Print 51 comment(s) - last by tng.. on Nov 21 at 10:40 AM

  (Source: Getty Images)
"We'll tell you next month" is the likely word from the EPA

Stop me if you've heard this one before.  It's the eleventh hour and the Obama administration is facing a crucial decision, one that could have a deep impact on the nation's economy and a united voice of experts is facing noisy opposition from special interests.  It's game time and the administration is on the field, ready to make the big play... and they instead choose to punt.

That's the likely scenario according to The Detroit News regarding ethanol waivers, a decision which was supposed to be made this week by Obama's iteration of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

I. Federal Government Backs Corn Ethanol Despite Massive Drawbacks

The EPA derives its power to regulated fuel economy from the Clean Air Act of 1963 [PDF], a law which was most recently amended in 1990 by Congress.  A key question in recent years is whether the EPA can dictate what fuels the market should sell or blend.  The last two Presidents -- Barack Obama and George W. Bush -- argued the answer to that question is "yes".  The most crucial effort to that objective was the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), signed into law by President Bush.

Under the EISA, which has been actively backed by President Obama, each year gasoline sellers in the U.S. must blend in more and more ethanol to help the U.S. meet "targets".

pumping fuel
President Bush and Obama have backed the federal government manipulating the economy to push corn ethanol at the pump. [Image Source: Nation Corn Growers Assoc.]
But despite its status as America's most used alternative fuel, serious questions surround ethanol and whether it really helps the environment at all.  While domestic ethanol production does offer a small shred of domestic security by removing some dependence on volatile foreign sources, studies have also shown that it actually increases greenhouse gas emissions and increases food prices.

In other words, the body of current evidence clearly points to corn ethanol -- the most abundant form of ethanol in the U.S. -- being bad news for both the U.S. consumer and the environment.

Automakers also say that higher blends of ethanol will damage the engines of older vehicles, in turn creating both economic problems.  The EPA dubiously says it knows the science better than the people who made the vehicles, arguing that the automakers are liars.

Obama bribery wide
Obama and Bush both backed big corn special interests. [Image Source: Politically Incorrect]

In the midst of all the issues, why is there still a modicum of support for government manipulation of the fuel market in corn ethanol's favor?

Big corn has long been one of the nation's most powerful special interest.  Corn farmers have benefited from billions in yearly government subsidies, with a major chunk of it coming from ethanol grants and mandates.  In total, corn farmers drew $73.8B USD from 1995-2009 from the U.S. federal and state governments.

II. Big Corn v. Everyone Else

Indeed the latest debate regarding ethanol comes down to "corn farmers" vs. "everyone else" -- including their fellow farmers.

Amidst a record drought, feed prices are soaring.  Livestock farmers have resorted to feeding their cows candy to try to keep from going bankrupt or letting their herd die.  Meanwhile, corn is being actively fermented (or wasted, according to critics) into ethanol, putting further pressure on prices.  And the EPA's fine-backed blending demands are the key factor driving that trend.

Farm drought
Without intervention, record corn prices coupled with drought may push small farms out of business. [Image Source: US News]

The corn farmers argue that they can't release information showing what their yields are; information that could validate the desperate farmers claims.  Instead, their argument boils down to "just trust us", as they fight a potential EPA waiver to help the struggling farmers.

The Michigan Farm Bureau comments "[We don't believe keeping the blending targets] would severely harm the economy of Michigan at this time. We do not have final harvest numbers, making it premature to determine what our total crop supply will be in 2012."

Likewise The National Corn Growers Association writes [PDF], "We believe the burden of proof for severe harm to the economy falls on the petitioner. We believe the petitioners have failed to establish this proof, since higher feed prices are only one piece of a complicated economic puzzle."

III. Blending Targets May Kill Small Farmers' Businesses

On the other side stands a united group of farmers, state, and federal politicians.

