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The Obama administration is look to "make it rain" for corn farmers, though the rest of Americans may end up footing the bill.  (Source: Red Dog Report)

Sen. Tim Johnson talks with a corn farmer and cradles the produce he so loves. Backed by millions in campaign donations by the corn lobby at the federal level, he is leading a group of four Democratic senators in proposing the expensive new ethanol legislation.  (Source: Tim Johnson)

Ethanol may be cheaper at the pump per gallon, but it carries less energy, so costs more on average per mile traveled. Further it increases emissions and engine wear.  (Source: MPR News)
New legislation would force virtually all cars to run on ethanol

The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are facing resistance from the auto industry about a controversial proposal that would force consumers to use more ethanol in a bid to reduce fossil fuels consumption.

I. What's in the Bill?

The new bill, The Biofuels Expansion Act of 2011, has a number of provisions, but among its most controversial are efforts to expand government spending on ethanol and force ethanol on consumers.

Sponsored by Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota); Amy Klobuchar (D/"Farmer-Labor Party"- Minnesota); and Al Franken (D/"Farmer-Labor Party"-Minnesota), the bill could massively benefit corn farmers in the Midwest, but may not be so rosy for the rest of the country.

Under its proposals, government spending on ethanol would leap from $50M USD in 2012 to $350M USD by 2016.  The government would also provide loan guarantees to construct new ethanol pipelines.

But most importantly, the bill would force 90 percent of automobiles sold by 2016 to capable of running on an E85 fuel blend -- fuel that is 85 percent ethanol, and 15 percent gas.

II.  The Good

There are some positives about the bill.  The bill could promote the growth of cellulosic ethanol research and production.  Cellulosic ethanol has few downsides other than the cost.  It comes from waste, is completely renewable, has a net harvest-to-pump reduction in green house gases, nitrogen, and sulfur emissions.

And the bill could promote other non-corn biofuels such as algae, something the Navy has been actively dabbling in for several years.

In our past discussions with alternative biofuel companies like Coskata, most expressed that they didn't need subsidies to survive and eventually be profitable, but that subsidies could accelerate the process.

III. The Bad

Unfortunately the bad here is substantial as well.  The bill would push for higher consumption of corn-based ethanol.  That would be extremely lucrative for corn farmers who long struggled to find new ways to sell the massive amount of corn.

However, most economists agree that it would likely drive up food prices, at least temporarily.  An increase in the cost of corn meal, corn syrup, and livestock corn-feed would create a cascading effect, the net result of which would likely be higher prices at the super-market checkout.

Further, the auto industry would be forced to shoulder a $2B USD load in upgrading their engines, much of which would be passed on to the consumer.

Today, thanks to federal and state legislation, most of the fuel you get at the pump already is a 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline blend (E10).  Engines can tolerate E10, but it wears on them and is less energy dense (so you get fewer miles per gallon of fuel).  

E85, by contrast would break a normal engine.  So automakers would have to outfit their engines to be capable of running on such fuels.  Of the major automakers, GM is closest to this goal, having heavily invested in an ethanol push.  By contrast Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai/Kia have minimal investments in E85 vehicles.

Consumers would likely be hit by a triple price increase.  At the supermarket they'd pay more for food; at the pump they'd pay more for fuel (as ethanol, on average, currently costs more in mpg than gas); and they would pay more when purchasing new fuels.

Ultimately this may cut new automotive sales, in turn leading to job loss.

Essentially all this lost wealth would be funneled mostly to farmers, with a small cut going to researchers.

Further, corn ethanol has been scientifically shown to increase emissions.  Regardless of your opinion of more carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere, you probably would be slightly more concerned about the increase in nitrogen and sulfur emissions that are harmful to human health, buildings, animal, and plant life.

IV. The Ugly

It’s no mystery why four farming state Senators would support a corn-bill.  It's good for the constituents.  But beyond that, it's good for their party.  The corn lobby has poured millions per year into "convincing" politicians of the "merits" of corn ethanol.  That stream of funding has drawn a degree of bipartisan support.  Former President George W. Bush (R) was a strong proponent of ethanol, even backing measures to increase loans, government use, and blending at the pump.

Surprisingly, though, one of the staunchest opponents of the bill comes from a farm state.  Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), the Environment and Public Works Committee's top Republican, has led opposition to the bill.

Ironically the debate may be less about the merits of the bill and more a test of the political muscle of various lobbyists.

Supporting the opposition are the food and oil lobbies, the latter of which has been particularly active in recent years, funneling millions to federal political candidates.  The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade association representing General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Toyota Motor Corp. and eight others, has also thrown its weight behind the opposition, concerned about the cost increase to upgrade the nation's vehicles.

V. What's Next

The bill was just debated by the Senate Energy Committee on Thursday.  You can find an audio recording of that debate here.

The bill will now move to a procedural vote by the Committee.  If approved, a Senator can then motion to have it brought to the floor.

While the bill likely will stall in the Republican-controlled House, it's possible it could be approved in exchange for Democratic concessions during the budget debates.  And it’s also possible that the corn lobby might be able to sweeten the deal with campaign contributions enough to change the minds of enough House Republicans to pass the bill.



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You forgot a few things
By Geminiman on 4/8/2011 2:35:04 PM , Rating: 5
Not only does Ethanol increase emissions, it also is a less dense energy source, so it lowers fuel economy, thus making your car more expensive to drive. Further, the production of corn ethanol is a net loss. That is it uses more energy (diesel from oil!) to produce than it generates.

Welcome to the stupidity of corn ethanol. I thought everyone knew this stuff by now. These congressmen should be embarrassed to have pushed this! Republicans kill this now!




RE: You forgot a few things
By crazyblackman on 4/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: You forgot a few things
By villageidiotintern on 4/8/2011 2:51:42 PM , Rating: 5
I for one welcome our new totalitarian democratic party overlords. They are omniscient and omnipotent, and they are the ones we have waited for.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Smartless on 4/8/2011 3:00:25 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
They are omniscient and omnipotent


"They are transient and impotent..."

Fixed that for you.


RE: You forgot a few things
By morphologia on 4/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: You forgot a few things
By Breathless on 4/8/2011 4:20:00 PM , Rating: 3
Got to start somewhere ehh? If Demodouches fight over the 1% do you think they would bend over issues worth far more than that?


RE: You forgot a few things
By morphologia on 4/8/2011 5:22:10 PM , Rating: 1
"Got to start somewhere" by pretending that the ideological hot-button matters more than it does? Is it really the most important thing for America in general?

And you want to talk about not being flexible on larger issues...Social Security is 20% of the budget. Medicare/Medicaid is another 20%. Military spending is another 20% or so. Making minor changes to any of these would make much more of a difference than eliminating the tiny fraction that the GOP is drooling over, without impacting quality of life in any noticeable way for anyone. Taking 2% from each of these would total to more than all the things the Republicans are attacking, combined.

It's not about making the biggest difference in the budget...it's about the GOP hoping to impress their fan club by axing things their voting base doesn't like.


RE: You forgot a few things
By ClownPuncher on 4/8/2011 7:30:24 PM , Rating: 3
I agree to en extent, but keep in mind 2% from one area is not always the same as 2% from another. I feel that the executive branch oversteps the limits placed on it by appointing self governing bodies to do what it cannot.

Military spending (I'm not discussing the validity of current war efforts) is something the Federal government is supposed to handle. Forcing companies to make cars nobody wants, that cost more and are less efficient, drive up food costs, and cost more energy to produce than gas has nothing to do with what power the federal government has.

Currently, we are seeing a large push from the top, forcing private industry to make products the consumers aren't even asking for en masse. Not to mention that corn based ethanol actually will hurt our economy, it just doesn't make sense.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Lerianis on 4/9/11, Rating: -1
RE: You forgot a few things
By geok1ng on 4/10/2011 12:29:37 AM , Rating: 5
As a Brazilian i would not say that the use of Sugar Ethanol is without problem.

Sugar Ethanol was a good idea before the USA started giving away taxes payers money to corn farmers.

Then corn prices went.
Then corn syrup prices went up.
Then food industries in the USA started using real sugar instead of corn syrup.
Then global sugar prices went up.
Then Brazilian Sugar cane farmers shifted the production to sugar, and Brazil was suddenly without Ethanol. And Ethanol prizes went sky high in Brazil. Today the price relation between gas and ethanol is 5:4, far away from the 5:3 necessary to make using Sugar ethanol break even from a consumer standpoint.

So Brazil is importing Ethanol from the USA.

Now for the sad part: the USA are giving taxes payers money to sugar plants buy sugar from Brazil, convert to ethanol and send back to Brazil.

And this is how the Corn Ethanol is rising Brazilian gas and Ethanol prices.

Now back to topic; the article is wrong: all the major players in the American car market have excellent projects of engines capable of using E100 and E85.:

Ford has the 1.6L sigma engine, used on the Fiesta. It is the lightiest 1.6L engine in the world.

Chrysler/Fiat has excellent engines in Brazil, namely the 1.8/16L eTorq, used on the Brazilian Bravo; the 1.0/1.4L fire evo, used on the Brazilian Uno.

GM has the Ecotec.

Toyota has one of the best ethanol engines in the world, the 1.8/20L vvti used on the Brazilian Corolla.

Kia uses a 1.6L "flex" engine in the Brazilian Soul.

Mitsubishi sells in Brazil an L200 truck with a V6 engine capable of using ethanol, gas or any mix of the fuels.

When it comes to using ethanol as fuel, the cars makers in the USA have been preparing for decades, knowing that one day someone will come up with a viable project for grass ethanol.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Baffo on 4/10/2011 1:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
I think there is a flaw in this logic. I'm certain that the US purchasing has made a change in prices (as a large economy, it can't help doing that), but theoretically anyway, US government subsidies and other protectinist policies actually help prices in Brazil:

US Govnt (via US taxpayers) pay corn farmers subsidies and corn prices go DOWN; this should encourage more local (US) purchasing of corn and fewer corn imports.

Because corn and corn products (like corn syrup) are cheaper, more corn is purchased in the US at the expense of sugar.

US sugar supplies go up and price comes down (also necessitating sugar subsidies to keep them afloat) so more US sugar purchasing stays local.

Sugar exports from foreign countries reduce (and tariffs on sugar imports further reduce imports keeping purchases US local), increasing supply in foreign countries, reducing prices.

I'm not saying that US import of sugar hasn't increased (I really don't know), but subsidies in the US should actually help prices in Brazil. If I had to guess, I would imagine the current public issues with having corn syrup in products and the increasing return to sugar-based sweetening/filler might be having an effect here. Or demand in other areas (like ethanol) might be driving imports.


