Ethanol: A Dumb Idea or A Crime — Or Both?

by Gregory Wrightstone

Expanded use of ethanol — enabled by President Biden’s lifting a summertime ban on fuels with a 15 percent blend — is a poor answer to high gasoline prices and a refusal to recognize the failures of the corn-based fuel additive. Reuters described the president’s action a win for the corn lobby, but all others appear to be losers.

Shortcomings of ethanol as an alternative to gasoline have been reported continually since at least 2007 when the U.S. government expanded its requirement that distributors blend ethanol with fuels to reduce dependence on foreign oil. The additive also has been touted as a way to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

“There is a great danger for the right to food by the development of biofuels,” U.N. human rights advocate Jean Ziegler said at the time. “It (the price) will be paid perhaps by hundreds of thousands of people who will die from hunger,” A year later he called the diversion of food crops to fuel production a “crime against humanity.”

In 2011, Dr. Indur Goklany wrote that the “iron law of supply and demand dictates” that ethanol production “would almost unavoidably increase global food prices” and exacerbate poverty. He calculated 192,000 excess deaths had resulted from the food-to-fuel switch in 2010.

More recently, a YouTube video declared in its title, ”America Was Wrong about Ethanol.” The narrator announces, “We’re going to explain why corn-based ethanol is a dumb idea.”

The video is based on a University of Wisconsin study, which states: “We find that the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard requiring ethanol blending) increased corn prices by 30 percent and the prices of other crops by 20 percent, which, in turn, expanded U.S. corn cultivation by 2.8 million hectares (8.7 percent) and total cropland by 2.1 million hectares (2.4 percent) in the years following policy enactment (2008 to 2016).”

The National Wildlife Federation opposes the RFS because expansion of croplands infringes on natural habitat. Trade organizations of the dairy industry and bakeries have objected to RFS’s pressures on corn prices and supplies. Scores of organizations representing millions of people have written in support of RFS reform.

As would be expected, increased farm acreage has led to more agricultural pollution. The Wisconsin study — published in February by the National Academy of Sciences — reports an increase of three to eight percent in water pollutants.

An expansion of the RFS only promises more of the same, according to the Wisconsin researchers: “Our estimates imply that for every billion gallons per year expansion of ethanol demand, we would expect a 5.6 percent increase in corn prices; 1.6 and 0.4 percent increases in the areas of U.S. corn and cropland, respectively; and attendant increases in (greenhouse gas) emissions, nutrient pollution, and soil erosion.”

And however many pennies President Biden’s ethanol expansion shaves off current pump prices — if any — the overall effect of the RFS is to increase fuel costs by nearly 30 cents a gallon, according to testimony presented in February to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works by Lucian Pugliaresi, President, Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc.

Contributing to higher fuel-production costs have been increases in the price of credits that refiners have to purchase if they don’t add ethanol to their product. Since buying the Trainer Refinery near Philadelphia in 2012, Monroe Energy has spent more than $1 billion on RFS compliance — multiples more than the refinery’s purchase price and more annually than nearly all other operating costs combined.

Credits that once cost a few cents each are expected to increase this year to more than $2, a difference of hundreds of millions of dollars annually for refiners like Monroe. Some smaller refiners have closed because of the economic pressures of the RFS.

A perversity of the program is that third parties, including Wall Street banks and investment funds, are permitted to buy and sell the credits on speculation, increasing demand for them. Speculators, in short, make money off the backs of producers and consumers.

“We have raised concerns about this practice – and about many other problematic aspects of the RFS program design – but to this point, our calls to reform the program have fallen on deaf ears,” said Matt McGlaughin, a Monroe Energy spokesman.

The intended result of this move is to lower prices at the pump, yet just 2,300 of the nation’s 150,000 gas stations — or roughly 1.5% — sell E15 gasoline, according to a White House fact sheet. In addition, ethanol is less efficient than gasoline, reducing gas mileage and so it costs consumers more than conventional gasoline on a per mile basis.

In his testimony, Mr. Pugliaresi said, “We are heading into a largely uncharted world full of enormous price and energy security risks… Expect failures, cost over-runs and the unexpected.” He recommended the RFS be shaped to “withstand a wide range of future challenges.”

Given the program’s record, better that it be ended.

Gregory Wrightstone is a geologist, executive director of the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Va., and author of “Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know.”

This commentary was first published at Townhall May 27, 2022

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Tom Halla
June 1, 2022 6:04 am

Gasohol is not as bad as sometimes claimed, but there is no real up side. Stopping the destruction of small engine carbs would be motive enough to do away with it.

Steve Case
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 1, 2022 7:03 am

Stopping the destruction of small engine carbs would be motive enough to do away with it.
____________________________________________________________

Small engines are being banned by the Green Mob, so it won’t matter.

CARB finalizes small engine ban

H.R.
Reply to  Steve Case
June 1, 2022 8:53 am

A whole new criminal class is being created with a stroke of the pen.

I’d suggest everyone with gas mower turn themselves in for 3 hots and a cot for about a month or so and flood the system.

No, wait… the stupid solution would be to release all the murderers and rapists to make room for all the lawnmower criminals. So… of course that’s what they’d do. Never mind. I’ll retract my suggestion.

MarkW
Reply to  H.R.
June 1, 2022 9:19 am

In many cities here in the US, the local DAs and courts seem determined to release all of the violent criminals anyway.

Jake Stein
Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 2:25 pm

An acquaintance of mine was murdered (one of the recent “mass shootings,” but since it didn’t fit any agenda it wasn’t widely covered) in late February by a psycho. The gunman, an illegal alien, killed him, his own two daughters, and then himself, so 3+1. Turns out he was booked for a DUI and resisting arrest just a week before, but since it was a “sanctuary city” with an activist DA he was released and his bail was paid by some immigrant advocacy group.

My acquaintance was a great husband, father of three, and a pillar of his church community. The gunman was a known piece of trash with violent tendencies and a restraining order against him, who couldn’t see his daughters without adult supervision, which is the role my acquaintance was playing at the time he was killed.

rd50
Reply to  Jake Stein
June 1, 2022 8:30 pm

Very sorry. Yes no publicity and also no publicity on all the killing in Chicago every week.

roaddog
Reply to  MarkW
June 2, 2022 12:29 am

Violation of EPA crimes is different, because they pose an existential threat to the species. LOL

IAMPCBOB
Reply to  MarkW
June 5, 2022 3:09 pm

No not all of them, just those who were ‘placed’ in office by George Soros! Also, state prosecutors!

roaddog
Reply to  H.R.
June 2, 2022 12:28 am

When lawnmowers are outlawed, only outlaws will have lawnmowers. (BigGoat wins in a landslide.)

Willem post
Reply to  Steve Case
June 2, 2022 10:33 am

The Green Gestapo?

willem post
Reply to  Willem post
June 3, 2022 6:10 am

EXCERPT from:

POLITICALLY INSPIRED, MARGINALLY EFFECTIVE, CORN-TO-ETHANOL PROGRAM
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/politically-inspired-marginally-effective-corn-to-ethanol-program

In the 2016/2017-crop year, the US had 85.8 million acres planted with corn, of which 31.4 million acres were planted to produce ethanol. The corn production was 14.440 billion bushels, of which 5.30 billion bushels were for corn to ethanol. The 169 bushels of each acre yielded 478 gallons of ethanol. Ethanol blended with gasoline was 14.80 billion gallon, about 10% of the gasohol fuel for vehicles. See table 1.

https://www.agmrc.org/renewable-energy/renewable-energy-climate-change-report/renewable-energy-climate-change-report/july-2016-report/looking-ahead-corn-usage-mandates-and-ethanol-production/

Dennis
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 1, 2022 9:45 pm

After returning from a two night and three days fishing trip I refilled the 160 litre petrol tank on my trailer boat on the way home from the boat harbour, I always use premium unleaded petrol and if the boat will not be used for a few months I add an octane boost additive to keep the petrol from going off.

Tired, I refilled the tank with 90 litres of ethanol blend 10% petrol petrol and did not use the boat for more than 6 months because I moved interstate. When I launched it the Honda 130 motor started immediately but I noted that the rubber fuel line pump bulb was stiffer than normal. After a 4 knot exit taking about 5 minutes from the boat ramp when I increased the throttle setting the motor cut out. It restarted but would not run above very low RPM so I returned to the boat ramp and delivered the boat to the local service centre.

The ethanol damaged the fuel pump and the fuel lines and seals despite being 90 litres of 160 litres and additive of octane booster.

Reply to  Dennis
June 2, 2022 9:31 am

It has been well known for decades that there are uses where ethanol blends are not recommended. Pre 1980’s vehicles, older small engines, and older boats – if it has a carb.

Just like some engines should not use regular gas – require premium – some should NOT use ethanol

Dennis
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 6:39 pm

My Honda 130 Outboard Motor is dated 2000

ghl
Reply to  A. Scott
June 3, 2022 6:01 pm

Two Honda Whipper Snippers that cut out after running a while proved to have a tank vent in the cap that adhered shut.A design fault, I would call it A little silicon beak.Honda rebuilt the carby for $100.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 2, 2022 10:05 am

When South Africa went to gasohol, my company Renault, with twin carburettors, started acting up. It took the old-fashioned mechanic at my local garage to figure out what had gone wrong, and soak the carburettors in a ‘passivating’ fluid.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 2, 2022 4:01 pm

Sure it is; it accomplishes nothing useful while damaging engine parts AND driving up the costs of BOTH fuel AND food.

Kevin kilty
June 1, 2022 6:23 am

What does 15% ethanol in gasoline do? Obviously it contributes to demand for field corn, thus raises the price of food inputs especially meats. It supposedly provides energy to move your car, but the range is not equal to its 15% fraction of the fuel so it presents obvious opportunity costs; and it is more volatile than a significant fraction of the fuel so it contributes to air pollution in warm weather. It is a perfect example of how an industrial economy would work if the free-market is replaced with political considerations.

It’s basically a form of welfare.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kevin kilty
Kermit L. Johnson
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 1, 2022 7:10 am

“It’s basically a form of welfare.”

The pros and cons of ethanol can be debated – that is what a forum like this is for. But this statement shows absolute ignorance about farming.

It is a perfect example of how an industrial economy would work if the free-market is replaced with political considerations.”

Again, the “political considerations” can – and should be – discussed. But, we’ve been all through this, haven’t we? The economic considerations are simple. Or, they should be. Without government regulations, shouldn’t ethanol be offered for sale alongside regular gasoline? Simple let the market do what the market does best.

Is the cost per mile driven cheaper with ethanol or with regular gasoline? Let the marketplace decide.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Kermit L. Johnson
June 1, 2022 7:17 am

Exxon on Texas coast offers ethanol free gas, almost a dollar more/gallon.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
June 1, 2022 8:01 am

‘Exxon on Texas coast offers ethanol free gas, almost a dollar more/gallon.’

No refined gasoline that goes into pipelines, ships, barges, etc. contains ethanol as ethanol absorbs H2O and is therefore corrosive. Ethanol is added at the local ‘rack’, so saying that gasoline goes up a buck per gallon if ethanol is not added is specious. Rather, it goes up a buck per gallon either because there is some sort of RFS penalty for not blending ethanol or because some consumers / users are willing to pay a premium for unblended gasoline.

H.R.
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 1, 2022 9:31 am

It’s the latter, Frank. Boaters in particular need to avoid the blended gas.

But there are extra cost factors. Gas stations would need an extra tank and pump for yet another type of gasoline that will mostly be used by boaters and classic car owners. Not much action there and you need volume to make money on fuel sales.