Corn prices are up 60 percent on the year, and food prices are expected to rise 3.5 percent or more this year -- and more next year -- largely due to ethanol pressure.  Corn prices have jumped 400 percent since the federal government backed corn ethanol under the Bush administration.

Eight state governors and 200 members of Congress have written a letter (on behalf of the slightly ironically named National Pork Producers Council) to the EPA pleading with it to relax blending rules via a waiver, at least for the rest of the year.  Delaware and Maryland's governors write that without a waiver the EPA would be creating "the loss of thousands jobs."

A number or researchers also signed a letter calling for a waiver.  Among them is John M. DeCicco and Ivette Perfecto from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.  They write, "The (Renewable Fuel Standard) diverts potential food crops to produce fuel, which drives up food price volatility and global food prices."

corn profits
Big corn donates deeply to federal politiicans, who in turn reward it with billions in subsidies.
[Image Source:]

It would be awfully hard for the Obama administration's EPA to deny the waiver in the midst of such overwhelming support.  On the other hand, it would be equally hard to turn their back on big corn special interests.  Those affiliated with the National Corn Growers Assoc. alone poured close to $500,000 USD to candidates on both sides of the aisle in 2012 [source] (the majority went to Republicans, likely due to their more critical stance on ethanol, which big corn hoped to soften).

IV. Silence From the EPA

The EPA released a brief comment remarking, "EPA is completing its review and analysis of the RFS waiver requests and the agency plans to reach a decision shortly."

But Tuesday's deadline for a decision came and went without any word about the status.

Punting a football
The EPA appears ready to punt on the waiver. [Image Source: How to Punt a Football]
Late last year Congress finalized the cut to corn ethanol's tax subsidy.  But the influx of money from big corn has some on The Hill calling for a renewal of an effort to force corn ethanol on the consumer, regardless the cost to the economy and the environment.

Amidst that backdrop, the only noise coming from the EPA is the sound of crickets as the waiver requests are punted deeper downfield.

Sources: The Detroit News, Fox News

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Face punches for all
By Motoman on 11/14/2012 3:46:41 PM , Rating: 5
Hey, Big're going to sell every kernel you grow anyway. It's not like we're all going to stop eating cheeseburgers and chicken wings, and will no longer need all of your crops to make into animal feeds.

So how about we all stop that irrefutably asinine claims that making ethanol from corn is a good idea? It's the worst possible idea...ever.

Stop it. You've got about as much credibility as Rove did raving about Ohio a few days ago...but you look even less sane.

RE: Face punches for all
By Argon18 on 11/14/2012 3:58:53 PM , Rating: 5
Sure they'll sell it all, but using it for government-mandated Ethanol production inflates the price, which equals more profits for Big Corn. (It's kind of like how the government manipulates the price of sugar in the US, so that Big Corn can profit from selling corn syrup as a sweetener).

Not to mention that Ethanol takes more energy to create than what it contains. Or that corn is one of the most fertilizer and pesticide intensive crops out there, resulting in the poisoning of our rivers and streams and groundwater.

Make no mistake, Big Corn has nobody's best interests in mind, except their own bank accounts.

RE: Face punches for all
By michael67 on 11/14/2012 4:30:38 PM , Rating: 5
Actually i think its criminal to use good crop land for corn fuel, the down sides are so big, even a child can see if you explain, that it is a dead end solution for all except big corn.

- Its inefficient way of making fuel.
- Its sorta bad for the engine.
- It drives up prices of food.
- But above all, the US as has a water problem, and they are pumping up more water then there naturally get replenished.

Its like, to keep in farmers talk, "eating up the seed you need for next years harvest", and every one know you need it, but as its a multi-year problem, we just ignore it!

Why fix a serious problem now, if we can ignore it for a other 10 years, till it becomes a national disaster!