RE: You forgot a few things
By SPOOFE on 4/10/2011 11:40:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
US Govnt (via US taxpayers) pay corn farmers subsidies and corn prices go DOWN;

Depends on the subsidy; when you're paying farmers to NOT grow food, or worse, paying them to inefficiently turn their food into a fuel, prices on that food go up.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Samus on 4/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: You forgot a few things
By rcabor on 4/11/2011 7:35:41 AM , Rating: 3
According to the article, The four congressmen in support of this bill are Democrat. I am not sure of the rest of your statements, but no matter who came up with,or supports this bill its not the answer to fossil fuel.


RE: You forgot a few things
By rcabor on 4/11/2011 7:38:53 AM , Rating: 3
The bill was drafted by democrats as well. I love how when people read something political they dont agree with just assume the party they are against are behind it.


RE: You forgot a few things
By RjBass on 4/11/2011 9:16:03 AM , Rating: 2
I was going to say, when I was in Brazil this past winter nearly all the cars I rode in or drove used E100 or E85 and they were made by Ford, Chevy, Fiat, and one Chinese company I had never heard of before. I knew back in 08 that Ford and Chevy had excellent engines that ran on E100 and E85 and never figured out why they were not producing those engines in the US.

Now that they may be required to have those kinds of engine in the US I don't see why they are crying about it. They have the know how, they have the tech, they already have the engines. Why is this a problem?


RE: You forgot a few things
By E85Prices on 4/19/2011 6:01:18 PM , Rating: 2
Excellent geo..

The key for Brazil as well as the US is diversity of Feedstocks..

In the US we have some edge in that we have Mandated that Corn ethanol is only allowed 15 billion gallons a year..they are already at 14 billion..so debating corn ethanol is rather pointless anyway as the next 17 billion gallons a year must come from advanced feed stocks ..from field waste, switch grasses,Alge and even Trash to Ethanol ..which actually has a head start Fiberight starting trash to ethanol production last year.

Brazilians have huge advantage in that most of your vehicles coming off the assembly line are already FFV's


RE: You forgot a few things
By cmdrdredd on 4/9/2011 12:46:05 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
And you want to talk about not being flexible on larger issues...Social Security is 20% of the budget. Medicare/Medicaid is another 20%. Military spending is another 20% or so. Making minor changes to any of these would make much more of a difference than eliminating the tiny fraction that the GOP is drooling over, without impacting quality of life in any noticeable way for anyone. Taking 2% from each of these would total to more than all the things the Republicans are attacking, combined.


Those cuts were in there but the type of cuts they proposed were rejected by Dumbocrats. Why? Because they want people looking for handouts, they want the government to provide entitlements that way people who are using these can say "ok so they were sending me free money for sitting at home drinking beer" and vote the retards in again. This needs to stop and needs to stop now! People used to come to the US to build a better life through hard work and dedication. They could benefit greatly from their own ambition. The Dumbocrats simply want everyone to be locked down to an entitlement system (borderline communistic practices).


RE: You forgot a few things
By smithme08 on 4/9/11, Rating: -1
RE: You forgot a few things
By Dorkyman on 4/10/2011 9:51:30 PM , Rating: 3
No, about 20% of the total budget (about $710B in 2010) went for Social Security. You're only off by two orders of magnitude.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258


RE: You forgot a few things
By YashBudini on 4/10/2011 10:08:47 PM , Rating: 2
You really expected accuracy from a politically governed pundit?


RE: You forgot a few things
By snakeInTheGrass on 4/9/11, Rating: 0
By snakeInTheGrass on 4/9/2011 11:20:18 AM , Rating: 2
Ooops, forgot about the actual topic. The joke here is of course that: 1) $350 million wasted at this point sounds like so little and 2) politicians can't seem to work out that if you have to fund an ongoing consumer spending item, there's probably an issue with it. If this was for R&D, sure, maybe it would make sense, but when it's to pay for pipelines or capacity expansion, the private sector would take care of it if it made any sense. Not to mention the cost to vehicles and the fact that this effectively takes away resources better spent on other fuel research that will probably make an actual positive contribution.

But hey, the lobbyists pay more than common sense does.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Jeffk464 on 4/9/11, Rating: -1
RE: You forgot a few things
By Nfarce on 4/10/2011 5:04:30 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Poster above me obviously smokes to much weed because his short term memory is shot. He doesn't remember how Clinton had a balanced budget and Bush went on a crazy spending spree.


1) It was Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in Congress that rooted the balanced budget.

2) Bush and the GOP did go crazy on a spending spree. That's why the GOP got fired in 2006 during the mid-term Congressional elections. A lot of that however was spending on big government overlords like the Homeland Security farce. What was it Obama's Napolinato said about the Detroit airliner attempted suicide bomber? Oh yeah: "it was an isolated incident." Yeah? Well so was 9.11.2001.

quote:
Republicans spend money killing poor people in other countries and Dems spend money on social services for poor people in the US


1) There has never, EVER been a war in the history of the United States solely authorized by Republicans without Democrat approval. And that definitely includes a) Vietnam which was started and escalated by a Democrat president and b) the current attacks in Libya started by a Democrat president.

2) Spending on "social services" has proven to be a farce and a subsequent black hole. he so-called war on poverty has not done a damn thing but create new generations of government tit suckers. Socialist programs in America have failed and will always fail because individuals who parlay to them (most, but not all) are irresponsible and make bad decisions in life. All one has to do is look into a typical modern Section 8 housing project and see how many big screen TVs and Xboxes are in the units.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Reclaimer77 on 4/10/2011 7:06:17 PM , Rating: 3
The deficit increased under Clinton, as it does under every presidency. The myth of the "balanced Clinton budget" is just that, a myth. You cannot have a balanced budget if the Fed is spending more money than it receives, and the Clinton administration was no stranger to spending.

Clinton benefited from decreased defense spending because the Cold War ended, and the big Internet trading bubble. Both brought windfalls into the Fed, which helped on paper to minimize the net effect of his spending. But in the end, there never was a "balanced budget".


RE: You forgot a few things
By Nfarce on 4/10/2011 4:51:48 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The Republicans couldn't balance a budget to save their lives (or our country), which is pathetic given their supposed fiscal responsibility.


Read up on Newt Gingrich's House GOP circa 1995 when they dragged Bill Clinton kicking and screaming to balance the budget.

quote:
But go figure - it's not like they aren't on the take from lobbyists and part of shipping jobs overseas while overspending here


Jobs going overseas, huh? Read up on who signed NAFTA (Bill Clinton). Read up on corporate taxes and why US corporations are getting more and more fed up with state/federal taxes. You can start with Caterpillar in Illinois:

http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/article_3c235...

quote:
If they came up with a budget that cut, say, $800 billion THIS YEAR and tried to cut just THIS YEAR's friggin' deficit in half, maybe they could toss in a few partisan bits and get away with it.


Democrats had ALL LAST YEAR when in complete control of Congress (both the House and the Senate) to establish a budget for 2011. They FAILED to do so.

I'm certainly not defending the GOP, specifically under the W Bush years. But to ignore facts and give credit where very little is due is intellectually dishonest.


RE: You forgot a few things
By cmdrdredd on 4/9/2011 12:40:57 PM , Rating: 2
Remember that the dems wanted $0 decrease in spending, they actually wanted to spend MORE!

Here's a few numbers...in the month of March the US Government took in around $180 billion in tax revenue. They Send out about $60 billion in tax refunds. Leaving $120 billion. They spent $1 trillion that month. So lets see who else spends eight times more in a month than they make? The answer, nobody because you are broke...beyond broke if you do that. Thanks Dems...


RE: You forgot a few things
By cruisin3style on 4/9/2011 3:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no expert but I think your 1 trillion in March figure might be a bit off if the entire fiscal year's budget is less than 4 trillion.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Spuke on 4/9/2011 7:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They spent $1 trillion that month.
Yeah, they really spent $1 trillion in one month. :rollseyes: Who are these people?


RE: You forgot a few things
By SPOOFE on 4/10/2011 11:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
They authorized the spending in one month; the spending did not occur over the span of a single month, however. In fact, there are still leftover remnants of the stimulus package waiting to be spent, if I recall correctly (a small percentage by this point).


RE: You forgot a few things
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/8/2011 2:41:59 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
You forgot a few things


Nope. ;) Re-read... sorry, I know it's a little long, but I tried to pack as much info in as possible.

quote:

Today, thanks to federal and state legislation, most of the fuel you get at the pump already is a 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline blend (E10). Engines can tolerate E10, but it wears on them and is less energy dense (so you get fewer miles per gallon of fuel).


...and it's even in a picture caption.

quote:
Further, the production of corn ethanol is a net loss. That is it uses more energy (diesel from oil!) to produce than it generates.


That's a good point though, thanks!

quote:

Welcome to the stupidity of corn ethanol. I thought everyone knew this stuff by now. These congressmen should be embarrassed to have pushed this! Republicans kill this now!


Agreed. Sadly, it was Republican support (along with Democrats) that helped push this stuff 7 or 8 years back. Bush was a huge ethanol fan.

I'm convinced the only reason they're so opposed to it this time is because the oil lobby which holds great sway over the party is pressing them harder as the spending and forced engine modifications have become more expansive.

Not saying one or two Republican Senators might oppose it on true moral grounds, but c'mon how many politicians get to the federal level without accepting a boatload of lobbyist money along the way. All those contributions are essentially loans and they DO have a collection date... whenever a measure pertaining to the lobbyist's firm is being debated.


RE: You forgot a few things
By fic2 on 4/8/2011 7:19:10 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Consumers would likely be hit by a triple price increase. At the supermarket they'd pay more for food; at the pump they'd pay more for fuel (as ethanol, on average, currently costs more in mpg than gas); and they would pay more when purchasing new fuels.


It would actually be a quadruple price increase since taxpayers (i.e. consumers) would have to pay for the $350M to fund this stupidity.


RE: You forgot a few things
By voronwae on 4/9/2011 12:33:29 AM , Rating: 2
Where does it exclusively say "corn"? Not to be too obtuse, but is there anything in the bill that prevents switch grass, etc.? I see only ethanol.

And what's the Obama Administration's connection?

And what's Inhofe's er, stated objection?


RE: You forgot a few things
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/9/2011 12:06:01 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Where does it exclusively say "corn"? Not to be too obtuse, but is there anything in the bill that prevents switch grass, etc.? I see only ethanol.


It doesn't, but >95 percent of ethanol production is from corn, and virtually all the ethanol the government buys (see the provisions in the bill) is corn ethanol.

quote:
And what's the Obama Administration's connection?


This is part of the Obama admin's biofuels/electrification/alternative energy agenda that he gave a speech about (I believe it was last Tuesday or Wednesday?).

quote:
And what's Inhofe's er, stated objection?


He complains that it's pork barrel spending. While accurate, I fear he's only complaining because the oil lobby is ardently opposed to this plan.