Marina fuel stations are willing to do that. They have the demand, so there’s no problem dedicating a tank and pump for special fuel. But also, most marinas don’t let you pump your own fuel due to risk of careless spills- major EPA headaches when that happens – so there’s an added cost for attendants that self-serve stations don’t have.

And their volume is lower than just about any gas station at the end of a freeway offramp, so they charge a bit extra on lower volume to cover the cost of attendants.

Your point still stands. They can charge extra because of the demand and a captive market. Boaters don’t want to pull their boat just to go get gas and boats suck down fuel. But there is less gravy in their markup than you’d think.

I don’t know about extra costs from penalties, but I do know a bit of boats, marinas, and unblended gas.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  H.R.
June 1, 2022 3:36 pm

‘I don’t know about extra costs from penalties, but I do know a bit of boats, marinas, and unblended gas.’

Sounds like you know a lot – thanks!

H.R.
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 1, 2022 10:12 pm

The two happiest days of your life; the day you bought a boat and the day you sold it. 😁

roaddog
Reply to  H.R.
June 2, 2022 12:31 am

There is a reason boats are always considered to be of the gentler sex.

Jack
Reply to  roaddog
June 2, 2022 6:17 am

You are right !

Jack
Reply to  H.R.
June 2, 2022 6:16 am

I owned for 44 years (1975-2019) a 6mR class wooden sailboat built in 1926 in Italy. Thre was no motor inside, she was exclusively propelled by the wind including harbour mooring manoeuvres.
Selling her due to my age was the saddest day of my life.

H.R.
Reply to  Jack
June 2, 2022 7:32 am

Yeah, there are a lot of good days and good times on the water, Jack. But due to boat maintenance expense (and fuel if it’s powered) that old joke I used is true for most boat owners who aren’t rolling in dough and don’t care about the expense.

Russ Wood
Reply to  H.R.
June 3, 2022 4:46 am

When there was an offshore power boat racing event in the UK, the TV news asked one driver what did it feel like to drive in those races. He replied :”Try standing under an ice-cold shower, tearing up five-pound notes – then you’ll get some idea!”

Jeremy Gaultier
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 2, 2022 9:25 pm

It’s not that its necessarily worth a buck more, it’s that ethanol is blended fuel is worth a buck less. You have to take into account that all gasoline needs some additive to increase the octane level. While there are numerous ones out there, most are very toxic, carcinogenic and tend to be expensive. This station may be set up to sell blended fuel and as has been said by others, non ethanol fuel may require extra infrastructure as well.

ghl
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 3, 2022 6:13 pm

A simple test for ethanol content.
Use a graduated vessel.
Pour in say 100 ml of petrol.
Add an extra 10 ml of water and stir.
The water absorbs the alcohol.
10 ml of water layer in the bottom means no alcohol.
15 ml of water layer means 5 ml gas.

ghl
Reply to  ghl
June 3, 2022 6:15 pm

5 ml of alcohol… Senior moment.

Dr. Bob
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
June 1, 2022 8:49 am

Exxon and others market 100% gasoline (E0) as there is a demand for it at a price for applications that are harmed by E10/E15. They have to pay Renewable Fuel Standard penalties for not blending ethanol into gasoline which is part of the price difference. Also included is the cost of equipment that is now standardized for E10 making it more difficult to handle E0.
E10 is about 3% less thermally efficient than E0, and E15 will be another 1.5% less efficient than E10 as ethanol has about 1/3 lower heat of combustion.
The major problem with E15 is the lack of infrastructure for distribution. You have to either relabel an existing E10 pump and only sell E15. or you have to install new tankage and pumps for E15. I have seen a few stations that were just built that do sell both, so they probably stop selling either Mid-Grade or Premium Grade gasoline to have room for E15.
What is telling thought is that E85 has been a marketing failure with only 1% market share despite “lower” pricing. The price difference doesn’t make up for the lower energy content and inconvenience of having to refuel 1/3 more often than with E10 or E0.

Reply to  Dr. Bob
June 1, 2022 10:46 am

Dr. Bob … in areas where retailers are not ripping off customers on ethanol blend pricing – the cost per mile is LOWER with higher ethanol blends.

As I posted above my real world costs are currently 12.5% lower per mile driven using e85.

You cannot go strictly off the difference in energy content (BTU’s) as modern (even my 2003) engines can take advantage of properties of ethanol.

I get 16% lower fuel economy on E85 vs E10 – I currently pay $3.09 for E85 vs $4.19 for E10 – 26+% lower costs.

Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 11:31 am

I’m going to charitably assume that you are simply unaware that you are on welfare.

Blenders of E85 sell the credits they “earn” by putting more ethanol into their product, which offsets the cost to you. Which blenders of E0 then have to buy, which increases the cost to me.

You’re welcome – NOT.

Reply to  writing observer
June 1, 2022 11:46 am

Not remotely accurate. Period.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:27 pm

Are you claiming that there are no E85 credits, or that since they aren’t being paid directly to you, you aren’t benefiting from them?

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 10:41 pm

There are no production credits for ethanol … the VETC was ended a decade ago.

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 12:27 pm

You’re happy sucking on the public tit by using E85. Do you know that it takes more energy to create ethanol than you get from it? It makes absolutely no sense with the evil and stupid government mandates, subsidies and penalties. What idiots these greenies are! The farmers (agrobusinesses) lobby for more ethanol to stick the taxpayers with more costs. NO MORAL SENSE! We use almost 9% of US farmland to produce a fuel that only works because of government regulations.
This is a crime and should be stopped by everyone with common sense and a sense of morality.

ex-KaliforniaKook
Reply to  DrEd
June 5, 2022 6:10 pm

BTW – I’m not cheering you on in your argument, Dr. Ed. I give you a plus because my careful record keeping on my car and my motorcycle shows you to be right. Range is really critical when going cross country on a motorcycle – as in coast to coast and back.

AndyHce
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:59 pm

logically you should be writing
E10 vs E15 OR
E90 vs E85
or is official bureaucratic terminology that dumb?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  AndyHce
June 1, 2022 3:06 pm

AH, E85 is actually (stupidly) 85% ethanol.itbis sold almost nowhere. It was depressed up by GM to get green credits for thier ‘flex fuel’ SUVs, which can actually handle the stuff you cannot buy almost anywhere except Iowa.

rd50
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 8:38 pm

Can you tell us where you pay $3.09 for E85 vs $4.19 for E10?

Reply to  rd50
June 1, 2022 10:43 pm

Sure … Minnesota … all over the place

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dr. Bob
June 1, 2022 10:50 am

What happens if you mix E10 and E15 in your car?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
June 1, 2022 12:00 pm

Other than old vehicles (pretty much vehicles with carbs) there is no problem mixing E15 with E10 …

Dennis
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 9:52 pm

I drive Diesel engine 4WD mostly but I had a 4-cylinder Mitsubishi petrol engine wagon for a while that I purchased from a deceased estate as a town car, but also took it on country drives from time to time.

Using E10 the engine would not idle smoothly and when premium unleaded was used fuel consumption was lower and the engine ran smoothly at idle and higher RPM.

I kept a diary and using premium petrol the kilometres per 100 kms was about 3% better.

roaddog
Reply to  Dr. Bob
June 2, 2022 12:33 am

That anything with lower energy content can be considered to be of benefit is a clear sign of ignorance.

Reply to  roaddog
June 2, 2022 9:37 am

So lower cost per mile doesn’t matter. Got it.

Talk about ignorance …

guidoLaMoto
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 11:40 pm

Production cost of pure grain alcohol is ~ $1/gal while cost of gasoline (not counitng refining costs) @ $100/ barrel crude, is ~$2.50 /gal, ergo, price of 85% gasolohol should be cosiderabley less than gasoline, BUT- 1/3rd of the American corn crop goes into 10% gasohol each year, so universal use of 85% gasohol would use up not only our entire crop just for fuel, but also require importing corn (from where?) …. Your fuel cost per mile is lower now only because demand for 85% is so low. With more demand, price per gal goes up and price of food goes up even higher to meet fuel demand. Real bad economics.

H.R.
Reply to  Dr. Bob
June 2, 2022 7:33 am

Dr. Bob – Thanks for the RFS penalty info. I suppose that’s Federal so the penalty is probably the same in each State.

Janice Moore
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
June 1, 2022 10:31 am

In western Washington, I choose to pay about $1.00 more per gallon for the ethanol-free gas at our local Cenex/Country Store. Even though my Camaro is neither a classic nor an extra-high performance late-model muscle car, I want to treat my faithful friend well.

Also, I do it to support FREEDOM*!

*
*
*Given current, viable, technology, fossil fuels are essential to freedom.

Last edited 1 month ago by Janice Moore
ex-KaliforniaKook
Reply to  Janice Moore
June 5, 2022 6:22 pm

I just hate to go fuel up the truck. So it may only reduce my trips to the station by 3%, but I’ll take it.

And my corn tortillas will be that much cheaper!

will
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
June 1, 2022 12:59 pm

Same here in My North Georgia town.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
June 2, 2022 4:24 pm

Because of ethanol mandates, not because ethanol blends make gas cheaper.

MarkW
Reply to  Kermit L. Johnson
June 1, 2022 7:31 am

Government mandating a particular product be sold whether or not the producers or consumers want it, is definitely a form of welfare.
Just as government regulations requiring power companies buy all of the output of wind and solar plants whether they need it or not is a form of welfare and a massive subsidy.

There was no law banning the sale of alcohol for fuel prior to the government mandates.
The market has spoken, given a choice, nobody would buy the stuff.

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 11:57 am

Gasoline requires an oxygenator – to enhance fuel combustion and thereby reduce exhaust emissions. MTBE was highly carcinogenic – ethanol is a good oxygenator, renewable, lowers emissions, and lowers the cost of gasoline at the pump.

The RFS is NOT a subsidy to anyone – it is the current best choice to meet the clean air standards imposed by the government.

If you eliminate the ethanol mandate you must replace it with something similar. Biobutanol is an option – but uses basically the SAME processes and feedstocks.

Please explain how that changes a thing?

Ethanol reduces gas prices at the ump … eliminate ethanol and gas prices will immediately increase by a significant amount. As will vehicle emissions.

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 12:29 pm

Bullshit.

Reply to  DrEd
June 1, 2022 10:44 pm

Feel free to post an intelligent credible rebuttal supported by documented references and sources.

ghl
Reply to  A. Scott
June 3, 2022 6:32 pm

The cheapest oxygenator would be air. Bollocks Scott.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:30 pm

Gasoline has not required an oxygenator for at least 20 to 30 years. Not since they started adding oxygen sensors to engines.

Continuing to force people to pay for something that isn’t needed, is most definitely a subsidy.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 3:08 pm

Actually, not completely true.

philo
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 2:57 pm

Butanol is less corrosive than EtOH. It has a lower evaporation rate, which helps older cars.

Kit P
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 5:32 pm

Scott got it right!

MBTE was mandated by CARB and EPA over the objections of gasoline makers. The unintended consequences for making the air cleaner was poisoning the ground water.

E10 was mandated by the 2005 Energy Bill. I am one of two people who read it.

When it comes to boats, many boaters are stupid. There is not test for buying a boat. MBTE and ethanol are not compatible. If you lived someplace that required MBTE and then added ethanol and then let it sit for many months. You had bad fuel.

My boat sits for 6 months. Starts up every spring because I have a plan. That means I can tow the stupid people back to shore.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Kermit L. Johnson
June 1, 2022 7:33 am

Without the mandate, the market for the stuff would vanish overnight. Poof, gone.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 1, 2022 10:51 am

Absolutely false. Ethanol from corn supplies 10% of US transportation fuels. If it “disappears” overnight just where do you thank that huge amount if additional fuel will come from? Refinery capacity is maxed out, and crude prices are already thru the roof.

