethanol continuing at the same level of appx 40% of the US corn crop.
More importantly – if high corn prices, driven by corn used for ethanol, were the cause of food price increases – then how do they explain food prices remaining largely unchanged – despite corn prices falling by over HALF …
Ethanol and ethanol blends are bad for your (very) old car, (very) old boat and older small engines. If you drive a 70’s or older classic car, and older motorcycle, and older boat with carburetors and fiberglas gas tanks and similar – it has been well known and widely disseminated you should not use ethanol.
Those users however comprise a tiny fraction of transportation fuel use.
All the rest – vehicles newer than the mid 80’s and similar … can use E10 blends with no significant negative effect. There are also an est. 20+million flex fuel vehicles on the road today that have no problem using E85 blends.
Numerous studies – by credible institutions, not by biased industry sources – have shown the current use of ethanol helps keep overall gasoline costs lower – by 25 to 80 cents per gallon of more.
Just about every claim in the CFACT article is false, incomplete and/or highly misleading.
The two links below provide a recent review of net energy balance of corn based ethanol, and a pretty good detailed history of ethanol use.
We DO have increased reserves of fossil fuels – and I wholly support using them. They are finite however, and we should also look for sustainable, renewable ways to extend them.
And while I agree the entire catastrophic anthropogenic global warming claim is dramatically overstated – we can and should work to reduce emissions, especially tailpipe emissions.
The kind of wildly inaccurate, highly partisan kind of dis-information being disseminated – like with CFACT here – does no one any benefit. As much as I generally support them and their message, in this case they are wrong – in many ways.
https://www.usda.gov/oce/reports/energy/2015EnergyBalanceCornEthanol.pdf
https://www.usda.gov/oce/reports/energy/EthanolExamination102015.pdf

Randy

Fantastic!! I hope you have read some of my comments above that support everything you have written. Mr Driessen writes similar articles from time to time on this wonderful website. Please chime in again when he repeats his assertions again in the future as he surely will.

beng135

A Scott says:
The 10% of US transportation fuels provided by ethanol IS an important contribution to the US breaking the hold of the middle east oil cartels.
Can’t be 10% of the entire transportation fuels if diesel and jet fuel are included, tho it would be interesting what the real percentage is……

beng135 May 15, 2018 at 8:37 am
A Scott says:
The 10% of US transportation fuels provided by ethanol IS an important contribution to the US breaking the hold of the middle east oil cartels.
Can’t be 10% of the entire transportation fuels if diesel and jet fuel are included, tho it would be interesting what the real percentage is……

In US refineries about 20 gals of gasoline is produced from every 42 gals of crude.

A. Scott

@beng135 I should be more accurate I guess … 10% of US gasoline consumption is usually the term used …
http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/images/charts/us_fuel_ethanol_consumption.jpg

Nashville

I have a boat in Kentucky on Lake Barkley, little river bay.
All the Marina’s there sell only pure gasoline.
People that own a boat know it costs $100 to turn the key…
The cost of fuel is not really an issue for the weekend boater.

Menicholas

Everyone does not have a marina.
Or did that never occur to you?

A. Scott

@Menicholas … and now you’re simply being a jerk to everyone … please grow up.

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/11/10/climate-establishment-hopeful-trump-will-betray-the-trust-of-the-american-people/comment-page-1/#comment-2339712
Re Corn Ethanol
In 1998 I “inherited” a corn ethanol plant in Wyoming that produced fuel-grade ethanol. At that time, this business relied on huge government subsidies to remain profitable.
I understand that ~40% of the USA corn crop now goes to producing fuel ethanol.
I suggest that growing corn for fuel ethanol in the USA is a grave error, because of excessive drawdown of the huge, vital Ogallala aquifer This is a unfolding “real” environmental disaster that need to be addressed, without further delay.
You are pulling too hard on the Ogallala, and you will run out of water for food crops, sooner than you think.
I suggest there are ways Canada could help, if we had governments with any technical and business competence. Regrettably, we have too many uneducated far-left “progressives” in government here, and they are heading over the green-energy precipice that the USA just avoided.
Regards, Allan
References:
2016 National Geographic article: Ogallala Aquifer
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/08/vanishing-midwest-ogallala-aquifer-drought/August
My posts from 2012: “Told you so, four (now 6) years ago…”
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/22/weekly-climate-and-energy-news-roundup-38/#more-55226
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/06/nyt-blames-food-crisis-on-climate-change-hides-plea-to-reduce-government-mandated-burning-of-food-for-fuel/#comment-1072955
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/21/dr-john-christys-testimony-before-congress/#comment-1085677
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/21/dr-john-christys-testimony-before-congress/#comment-1085812