Who knows, though.

That said, even though his motives may be less that pure, corn ethanol is a horrible proposition for the reasons outlined in the article and in the comments. So I'd hope that this bill doesn't make it.

The key issue here is the corn ethanol (which is clearly the bill sponsors' objective to promote).

I have far less problems, with, say, the Navy spending money on algae biofuel. While expensive, algae biofuel is energy positive by many analyses, where as corn ethanol is energy negative to produce. Thus the Navy's biofuel effort is much "smarter".


RE: You forgot a few things
By Jeffk464 on 4/9/2011 9:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure the Navy is mostly spending the money on R&D, dependence of foreign oil is a direct threat to national security. If you remember our tactics from WWII, cutting Germany and Japan off from oil was about our most effective tactic.


RE: You forgot a few things
By SPOOFE on 4/10/2011 11:48:31 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
, dependence of foreign oil is a direct threat to national security.

No, it isn't.

-Most crude is not used for gasoline.

-Most crude we use comes from Canada.

I don't think our chilly neighbors to the North are a terribly big concern.


RE: You forgot a few things
By E85Prices on 4/19/2011 6:07:40 PM , Rating: 3
Corn Ethanol BY LAW can Only Produce 15 Billion Gallons a Year..they already Produce 14 Billion..This has little to do about "corn ethanol" and everything to do about expanding the Market for next generation ethanol ..which we are required to make 16 billion gallons a year of by 2022 (field waste, switchgrass , algae, and even "trash-to-ethanol)

It's called the Renewable Fuel Standards of the Energy and Security Act of 2007 and updated in 2010
Here is the Schedule

http://e85prices.com/Img/ethanolfuelproduction.PNG


RE: You forgot a few things
By Solandri on 4/9/2011 5:31:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where does it exclusively say "corn"? Not to be too obtuse, but is there anything in the bill that prevents switch grass, etc.? I see only ethanol.

You have to remember that corn production in the U.S. is subsidized (partly due to corruption, but mostly to ensure there's adequate oversupply and extra production capacity for the U.S. to survive a catastrophic crop failure without prices skyrocketing enough to starve those in poverty to death).

So while the ROI of energy for corn ethanol may be negative (takes more energy to make it than it yields), the ROI for money for corn ethanol may be positive (yields more money than it costs the farmer, with the difference being made up by government subsidies). Switchgrass may be more efficient from an energy production standpoint than corn, but it's probably going to be more expensive per gallon of ethanol due to corn's subsidies.

I wonder if you could correct for this by saying any fields used to grow ethanol corn have to be declared during planting, and are not eligible for food corn subsidies.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Reclaimer77 on 4/10/2011 10:21:35 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I'm convinced the only reason they're so opposed to it this time is because the oil lobby which holds great sway over the party is pressing them harder as the spending and forced engine modifications have become more expansive.


Studies and reports have constantly shown that Democrats take just as much, sometimes more, money from the Oil lobby as Republicans. Yet you insist on hammering this myth that only Republicans are in the "pocket" of the evil big oil lobby.

Also you greatly overstate the effect of lobbyist money. If what you say was true, we wouldn't have things like Congressional and Presidential bans on oil drilling. We wouldn't have a moratorium on Golf Oil drilling. And we wouldn't have gone 20+ years without building a bunch of new oil refineries.

So what exactly is the oil industry getting for all this bribery you claim is going on? Because politically, I don't see them having many friends, if any. Bans on domestic drilling and exploration. Forced ethanol policies. Bans on refinery construction. Ever increasing oil/gas taxes. Dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Let's not forget our new fetish with electric/hybrid vehicles. I doubt these are things they were lobbying FOR.


RE: You forgot a few things
By tastyratz on 4/11/2011 9:19:17 AM , Rating: 3
Honestly one of the biggest problems if you ask me would be ethanol's propensity to separate at the truck and settle, it does not stay completely in suspension like one might hope over time. This leads to a variability in the fuel in your car, and target air fuel ratio. You can blow an engine with a heavy load of ethanol it does not know to compensate for...


RE: You forgot a few things
By Smartless on 4/8/2011 2:57:36 PM , Rating: 4
Sometimes I like to think that politicians actually really care about what's the right course of action instead of their careers. But that leads to the conclusion that they are stupid which isn't very rosy either.

For the sake of argument, if I were in their position, I probably have:
1) Hidden parties financing my career that have investment in corn ethanol.
2) Same pressure from GM.
3) Pressure from the public to solve our oil costs NOW.
4) Activists pushing green technology but not caring where it comes from.
5) Nothing better to do with my career other than push bills that make a big splash but are nothing but stop gaps to a long term solution.

Unfortunately, like all other arm-chair engineers I don't have a viable long-term solution except...

Flintstone cars - America is getting fat so human power them. bwahaha.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Ammohunt on 4/8/2011 3:21:39 PM , Rating: 5
Politicians care about getting re-elected and nothing more.


RE: You forgot a few things
By morphologia on 4/8/2011 5:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
This is a new thing?

Also, it sucks that the only ones who could change the fact that congress and the president get paid no matter what else happens...are congress and the president. And you know that no one votes for their own pay cut.


RE: You forgot a few things
By phantom505 on 4/9/2011 10:32:32 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, I thought that was the definition of a republic. You do things to get re-elected. Guess we could go to straight up tyranny, since a lot of people here seem to prefer it.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Ammohunt on 4/11/2011 2:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
RE: You forgot a few things
By morphologia on 4/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: You forgot a few things
By wempa on 4/9/2011 9:01:16 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
They would save the nation 10 times as much money as is given to Planned Parenthood if they took a minor pay cut.


Please tell me how you determined this. The combined salaries of all members of Congress is about $93M (174K for most of the 535 members, slightly more for speaker and party leaders). The funding for Planned Parenthood is $317M. So, even if they all took 50% pay cuts, that would save $46.5M. Can you provide some numbers for your claim or are you just spewing out nonsense ?


RE: You forgot a few things
By PhatoseAlpha on 4/9/2011 11:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
How many staff members does the average congressman have? Assistants & Aides, in particular, who have no other duty besides 'help'?

They need to be counted as well.


RE: You forgot a few things
By wempa on 4/10/2011 4:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
That makes little difference. Even assuming an additional 9 staff per congressman and assuming they make the SAME salary as their congressmen (both of which are almost certainly OVERESTIMATES), that still only brings the savings up to $465M. Also keep in mind that I am using a 50% pay cut even though he/she said a minor pay cut. That's still nowhere near the $3.2B that he/she is claiming. I'm not debating whether or not cutting the fuding is a good idea. It just annoys me when people spew out such nonsense without looking at the actual facts, all of which are now very easily accessible nowadays. </rant>


RE: You forgot a few things
By brybir on 4/11/2011 8:56:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah those pesky facts that you bothered to look up:

In 2007 the legislative branch (senate and house) had a budget of 4.3 billion dollars for, you guessed it,

1.7 billion is for ancillary services like capital police, office management, GAO etc leaving 2.3B in personnel spending. So while the original poster is off by a large number, you are off by a similarly large number in grossly underestimating the size and number of people associated with running the legislative branch of the government.


RE: You forgot a few things
By wempa on 4/11/2011 2:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
And you just proved my point ..... a minor cut for $2.3B, let's say 20% to be generous, would save $230M. How exactly is that equal to $3.2B (10 times $320M)? In fact that doesn't even match the original funding amount !


RE: You forgot a few things
By randomly on 4/8/2011 6:38:00 PM , Rating: 5
Corn Ethanol is a good litmus test of our representatives. It is a blatant pork barrel scheme with absolutely no benefit to the public.

Corn ethanol does not in any way reduce oil imports.
Corn ethanol increases gas prices.
Corn ethanol increase engine wear forcing people to spend more on maintenance and new vehicles.
Corn ethanol increase food prices dramatically.
Corn ethanol requires intensive farming resulting in high rates of top soil loss. At this rate we'll start running out of farmable land before we even run out of oil. Our descendants will starve so corn ethanol companies can make billions today.
Corn ethanol uses huge amounts of fertilizers and pesticides which contribute to waterway pollution and coastal dead zones.

It costs the taxpayers around $7 Billion dollars a year for these corn ethanol subsidies, this accounts for 3/4 of all renewable energy subsidies. Yet it takes as much petroleum to produce the alcohol as it replaces, the efficiency is never going to improve much due to the nature of corn. It's never going to be a viable alternative energy source.

It costs the American public tens of billions of dollars a year in over all costs and destroys our farmlands for absolutely no benefit at all.

If any congressman or senator votes for corn ethanol, they aren't voting for the people's interest. They are just listening to the Archer Daniel Midlands corporation and the corn ethanol lobby. Time to vote them out. We can't afford tens of billions of dollars in corporate welfare.

The truly scary thing about this is how long people have known this, and how incredibly powerful the corn lobby is to have prevented anyone from stopping this crime for many years now.

I remember both Obama and McCain made comments during their presidential campaigns about how something should be done about the corn ethanol subsidies, and here we are 3 years later and instead of getting rid of them they are upping the ethanol levels in fuel from 10% to 15% to increase their profits by 50%.

For more details on ADM you can start here:
http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-241.html


RE: You forgot a few things
By Jeffk464 on 4/9/2011 9:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
Well said and I like how you are an equal opportunity basher, remember both democrats and republicans suck.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Jeffk464 on 4/9/2011 9:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
I think ethanol has a lot of potential, unfortunately when produced from corn you get little more energy than you put into it. I would rather see the money spent on pushing more R&D on the cellulose to ethanol process as it shows promise.


RE: You forgot a few things
By Uncle on 4/10/2011 3:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
Oh my goodness sakes, Monsanto owner of the No.1 corn seed and other GMO products, will continue to reap the benefits of government legislation. Who would of ever thought.


RE: You forgot a few things
By callmeroy on 4/11/2011 10:53:46 AM , Rating: 2
You didn't read the entire article -- it does mention how Ethanol is "less energy dense".

(Not to mention that fact should be pretty much common sense to anyone who's read the news at all in the last few years - as its one of the main gripes people have about Ethanol).


Burn in Hell
By Beenthere on 4/8/2011 5:21:32 PM , Rating: 3
I hope everyone of the scumbag politicians in DC burns in Hell for the damage they have done and continue to do to the U.S. They should all be hung for treason.




RE: Burn in Hell
By morphologia on 4/8/2011 5:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
But who is going to convict them? The Justice Dept. and the Supreme Court are all in either one party's pocket or the other.


RE: Burn in Hell
By JediJeb on 4/8/2011 6:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
Well the blame starts with the public who continues to re-elect them. There is an easy solution to the problem, stop electing them. Problem is the American public does not know the power it actually has. Why do elections go to the biggest spender, because the public is so stupid they rely more on fancy commercials than actually doing a little research to decide who to vote for.