You think fuel prices are high now – watch what happens in your scenario.

When a disruption occurred with one plant in the Midwest several years ago prices of gasoline increased something like 46 cents.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:31 pm

It really is amazing how easily those addicted to other people’s money can rationalize their desire for subsidies.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Kermit L. Johnson
June 1, 2022 8:37 am

I farmed for 14 years Kermit. Corn was among the rotation of crops I raised. Farmers are paid by Federal programs to either not farm at all, or given opportunities to sell into politically organized programs that are heading toward 5 decades old and present large opportunity costs, including the environmental cost of breaking out new ground that should have never seen a plow. Sounds like welfare to me.

Read the part of the article about RFSs and tell me about your idea of free markets.

mal
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 1, 2022 9:29 am

Ethanol cost me about 10% loss in mpg. Now explain to me how that going to save the planet. 5% ethanol cuts gas milage by 10% that lose, lose. That exactly what green energy does lose lose. The green lobby is evil or useful idiots.

Reply to  mal
June 1, 2022 12:03 pm

And in places where the retailers are not ripping off customers on ethanol pricing you pay less for ethanol.

I pay $3.09 for E85 right now – vs $4.19 for E10 …. a 26% lower price.

I get appx 16% lower fuel economy on E85 … I pay appx 26cents per mile driven vs 30 cents per mile using E10…

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 12:33 pm

Me and the other US taxpayers are paying for your savings, FJB and the ethanol lobby.

Reply to  DrEd
June 1, 2022 10:48 pm

Really – exactly HOW are you paying for my savings. Surely you can cite the reason and provide documented sources to prove your claim … can’t you?

Reply to  DrEd
June 2, 2022 9:40 am

Me and the other US taxpayers are paying for your savings, FJB and the ethanol lobby.”

Still waiting for you to provide a shred of documented evidence supporting your repeated claim … that ethanol production is subsidized by taxpayers … all we’ve heard from you and a few others is specious claims and crickets when asked to support them.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:32 pm

I love how those who enjoy spending other people’s money can rationalize their theft.

E85 is only cheaper because of subsidies and penalties.

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 10:50 pm

Same to you – please cite exactly what subsidies are making ethanol cheaper. Be sure to include documented sources.

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 1:40 pm

Here you are: From ThoughtCo –
https://www.thoughtco.com/understanding-the-ethanol-subsidy-
3321701

ByTom Murse
Updated on September 04, 2021
The primary ethanol subsidy offered by the federal government is a tax incentive called the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. It took effect in 2005.

The ethanol subsidy, which is commonly referred to as the “blender’s credit,” offers ethanol blenders registered with the Internal Revenue Service a tax credit of 45 cents for every gallon of pure ethanol they blend with gasoline.
That particular ethanol subsidy cost taxpayers $5.7 billion in foregone revenues in 2011, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan congressional watchdog agency.

PCman999
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 12:56 am

But how much tax money went to farmers to produce that ethanol? And how much higher are your food prices since the gas station is competing with food markets for that corn, and the land it’s growing on – less land for other crops, less interest from farmers, lower production of other crops than without RFS (Really F’n Stupid).

The revolutions of the Arab Spring a decade ago were in reaction to steep food price increases that affected the whole world.

The cost of ethanol fuel mandates is just too high.

Reply to  PCman999
June 2, 2022 9:42 am

Zero tax money goes toward subsidizing ethanol production … the VETC was eliminated a decade ago.

And corn used for ethanol contributed little or nothing to food prices.

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 1:57 pm

Read and weep – and stop lying. Below is a link and the headings describing each way the Feds support ethanol

https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/laws/ETH?state=US
Ethanol Laws and Incentives in FederalThe list below contains summaries of all Federal laws and incentives related to ethanol.
Incentives
Advanced Biofuel Feedstock Incentives
  The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP; Section 9010)
Advanced Biofuel Production Grants and Loan GuaranteesAdvanced Biofuel Production PaymentsAdvanced Energy Research Project GrantsAlternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Technology Research and Demonstration BondsBiodiesel Education GrantsBiodiesel and Ethanol Infrastructure GrantsBiomass Research and Development Initiative9 more
Laws and Regulations10 items
Programs2 items

Rud Istvan
Reply to  mal
June 1, 2022 3:14 pm

Mail, I did the math. Two points. First E10 is max blendwall for premium gas in LA in summer. Most is ‘up to’ so contains less. Even at E10, the typical mpg loss is 3%, NOT 10%. That you can look up or calculate directly from the energy density of gasoline and ethanol. Hint: ethanol is about 30% less energy dense than gasoline, so if comprises 10% of fuel results in a 0.3*0.1=0.03 energy loss translating directly to mpg.

ihfan
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 1, 2022 10:24 am

It’s basically a form of welfare.

Ding Ding Ding!

Johnny, tell this man what he has just won!

It’s never about the environment, or helping the middle class, or anything noble like that. It’s always about paying those off that got the Dems into power.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 1, 2022 10:42 am

Not remotely true. Corn used for ethanol has remained nearly identical for more than a decade – while corn production has increased. All while corn prices moved up and DOWN dramatically – over a range from $3 to $8 …

Every bushel of corn crates appx 3 gals of ethanol, along with corn meal, corn oil and other byproducts – most significantly Distillers Dried Grains – a higher quality feed than the original corn. Every bushel of corn used for ethanol produces appx 18lbs of DDGS.

A bushel of corn weighs appx 56lbs …

According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), the amount of feed (corn and soybean meal) replaced by the DDGs represents nearly 40% (on a weight basis) of the corn used in the associated ethanol production process for a given crop year.

And as I showed above – the lower fuel economy is offset by the LOWER COST of E85 (and other) ethanol blends. My current cost per mile – in MN – is 12.5% lower using E85.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:34 pm

So, in the mythical world that exists in your head, increasing demand has absolutely no impact on prices?

Or is it that deep down you feel guilty about stealing from others, so you invent fanciful economics so that you can avoid seeing the obvious?

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 10:52 pm

I prefer to rely on documented sources references and data … which directly support my claims.

But by all means please post an intelligent rebuttal, with sources and references…

Reply to  MarkW
June 2, 2022 9:44 am

Crickets yet again … not a one of you can provide a shred of support for our claims that taxpayers are subsidizing ethanol production …. imagine that..

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 3:56 pm

I posted references from the government site itself above. Go look at it and stop lying.

Kit P
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 5:46 pm

Again Scott is right.

The energy portion out of field corn or soy beans is processed out leaving a better animal feed.

The 2005 Energy bill does not specify a crop for making ethanol. The purpose was to demonstrate an alternative.

PCman999
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 12:59 am

Great, so end the ethanol requirements, if ethanol is so cheap and effective and lets see what really happens in the marketplace.

Jeremy Gaultier
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 2, 2022 9:50 pm

Is it a form of welfare? Yes, in this implementation it could be considered so. There are a few things to think about tho. E85 or 85% ethanol in the midwest is currently 2.50-3.00 per gallon while regular unleaded is 4.75-5.50. So potentially half price, for a 4-5% fuel economy loss. Here in canada the fuel companies tend to blend more ethanol than is required because it’s cheaper. The biggest reason it’s cheaper, is because the byproduct us an excellent source of high protein livestock feed. Right now the price of corn is 10 bucks a bushel where I live. The ethanol plant makes 2.7 gallons of ethanol from that and has roughly 40 lbs of ddg’s to sell as feed. That feed is worth 6$. Ethanol also has a very high octane rating which keeps fuel companies from having to add octane boosting ingredients, like toluene, mtbe, etbe, and isooctane. These tend to be very toxic and carcinogenic, as well as expensive.

Jeremy Gaultier
Reply to  Jeremy Gaultier
June 2, 2022 10:11 pm

My bad, 40lbs is our replacement ration for ddgs. Should be roughly 20lbs per bushel. So its 3$, not 6$. Even still, a gallon of gas here is just shy if 8$, so that leaves 1.7 gal for costs and profit.

ghl
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 3, 2022 5:53 pm

Kevin
It is called crony capitalism.

Steve Williams
June 1, 2022 6:38 am

Both and more. Corn ethanol requires about 75% to100% of the BTUs it contains to produce.

Reply to  Steve Williams
June 1, 2022 11:32 am

The Net Energy Balance of corn ethanol on the whole is around 2.5 units of energy created for every one unit expended … in the corn belt areas with more efficient refining and distribution the Net Energy Balance is 4 units produced for every 1 unit of energy expended.

New refining methods incorporating a small amount of waste biomass – the biomass waste from refining and the biomass form field stover/corn stalks etc – area achieving yields of 8-12 units produced for every 1 unit expended … and scientists project a net energy balance of up to 60 to 1 as this process is more fully implemented and refined.

The net energy balance of gasoline is appx 1.2 units generated for every 1 unit expended.

https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2015EnergyBalanceCornEthanol.pdf

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 12:35 pm

There are studies that refute your numbers. Production of ethanol is energy negative.

Kit P
Reply to  DrEd
June 1, 2022 5:49 pm

Would you like to provide a link.

University professors in Califonia and NY like to explain to Indiana farmers how to grow corn.

Reply to  DrEd
June 1, 2022 10:54 pm

That claim is pure on bovine excrement. Go ahead – prove it – post a single credible study that proves your claim – that ethanol production had a negative net energy balance.

Reply to  DrEd
June 2, 2022 9:50 am

And yet another of your outright false claims … that you cannot provide evidence t support.

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 3, 2022 9:39 am

Here you are, bullshitter –
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17193735/
From the abstract:
“Based on all the fossil energy inputs, a total of 1.43 kcal fossil energy is expended to produced 1 kcal ethanol.”

Vboring
June 1, 2022 6:52 am

It’s a farm subsidy, pure and simple. The Iowa caucus is influential, so politicians trip over each other to subsidize corn and wind energy – another big money maker in Iowa.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Vboring
June 1, 2022 8:06 am

Yeah, the farm lobby is very influential if you’re being impeached (pre-2020) and/or are trying to keep the Senate crazies from pushing the country over a cliff (post 2020).

Kit P
Reply to  Vboring
June 1, 2022 5:52 pm

The 2005 Energy Bill does not specify a crop.

Hans Erren
June 1, 2022 7:31 am

Coal mining in europe caused a huge reforestation boom in the 2th century. now people have started to burn trees again. Fossil fuels are good for plants.

DMacKenzie
June 1, 2022 7:47 am

Ethanol, methanol, and biodiesel are quite reasonable gasoline substitutes. This primarily means they can be stored safely in your garage attached to your house in nothing more high tech than a gerry can. They are currently more expensive than gasoline and diesel fuel because the production costs are higher. The technical challenges to use as ICE biofuels are minor compared to say hydrogen, ammonia, or other nonsense alternate fuels offered up by our rather vociferous quackademia. We now search for oil at the bottom of the ocean and the remotest parts of the planet and it is just a matter of time until the cost of some kind of biofuels are about the same as petroleum derived fuel.
Since corn is grown on farmland, the argument that it makes food more expensive is often made. This is ridiculous as farmers plant what yields monetary rewards. Planting alternative crop X is never claimed to reduce the supply of crop Y except by the anti-corn lobby. Farmers are still paid to leave land idle instead of flood markets with grain…they might as well grow something that can be used as fuel and also stabilizes the price swings of the grain market.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 1, 2022 8:35 am

Maybe, at some point they might make sense. They don’t now though.

