Monday, March 16, 2009

Ethanol: A Shameless Energy Racket

These days, it's routine for businesses to fail, get rescued by the government, and then continue to fail. But ethanol, which survives only because of its iron lung of subsidies and mandates, is a special case. Naturally, the industry is demanding even more government life support.

Corn ethanol producers -- led by Wesley Clark, the retired general turned chairman of a new biofuels lobbying outfit called Growth Energy -- want the Obama Administration to make their guaranteed market even larger. Recall that the 2007 energy bill requires refiners to mix 36 billion gallons into the gasoline supply by 2022. The quotas, which ratchet up each year, are arbitrary, but evidently no one in Congress wondered what might happen if the economy didn't cooperate.

Americans are unlikely to use enough gas next year to absorb the 13 billion gallons of ethanol that Congress mandated, because current regulations limit the ethanol content in each gallon of gas at 10%. The industry is asking that this cap be lifted to 15% or even 20%. That way, more ethanol can be mixed with less gas, and producers won't end up with a glut that the government does not require anyone to buy.

The ethanol boosters aren't troubled that only a fraction of the 240 million cars and trucks on the road today can run with ethanol blends higher than 10%. It can damage engines and corrode automotive pipes, as well as impair some safety features, especially in older vehicles. It can also overwhelm pollution control systems like catalytic converters. The malfunctions multiply in other products that use gas, such as boats, snowmobiles, lawnmowers, chainsaws, etc.

That possible policy train wreck is uniting almost every other Washington lobby -- and talk about strange bedfellows. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Motorcycle Industry Council and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, among others, are opposed, since raising the blend limit will ruin their products. The left-leaning American Lung Association and the Union of Concerned Scientists are opposed too, since it will increase auto emissions. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club agree, on top of growing scientific evidence that corn ethanol provides little or no net reduction in CO2 over the gasoline it displaces.


~WSJ Editorial "Everybody Hates Ethanol, But the Subsidies Keep Growing and Growing..."

9 Comments:

At 3/16/2009 8:39 AM, Blogger threecollie said...

And the cars run so badly on it! We have to put in two bottles of dry gas every time we fill up.

 
At 3/16/2009 11:00 AM, Blogger QT said...

Not even Paul Krugman likes ethanol. Considering the effect on world food prices last year especially in developing nations, one wonders why anyone in Washington would still be touting ethanol.

 
At 3/16/2009 11:08 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

Where is a plan for distributing natural gas to power vehicles (especially delivery vehicles in metropolitan areas)? This is a huge disappointment that the Obama administration is not making this a centerpiece of it's stimulus iniatives. We have huge reserves of NG that could be used to take a significant chunk out of our trade deficit. Ethanol is a stimulus for southern Illinois but a clunker for the rest of the U.S.

 
At 3/16/2009 12:37 PM, Blogger BeyondGreen said...

There could be no better investment in America than to invest in America becoming energy independent! We need to utilize everything in out power to reduce our dependence on foreign oil including using our own natural resources. Create cheap clean energy, new badly needed green jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.The high cost of fuel this past year seriously damaged our economy and society. The cost of fuel effects every facet of consumer goods from production to shipping costs. After a brief reprieve gas is inching back up.OPEC will continue to cut production until they achieve their desired 80-100. per barrel.If all gasoline cars, trucks, and SUV's instead had plug-in electric drive trains the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.We have so much available to us such as wind and solar. Let's spend some of those bail out billions and get busy harnessing this energy. Create cheap clean energy, badly needed new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What a win-win situation that would be for our nation at large! There is a really good new book out by Jeff Wilson called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence Now. http://www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com

 
At 3/16/2009 2:24 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"We need to utilize everything in out power to reduce our dependence on foreign oil including using our own natural resources"...

Hmmm, no argument from me but maybe you might want to drop a word in the ear of Hussein the Inane about that...

 
At 3/16/2009 3:50 PM, Blogger OA said...

Ethanol from corn is the kind of crap that happens when bad science drives policy. It's not only inefficient econommically, it's inefficient in terms of net energy gain.

In spite of that, we can't even stop a bad program. We'll see more of this as the stimulus bureacracy rolls out.

 
At 3/16/2009 4:49 PM, Blogger randian said...

There could be no better investment in America than to invest in America becoming energy independent!

Why? It will just make our goods that much more expensive and impoverish our population.

If you believe that oil and natural gas is a soon to be depleted resource, we should use as much of everybody else's supply as possible, because once theirs is gone ours will be amazingly valuable.

 
At 3/17/2009 9:33 AM, Blogger rufus said...

Surprise, surprise,

the "Wahhabi Street" Journal wants us to keep importing oil from Saudi Arabia, and spending $160 Billion/Yr and Thousands of American Kids' Lives keeping the Mideastern oil flowing.

3collie, you need a tuneup. 240 Million American cars are running just fine on ethanol mixtures of up to 13%, as we speak.

QT, field corn is selling for $0.07/lb, and chicken is $0.88/lb. How cheap can food prices go?

We no longer pay out $8 Billion/Yr to subsidize the growing of corn, beans, and wheat; and Ia St came to the conclusion that by replacing 10 Billion Gallons of Gasoline with ethanol we saved approx. $55 Billion last year.

 
At 3/17/2009 2:16 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"the "Wahhabi Street" Journal wants us to keep importing oil from Saudi Arabia, and spending $160 Billion/Yr and Thousands of American Kids' Lives keeping the Mideastern oil flowing"...

Now here's someone with an almost zero grip on the ways of the world...

"240 Million American cars are running just fine on ethanol mixtures of up to 13%, as we speak"...

Yeah, in your dreams...

Wow! This just gets funnier and funnier: "10 Billion Gallons of Gasoline with ethanol we saved approx. $55 Billion last year"...

 

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