We Americans have only ourselves to blame for letting the government get into the shape it is in currently. We allow classes like Civics to no longer be required as a class in high school so the younger generations have no idea what their role in government should be. We worry more about what we will do for fun on the weekends than taking part in the decisions that could one day take away all the freedoms we have in making those weekend plans. Everyone should read Orwell's book Animal Farm if you want to see a very accurate account of how we are letting our government take away our rights and giving them our full blessing as they do so.

We can't tell them to "Burn in Hell" when we are the ones that elected them. And if you say " I didn't vote for them" that's ok, but did you campaign for someone else better, or do anything to actively promote a better choice? Better yet, have we ourselves ran for the office in question or even given it a thought? Anyone who stands idly by as things deteriorate is as guilty of the destruction as the ones actively doing the damage.


RE: Burn in Hell
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/8/2011 10:39:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Well the blame starts with the public who continues to re-elect them. There is an easy solution to the problem, stop electing them. Problem is the American public does not know the power it actually has. Why do elections go to the biggest spender, because the public is so stupid they rely more on fancy commercials than actually doing a little research to decide who to vote for.


I agree totally. With both parties, the root of the problem is that you need many tens of millions of dollars (at least) to win federal elections in many regions.

Good luck raising that much money from an apathetic public.

Who will give you money is nice lobbyists. But that's a deal with the devil. You're essentially bought and paid for.

As long as U.S. politicians are forced to raise their own funding to run for election, the system will inherently reward corruption.

This isn't a red or blue issue, it's an issue with American politics, period.

quote:
We Americans have only ourselves to blame for letting the government get into the shape it is in currently. We allow classes like Civics to no longer be required as a class in high school so the younger generations have no idea what their role in government should be. We worry more about what we will do for fun on the weekends than taking part in the decisions that could one day take away all the freedoms we have in making those weekend plans. Everyone should read Orwell's book Animal Farm if you want to see a very accurate account of how we are letting our government take away our rights and giving them our full blessing as they do so.


Agree 100 percent. If you want to boil a frog, you just have to turn up the heat very slowly. The American public is being cooked alive, roasting in a sea of pork barrel spending, corporate cronyism, and ever diminishing civil liberties.

One day we'll wake up and see the writing on the wall:
"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

People need to EDUCATE themselves NOW.


RE: Burn in Hell
By Farfignewton on 4/9/2011 7:47:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
As long as U.S. politicians are forced to raise their own funding to run for election, the system will inherently reward corruption.


Ban t.v.and radio advertising for elections, and cap spending at say, $1 million. I haven't seen or heard an ad in 20 years that told me anything useful about a candidate, these days most don't even mention their guy, just that the other guy is a dirtbag. Putting an end to that BS would not only make fundraising less important, but would make watching the news for interviews and debates more tolerable.


RE: Burn in Hell
By JediJeb on 4/9/2011 2:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
Good idea, but if you can't ban them then change the rules so only a candidate can speak in the commercial and they can only talk about themselves.


RE: Burn in Hell
By SPOOFE on 4/11/2011 12:07:10 AM , Rating: 2
Or make attack ads worthless.

Change the election process so that instead of divvying up a single vote among ten, twelve, however many potential candidates, each voter has the choice to answer "Yes" or "No" to the question "Would I like _____ as President?" If they like all ten (or whatever) candidates, they answer Yes to all ten. If they only like a few, they only answer Yes to those few and No (or nothing) to the others.

Subtract all the No's from the Yes's for each candidate, and whoever has the most Yes's leftover wins. Or if there's a tie, a run-off election.

It makes it absolutely infeasible to use negative campaigning; why spend $50 million attacking a single guy when there's just as much a chance that any of the other nobodies could get elected?

It'll never happen, because it would destroy the established two-party system overnight.


RE: Burn in Hell
By SPOOFE on 4/11/2011 12:09:24 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, the upside of the above? No pesky "Freedom Of Speech" issues. No bans. No intrusive regulations needed. Just a change of the playing field that renders brute monetary force impotent and obsolete.


RE: Burn in Hell
By JediJeb on 4/9/2011 2:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't bee red or blue for a long time. I hold to the belief that George Washington had, in that we should never have political parties involved in government.

quote:
People need to EDUCATE themselves NOW.


It amazes me when I talk to most people about what powers we citizens should have according to the Constitution. Most already believe that the government owns all the power in the nation and that is why the government gets away with usurping so much power from the people. What frightens me most is when you look around at all the countries of the world, all that have tried to centralize the power of government into a tight core of people have eventually fallen, many ending in civil wars. Look at Rome, when it was a full fledged republic with the senate in control it flourished because the power was still somewhat with the people who the senators represented. Once it became focused on the Caesars the Empire might have grown but the unrest began to grow also and eventually it all fell. Same with many others like when Brittan, France, Spain and Portugal began their colonization periods. Americans were content to be subjects of the British Empire until they began to use us to support the centralized power and gave us no say in the matter.

Even our Constitution says we should hold to a Republican(government type not the party) government. Article 4 section 4 states:

Section 4 - Republican government

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

And a Republic is defined as:

A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, retain supreme control over the government.

These ideas are being lost today with most of our population not knowing these definitions or our Constitution, and honestly I think our government wants to keep it that way so they will retain more power than they truly are entitled to. I wish this was not true because the road it leads down is one I am afraid we will regret traveling in the future.


RE: Burn in Hell
By Spuke on 4/9/2011 8:43:06 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I wish this was not true because the road it leads down is one I am afraid we will regret traveling in the future.
Who's going to volunteer to enforce the no-fly zone over the US when we revolt?


RE: Burn in Hell
By Jeffk464 on 4/9/2011 9:52:34 PM , Rating: 2
The party chooses who they are going to put up for you to vote for and you can't win without big money, so how much choice do we really have. You get to choose the candidate that is whored out to groups that you find the least upsetting.


RE: Burn in Hell
By tng on 4/10/2011 9:20:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well the blame starts with the public who continues to re-elect them. There is an easy solution to the problem, stop electing them.
Forget the article, but sometime over the last month, I made the comment that if we all just voted out all of the house and senate over the next 3 election cycles for new people it would do wonders for the country.

I was rated down almost within seconds of posting. Problem is that while "we" know that "our" elected officials are good, everyone else has crappy ones that should be thrown out. We are all myopic on this.


RE: Burn in Hell
By Dr of crap on 4/11/2011 10:36:10 AM , Rating: 2
Like voting for the one that has the LEAST money to spend on the campaign is THE BETTER CHOICE!

I vote the Bruster Millions way, vote for no one!


Biodiesel for the win!
By quiksilvr on 4/8/2011 2:47:44 PM , Rating: 3
How about we push biodiesel from hemp instead? More energy, cheaper, less emissions and easy to convert diesel engines to biodiesel.

Another thing: we have 10% ethanol in our fuel already. Isn't that enough?




RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/8/2011 2:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How about we push biodiesel from hemp instead? More energy, cheaper, less emissions and easy to convert diesel engines to biodiesel.

Another thing: we have 10% ethanol in our fuel already. Isn't that enough?


Because hemp is an evil, evil plant. Don't you know? Didn't the tobacco and alcohol lobbies tell you?

Perhaps they mismailed your "campaign contribution" check which reached the dems and republicans who have joined together in fight such efforts....


RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By quiksilvr on 4/8/2011 3:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
Logic: But other countries don't use hemp with THC. The natural plant, Sativa, yields 0.3% THC, which has no effect if inhaled or injested. It can be grown anywhere and really cheap to make into biodiesel, which yields little to no sulfur in the atmosphere and yields very close energy output compared to diese-

Senate: NO!

http://reason.com/assets/mc/_ATTIC/Image/jsullum/t...


RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/8/2011 3:19:12 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Logic: But other countries don't use hemp with THC. The natural plant, Sativa, yields 0.3% THC, which has no effect if inhaled or injested. It can be grown anywhere and really cheap to make into biodiesel, which yields little to no sulfur in the atmosphere and yields very close energy output compared to diese-


Haha... exactly. I'm willing to wager that even the THC-free plants were rejected out of fear the public sentiment might shift in approval of hemp.

Hemp protein is actually pretty good stuff too. While an incomplete protein like soybeans (or to a lesser extent meat, which lacks inessential amino acids), it doesn't offer phytoestrogens (which soy is pretty rich in).

The problem with phytoestrogens and the testosterone/estrogen found in meat and soy is that they're highly analogous to human hormones and thus may bind to the same receptors. To make matters worse, they're fat soluble (essentially cholesterol derivatives) so they get sucked up en masse by the body's lymphatic system.

The great thing about hemp protein is it's low in both animal estrogens and analogous plant hormones.

Excessive hormone intake has been linked to reproductive problems, sex trait changes, and emotional problems.

... in other words... go hemp!

Sigh, but like you said large-scale commercial growth is probably not going to be realized anytime soon in the U.S.

Whole Foods does carry hemp protein fwiw, though.


RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By Spuke on 4/8/2011 3:27:43 PM , Rating: 2
Funny that everytime the economy goes to crap, hemp is brought back up. LOL!


RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By ClownPuncher on 4/8/2011 3:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
It makes pefect sense from an economic standpoint.


RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By YashBudini on 4/9/2011 10:40:40 AM , Rating: 1
It's the weed that keeps on giving.


RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By Skywalker123 on 4/9/2011 5:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
The "incomplete protein" thing is a myth.


RE: Biodiesel for the win!
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/9/2011 7:02:55 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The "incomplete protein" thing is a myth.


Er, no, you are quite wrong.

Your body lacks the metabolic pathways needed to synthesize the essential amino acids. So a protein that lacks all of the essential amino acids or is deficient in specific types is very appropriately referred to as "incomplete". Your body lacks the pathways to make these aminos; if you eat a protein that lacks them, you must supplement your diet with other proteins/food sources to get them. If you don't get them all, you will suffer ill health effects.

Meat is a "somewhat incomplete" protein, for the lack of a better term. It lacks inessential amino acids. While your body CAN synthesize these, it takes more energy and is slower to do so.

Hence if you're looking to work out and build muscle a "complete" protein like egg protein is most desirable as it gives you both all the essential and all the inessential amino acids and thus allows your muscles to more quickly build proteins like troposin/myosin enhancing your cross sectional area, which in turn equates to more muscle strength and endurance.

That said, even extra incomplete/somewhat incomplete proteins are helpful when working out.

(Thank you to my grad physiology teacher!)


Damn it
By adiposity on 4/8/2011 3:19:24 PM , Rating: 3
Can we ban corn ethanol yet? We should be moving away from it, not using more of it. It's destructive to car engines!