Kit P
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 1, 2022 6:04 pm

Do you have a criteria for when they make sense?

Beer, wine, and rum do not make any sense either.

I happen to think small mandates to make a lot of sense to promote alternative ways of doing things.

That way we know when they make sense.

ex-KaliforniaKook
Reply to  Kit P
June 5, 2022 10:29 pm

When fossil fuels are too expensive to obtain. Now the primary expense is extravagant Government regulation on private and outright denial to drill public lands. When the two above are reduced, prices fall to that of 2019 and the US is energy independent.

But that was three years ago. Let’s forget all that because it’s all Putin’s fault now, not the cancellation of keystone XL and new unconscionable regulation.

MR166
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 1, 2022 8:57 am

When you show me a profitable, meaning exclusive of government subsidies, farm that uses ethanol in place of diesel fuel to power the plowing, planting and harvesting of the crop I will concede that ethanol as a fuel is a viable option.

MR166
Reply to  MR166
June 1, 2022 11:24 am

Oh yea, The fertilizer that is required cannot be manufactured using fossil.

Reply to  MR166
June 1, 2022 11:36 am

Many farms fuel equipment with biofuels …

ex-KaliforniaKook
Reply to  A. Scott
June 5, 2022 10:30 pm

Yep. Almost a dozen out of out of many thousands. My God, it’s a trend!

Reply to  MR166
June 1, 2022 10:57 pm

Many farms us biofuels … biodiesel is what most farm implements use.

you should listen to actual farmers – like Rud …

Richard Page
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 10:05 am

The biodiesel uses soybean ethanol not corn ethanol. 2 completely different products so lets not confuse the 2.

Dennis
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 6:43 pm

I know of a cooperative of vehicle owners who produce biodiesel from vegetable oil, they started using vegetable oil after it was used for frying food in cafes but discovered it was more cost effective (less time involved filtering etc) to buy in bulk and share.

ex-KaliforniaKook
Reply to  A. Scott
June 5, 2022 10:40 pm

Or come from a family of farmers like I do. My uncles made fun of me in the ’70s when I warned them of the looming Ice Age. I was a little more hesitant when it switched to Global warming, and Grandpa showed me the old articles from the 30’s that warned of that.

And they still buy diesel – not biodiesel – in IOWA! What are they thinking? Oh, yeah… the college kid will believe anything the Government tells him.

I should know better. I’m 68 years old. Actually, I do know better. Thanks to my grandpa and uncles, for whom weather is the difference between crop failure and success, I was made a sceptic.

Still… I used to believe the US Government was still basically honest. What a naïf I was.

Brad-DXT
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 1, 2022 9:00 am

Due to the monetary rewards of planting corn, marginal farmland is being used. This is accomplished with additional fertilizer. Using marginal land leads to more runoff, more soil loss, and more loss of habitat for native plants and animals.

Biofuels are a lose-lose proposition which is why it attracts politicians like flies on fecal matter.

Reply to  Brad-DXT
June 1, 2022 12:09 pm

The amount of corn used for ethanol has remained almost exactly the same for more than a decade. During that same time corn production has continued to increase.

US corn farmers have met 100% of the domestic and export demand for corn – for food, feed and fuel – and yet production continues to increase. It is not remotely tied to the demand for corn from ethanol.

And that corn used for ethanol has not prevented massive drops in corn prices over the last dozen years – during which corn used for ethanol has remained nearly identical.

Brad-DXT
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 10:20 pm

Farming is a business. They don’t grow crops just because they are bored, they want to make money. Corn price is at a historic high. That’s why farmers are using marginal land for corn farming. That means more land usage, more soil erosion, more fertilizer, and more pesticides.

If your car has oxygen sensors linked to an onboard computer there is no good reason to put ethanol in your tank. Ethanol reduces mileage and attracts water. I could see it as an option to buy it if you want it but, the ethanol mandate is not needed and is detrimental to the economy and environment.

Reply to  Brad-DXT
June 2, 2022 10:06 am

Your claim is false. Corn production in 2021 was down significantly. And, despite high prices, 2022 is worse.

All crop corn stocks in all positions on Sept. 1, 2021, came in at 1.24 billion bushels, which was down 36% from 2020’s 1.36 billion bushels figure. “

And this is despite an 0.8 bushel per acre increase in yield – meaning corn planted was off even more than 36%.

https://www.agweek.com/business/wheat-production-reduced-to-19-year-low-in-usda-reports-but-increase-in-stocks-was-a-game-changer-for-soybeans

Corn prices were at 15 year lows from 2014 to 2020 … in late 2020 they dropped even further. They did not get back to even 1980 prices until early 2021.

https://www.macrotrends.net/2532/corn-prices-historical-chart-data

And despite higher corn prices today US corn production for 2022 is predicted to be down from 2021’s lows:

U.S. corn production is projected to be 14,460 million bushels in 2022/23, a 4.3-percent decline from the 2021/22 estimate. “

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/corn-and-other-feedgrains/market-outlook/#:~:text=U.S.%20corn%20production%20is%20projected,reduced%20use%20for%20the%20year.

“Corn growers intend to plant 89.5 million acres in 2022, down 4% from last year. Acreage decreases from last year of 200,000 or more are expected in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.”

https://www.nass.usda.gov/Newsroom/2022/03-31-2022.php

Brad-DXT
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 1:36 pm

https://www.macrotrends.net/2532/corn-prices-historical-chart-data

The current price of corn as of June 01, 2022 is $7.3125 per bushel which is at its historic high. There was a decline in price from about 2014 to 2020 due to overproduction – more farmland being used including marginal land.

In 2020 and beyond there is a worker shortage so production is down. With the price increases in fertilizer and fuel, the scarcity of equipment parts, coinciding with a labor shortage, of course the farmers are going to plant less. They are a business. They are going to work with what they have and marginal land requires more work and fertilizer than prime land.
Many of the farmers by my woods are going to let fields lay fallow or plant turnips.

I would prefer the farmers to grow food, not an unneeded gasoline additive.

Jeremy Gaultier
Reply to  Brad-DXT
June 2, 2022 10:22 pm

If you dont know what you are talking about, you probably shouldn’t talk. I’ll just leave it at that.

Brad-DXT
Reply to  Jeremy Gaultier
June 3, 2022 9:03 am

You have to leave it at that because you have nothing substantive to contribute.
I see we have a new troll joining the ranks. Or is that you Griff?

MarkW
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 1, 2022 9:24 am

That increased demand for corn has caused the price of corn and other grains to increase has been documented.
Do you really believe that taking 1/3rd of the corn crop to make fuel has no impact on grain prices?
It really is nice how you dismiss all of the arguments being made by just declaring those who disagree with you, anti-corn.

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 12:11 pm

Yes we do … and the facts and data clearly show that. If corn used for ethanol was driving prices up – then please explain, considering the amount if corn used for ethanol has remained unchanged for over a decade, how corn prices have bounced from highs of $8 to near $3 during that seem period.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:37 pm

Are you actually trying to pretend that ethanol is the only thing that impacts corn prices?

Other grains have gone up and down over the same time period, and they were never used for ethanol.

Richard Page
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 2:13 pm

Except that ethanol production in the USA has been steadily increasing, year on year, since 2007.

Reply to  Richard Page
June 1, 2022 11:00 pm

Really? Prove it.

the facts are corn used for ethanol has remained flat for over a decade – even as corn production increased.

No more corn is used for ethanol than a decade ago … any increase in ethanol production is directly from increases in net energy yield they improved processes

Richard Page
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 10:26 am

If you look back over the last few years USDA grain crushing reports you’ll actually notice a steady rise in corn used for ethanol production. It’s a complicated issue because both domestic and export ethanol fluctuates from year to year and both come from the same source, although biodiesel has to be factored in as well and that uses soybeans rather than corn. However, more corn has been used for ethanol in 2021 than was used in 2020 and this shows a steady increase since 2007 which, if you take a look at wiki pages of global ethanol production, has a handy multicoloured graph that lays it out in an easy to read fashion that I’m sure you will enjoy looking at.
Apologies for not providing links – firstly I’m on my phone and cba to fiddle around getting them, secondly no-ones paying me for your childcare so I’ll not be spoonfeeding you – if you want the information then I’ll credit you with the same skills I have and assume you can also find this stuff out.

Reply to  Richard Page
June 2, 2022 10:10 am

Corn used for ethanol … FLAT for more than a decade … any increase in ethanol production is a result of improvements in net energy balance…

https://afdc.energy.gov/data/10339

us-corn-production-and-p.png
DMacKenzie
Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 10:09 pm

Yes, I seem to have hit a raw nerve with the anti-corn-ers. 🙂

mal
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 1, 2022 9:35 am

Excuse me this year we will have a wheat shortage the good old USA was once the largest wheat producer in the world. the county where I grew up use to raise wheat lots of it now it corn. First short growing season varieties of corn make that possible but more importance ethanol make it profitable. For the consumer it lose, lose.

Reply to  mal
June 1, 2022 12:22 pm

It is not corn causing fluctuations in wheat crop. Wheat rust, cooler temps etc have had impact on wheat production.

Last year soybean production was up which was a contributor.

The corn crop was DOWN significantly … kinda hard to be the cause of the decline in wheat ….

“… corn stocks in all positions on Sept. 1, 2021, came in at 1.24 billion bushels, which was down 36% from 2020’s 1.36 billion bushels figure.”

https://www.agweek.com/business/wheat-production-reduced-to-19-year-low-in-usda-reports-but-increase-in-stocks-was-a-game-changer-for-soybeans

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:38 pm

You really are desperate to completely ignore the real world.
When land is converted from wheat production to corn production, it will most definitely impact the price of wheat.

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 11:02 pm

I posted direct links that clearly show cropland used for wheat did NOT get used for addtl corn.

Your claim is demonstrably false.

Feel free to click on the link and read the USDA data ….

roaddog
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 12:47 am

Scott, so your claim is that, in the face of anticipated food shortages, land used to grow corn would not be converted to wheat production. Have I got it right?

Reply to  roaddog
June 2, 2022 10:15 am

No … I simply report the DATA… that CONFIRMS that land converted from wheat production did NOT go to produce more corn.

Whet production was down in 2021. Corn production was down 36% in 2021. Land taken out of wheat production was was not shifted to corn as claimed (it largely went to soy beans)

https://www.agweek.com/business/wheat-production-reduced-to-19-year-low-in-usda-reports-but-increase-in-stocks-was-a-game-changer-for-soybeans

Ian Johnson
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 5:08 pm

Cooler temps? What happened to global warming?

Reply to  Ian Johnson
June 1, 2022 11:03 pm

We all know CATASTROPHIC ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING is a crock of crap

Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 1, 2022 11:35 am

Ethanol is NOT more expensive. It is cheaper than gasoline.

It currently remains cheaper than gasoline in cost per mile driven as well – even after considering lower fuel economy.

In some areas and from some retailers the costs of ethanol blends are dramatically inflated at the retail level, but in areas of higher adoption it is almost always lower cost and lower cost per mile.

DrEd
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 12:41 pm

A bunch of crap. Account for all government subsidies and penalties, and show me the numbers.

Reply to  DrEd
June 1, 2022 11:06 pm

I’ll reply yet again. You provide the list of ethanol production subsidies you claim exist.

ive already repeated stated the VETC subsidy was eliminated a decade ago.

Either you can prove your claim or you cannot.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:39 pm

It is only “cheaper” because of the subsidies for ethanol and the various taxes and penalties on fossil fuels.

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 11:07 pm

One more time … please prove exactly what ethanol subsidies you claim exist. With documented references.

philo
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 3:13 pm

some areas with poorer distribution cause higher prices.
Both oil distribution and gasoline distribution change the costs of E5, 10 or whatever.

Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 10:16 am

Crickets yet again from DrEd and MarkW when asked to provide a shred of evidence for their claims.

Imagine that.

Ron Long
June 1, 2022 8:04 am

“Expect the…unexpected” is interesting advice. I wish I could have used this in some of the classes I took. Corn is for eating, both by humans and animals. There are now increasing reports that President Biden is going to shake up the White House staff because they keep (correcting) saying things different than what he said. Closer and closer to the 25th Amendment?

June 1, 2022 8:10 am

Brazil is not oil independent but can produce 2 crops of sugar cane per year and sugar/alcohol outpit can be accoding to demand…alcohol does not get as much mileage as gasoline but alcohol has more octane and can be boosted easier with superchargers. Sugar cane will produce more alcohol per acre than corn but the Iowa sugar cane producers apparently have little political juice since there are none.

Reply to  Anti-griff
June 1, 2022 11:42 am

Cellulosic processes will yield higher net energy balance, but sugar cane does not grow in Iowa.

Cellulosic biomass has not been widely adopted r successful in the US … but the processes for ethanol production from corn have been repeatedly refined to significantly improve the net energy balance.

The nominal incorporation of waste biomass (kernel biomass and field stover etc) has increased net energy yields from 2.3 to 4 to 1 … to 8-12 to 1 … with projected net energy balances as high as 60 units of energy produced for every one unit of energy expended as biomass is more completely incorporated into production.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Anti-griff
June 1, 2022 1:15 pm

Here’s a rhetorical question for the crowd – if Brazilian ethanol could be imported w/o tariffs, would blending it into US gasoline satisfy RFS requirements? I would opine that if the answer was ‘no’, the entire RFS should be considered a complete boondoggle.

Richard Page
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 1, 2022 2:30 pm

I have more questions. Braxil exports 34% of it’s ethanol production to the USA, even with a tarriff on it, does it all go into US fuel? Also why is there a 57c per gallon tarriff on Brazilian ethanol? Is this the only way it can be competitive against US subsidised ethanol?

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Richard Page
June 1, 2022 3:20 pm

Good questions! Seems kind of odd that our betters would mandate a RFS to increase available fuel supplies at the same time they put tariffs in place to protect domestic EtOH producers.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 2, 2022 10:19 am

That is exactly what tariffs are for. To prevent foreign imports – which in many cases are priced for political purposes – subsidized by governing entities – from undercutting US production.

Richard Page
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 3:46 pm

But it isn’t doing it’s job, is it? Brazil is the second biggest ethanol producer in the world – 34% of its total production gets exported to the USA, 33% gets exported to the EU and the majority of what remains is used domestically. If what you say is true then there would be zero imports of Brazilian ethanol and (presumably) production in Brazil would have either dropped or they would have found another international buyer. Now Brazilian ethanol costs marginally more to produce than US ethanol, ie its a little bit more expensive than the home grown variety, so why is it still being imported into the USA in large quantities? I think the reasons are far more complicated than we have (so far) mentioned but you are probably entirely on the wrong track with what you have said. One hint – corn is a very cheap product with little chance for profit, 10% or 15% biofuel is a far more expensive product, with far more options for profits; if prices fluctuate then Brazilian ethanol may be needed to increase supply rather than US corn ethanol earmarked for other products and so the market stabilises at the point we have at the moment.

Walter Sobchak
June 1, 2022 8:23 am

In 1804, Napoleon kidnapped Louis Antoine de Bourbon, duc d’Enghien, from Germany, and executed him on trumped up charges of treason. The acts outraged people all over Europe and led to wars that eventually destroyed the Napoleonic Empire.

A member of Napoleon’s regime memorably summed it up by saying: “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute” (It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.)

Walter Sobchak
June 1, 2022 8:26 am

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
June 1, 2022 8:28 am

Porque No Los Dos?

Peta of Newark
June 1, 2022 8:30 am

It’s causing soil erosion, also Glyphosate poisoning – on either count is beyond unforgivable.
period.

mal
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 1, 2022 9:38 am

“also Glyphosate poisoning” does not poison anyone, keep drink the kool-aid and end up poor and hungry.  

Jake Stein
Reply to  mal
June 1, 2022 2:28 pm

What’s your proof of no harm? The corn used for the ethanol is grown with Glyphosate, which is then aerosolized by cars.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Jake Stein
June 1, 2022 3:23 pm

Jake you obviously know very little about corn, glyphosate, and farming. Glyphosate is a weed killer applied before and then early in corn growth. Not needed after corn is knee high (corn leaves shield the ground from sunlight so no serious weeds can sprout/grow thereafter. It degrades environmentally in weeks. So by the time corn is harvested 2-3 months later there is NO glyphosate residue to be ‘aerosolized by cars’ using E10 gas.

Please do research before displaying abject ignorance here where people like me actually farm intelligently.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 3:44 pm

‘…there is NO glyphosate residue to be ‘aerosolized by cars’ using E10 gas.’

Not to mention the distillation process to convert corn to ethanol and the combustion process to convert ethanol to heat…

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Jake Stein
June 1, 2022 3:33 pm

‘What’s your proof of no harm?’

I think the burden of proving harm is on those who want to ban its use. Ditto for the climate alarmists and their jihad against fossil fuels / CO2.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 1, 2022 3:19 pm

PETA, on my farm we use glyphosate to suppress weeds so we can do no till planting to REdUCE erosion. And there is no glyphosate poisoning despite a few random jury awards. Thousands of animal and human studies rebutingbthe junk science that occasionally produces a random bleeding heart lymphoma award.

griff
June 1, 2022 8:38 am

This is purely a pork barrel boondoggle… kept up as a bribe to US farming interests. not part of any green or renewable initiative

Reply to  griff
June 1, 2022 11:44 am

Really? Please share where the 10%of transportation fuels currently being supplied by ethanol are going to come from without ethanol?

Oh – and the subsidies for ethanol production ended long ago.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:45 pm

Is there anything you know, that is actually true?
As to where is the production going to come from, from oil refineries obviously.
Out here in the real world, owners adjust the capacity of their production facilities in order to adjust to changes in demand.

Reply to  MarkW
June 1, 2022 11:11 pm

Clueless. I suggest you check US refinery utilization data – you have zero idea what you are talking about.

PCman999
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 1:21 am

The current gasoline supply problems are temporary (Biden dependent mostly).

If the ethanol mandates were removed and the refiners chose to add ethanol of their own free will to pad the amount of fuel available, that would be ok.

In fact, if ethanol is so great, why is there a mandate? Surely the gas stations would try to stick in too much ethanol, since it’s so cheap you say, to increase profits, and yet they don’t.

Reply to  PCman999
June 2, 2022 10:32 am

US refineries are above sustainable capacity …

US Utilization of Refinery Capacity is at 93.20%, compared to 91.80% last week and 86.30% last year. This is higher than the long term average of 89.58%.”

Normal refinery max capacity is around 91% after taking ot required maintenance, repairs, upgrades etc.

At above 91% US refineries are not timely completing required service and improvements.

https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_operable_crude_oil_distillation_capacity

There is almost no “idle” operating capacity in the entire US …

https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pnp_unc_a_EPXXX2_YIY_mbblpd_m.htm

https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pnp_unc_dcu_nus_m.htm

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 1:40 pm

‘At above 91% US refineries are not timely completing required service and improvements.’

Which might be problematic later this year. Considering also that we’re entering into hurricane season, I wouldn’t want to be short refined products.

AndyHce
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 2:16 pm

a government mandate to buy (or else!) is a big subsidy.

PCman999
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 1:15 am

Is the ethanol taxed the same as gasoline in the E10 blend?

Isn’t forcing gasoline refiners to put ethanol into gasoline a subsidy? A captive market, no?

Economics 101.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  griff
June 1, 2022 1:06 pm

The switch to biofuel was driven by the G W Bush administration as their flagship renewable initiative.

PCman999
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
June 2, 2022 1:22 am

Really? Ethanol was forced into gasoline for years before W.

AndyHce
Reply to  griff
June 1, 2022 2:15 pm

kinda like wind turbines?

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  AndyHce
June 1, 2022 7:25 pm

Also kinda like running a UK power plant on wood pellets shipped in from the US?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  griff
June 2, 2022 6:13 pm

Ignoring, conveniently, the government mandates and subsidies justified (not) by the climate bullshit.

Duane
June 1, 2022 8:50 am

Ethanol is not really a “green” thing as much as it is a corrupt government program that cannot be killed because of regional pork barrel politics (primarily Iowa and a few other major corn-producing states mostly in the midwest). Just the same as sugar price supports that make sugar far more expensive to consumers in the US than elsewhere in the world is driven by the same pork barrel politics and bought off politicians, from Florida and entrenched Cuban sugar growers in the Everglades. Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, green, or ungreen, it’s all the same.

mal
Reply to  Duane
June 1, 2022 9:39 am

Don’t forget the sugar beet farmers in that protection racket.

DrEd
Reply to  mal
June 1, 2022 12:46 pm

And peanut farmers!

Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 9:01 am

Parts of this post are simply not true, altho anything higher than the E10 blendwall is agreed a boondoggle.

Ethanol was substituted for the previous groundwater polluting MBTE as an octane enhancer, enabling more gas per crude barrel. It has the added benefit of being an oxygenate, reducing smog. The original E10 blendwall was set by LA in summer. The actual E amount varies by region and season, which is why the pumps say ‘up to E10’.

The E10 impact on food price and supply is minimal. About 42% of US corn (‘dry’ weight at 7% moisture) goes to ethanol production. But it returns 27% distillers grain, a yeast protein enhanced roughage that is an ideal ruminant feed supplement. On my Wisconsin dairy farm, we sell all the corn for ethanol, then buy back distillers grain. That lets us plant and feed less alfalfa ( main dairy feed). Which means we can plant more corn, and lower our net feed cost while improving the cows diet to produce more milk. At any time we are milking about 150 head twice a day, and run about 350 cows in total. For Wisconsin, that is about the upper quartile dairy scale.

The small engine solution both for the Wisconsin farm and for our mountain cabin in Georgia is a single isolated gas pump dispensing pure regular which is what small engines use. There are gas stations within 10 miles in both places that have one. Also, most marinas can dispense pure regular.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 9:26 am

Your dairy farm?

You are a busy guy. I thought yo lived in Miami.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
June 1, 2022 3:46 pm

Walter, I live full time now in Fort Lauderdale. Commute back to my golf course townhome in Chicago burbs, then trek to the farm, as often as possible—3 hours plane then 3.5 hours each way to farm in an AWD vehicle. Worth the time for stuff that is hard to do in South Florida.

Moved from Munich to Chicago in 1983, got permission from the then owner to hunt the farm that fall (grouse, 8 point Buck), then bought it outright in 1985. The cows pay the bills (I rent to the neighbor who owns the big milking parlor—we run it as a net combined ~600 acre operation of which about 200 is steep woodlots, 150 is sloped pasture, and the rest is contoured row crops).
The hunting and fishing is excellent. Ruffed grouse, wild turkey, white tail deer. The Wisconsin river is just three miles away with walleye plus fall Mississippi flyway ducks and geese in the adjacent slough. And the upper reaches of Otter Creek are 5 miles away with class 4 trout fishing—mostly big browns. Plus morel mushrooms by the sack full in mid May. Chicago restaurants pay $80/# fresh. Farm life is good, and my kids grew up knowing where food really comes from.

Phineas
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 9:27 am

Actual information from experience. Thanks.