A. Scott

@Allen MacRae
With all due respect … ethanol production in the Dakota’s has a barely perceptible effect on the Ogallala. Additionally water usage in the region has been hugely transformed. In the southwest North Dakota Bakken region large projects like the Southwest Water Pipeline Project use water Lake Sakakawea and supply it throughout the region via pipeline … to greatly limit demands on the aquifers in the area.
The primary problem with the Ogallala is irrigation ….
http://swwater.com/missionvision/

Not to A Scott.
I did not limit my comment to the Dakotas. Good IF you have solved the water problem there. Maybe a big IF. Also, I doubt that 40% of the US corn crop is grown in the Dakotas.
However, I do understand that corn requires a lot of irrigation water, much of which is drawn from the Ogalalla aquifer, which is dropping like a rock and not recharging in our great-grandchildrens’ lifetimes.

A. Scott

@Allen MacRae ….
There is no doubt the Ogallala aquifer is certainly stressed … in 2008 it was being pumped at a rate of more than 1.5 billion gallons per day – for agriculture, municipalities, industry and private citizens. The biggest individual use is irrigation of crops … of all types.
At present water use of appx. 2.2 gals per gal of ethanol a 40 million gallon per year ethanol plant would use appx 88 million gals per year. A tiny fraction of all use.
The ethanol industry continuing to reduce water usage, including treating and re-using water, AND shifting to treated grey water – which reduces potable water use to essentially zero. The ethanol PRODUCTION side is not an appreciable impact on groundwater resources, including in the Ogallala.
The major water use from the Ogallala is on the crop irrigation side. Much of the Ogallala is in historically dry areas where it requires irrigation to grow crops. No mater the USE of the crop, or the crop itself, these lands require significant irrigation.
Whether the land is used to grow corn for food, feed or fuel, the water is is essentially identical. Other crops are similar, offering no substantial savings in water use.
Both officials and the corn industry in the area of the Ogallala understand these challenges and ARE working at addressing them. In one large (100 sq mile) area) users agreed to reduce water usage by 20%. This had a significant effect on reducing the rate of depletion … and farmers actually found when all was said and done they made a little MORE money.
The key point in all this is it is NOT the ethanol industry that is responsible. They have a minor impact, and one they have continued to reduce.
Farm irrigation – which is entirely independent from ethanol is the main culprit and growers along with a bunch of other smart people are working to address these concerns.
http://www.circleofblue.org/2018/world/kansas-farmers-cut-ogallala-water-use-and-still-make-money/
Here is a recently updated paper with a whole bunch of updated information on the Ogallala aquifer as well:
http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2013/08/14/1220351110.full.pdf

Ethanol is only good for drinking. E40 is my favorite!comment image

The first line of the article reads:
“Like most people I’ve spoken with, I have no innate, inflexible antipathy to ethanol in gasoline.”
Personally, I agree with you Sir:
“Like most people I’ve spoken with, I have no innate, inflexible antipathy to ethanol in straight malts.”
“A drop of water, to release the serpents.”

Let’s drink to that!comment image

aleks

“ Moreover, the claim that ethanol and other biofuels don’t emit as much allegedly climate-impacting (but certainly plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide as gasoline has also been put out to pasture. In reality, over their full life cycle (from planting and harvesting crops, to converting them to fuel, to transporting them by truck, to blending and burning them), biofuels emit at least as much CO2 as their petroleum counterparts.”
The claim that ethanol does not emit (during combustion) as much CO2 as gasoline is also doubtful. Let’s compare heat of combustion for n-octane (main component of gasoline) and ethanol. For the first one it is 5508.9 kJ/mol, for ethanol 1406.8 kJ/mol.
https://www.webmo.net/curriculum/heat_of_combustion/heat_of_combustion_key.html
One mole of octane produces 8 moles of CO2 and 9 moles of H2O, for ethanol these values are 2 and 3. So, when burning octane for each kilojoule of energy 1.45 mmole of CO2 and 1.63 mmole H2O is released. In the case of ethanol corresponding values are 1.42 and 2.13.
Because water vapor is also considered greenhouse gas, then even from the point of view of the theory of the greenhouse effect, ethanol is worse than gasoline.