RE: Damn it
By Motoman on 4/8/2011 3:37:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and no. If you know that ethanol is going to be the fuel, you can properly design a motor to run on it without issue. The problem of course is that the vast majority of cars/motorcycles/whatever out there weren't designed to run on ethanol...at least, not in any significant concentration.

Frankly that's a secondary concern though...the primary concern is creating the ethanol in the first place in a manner that's not totally retarded.


RE: Damn it
By adiposity on 4/8/2011 3:44:51 PM , Rating: 2
Totally retarded would be getting it from corn.


RE: Damn it
By Motoman on 4/8/2011 3:56:58 PM , Rating: 2
That is correct...and in direct opposition to the support given to that industry by both the former Bush administration and the Obama administration.


RE: Damn it
By adiposity on 4/8/2011 5:18:13 PM , Rating: 3
Anyone that receives subsidies should not be allowed to make campaign contributions.


RE: Damn it
By morphologia on 4/8/2011 5:27:30 PM , Rating: 1
And which congress-critters are going to vote for that change? None, unfortunately. They like things the way they are.


RE: Damn it
By TSS on 4/8/2011 6:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
That depends. Are you willing to vote for somebody other then a democratic/republican representative next presidential elections? Both bush and obama are hot for ethanol.

Not that the 3rd guy won't be or get bought and paid for, but it would send a strong message for the next time around.


RE: Damn it
By ekv on 4/9/2011 3:16:45 AM , Rating: 2
Unless that 3rd guy already has a lot of dough.

But then who wants to hear the Soros vs. Hunt "you're buying the election! No, you're buying the election" battle.

Of course, others like T Boone Pickens would be colorful at least, if not stylish. Wants us the hell off foreign oil dependence .


RE: Damn it
By Jalek on 4/9/2011 9:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
Their own wealth doesn't matter, nearly half of the people in Congress now are millionaires. The median personal wealth in Congress was $750,000 in 2008, $911,000 in 2009, and I haven't seen more current numbers, but I'd bet they haven't fallen at all.

2008 was a rough year for many, but for bank executives and Congressmen it was apparently a bonanza.


Never
By Motoman on 4/8/2011 3:18:48 PM , Rating: 5
Fuel from a dedicated crop is moronic. Especially if it's a food crop, like corn - but even if it wasn't a food crop, if you're dedicating tillable soil to growing a crop for fuel, that's tillable soil that isn't growing food.

Fuel from non-dedicated crops is a great idea...like ditchweed, maybe silage (although that impacts other uses for silage...like, I think pigs eat it). Fuel from algae? Maybe. I guess I have to see it more. Fuel from the leftovers at a poultry plant seemed really interesting, but for whatever reason it never seemed to go anywhere.

In the end, we have to not be morons about biofuels. Using corn, sugarcane, or any non-food dedicated crop is abject stupidity. We need to learn to make it from "trash" - or something so totally disconnected from agriculture that it just doesn't matter.

...whether it's Obama pushing it or someone else, like Bush.




RE: Never
By msheredy on 4/8/11, Rating: 0
RE: Never
By JediJeb on 4/8/2011 6:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
Not that much of the corn grown for many years goes directly to food. It is used as cattle feed and to make corn syrup, corn oil, and alcohol(both the drinkable kind and the industrial kind). As for taking it away from cattle feed, you can still feed cattle the corn that is left over from making alcohol, you lose sugars, but you are using it mostly for the proteins not the sugars anyhow when used as feed. The biggest market you will affect when using corn for fuel is the corn oil/corn syrup market. But since lately there has been a push to get away from High Fructose Corn Syrup used in foods that may not be as large of an affect as people imagine it will be.

As for using farm ground to produce fuel causing a shortage of land for food, that is also up for debate. We produce more food now than we eat, and even when exporting so much to other countries we still have a large amount that goes to waste. Honestly what I see as the biggest waste/theft of good farm land it urban/suburban expansion into fertile farm lands. Force cities to expand into rocky, non-fertile ground instead.

I also get fed up with everyone complaining about farmers getting subsidies yet those same people would scream bloody murder if they stopped the subsidies and let the price of food inflate to prices that would still allow most farmers to make a fair living. Seems the bulk of the population would rather have farmers working as slaves for them than to actually pay enough for their goods to allow them to make a decent living. My father sold cattle for about $1 per pound in the 1970s and the price is still nearly the same, sometimes even lower now. I bet you don't pay the same for a steak or hamburger now that you did in the 1970s, so where has the money gone?

Is corn ethanol a good choice to replace gasoline? Probably not, unless there can be a new way found to produce it with less energy input. But it still is no more the spawn of Satan than many other social programs the government has cooked up over the decades. Someone elsewhere in the thread mentioned cutting this program instead of Planned Parenthood I say cut them both. If either is worthwhile then they will find private funding, let the free market drive it all.


RE: Never
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/8/2011 10:54:21 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
corn syrup, corn oil, and alcohol(both the drinkable kind and the industrial kind). As for taking it away from cattle feed, you can still feed cattle the corn that is left over from making alcohol, you lose sugars, but you are using it mostly for the proteins not the sugars anyhow when used as feed. The biggest market you will affect when using corn for fuel is the corn oil/corn syrup market. But since lately there has been a push to get away from High Fructose Corn Syrup used in foods that may not be as large of an affect as people imagine it will be.


I think you're unaware of how much corn syrup the American public consumes every year. Heck they put corn syrup in outlandish things like Nacho chips and pizza. It's a major source of America's obesity issues.

The corn subsidies ARE a majorly to blame for this.

It's so cheap to add corn syrup to food it replaces to sugar and becomes a filler, despite the fact that its monosaccharide mix is metabolized more slowly.

quote:
corn syrup, corn oil, and alcohol(both the drinkable kind and the industrial kind). As for taking it away from cattle feed, you can still feed cattle the corn that is left over from making alcohol, you lose sugars, but you are using it mostly for the proteins not the sugars anyhow when used as feed. The biggest market you will affect when using corn for fuel is the corn oil/corn syrup market. But since lately there has been a push to get away from High Fructose Corn Syrup used in foods that may not be as large of an affect as people imagine it will be.


Where is all this farm land being seized for urban expansion?? I don't think that's as big a national issue as you make it out to be...

quote:
I also get fed up with everyone complaining about farmers getting subsidies yet those same people would scream bloody murder if they stopped the subsidies and let the price of food inflate to prices that would still allow most farmers to make a fair living.


Where do you think the subsidies come from?? YOUR TAXES.

YOU ARE PAYING FOR IT! Man...

Let the free market decide.

If they're really "just getting by" like you claim nothing will change. But if they're profiteering off the pork barrel food will get CHEAPER.

Don't be an alarmist and promote government pork.

quote:
Someone elsewhere in the thread mentioned cutting this program instead of Planned Parenthood I say cut them both. If either is worthwhile then they will find private funding, let the free market drive it all.


Planned parenthood certainly could be scaled back.

But it's actually far less expensive than farm subsidies. Last year its budget was approximately ~$1B USD.

At the peak of the Bush administration the corn subsidies ALONE totaled OVER $10B (!) USD . That's 10x. Surely you can recognize what an issue that is.

Source:
http://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=00000&prog...

Why does the government need to be spending $10B USD in YOUR money to prop up the corn industry????

You'd have to kill off several planned parenthood like social organizations to cut as much pork as the farm subsidies alone. Clearly this is a big target so will receive more criticism. That's only fair.


RE: Never
By JediJeb on 4/9/2011 2:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
I have never been a proponent of farm subsidies even though I grew up on a farm. Most of that money simply goes to the people in the middle and not directly to the farmers themselves. The ones in the middle take the subsidy money, keep the prices in the stores low and never seem to pass it on down to the farmers.

Farming is probably the most economically efficient profession there is, because to stay afloat farmers have to squeeze out ever cent they can to continue operating. From the 1970s and back a family could make enough money farming as little as 100 acres to keep themselves feed and clothed and have a little extra for spending on things they just wanted. Now any family running a farm less than 1000 acres can not survive without at least one of them working outside the farm.

You don't see kids graduating college or high school and saying "I'm going to buy a farm and start farming for a living" simply because they could never afford it. Around where I live farm land is not at the most expensive prices as some places are and yet if someone wanted to start out with 1000 acres it would cost $2.5 million for the ground and probably another $500,000 for all the equipment needed. Once you also figure in fuel, seeds, fertilizer and all the rest you might break even for the first 20 years as long as you don't have a really bad year, maybe. I know many family farms right now where the husband runs the farm and also does work in the side like welding, auto repair, construction or other, and the wife works in a regular job and yet after all the expenses are taken out they make the equivalent of someone working a regular job making about $20k per year, $30k if they are lucky.

As for the loss of farmland. If you do a search for "No Net Loss of Farmland ( or Ag land) you will find many examples of city, county and state governments working to preserve farmland from development.

http://www.farmland.org/actioncenter/no-farms-no-f...

Link is to the home of American Farmland Trust, and group working to preserve farm land from development.

On the corn syrup issue, I know how much it is used. It is also not considered a good thing for the public health. But if you all of a sudden remove corn syrup, and make the food companies use better things instead of using it as filler, what would happen to the price of food? It would most likely increase. The subsidies that promote corn syrup also keep the price of foods lower in the stores because it provides a filler that is cheap. Take away that subsidy and food prices increase. Myself I would like to see the subsidy gone, but will people be willing to pay more for their food?( though they are already paying more because their taxes pay the subsidies, yet if they paid more in the store for the food and dropped the subsidy they would probably end up paying less overall by taking out the government handling expenses).

I also know that Planned Parenthood gets no where near as much money as the farm subsidies total up to, if it sounded like I thought that I apologize, what I was trying to say is that our government wastes too much money on all sorts of things that should be completely cut out. Before the government got involved in our everyday lives people did a fair job of taking care of themselves, maybe we should return to that way of thinking. Let people take responsibility for their own lives, failure should be an option for people who do not wish to succeed, as it is not the government pushes a failure is not an option mantra which has made us as individuals much weaker.


RE: Never
By SPOOFE on 4/11/2011 12:37:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But if you all of a sudden remove corn syrup, and make the food companies use better things instead of using it as filler, what would happen to the price of food?

It would have a spike and a brief period of instability as farmers adjust to the new conditions. One growing season later and it'll be back to normal. It's not like they HAVE TO grow corn. In fact, the only reason corn is attractive at all is because of the subsidies. Sans subsidy, other crops would have preference, and likely crops that aren't so lousy for our topsoil or so omnipresent in our food supply.


RE: Never
By TSS on 4/8/2011 6:43:47 PM , Rating: 2
Using anything you can grow for fuel is moronic. There is no thing like free energy - if you take it from the crops it must come out of the soil. If we didn't use as much fertilizer as we do we wouldn't nearly be able to sustain todays food production.