MarkW
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 9:28 am

The “need” for oxygenating agents ended decades ago.

If the economics are so good, why not eliminate the mandates?

Reply to  MarkW
June 2, 2022 10:52 am

Really?

Perhaps you should read the law.

40 CFR § 80.83 – covers some of the oxygenate requirements.
“The reformulated gasoline and reformulated gasoline produced using RBOB (Reformulated Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending) that is produced by any refiner at each refinery, or is imported by any importer, shall contain a volume of renewable oxygenate such that the reformulated gasoline and reformulated gasoline produced using RBOB, on average, has an oxygen content from such renewable oxygenate that is equal to or greater than 0.30 wt% for the period of December 1, 1994 through December 31, 1995, and 0.60 wt% beginning on January 1, 1996. “

mal
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 9:49 am

Pure regular gasoline in my 2016 Colorado increases my milage over 10%. Eliminating pollution is that what catalytic convert to do? Do we not have good enough computer and sensor in modern vehicles to do that?

Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 12:26 pm

Stop it Rud. What do you think you’re doing talking real, first hand experience and hard data.

/sarc

#PeskyFacts

Rud Istvan
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 5:08 pm

Trying to educate WUWT readers that do not have the luxury of a dairy farm paradise.

roaddog
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 2, 2022 10:29 am

There’s an oxymoron.

PCman999
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 2, 2022 1:26 am

If it’s so good then it doesn’t need to be forced and mandated, right?

Giordano Milton
June 1, 2022 9:02 am

Both. Lose top soul, destroy food, consume energy and fertilizer, all to do what could be done better by deploying more drilling rigs and building more refineries.

IanE
Reply to  Giordano Milton
June 1, 2022 10:45 am

Hmm, ‘lose top soul’? I’m not sure the greenies have any soul to lose!

john Reistroffer
June 1, 2022 9:14 am

It’s not good to burn food, ’cause people go hungry. Who woulda’ thunk?

John the Econ
June 1, 2022 9:17 am

Picture an America in some parallel universe: The oil industry announces that it is mixing 10% or more of Ethanol into the gasoline supply. Immediately, America’s already most hated industry is attacked from all quarters for attempting to literally water down American’s fuel to rip off consumers. Ralph Nader would be filing class action lawsuits on behalf of all consumers for the losses related to reduced fuel economy and damage to internal combustion engines, and Al Gore would go on a rampage about the increased net carbon footprint and other environmental damage because of the resource intensive nature of producing Ethanol. There’d be food riots in the 3rd world, because of the diversion of food crops to produce Ethanol, and vast amounts of rain forest would be cut down for crop land needed to make up the difference.

Oh wait. The last part actually has happened in our universe too.

At least the America in that universe retains some degree of sanity. Ours clearly does not. Ethanol is a complete scam. The government bought into it after the phony energy crisis of the ’70s believing that it could replace oil from the Middle East. Agribusiness bought into it for obvious reasons. The environmental movement bought in because they thought it would be a low-carbon alternative, even though it literally takes a gallon of oil-based products (gasoline, diesel, and fertilizer) to produce a gallon of Ethanol, which actually has lower heat content than the fuel it’s replacing. Getting lower mileage these days? That’s probably why. Never mind the damage that may be happening to your engines.

Ethanol subsidies are a perfect example of the destructive feedback loops that are created when the government starts subsidizing. Producers receiving the subsidy get comfortable, then dependent on the subsidy. A percentage of the subsidy is then fed back to the politicians to keep the subsidy in place or to expand it. The last thing any of these people want is for the subsidy to ever end. Meanwhile, alternatives that are more viable and would not require subsidies never get a chance because they can’t compete with the subsidized product, so they never happen.

Even Al Gore himself now admits that supporting Ethanol was a mistake, and that he did so only because he had to buy much needed votes from the farm states.

I have every expectation that in 100 years when all transport is fueled by something other than carbon-based energy, that we’ll still be subsidizing Ethanol, just like the city of Detroit still subsidizes a horseshoe changer.

Reply to  John the Econ
June 1, 2022 12:42 pm

Please explain what ethanol subsidies you are talking about. Production subsidies for ethanol in the US were ended a decade ago.

And the rest of your claims are equally ridiculous – especially the silly “takes 1 gal of oil to make 1 gal of ethanol…”

Laughable.

Net energy yield on corn ethanol is currently 2.3to 4 units of energy produced for every 1 unit expended. We are increasingly incorporating waste biomass (corn waste from ethanol production and field stover) into the refining process.

With small inputs of waste biomass the net energy balance is in the 8 to 12 units of energy produced for every 1 unit expended … and scientists predict up to 60 units of energy produced for every 1 unit of energy expended as we incorporate more waste biomass.in the process.

Ethanol does have lower energy content than gasoline, but it also costs less. As I’ve noted above I get appx 15% lower fuel economy in my 2003 tahe on E85 … but I currently pas 26% less for E85 ($3.09) vs E10 ($4.19) … my cost per mile is nearly 13% lower, even after the loss of economy, using E85 …

John the Econ
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 3:34 pm

There is an entire credit scheme that refiners have to pay if they do not mix enough ethanol into their end products. The federal government mandates that people purchase a product that most people never asked for and do not want, and have to pay a premium to get a version of their product without ethanol. That in itself is a subsidy.

Reply to  John the Econ
June 2, 2022 10:55 am

No it is not.

The price of non-oxygenated gasoline is higher becasue it costs more. Period.

Ethanol costs less, and lowers the overall price of gasoline blended with it.

Buckeyebob
June 1, 2022 9:39 am

Woo Hoo! This article prompted me to look for 93 Octane Ethanol free fuel near me and I found a station to feed my SL550.

mkelly
Reply to  Buckeyebob
June 1, 2022 1:00 pm

I run my motorcycle on high test.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Buckeyebob
June 1, 2022 4:59 pm

My antique beloved Honda CX500 (MY 1978, serial number 598) now in north Georgia for the famous twisty windy GA 60 ride from Blue Ridge to Dahlonega for lunch, only ‘eats’ pure regular, just like our several small engines there. The engine was designed before E10. No carb rebuilds in now far too many years. Just use the drain screw to empty the float bowl when putting up for winter to prevent vanish build up. That is why it is there.

n.n
June 1, 2022 10:00 am

50 shades of a politically congruent (“=”) matrimony between special and peculiar interests, industry and environmentalists.

June 1, 2022 10:25 am

Just about every one of these old recycled attacks on ethanol are false. Ethanol production from corn does not increase food prices in any appreciable way.

This same exact press release is disseminated several times a year. With the same false claims.

The share of the corn crop used for ethanol has remained largely the same for the last decade plus. During that time corn prices have varied dramatically – $3.21 in July 2007 to $7.23 in June 2008 and back down to $3.06 in Aug 2009. From 2011 thru mid 2013 prices remained between $6 and $8, before crashing to $3.23 by Aug 2014.

From late 2014 thru Feb 2020 prices remained stable, averaging appx $3.75, before dropping with COVID to near $3 in Aug 2020 – then skyrocketing to near $8 recently.

During this time corn production has continued to increase, while the amount of corn used for ethanol has remained essentially unchanged since 2010. If corn used for ethanol was affecting food prices, the major declines in corn prices would have contributed to similar declines in food prices. And if the amount if corn used for ethanol was diverting supply of corn from food to ethanol it would be causing corn price increases. None of which have occurred.

https://www.macrotrends.net/2532/corn-prices-historical-chart-data

https://afdc.energy.gov/data/10339

The truth is the US is the world corn supplier, and has been for a century or more.

US corn farmers provide 100% of the domestic and export food demand, make a major contribution to feed needs (including reduced price and higher nutritional value distillers dried grains), produce appx 10% of the US transportation fuel demand and still contribute significantly to the US corn reserves virtually every year.

Numerous studies from reputable sources (as opposed to often fossil fuel industry related studies) have repeatedly shown ethanol – on a NET basis (and not just cherry picking tiny segments) – is significantly cleaner than fossil fuels.

Ethanol reduces overall transportation fuel prices – by a significant amount.

Claims that ethanol has lower efficiency and cost more per mile are literally outright lies …

“In addition, ethanol is less efficient than gasoline, reducing gas mileage and so it costs consumers more than conventional gasoline on a per mile basis.”

Ethanol does have lower energy value than gasoline … but is also significantly cheaper (excepting those retailers that rip off customers). Also – we don’t compare E100 to Straight gas – in the real world it is E85 to E10 – a much lower spread.

I’ve used E85 appx 65% of the time over 170,000 miles in a 2003 Tahoe 5.3 V8 … when comparing straight E10 with straight E85 I get appx 16% lower fuel economy real world. I currently pay $3.09 for E85 vs $4.29 for E10 … a 26% savings.

At appx 14mpg on E10 100 miles takes appx 7.14 gals – at $4.19 the cost is $29.92 – or $0.30 cents per mile … at 11.8mpg on E85 the same 100 miles takes 8.47gals – at $3.09 the cost is $26.19 or $0.26 cents per mile.

Using E85 for me is currently 12.5% cheaper per mile than regular gas.

Ethanol is even more important in times like today – with soaring energy costs … take away 10% of the transportation fuels supplied by ethanol and prices will skyrocket even further.

These regurgitated claims are not supported by the facts or data. They are driven by greed – by the fossil fuel industry – whose profits it impacts.

And for the record I am as conservative as they come – and strongly support the use of fossil fuels.

IanE
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 10:43 am

Well, you seem to have been well and truly conned: see my practical observations above.

MarkW
Reply to  IanE
June 1, 2022 1:48 pm

Some people feel guilty about living off of stolen money. So they go through a tremendous amount of mental gymnastics in order to convince themselves that the subsidies they enjoy, don’t really exist.

Janice Moore
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 10:52 am

Your internally inconsistent comment refutes your own assertion, A. Scott. You call those criticizing ethanol’s efficiency liars. Then, you admit: “Ethanol does have lower energy value than gasoline … .”

As for: … is also significantly cheaper … you seem to have missed the whole point of the article. Key: Why is ethanol cheaper?”

You are “conservative” and “strongly support use of fossil fuels” and, I suspect, you (or someone close to you) also benefit from the market-share-by-fiat ethanol boondoggle.

Reply to  Janice Moore
June 1, 2022 12:47 pm

Bullpoop. The only way I benefit is from LOWER fuel costs.

Ethanol’s lower fuel economy is offset by lower price. Ethanol is cheaper becasue it costs less to produce – and that price continues to drop as net energy yields are increasing.

The lower cost of ethanol drives down overall transportation fuel prices at the pump. And the 10% of transportation fuels share supplied by ethanol further reduces price pressure – especially in the current environment.

Every single person who drives a gasoline powered vehicle enjoys lower costs as a direct result of ethanol and its share of the US transportation fuel market.

There are no ethanol production subsidies any longer – and have not been for a decade or more.

Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:03 pm

Its always funny how people that don’t post a thread of factual documentation and support for their wild claims – denigrate and attack posts with documented and sourced references and data …

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:11 pm

The shift to biofuels by the Bush administration drove the corn price up on the world markets, which in its turn spilled over to other staple foods. The result was food riots of the ‘Arab Spring’ and the mess that it caused, including the Syrian civil war and the European refugee crisis.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
June 1, 2022 3:55 pm

The ‘food’ riots of Arab spring were caused by wheat, not corn. And most of the rioting was not about food.

MarkW
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 1, 2022 6:36 pm

Wheat prices were also going up due to many acres being converted from wheat production to corn.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
June 2, 2022 10:58 am

The claim the shift to biofuels caused the corn price increase in 2007-08 is false, as has been repeatedly proven.

Corn prices rose alongside almost every commodity during that period – due to speculation … not ethanol

Corn+Others_HistPrice.jpg
Kevin kilty
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 3:27 pm

Mr. Scott,

You say…

Claims that ethanol has lower efficiency and cost more per mile are literally outright lies …

“In addition, ethanol is less efficient than gasoline, reducing gas mileage and so it costs consumers more than conventional gasoline on a per mile basis.”

Ethanol does have lower energy value than gasoline … but is also significantly cheaper (excepting those retailers that rip off customers). Also – we don’t compare E100 to Straight gas – in the real world it is E85 to E10 – a much lower spread.

So it seems your statement that these claims are lies is only a half-truth. Ethanol does have less energy per unit of volume and thus produces less mileage — I have observed so myself whenever I have been able to fill with non-ethanol regular fuel.

Farmers are driven by greed to exactly the same extent as refiners or any other group. Your name calling is untoward and illuminating as to your mindset. The macrotrends chart shows the base price of corn appeared to jump by 1.5 or 2 times in the late 2000s, and the more or less doubling of ethanol for fuel over this time period is a likely contributor.

What does cleaner mean? As ethanol burns to CO2 and water vapor, the climate change gang aren’t going to see it any differently.

Finally what are the actual inputs to fuel mproduction from corn?

PCman999
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 1:39 am

Please take a course on economics. Forcing refiners to buy ethanol made from crops creates artificial demand which obviously increases the cost compared to the non-government interference senario.

If the ethanol really does a good job at reducing pollution in using gasoline or whatever, that’s fine, but don’t try and say that it has no effect on food prices.

Imagine that, say, that refiners only bought half as much ethanol, so needed half as much food stocks.

What happens to food prices when on loses 1/3 of your customers?

And it doesn’t matter that the byproduct make a great feedstock – unless you’re saying you get it really cheap, the ethanol producers are throwing it away, so subsidizing your dairy farm? I don’t think so.

It’s great that ethanol production has gotten so efficient and that they’re making use of waste, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be mandatory.

markl
June 1, 2022 10:29 am

What’s more important …. a questionable virtue signal or feeding people? I say ethanol will be discontinued in the USA when that question needs answering.

Reply to  markl
June 1, 2022 12:49 pm

There is ZERO impact on “feeding people” from corn used for ethanol. The US has met 100% of the domestic and export (foreign) demand for food, feed and fuel – for more than a century – and ethanol has had no impact on that – and yet still contributes to the US corn reserves virtually every year.

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 6:38 pm

So converting millions of acres of corn from food to fuel had absolutely no impact on prices? If 100% of demand was being met, corn and wheat prices wouldn’t have gone up.

Reply to  MarkW
June 2, 2022 10:59 am

I suggest you review the USDA “World of Corn” and similar data. It clearly shows your claims are false.

roaddog
Reply to  A. Scott
June 2, 2022 10:28 am

And of course nothing has changed on the world stage, has it?

ResourceGuy
June 1, 2022 10:37 am

The Clintons liked it and expanded it so it was a crime from those criminals.

IanE
June 1, 2022 10:42 am

Well, in the UK, our base petrol was recently changed from E5 to E10. I switched for a month and found that my mileage per gallon actually fell by 10%! E5 is 5% cheaper but that is only half my loss of mileage, so, as E5 is still widely available (and necessary for older cars), I have gone back to E5.

What is so extraordinary is that adding 5% ethanol reduced my mileage by 10%. The ethanol must thus have been doing worse than nothing; it must have been significantly reducing the burn efficiency. I don’t know if my car (a 4-year-old Fiat Panda) is typical in this, but, if so, the ethanol will be significantly increasing CO2 production (or perhaps kicking out unburnt fuel?). I’m a fan of CO2 but still this looks like a complete disaster to me for the greenies!

Reply to  IanE
June 1, 2022 12:55 pm

There is almost zero difference between E5 and E10 when it comes to energy content – or fuel economy. This was proven a decade or more ago … and vehicles have only improved since then.

I get 16% lower fuel economy using e85 vs E10 – sorry, but there is no way your fuel economy decrease 10% between E5 and E10 …

StephenP
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 2:20 pm

An interesting article covering E5 and E10 from the Daily Telegraph gives some data from the UK Automobile Association comparing the performance of cars using E5 and E10 gasoline.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/advice/e10-vs-e5-petrol-fuel-cost-calculator-jubilee-weekend-2022/

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  StephenP
June 1, 2022 4:44 pm

“When What Car? magazine conducted a series of tests of E10 bioethanol fuel against pure petrol, it found a reduction in fuel economy ranging from six to 11.5 per cent, with larger-engined cars suffering the least.”

Matches my experience …

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
June 1, 2022 11:18 pm

E0 compared to E10 is not E5 compared to E10

Reply to  StephenP
June 2, 2022 11:03 am

This article is simply ignorant … its headline is about E5 vs E10 ,,, but their testing compared E) (straight gas) vs E10 … not remotely the same.

It also makes zero effort to compare prices between E0, E5 and E10 …

Mike Maguire
June 1, 2022 10:51 am

I know over a dozen farmers, including the ones that post on my trading forum. Every one of them is a cheerleader for ethanol. Of course they are!
The price of corn is a at least $1 higher right now, just from the corn ethanol demand the past decade+.
Corn acres compete with soybeans, and wheat and cotton in some places…….so the price of all those crops has been permanently shifted higher because of corn grown for ethanol.

This article nails some relevant points as well as other great comments.

Almost always, when somebody touts the benefits of ethanol, they are personally benefiting/making more money because of it.
Almost always,when somebody is NOT personally benefiting/making more money on ethanol, they are opposed to strongly opposed to it.

   E15 gas this Summer      
                   
https://www.marketforum.com/forum/topic/83265/

TheLastDemocrat
Reply to  Mike Maguire
June 1, 2022 12:57 pm

Maguire: good point.

The article says “iron law of supply and demand dictates” that ethanol production “would almost unavoidably increase global food prices” and exacerbate poverty.

This would be true if the situation were just a supply and demand issue. But there is the Government Subsidy aspect. When you build in a guaranteed “return,” you distort a market. You build a certain degree of “demand” to be reliable and relatively inflexible.

This built in demand inspires supply.

This raises prices of the commodity subsidized. It does not matter that the price of a bushel of corn goes up and down across time. It does, but that overall level, or altitude, is elevated to some degree.

This is what has happened with “student loans.” We subsidized them. So, cost of college has risen greatly.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
June 1, 2022 1:01 pm

The price of corn has ZERO to do with ethanol demand. And claiming its $1 higher than a decade ago is not only inaccurate it is meaninless – … tell us, if the current corn price increase is “just from the corn ethanol demand the past decade+” then how did corn prices spend a majority of the last decade at around $3.75 – when the corn for ethanol demand has been nearly identical the entire last decade?

These claims are outright false – wholly unsupported by the facts… and downright silly.

https://www.macrotrends.net/2532/corn-prices-historical-chart-data

MarkW
Reply to  A. Scott
June 1, 2022 1:50 pm

Unless farmers are giving the corn to the ethanol producers free of charge, then the cost of corn will most definitely impact the demand for ethanol.

Reply to  MarkW
June 2, 2022 11:05 am

Wrong again. The cost of corn affects the PRICE of ethanol. Price can affect demand – but ethanol is cheaper, even after cnsidering reduced fuel economy, than gasoline. The cost per mile for ethanol is lower than gasolines in the areas where retailers are not ripping off custoers on ethanol.

Ben Vorlich
June 1, 2022 11:14 am

The Europeans have gone one step further, and are producing Biomethane using specially grown maize and perhaps another cereal. Large areas are now producing crops for gasification rather than food crops and animals. France has nearly 350 plants producing Biomethane. I’ve no idea how many will be required to replace Russian gas.

There is a website here
You can download a PDF file with the gory details
https://www.europeanbiogas.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/GIE_EBA_BIO_2021_A0_FULL_3D_253_online.pdf

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 1, 2022 5:11 pm

Answer: not ever enough to replace Russian methane from fossil fuels.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 3, 2022 5:32 am

Next Europe may find itself dependent on Ukraine for cereal crops…

TBeholder
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 8, 2022 11:02 am

Methane is a great idea, but the clowns managed to turn it from a solution into a problem.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4078820/The-great-green-guzzler-Monster-digesters-meant-guzzle-waste-churn-eco-friendly-energy-fed-CROPS-produce-pitiful-levels-power-cost-216m-subsidies-HARM-environment.html
So, presumably what farmers would want is: a scalable solution (i.e. an extensible array of modest-sized modules, which would also be less of a trouble if anything goes wrong) that just eats however much waste they have and produces some energy. What they got instead is: a system that is too big, needs to be fed crops, and then explodes with toxic sludge all over the lands around.
And when the real demand is clearly not what determines the supply, the obvious answer is “government”.

Dennis G. Sandberg
June 1, 2022 11:46 am

The article, and the comments, fail to mention to biggest problem with ethanol. It consumes more energy than it yields as transportation fuel. Ethanol supporters respond by claiming that the fermentation byproduct cattle feed makes ethanol production net positive. Bull feathers. Using a carbohydrate to produce a hydrocarbon replacement is akin to using electricity to produce natural gas. Totally backward.

Dennis G. Sandberg
Reply to  Dennis G. Sandberg
June 1, 2022 11:48 am

Patzek published a fifty-page study on the subject in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Science. This time, he factored in the myriad energy inputs required by industrial agriculture, from the amount of fuel used to produce fertilizers and corn seeds to the transportation and wastewater disposal costs. All told, he believes that the cumulative energy consumed in corn farming and ethanol production is six times greater than what the end product provides your car engine in terms of power.

Reply to  Dennis G. Sandberg
June 1, 2022 11:21 pm

LMAO … Patzek was a look in bed with the oil industry. His (now very old) work has been fully and completely discredited.

Reply to  Dennis G. Sandberg
June 2, 2022 11:46 am

Patzeks study was from 2005. He is directly connected to the oil industry.

” insight into Patzek’s bias against ethanol can be found on his own Web site: http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/patzek/index.htm. Patzek spent nearly a decade working for Shell Oil Company as a researcher, consultant, and expert witness. He is the founder and current director of the UC Oil Consortium, an organization funded mainly by the oil industry to the tune of $60,000-$120,000 per year, per company.
“Tad Patzek is not a disinterested third party in this debate. It shouldn’t be shocking that someone with such a background in the oil industry would come out opposed to ethanol, a viable oil alternative,”

His “study” was completely and thoroughly rebutted by many legitimate scientific papers.

Since then Argonne Natl Laboratories highly detailed GREET model has been developed and refined, and there are dozens of scientific papers on net energy balance of ethanol from corn.

“insight into Patzek’s bias against ethanol can be found on his own Web site: http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/patzek/index.htm. Patzek spent nearly a decade working for Shell Oil Company as a researcher, consultant, and expert witness. He is the founder and current director of the UC Oil Consortium, an organization funded mainly by the oil industry to the tune of $60,000-$120,000 per year, per company.
“Tad Patzek is not a disinterested third party in this debate. It shouldn’t be shocking that someone with such a background in the oil industry would come out opposed to ethanol, a viable oil alternative,””

CompaComparison-of-NetEnergy-Balance-of-Corn-Ethanol-Patzek-SHapouri-wang.png
TBeholder
Reply to  Dennis G. Sandberg
June 8, 2022 11:49 am

It would only be a big problem as such if it had worse energy density than accumulators. Otherwise it’s just a part of cost.

Ed Zuiderwijk
June 1, 2022 1:01 pm

Another own goal by the green fools.