Eventually even fertile soil will become desolate because it has no nutrients left plants need to grow. And using oil based fertilizer to grow crops to then use as fuel is even sillier then every monty python sketch i've ever seen.

If anything, algae make sense. Because you can put a tank of algae on non-fertile soil. Basically producing fuel from land that will never produce anything otherwise - now that makes alot more sense.

In the end though nothing makes as much sense as gas for the next 20 or 30 years at least. Personally i'm still a fan of nuclear power combined with hydrogen as a energy delivery system - but even that is decades off (considering the enviromentalists, centuries off).

Nope. No matter how you slice it, it'll be fusion or bust.


Ethanol is the future...
By TEAMSWITCHER on 4/8/2011 4:03:54 PM , Rating: 1
The 300 million increase is just a government investment against rising oil prices. It's designed to help improve the economies of scale for ethanol production. You can laugh at ethanol all you want today, but some day it will be a number one fuel here in the US.

How much more OIL do you think there is in the world? Pessimists say 40 years the optimists say 60. Ethanol could be cheaper than gasoline in less than 20 years, but only if we begin establishing the infrastructure now.

If we don't then we will find ourselves at a severe strategic and financial disadvantage to other countries that didn't listen to politicians who lubricated their campaigns with OIL money.




RE: Ethanol is the future...
By Jalek on 4/8/2011 5:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
Ethanol may be, but getting it from corn, and with even more corn subsidies, is just a sellout to lobbyists.

Even Al Gore, who cast the tie-breaking vote over crop diversion, now admits it was a mistake caused by listening to farm lobbyists instead of objective opinions.


RE: Ethanol is the future...
By NovoRei on 4/8/2011 8:23:58 PM , Rating: 1
The article misses the point and try to force an opinion(as most of jason articles).

This isnt about corn ethanol, just ethanol. You cant develop the ethanol industry without a source of ethanol and for the moment its corn. In the future, it will not be corn. We just need to scale it.

As for the "disadvantages", its pure prejudice. Ethanol has less specific energy, but cost less. Nowdays engines can accept up to E25 fuel. Never 2B will be spent to develop a "new-engine". The only things that change is compression-rate(new piston), a new mapping for ECU and mixture sensor, and a more corrosion resistant injection system. BTW, the development is already done at Brazil. Oh, and ethanol increase overall horsepower.

The idea is to develop fuel sources that can fight with gasoline and thats ethanol, biodiesel and natural-gas.


RE: Ethanol is the future...
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/8/11, Rating: 0
RE: Ethanol is the future...
By NovoRei on 4/9/2011 12:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The vast majority of ethanol today IS from corn. So this bill will largely support corn ethanol. C'mon pal, put two and two together. Why do you think senators from leading CORN GROWING states are supporting this initiative??


Of course at the short-term it will benefit corn, it's the main source for now. But if at any point a feasible alternative exist, it will "dethrone" corn.

But why this bill is important? To make the consumption, the infrastructure, the market-share big enough so the companies will care for others sources beyond corn. If it continues small there's no problem producing ethanol from corn, "we" will charge a premium.

And beyond corn farmers, pollution, there's a more important point. Independence from oil companies, from market fluctuation, from external crisis, diversify the energy matrix.

quote:
I've tested several ethanol vehicles and every time gotten worse fuel economy in terms of cost per gallon vs. a straight gas fill up. The fuel may be slightly cheaper per gallon, but it's much less energetic.


Ethanol isn't cheap because it has not scaled yet. The bill try to somewhat address it. The general thumb-rule for E85 is the price of ethanol should be 75% of gasoline.

quote:
How many ethanol vehicles have you driven? Or are you just writing because you think an ethanol vehicle might be neat?


As consumer POV, I prefer more than 1 option to fuel my car. And yes, I have driven several ethanol cars, some flex others pure ethanol.

quote:
Ah yes, Brazil has found a way to magically provide more horsepower out of a less energetic fuel.


If you really want to know, taken from Brazilian automotive websites:

Citroen C4 2.0:
Gasoline(E25) : 103kW / 6000RPM
Ethanol(E100) : 109kW / 6000RPM

Ford Focus 1.6:
Ethanol: 116CV
Gas: 112CV CV=0,98HP

etc...

Every car with ethanol has higher HP because of higher equivalent octane and higher efficiency. This is true even if the same compression-ratio of gasoline is used(~10:1). The benefits are higher for ethanol ratio(~12:1).

The only disadvantages for the consumer are lower mileage, cold-start with pure ethanol(although new technologies fix it), and poor consumption compared to pure gas or pure ethanol engines because you need to choose a compression between 10:1/12:1.

If it`s 12:1, great mileage for ethanol and very bad for gas. 11:1 bad for both. 10:1 very bad for ethanol.

An interesting note. There's already a technology called "Tetra-Fuel" from Bosch, Delphi and Magneti-Marelli. It's and injection system that allows pure gasoline, pure ethanol, a mix of both, and natural-gas.

And we are not talking about biodiesel, hydrogen cells, nuclear cells, new kinds of engines, and 30 years from now techs that should be taken on consideration. Anyway, ethanol is a good energy source for mid-term.

quote:
So apparently you had your mind shut before you read the article because you didn't agree with the facts, eh??


No. I just filter the text as every other reader. This process would be easier if the text was less biased. But then again, I think its like a sport game. If the referee was always right and fair there would be no fun.


RE: Ethanol is the future...
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: Ethanol is the future...
By Baffo on 4/9/2011 10:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are missing the point, and are maybe looking at the wrong end of the supply chain here. They simply are making the car manufacturers make cars that will run on E85, they aren't forcing them to use only E85. Those same cars will still run on regular gas (well really "E10" I suppose due to regs) if that is what you want to put into it - a properly modified computer with sensors should be able to figure out what you put in the tank and change running the engine to optimize for the fuel it detects - it hasn't seem to have hurt Ford sales. Outside of the ethanol used as part of state regs (not this bill under discussion), there is no change in fuel available - but should spur the availability (but not replacement with) ethanol at the pump.

This should be no more disruptive than the appearance of a diesel pump at a gas station alongside reg/sup/sup+ - no one is forcing you to buy diesel and ruin your engine with it, but if you chose to buy a car that runs on diesel, you will have the ability buy diesel somewhere and use that car to get from point a to b.

The only part of supply mentioned is that the government will increase _it's_ spending on ethanol, presumably because it is planning to buy the new ethanol enabled cars/trucks (just Ford at this point) and run their fleets on it.

The problem I see is that making this a voluntary solution would work - eventually. The problem is timing - we have significant oil price fluctuations occurring in one of our most unstable economic periods in our history, and only one major car supplier supplies any ability to access ethanol as an alternative fuel - on it's own R&D dime, ahead of availability of the fuel customers would want to buy (and necessarily pay some premium over non flex-fuel cars on the sticker price). By requiring all vehicle manufacturers to work with E85 puts all manufacturers on a level playing field (other than Ford who already invested the R&D, and now just pays for incremental adjustments needed to protect fuel injection corrosion, computer code, etc.) and quickly increases the number of customers who can buy and benefit from E85 when available (from whatever source, not just corn).

This directly effects those cellulosic ethanol companies you talk about because they have to base their own R&D, production, and even loans from financial institutions to make all that possible on their ability to sell the product they are producing. The more customers available and interested in their product, the better their position looks, the more successful they can be properly funding and supporting operations to produce ethanol.

This doesn't mean that we as a country shouldn't look seriously at changing our subsidies, our tarrifs, and treat the import of sugar cane or processed ethanol with the same importance to supply as we do other strategic energy sources (oil, natural gas, nuclear fuel, etc.). It is just without a bill like this, we wouldn't have a choice to use ethanol as a strategic commodity (when and whether we want to or not) because without it, very few vehicles will be able to use it.

As has been pointed out, even if it were available now and in quantity, no one will use it if it will ruin the car so let's put the relatively minor changes needed into every car made.

Requiring airbags, better crash testing etc. did not bankrupt car companies or make cars too expensive to sell, even for cars that never used them; with the increase in gas prices expected to continue on their current trajectory, the minor cost to each car to add E85 capability should actually drive TCO of the car much lower than without. There will be some back and forth on this point as supply of cars and supply of fuel changes (easier to ramp up supply of E85 enabled cars than produce technologies for mass producing ethanol from switch grass), but without something giving, it will be catch 22 for a long time to come.


RE: Ethanol is the future...
By SPOOFE on 4/11/2011 12:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Requiring airbags, better crash testing etc. did not bankrupt car companies or make cars too expensive to sell

Those are things that actually improve the safety or quality of vehicles. Trying to stop global pollution with more pollution is the exact opposite.

"Hitting my thumb with a hammer is bad! Maybe if I stabbed it with a knife it will feel better!"


RE: Ethanol is the future...
By Jalek on 4/9/2011 12:10:51 AM , Rating: 2
Brazil's everyone's favorite example, but they also don't bother with crop rotations and is the sort of blood running on the streets with abject poverty worth the cost of the subsidies? They also use sugar cane as the source crop which is more dense.

The US still pays people not to grow. For highest production, the government could stop for crop recovery and get it all planted, dust storms making it dark at noon in DC would be fun to repeat.


Never enough
By FITCamaro on 4/8/2011 3:18:02 PM , Rating: 1
Ever higher fuel economy standards, ever higher safety standards, ever higher emissions standards, and of course "hey now use a fuel that negatively impacts two of the three".




RE: Never enough
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/8/2011 3:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ever higher fuel economy standards, ever higher safety standards, ever higher emissions standards, and of course "hey now use a fuel that negatively impacts two of the three".


Actually it negatively impacts ALL three.

In order to meet emissions and fuel economy standards, you have to reduce vehicle weight. Lower vehicle weight is strongly correlated with auto fatalities.

And it doesn't help that ethanol raises emissions and lowers fuel economy, forcing automakers to cut even MORE weight & safety.

Drive safe! -- a message from your friend GOV


RE: Never enough
By FITCamaro on 4/9/2011 5:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
Well ethanol doesn't impact safety standards. That's what I meant.

But yes you're right. You can't change one of those things without impacting the other two. Safe cars are going to use more gas and put out more emissions because they're heavier (at least until carbon fiber can be introduced into mainstream cars. but a bigger car will always be safer in an accident than a smaller car). Cars that get the best gas mileage typically aren't as safe and optimal tuning for mileage doesn't necessarily mean the least emissions. And cars that have really low emissions typically aren't as safe (again small and light) and the tuning doesn't necessarily result in the best gas mileage.


RE: Never enough
By Lerianis on 4/12/2011 12:03:09 AM , Rating: 2
NOT NECESSARILY! They have done studies in the past few months that prove that lighter cars are no less safe than heavier cars when put to a like vs. like car crash (a small car against a small car).