TheLastDemocrat
June 1, 2022 1:13 pm

Is the ethanol program “government welfare?”

Not really. This type of policy can get enacted for one of two reasons.
One is to get votes. The “story” justifying the vote-buying can be anything. Just so long as political power is gained for some policy, it is desired by an elected official.

The other reason is to subsidize some commercial activity for some national priority. The government keeps buying and using fighter aircraft in peacetime so that in wartime we have private industry with the capacity to make fighters.

The government has goals for US Post Office vehicles to be bought that run on a variety of “alternative fuels.” This subsidy ensures a market, which spurs R&D, and production.

Some of these fuels will make sense, but there is the problem of “market entry.” IT costs a lot to develop a line of vehicles running on an altenrative fuel, while the possible market is not known, and so is risky. This is a high barrier to market entry. A govenrment subsidy can overcome this barrier to an otherwise functional free market.

Government policies do shape what we see as public priorities. If we want more doctors, we subsidize their education. Etc.

Almost never is the goal of one of these subsidies to be to provide poor people with money. Welfare. There is almost always a different policy goal.

MarkW
Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
June 1, 2022 1:52 pm

THe government continues to buy planes during peace time because it’s really bad if a war starts and all your planes are 20 years old.

It isn’t the job of the government to spend other people’s money in the vague hope that they will create some kind of economic follow on.

Are you trying to argue that unless the person receiving the money is poor, it can’t be called welfare?

Janice Moore
Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
June 1, 2022 4:13 pm

A free market with adequate private property rights and liberty of contract does not need the taxpayer/rate payers of established, viable, technology (e.g., the ICE engine) to help new products overcome barriers to entry.

The data for this assertion is common knowledge:

NONE of these heavily researched and fairly expensively developed products required taxpayer/ratepayer subsidies to become viable/profitable (just a small sample for illustration):

  • the electric lightbulb
  • the telephone
  • the airplane
  • 35mm SLR camera
  • Fuel injected engines
  • Disc brakes
  • refrigerators
  • steel electric engines
  • washing machines
  • color television
  • microwave ovens
  • insulin
  • penicillin
  • polio vaccine
  • Windows
  • Apple iphone
Last edited 1 month ago by Janice Moore
TBeholder
Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
June 8, 2022 11:53 am

Votes are no problem (between «glass of water with the letter ‘D’» and ban on Benford’s Law).
Subsidizing commercial activity, sure. Just like with windmills — a whole fairy-dust segment of economy on perpetual lifesupport of subsidies, regulations and fresh paint.

Rod
June 1, 2022 6:29 pm

Ethanol is a crime, plain and simple. Politics over human lives. The Great Day of The Lord will be awesome. The buck will stop there.

6CA7
June 1, 2022 7:04 pm

Drag racers like to use E85 because of it’s high resistance to detonation (pinging). Therefore, they can use higher compression and/or high boost forced induction. They don’t care that it takes a lot more volume to provide enough fuel. That’s about the only useful thing for it I can think of.

For a road fuel, nevertheless, it has been shown that blended pump gas reduces the temperature of the intake charge about as much as E85. So there’s one positive among all the negatives.

roaddog
June 2, 2022 12:26 am

In the face of looming food shortages, any responsible and sentient member of government should be pressing for the elimination of ethanol subsidies, and conversion of this land to the production of appropriate foodstuff.

roaddog
Reply to  Hans
June 2, 2022 2:06 am

?

roaddog
June 2, 2022 1:12 am

A. Scott’s repeated claim that there are no ethanol subsidies is simply a lie.
https://www.thoughtco.com/understanding-the-ethanol-subsidy-3321701

Mandatory requirements for ethanol blended into fuels obviously creates artificial demand, and is thereby a subsidy.

Reply to  roaddog
June 2, 2022 12:11 pm

Nope … the only lies are from the silly and uninformed author of the link you posted.

Your 2021 article makes ridiculous and clueless claims the VETC production subsidies remain in effect. It is 100% absolutely false. The ethanol subsidies, exactly as I have indicated, ENDED in late 2011.

“The primary ethanol subsidy offered by the federal government is a tax incentive called the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. It took effect in 2005.

The ethanol subsidy, which is commonly referred to as the “blender’s credit,” offers ethanol blenders registered with the Internal Revenue Service a tax credit of 45 cents for every gallon of pure ethanol they blend with gasoline.

Coburn led an effort to repeal the ethanol subsidy in June of 2011, saying it was a waste of taxpayer money – he said the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit cost $30.5 billion from 2005 through 2011 – because consumption remained only a small part of the country’s fuel use. His effort to repeal the ethanol subsidy failed in the Senate by a vote of 59 to 40.”

The truth:

“[In June, 2011] The U.S. Senate voted 73-27 to abolish a 45-cents-per-gallon subsidy to the U.S. ethanol industry. In the same vote, the Senate also killed an import duty of 54 cents per gallon on ethanol. That means ethanol produced far more efficiently in other countries, primarily Brazil, could become competitive in the U.S. market.”

“Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association. when asked if the industry needs that same tax credit now, said, “No, you don’t. In today’s environment, no, you don’t need it.”

The Obama Administration also opposes ending the tax breaks for ethanol, though under current law, they are set to expire at the end of this year anyhow.”

#InconvenientTruth

This vote to end both the ethanol subsidies and tariffs was stalled as part of a larger bill.

Three weeks later, an agreement was reached to end the subsidies for real.

“The Wall Street Journal reports today that agreement has been reached to let the 45-cents-per-gallon ethanol blending credit expire at the end of this month, along with a tariff on ethanol imports of 54 cents per gallon.”

And Congress followed thru on that agreement:

“When the U.S. Congress adjourned for the holidays on Friday, December 23, its departure sealed the fate of subsidized ethanol production.

During its session, the Congress did not renew a tax break for U.S. production of corn-based ethanol that had become increasingly unpopular across a wide area of the political spectrum.”

Contrary to your, and this sorry excuse for a journalists claims, the ethanol production subsidies absolutely DID END in late 2011.

https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1071085_congress-actually-ends-taxpayer-funding-of-ethanol-subsidies

https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1062826_did-u-s-senate-cut-deal-to-end-ethanol-subsidies-after-all

https://www.npr.org/2011/07/21/138543233/ethanol-industry-torn-over-losing-subsidy-billions

https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1061794_u-s-senate-votes-to-end-ethanol-subsidies-theyll-continue-anyhow

#PeskyFacts

Hans
Reply to  roaddog
June 2, 2022 8:25 pm

Dog, mandates are ‘costs’ to the end users. A subsidy, is a direct payment
or credit from a governmental unit.

Matthew Sykes
June 2, 2022 2:32 am

You dont have to make ethanol from corn you know. In fact the best idea is GM plankton that produce high sugar yields since it can be grown in shallow ponds which can also be used for fermentation.

Alcohol is an excellent fuel. Capable of supporting higher compression ratios than gasoline, and delivering more power per cubic inch, it also ships and handles like gasoline.

It is also widely used in some parts of the world, and modern cars are compatible with it.

It is a no brainer, very simple change to implement.

It also leaves all the crude oil available for the chemicals industry.

We should be doing this, now. The GHM plankton exists. The yeasts exist. The stills exist. Lets just do it. And it is nigh on 100% renewable. It will shut the greens up. They can have no argument.

Stephen Rowland
June 2, 2022 5:24 am

Second generation (2G) ethanol from waste biomass does not affect the food supply. Waste biomass includes straw, wood residue, bagasse (from sugar cane), etc. Brazil has one successful 2G plant, is now building two more with double the capacity of the first one, and has announced 10 more over the next decade. All cars in Brazil can run on any combination of gas/ethanol up to 100% ethanol. 2G biofuels can meet the needs where electrification is impractical (ships, trucks, tractors, etc). Note that Brazil also makes ethanol from sugar, a food source, yet the price of sugar is low worldwide.

At $100 per barrel of oil, all ethanol is a money maker and market forces will drive production increases from all sources. Some jurisdictions pay a premium for 2G ethanol (Europe and California) so that is where 2G ethanol will end up being consumed.

Regardless of whether you believe that there is a climate crisis (I do not), sooner or later we need to accept that fossils fuels are a limited resource and the world economy will need to transition away from them.

Reply to  Stephen Rowland
June 2, 2022 8:50 am

Problem is that every ethanol plant within 500 miles of me, and there are quit a few as I live in the Midwest planes of US are using corn. You can smell the production of ethanol any time the wind blows from the North, East or West, Worse than the sewage treatment plant. And the amount of electricity the use is staggering. You could see two of them from the NPP I worked at and the majority of the power was sold them, they even selected their location based upon the easy access to electrical power.

Reply to  Stephen Rowland
June 2, 2022 12:39 pm

The US corn ethanol industry is already refining the process to incorporate biomass – with massive gains in net energy yield.

Current net energy balance ranges from 2.3 to over 4 units of energy created for every 1 unit of energy expended.

An improved process incorporates the waste biomass (corn kernels etc) and field stover (stalks etc) into ethanol production. Using minimal amounts of this waste biomass has seen increases in net energy balance in the 8 to 10 units of energy created for every 1 unit expended.

Scientists show that incorporating larger amounts of this waste biomass can increase net energy yields as high as 60 units of energy created fir every 1 unit expended.

Even doubling/tripling net energy balance into the 8-10 to 1 range is a huge increase in the amount of energy/fuel produced from corn. Escalating that to 20, 40 or 60 units of energy for every 1 unit expended is a massive impact. That technology exists and is being incorporated into production today.

Algal production has been in the R&D process for more than a decade and largely remains there today.

technical barriers need to be overcome before microalgae can be used as an economically viable biofuel feedstock (139). These include developing low-energy methods to harvest microalgal cells, difficulties in consistently producing biomass at a large scale in highly variable outdoor conditions, the presence of invasive species in large-scale ponds, low light penetrance in dense microalgal cultures, the lack of cost-effective bioenergy carrier extraction techniques, and the potentially poor cold flow properties of most microalga-derived biodiesel. To advance the utilization of microalgae in biofuel production, it is important to engineer solutions to optimize the productivity of any microalgal cultivation system”

There are many hurdles to viable algal production of ethanol to be solved. Info on one of the most advance r&d efforts, backed by Exxon:

https://www.viridos.com/faq/

More:
https://sciencing.com/pros-cons-algae-biodiesel-6863.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2863401/
https://www.energy.gov/eere/bioenergy/algal-production
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959652622007855
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128237649000145

Reply to  Stephen Rowland
June 2, 2022 12:55 pm
michael hart
June 2, 2022 6:20 am

It always seemed to me that it was a combination of agricultural subsidies and green insanity, both things beloved by legislators.

The only upside I see is that using food for conversion to fuel keeps food production at a higher level for when we suddenly need it for eating in an emergency.

June 2, 2022 6:40 am

Am I the only person that gets 5 – 10% LESS (depending on city/highway) gas millage when I use gas that has 10+% Ethanol?

SMS
June 2, 2022 6:51 am

At this time, with the war in Ukraine ongoing, any use of fertile ground to grow anything other than food is a crime.

The Biden administration is committing a crime. They are going to be responsible for the deaths of thousands, or even millions of people living in poor countries that depend on imports of food.

But Biden and his administration are too stupid to see into the future, even a few months.

June 2, 2022 12:17 pm

I remember when Ethanol was first pushed for cleaning up the atmosphere. Didn’t do crap but screw-up car engines and raise the price of Corn Flakes!

JBP
June 3, 2022 6:13 am

Ethanol gas is a government criminal activity. Just like wind and solar ‘farms’.