Even when it is an SUV against a Cruze or something smaller than that, the safety rate doesn't go down because of all the new safety features.

It's simply put? A LIE that making a car of lighter materials automatically makes it less safe.


By SilthDraeth on 4/9/2011 11:24:05 AM , Rating: 3
Monsanto




Ridiculous
By fldude2k1 on 4/8/2011 4:33:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's ridiculous to attempt to solve our dependency on oil by using a food crop when we have abundant supplies of natural gas available -- so much that America has been called the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. But natural gas seems so low on the government's priorities that natural gas companies are exporting the fuel and selling interests in natural gas fields to countries like China. I understand that natural gas would require a different engine that those used for gasoline and ethanol, but it can be a process that can be started with America's truck fleet which accounts for 25% of fuel use.




By voronwae on 4/9/2011 12:27:27 AM , Rating: 2
I was looking for the Obama Administration's connection to all of this, and I didn't find it. Then I noticed your source. I keep forgetting, Jason, are you a journalist or a blogger? If you're a blogger, you don't have to worry about whether what you say is accurate or biased, but it would be nice if you said "opinion" at the top.




By croc on 4/9/2011 1:47:23 AM , Rating: 2
As per title... Many other countries are already using E20 - 25 fuels, Brazil chief amongst them. As Aus. mandates E10 fuel, personally I have noticed no real difference in fuel economy. My car is a 1985 BMW so I did have some concerns as to maintenance issues, but was told by BMW (of Germany) not to concern myself, no engine mods required below E50, and my old engine with some fuel system mods (hoses, injector ports, timing...) could run quite well on E85.

Most of AUS's ethanol comes from sugar cane, as does most (all?) of Brazil's. If memory serves, the US used to be a large cane producer... Cane will grow in areas where corn will not, and our cane is first pressed for sugar extraction, then the crushed stalks get used in Eth production.

Our V8 Supercar competition mandates E85 ehanol, both Ford and Holden (GM to you Northerners) seem to run just fine on that blend... So it seems that what a lot of what is being stated in these replies is rather more akin to 'my party, right or wrong' than to a real discussion of real-world facts. Don't get me wrong, here is Aus we also have our share of political stoushes, but just not on this issue at this time.




Hogwash!
By TimboG on 4/9/2011 2:29:13 AM , Rating: 2
Here we go again with the same hogwash trying to brainwash America.
And I quote "use more ethanol in a bid to reduce fossil fuels consumption".
In no way has the 10% reduced fossil fuel usage. In fact it has increased it.

Consider that the 10% loss of MPG from using the 10% ethanol has just negated the ethanol from the equation. We are still using the same amount of oil to go the same distance. Then add the foreign oil burned in equipment to produce the ethanol.

We just became more dependent on foreign oil than before the 10% ethanol.

Even going to 15% ethanol will produce the same results as the 10%.
Overall there is no difference in oil consumption. 15% less MPG negates the 15% volume of ethanol in your tank.

Now with E85 there might be a small chance of it being usable. But only if the entire power plant and transmission are engineered in respect of that fuels BTU.
To simply try to add it to current autos without significantly changing the engine design and transmission gearing ratios to match the lower power output of E85 as the primary fuel source would result in reducing the current 15% efficient internal combustion engine to a much lower efficiency.

I think I’ll go now and pour some sulfuric acid into my old El Camino. Just as well, if I don’t do something to destroy the fuel system they will do it for me.




I love politicians
By diggernash on 4/9/2011 8:34:31 AM , Rating: 2
Feed my corn to a pig somewhere, not a golf cart disguised as a car. We need to kick them out of their make em fat business altogether. Hand outs for recycling, fuel, art, shelter, and food are all beyond what that den of vipers is supposed to be coiled up around.




OK Alanis...
By DNAgent on 4/9/2011 4:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ironically the debate may be less about the merits of the bill and more a test of the political muscle of various lobbyists.


Isn't this less ironic and more business as usual???




E85 as an option
By haukionkannel on 4/10/2011 7:47:28 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the E85 has it flaws, but I would like to have a flexi fuel car that can use E85 or pure oil based gasoline and everything between them!
As an customer, I would chose the gasoline that would allow best milage/$ at time being.
At this moment oil based gasoline is still relatively cheap... in not so far future some combination of alcohol and oil can become economically more usefull. It is not so bad to have a car that can adapt to any situation that may arise!




By stardude82 on 4/11/2011 12:29:33 AM , Rating: 2
Corn accounts for a quarter of the total land used for Agriculture in the US. 45% is used directly as animal feed, 42% is used for ethanol and the balance for food prices. Of the portion used for ethanol, about a third of the mass is used for animal feed or human consumption. I'd also add that in the last 30 years, corn production has doubled while the area under cultivation has decreased slightly.

Overall, 50% of US farmland is used for animal feed compared to ~8% for ethanol.

I think if you really want to make an impact, you should avoid grain fed beef and pork.




By stardude82 on 4/11/2011 12:29:49 AM , Rating: 2
Corn accounts for a quarter of the total land used for Agriculture in the US. 45% is used directly as animal feed, 42% is used for ethanol and the balance for food prices. Of the portion used for ethanol, about a third of the mass is used for animal feed or human consumption. I'd also add that in the last 30 years, corn production has doubled while the area under cultivation has decreased slightly.

Overall, 50% of US farmland is used for animal feed compared to ~8% for ethanol.

I think if you really want to make an impact, you should avoid grain fed beef and pork.




By E85Prices on 4/19/2011 5:54:32 PM , Rating: 2
Complete Nonsense...E85 does not break a "normal" engine because the Engine and every other components on a NON Flex Fuel Vehicle is the SAME as on a Flex Fuel Vehicle.

Generally the only difference is the Fuel Mapping..software for the Aitr/Fuel instructions aspect of the ECU.

General Motors themselves says it LITERALLY cost them $70 to turn a Non FFV into a FVV ..GM Vice Chairman Stevens

"GM is spending about $100 million a year adding flex-fuel capability to our vehicles. We can't afford to leave this capital stranded," Stevens is to tell attendees in a speech on Tuesday at the Renewable Fuels Association conference.
A copy of the speech was provided to reporters on Monday.
Adding the capability to run on E85 costs adds as much as $70 to the production cost of each vehicle, Stevens said.

http://e85vehicles.com/e85/index.php?topic=4654.0

General Motors themselves is calling for more E85 Stations because even at just $70 per vehicle it adds up..GM is saying build the E85 Stations so we arent wasting capital ($70) per vehicle




Ethanol aint' all bad...
By Philippine Mango on 4/10/2011 4:03:37 PM , Rating: 1
Ethanol is good if you want cheap racing fuel (higher octane) and or fuel that burns cleaner which means less oil changes and an engine that will last much longer.




E85 is a good idea
By dlapine on 4/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: E85 is a good idea
By Baffo on 4/8/2011 10:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, competition is a good idea. Ethanol certainly doesn't need to just come from corn, and it also doesn't need to come from strictly local sources. For example, I've read some analysis that reducing tariffs on the import of cane-based ethanol from countries already producing and using large amounts of ethanol (like Brazil) could help provide large sources of ethanol that would not impact local food supplies (of corn or sugar) - and as we found in the last run up in the price of gas, it didn't take a large reduction in the total demand of oil to bring down the per-barrel prices. Ethanol doesn't have to (short term) completely replace oil to have a stabilizing effect on our energy prices, it simply allows us to do what successful businesses do - ensure multiple supply lines of critical supplies and use the least expensive at the time. That way when oil prices skyrocket (artificially or with good reason) over instability in foreign markets, we don't end up paying those larger sums to bad actors that happen to have available oil; we can go with either domestic alternative producers or at least alternative and more friendly exporters.

The best thing is this can be market driven if our vehicles support ethanol; no one will commit to selling ethanol (or any other alternative fuel for that matter) if a large part of the vehicle market can't use it. If we require the ability to use ethanol - NOT forced to buy ethanol as is incorrectly stated in some of the above threads, just simply make the cars NOT break down when using ethanol - we allow infrastructure to sell ethanol with reasonable chance it will work. Once ethanol is widely available, and a significant number of people can buy whatever is cheaper, this will in turn drive down the over-all price of auto fuel as market swings in one fuel naturally smooth out with supply in the alternative. As it is now, only by crippling domestic transportation and directly impacting economic growth as the price of gas increases will the supply meet (by reducing) demand.

One recent book in particular opened my eyes to these issues, "Turning Oil into Salt" (ISBN-10: 1439248478), with some persuasive arguments on ethanol being just one piece in a larger effort to get off of the oil dependency. Given our total energy output, no one carbon neutral energy source (ethanol, solor, wind, wave, nuclear, etc.) will get us off of oil anytime soon, but at least we can reduce it's extreme effect on our economy by investing in any alternative source that promises, even in the short run, to simply reduce our demand enough to shave these peaks in prices and low supplies.

BTW, to the point on CAFE standards, I agree; once we allow ethanol or other fuels that are less energy dense than gasoline, we need to come up with a fuel-neutral way to ensure high standards of fuel economy apply (or at least in the short term ensure CAFE standards are applied only to 90%+ gasoline fuel and don't artificially penalize ethanol-enabled vehicles).

But just because ethanol is less energy dense does not mean we should throw it out due to the MPG issue; it is the $/mile we should be worried about. If you put $20 of ethanol into a car and it goes farther than $20 of gas, you come out ahead, no matter that it took 20% (or whatever the rate is) more volume of fuel. Furthermore, it isn't a democratic or republican issue if that means that $20 didn't go to a petrodictator with stated aims to harm the US.

I happen to work for a maker of electric vehicle chargers (for whom I don't speak, nor do they endorse anything I say I'm sure); electric vehicles are one of many ways that also promise to reduce our dependence on oil by enabling the small but growing number of electric vehicles to get transportation energy from non-oil based sources. That said, even electric (only) vehicles have their challenges when it comes to infrastructure and ability to deliver fuel to these cars in all use cases (this is just not practical yet for commercial multi-state trucks for example). There is no "perfect" oil replacement and won't for some time to come. It may never come until a catastrophic shortage forces us to, if we don't foster growth in those technologies that help us gradually wean ourselves off our dependence on oil. No one person can say what will eventually replace oil (being a finite commodity, this will happen eventually whether we like it or not), so it makes sense to ensure we have choice in what we use for energy, and ultimately where and how we get that energy. Ethanol is simply one way forward with some current and many potentially better sources in the future. As several have noted, ethanol may eventually be harvested from waste or algae; who can argue that using sewers and slime to supplant the power of unstable but oil rich nations wouldn't be true poetic justice.

I personally can't wait until I can buy a plug-in hybrid ethanol enabled car. That way I can choose to use whatever is cheapest available to fuel it - electricity, gas, ethanol (from sugar, corn, grass, algae, waste ... whatever).


RE: E85 is a good idea
By TimboG on 4/9/2011 3:00:22 AM , Rating: 2
I understand most of what you are trying to convey with the exception of this statement "If you put $20 of ethanol into a car and it goes farther than $20 of gas, you come out ahead, no matter that it took 20% (or whatever the rate is) more volume of fuel".

How can we "come out ahead" when what you use as a reference is $ and we would be spending more $ to go the same distance?

And that does not take into account that if you reduce the MPG an equal amount as the increase in % of ethanol this completely removes having the ethanol in the fuel as a benefit.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Baffo on 4/9/2011 10:45:54 PM , Rating: 2
Assuming that gas continues on the current trajectory while ethanol stays relatively stable (or with new technology actually reduces $/gallon), there will be some point (if we aren't already there) where the cost of ethanol is cheaper to take you 100 miles, than it costs using gasoline; never mind that it might take %20 more ethanol to get you there, the cost is what we are talking about. So if it costs $5/gallon for gas (not that far off now, it is $4.16 down the street) and $4/gallon for ethanol, that is a %20 difference and should be break even; $20 of gas (4 gallons) might get you 120 miles on a car with 30MPG (gas), but that same $20 of E85 would also take you (5 gallons at 24MPG) 120 miles. So if gas goes up, or E85 goes down, you get a better deal out of E85 (and conversely if gas goes down or E85 goes up, it isn't a deal and you use gas instead).

The point is you get a choice - if your car can use E85, you can pick the fuel with the best cost for you. If you only have a conventional car, you are stuck with whatever OPEC says you pay no matter how good E85 is.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Targon on 4/8/2011 11:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
What you fail to understand is that we are not getting a choice about what gas to put in our cars, so we end up with worse fuel economy, paying more overall, and getting a shorter life span for existing vehicles that have not been designed with "Flex Fuel" in mind. Many of us prefer to buy a car and keep it longer than a 3-year period as well, so when the new E85 gas is FORCED down our throats, most of us will be hurt significantly by it for well over six years.

Choice is good, but that is not what we are being given. Can you buy ANY gas without ethanol? What about a 5% Ethanol blend? When a 15 percent blend is forced on us, the 10% blend will all but disappear.

You also forget one very important thing, the auto makers are being forced to follow new guidelines for fuel economy, yet by forcing E85(which does reduce fuel economy), the government is making it that much harder for auto makers to hit the existing requirements. It would be like the boss at work telling employees at 4pm that they can't go home at 5pm because of a whim of the owner, and employees won't even get overtime because of that whim. It will reduce morale, and make EVERYONE want to just quit.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Firebat5 on 4/8/2011 11:52:25 PM , Rating: 2
+1

As a farmer, federal corn ethanol policy so far has been a moneymaker. But far more importantly as a principled conservative and an American, current corn ethanol policy is bad.

The reason the federal policy is so messed up on ethanol is you have this crazy alliance of politicians creating it. Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals---they all get all jumbled about on this issue.

Republican midwestern representatives (who are often viewed as Conservative) sometimes support it since it is "good" for their constituents. Other politicians and citizens alike support it because they feel it reduces dependance of foreign oil. Yet other republicans and citizens oppose it as extra-Constitutional government meddling.

Some Democrats, on the other hand, support it because its more government control. Others, including citizens, support it because it's supposedly "good" for the environment. Some democrats and republicans alike it because it is supposedly "bad" for the environment.

It really is quite an array of disparate views.

To clean up this mess, all you have to do is:

1. Make all federal farm subsidies disappear (especially crop insurance subsidies), along with the attached regulations restricting private land use.

2. Make all Federal ethanol subsidies disappear, along with the restrictions on domestic oil production.

3. Drop all ethanol related restrictions on auto makers along with all fuel-economy requirements.

Bammo, instant resolution of the issue via we the people. If we the people really want ethanol, it will be a viable industry for years to come. Conversely, if we the people don't want it, it will disappear.

Simple as that.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Firebat5 on 4/9/2011 12:13:31 AM , Rating: 2
point 2 should read

2. Make all Federal ethanol subsidies AND MANDATES disappear, along with the restrictions on domestic oil production.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Targon on 4/9/2011 8:57:53 AM , Rating: 2
Fuel economy improvements I don't have a problem with overall, except when they are unrealistic. It takes over five years for a new design to go from initial design phase to implementation, and expecting several MPG improvement EVERY YEAR just does not make sense from a real-world perspective. Saying a 5MPG improvement over 20 years might work, not over 10.

Now, the dislike of this stuff is not limited to "conservatives"...only the ultra-liberals really support what is being proposed, while the rest of the people on the Democratic side are really more balanced in our views. Most of us just want to be able to live our lives too. Support for government programs to help lower income families does not mean most Democrats support all the waste in government and throwing money around like water.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Baffo on 4/10/2011 1:18:32 PM , Rating: 2
I still don't see where E85 is being forced down anyone's throat short of a complete loss of all fossil fuels (in which case, 3 years of driving and saving up for an E85 capable car or E85 upgrade to the current one is better than watching the old one grow moss in the driveway ;-) )? No one can possibly expect ethanol ratios in standard gas to change to destructive levels without major lawsuits to limit or repeal those changes. I haven't read anywhere where E10 is destructive to current engines, or that higher blends are being discussed. I do know that potential effects of E10 were discussed and evaluated before it was used (and in fact was a replacement for other similar additives that were poisoning water tables).

E10 isn't a choice but isn't destructive. E85 will be a choice (not requirement) for those that can use it - when available.

On the point of CAFE standards, you assume that E85 will be used in the MPG rating of a car; why? It will be interesting to see how they modify CAFE evaluation protocol to accommodate ethanol and other biofuels in general if someone comes out with (and I don't know why they would) an ethanol-only vehicle.

A relevant snippet from the NHTSA website:
quote:
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is the sales weighted average fuel economy, expressed in miles per gallon (mpg), of a manufacturer’s fleet of passenger cars or light trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 lbs. or less, manufactured for sale in the United States, for any given model year. Fuel economy is defined as the average mileage traveled by an automobile per gallon of gasoline (or equivalent amount of other fuel) consumed as measured in accordance with the testing and evaluation protocol set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


I would reasonably expect "equivalent" to take into consideration the relative energy disparity between E10 and E85. It hasn't been a problem for diesel so far, I don't see why E85 would be any different. If it becomes a problem, that is why we vote for representatives in government to fix the regs to change with new technology. And before someone blasts that as too Pollyanna-ish, remember that no one - dem/repubs/green/blue/red/auto/oil/whatever will benefit if no one can sell a car due to inflexible CAFE standards.

Now if only these regulatory groups would start standardizing/certifying biodiesel and make similar changes for diesel engines we could also start reducing oil imports on that segment of the the auto industry (and who can argue that driving behind a car that smells like fries is worse than behind one that smells like a smoke stack? ;-) ).


RE: E85 is a good idea
By E85Prices on 4/19/2011 6:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
E85 isn't being "forced" on anyone..come on people where the hell did come sense go?

The Bill is to mandate that the Auto Industry make every vehicle a Flex fuel Vehicle..a FFV CAN run any blend of Ethanol and Gasoline for E0 to E85

Cost? $70 per vehicle..the main difference is a software/ coding change in the fuel map

For $70 YOU the consumer can then have OPTIONS at the Pump to buy the least expensive fuel ..

It allows the consumer to have actual CHOICES right at the pump.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By StormyKnight on 4/8/2011 11:51:27 PM , Rating: 2
Where I live in the upper midwest, E85 is only $.10 cheaper than regular gas. Why would I want to pay for less fuel economy? My wife's Impala is a flexfuel vehicle. We went on a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We burned a tank of E85 on the way up and got around 330 miles on ~16 gallons. On the way back we couldn't find E85 and used 87 octane gasoline. Made it home with an 1/8th of a tank to spare. When we did fill it up a couple of days later, we checked the fuel economy and we got nearly 86 more miles on the tankful of regular gas. We followed the speed limit there and back in clear mid-70's weather. We'll never use E85 again.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By YashBudini on 4/9/2011 10:45:31 AM , Rating: 2
The problem here is what percentage of Americans are aware of the facts you brought up? The corn lobby isn't going to tell you any of this info.

Where's Mythbusters when you need them?


RE: E85 is a good idea
By TEAMSWITCHER on 4/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: E85 is a good idea
By YashBudini on 4/9/2011 2:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
Without the corn lobbyists the politicians would not have even heard of ethanol, let alone ramming it down our throats.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Baffo on 4/10/2011 4:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Your experience is to be expected from E85. E85 != E10, it takes more E85 (volume) to take you the same distance as E10. However, I think you are taking the wrong lesson from that experience: you should only buy E85 when it makes sense for you, not because it is the only fuel for that car. Whether your reasons are cost (when E85 per gallon cost is less than 75% of the cost of gas), or because you feel strongly that reducing your gas consumption is the "right thing to do" to do your part (whether to promote ethanol use, reduce demand for oil, etc.) and is worth the premium you are paying, etc. There is a time and circumstance both for when you should or should not buy it.

The problem we are discussing here is not that you have that choice and choose not to exercise it; but that so few others have that choice at all.

I hope you don't mean that you will "... never use E85 again.", but rather never buy it again at the current E85 and gas price ratios. I wouldn't either. Given the various trends in oil production and pricing, that ratio won't stay, or for that matter get "worse" (from E85 value perspective), at the current ratio for long and certainly not forever.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By StormyKnight on 4/10/2011 11:49:54 PM , Rating: 2
This is purely an economic issue for me. If E85 was to be say, 50% the price of E10, then more than likely use it again. We both have relatively fuel efficient cars and I generally don't drive the speed limit only to maximize my fuel economy. The way ethanol is currently produced, it isn't a viable alternative to gasoline and won't be for a long time citing many of the reasons above.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By Lerianis on 4/12/2011 12:06:15 AM , Rating: 2
50% of the price but only 1/4 of the mileage per gallon.... not a reasonable choice for most people, you would be paying more with E85.

It's time to start putting the science into play here as well as the economics. With that? For people who don't go more than 20 miles from their homes, electric cars are good.
For all other people, hybrids that run on electric power AND gasoline are good.

Ethanol? Two giant-sized (forget that.... planet sized) thumbs down forever.


RE: E85 is a good idea
By E85Prices on 4/19/2011 6:21:34 PM , Rating: 2
E85 is 76 Cents less per Gallon in Mich http://e85prices.com/michigan.html

and 69 cents less in PA
http://e85prices.com/pennsylvania.html


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