RE: Face punches for all
By MechanicalTechie on 11/14/2012 6:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
Personally i thinks its an amazing example of selfishness at the expensive of the community.. i'm in awe at just how little they care for the rest of the country

RE: Face punches for all
By Truenofan on 11/15/12, Rating: -1
RE: Face punches for all
By Etsp on 11/15/2012 8:18:57 AM , Rating: 2
It doesn't make meat more expensive??

RE: Face punches for all
By Dr of crap on 11/15/2012 8:40:14 AM , Rating: 2
YES ! -
it does make food more expensive. The feed corns price goes up and then the feed for cows and other animals goes up.

You think the feed cost increase doesn't affect the price of beef?

Yep it takes more to go as far as you could using just gas. And so using E85 you spend MORE to go as far as regular gas. No benefit there.

It costs more to produce ethenal then the energy that you get out of it. If it was extremely cheap to produce that would be the holy grail, but it isn't. AND it's subsidized so the cost to produce is much higher than what you get back.

Sorry you're an ethanol backer, but at this point it isn't the best choice for gas. Bio-diesel would be a better choice. But there isn't the moeny backing it. And money talks!

RE: Face punches for all
By JediJeb on 11/15/2012 4:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
You think the feed cost increase doesn't affect the price of beef?

Actually the only way increased feed prices raise beef prices is if the farmers raise and sell fewer cattle. The price of beef is set by the buyers(based upon the price set by the futures and commodity market), not the sellers. So if the people buying beef don't want to pay more, then the farmers just make less money because they sell a steer at the same price while the feed costs more. Farming does not work like other businesses, farmers are stuck with asking "how much will you give me for my product" unlike say an automobile manufacturer what says "this is what I will take for my product".

When feed prices increase farmers have only a few options, raise and feed fewer animals to full weight and make less money, feed the same number to a lower weight and make less money, or try to feed the same number to the full weight and hope feed prices drop or commodity prices increase to make about the same money. Number three almost never works out for the best.

RE: Face punches for all
By tng on 11/16/2012 10:57:16 AM , Rating: 2
So if the people buying beef don't want to pay more, then the farmers just make less money
You are correct that this is what happens, but there is a downside to it for consumers. Having been raised in a farming community, you will see farmers switch to other products where the profit is better and eventually buyers for a specific product will pay much more because no one will grow/raise the product.

The driving force behind this has been large grocery chains here in the US. This has forced many farmers that I know to become part of a co-ops where they have more clout in the selling process.

RE: Face punches for all
By RufusM on 11/20/2012 12:05:59 PM , Rating: 2
The subsidies need to be re-worked as well. They originally started in the early 1900's to protect small farmers against natural disasters and provide for a more stable food supply.

Today, the subsidies are given regardless of financial need and situation. They help drive what and how much crop is planted. Long ago it became farm welfare, except many of the farmers are worth millions and the huge agricultural corporations are worth billions.

RE: Face punches for all
By tng on 11/21/2012 10:40:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I have seen that as well. Where I grew up there is a natural tendency to avoid any type of connection with the government and the one "farmer" who takes subsidies from the the Feds is seen as an outcast. Needless to say he is not a very well liked locally and the other farmers in the area will only talk to him to be polite.

RE: Face punches for all
By Truenofan on 11/15/2012 4:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
i'm not an ethanol backer. but i'm showing the benefits and downfalls.

it takes ~30% more fuel to create the same amount of energy in a flex fuel vehicle.

a flex fuel vehicle is also designed to run on the lowest grade gasoline thats most common.

if you were to design an e85 only vehicle, your compression ratio wouldnt be just 12:1 like most direct injection cars that require 93/95 octane. its more in the neighborhood of 14-16:1.

this allows you to extract far more energy out of the same amount of fuel used. this also allows you to use a smaller engine thus reducing your fuel usage.

also, it does not require more energy to grow than is given. its low, something like 1.3x(1x being 1 for 1 extraction) energy as a fuel produced for how much energy is used growing, processing, and shipping the food and fuel. but that also changes based on who you go to for your source of information and what kind of farm its grown on.
( a study done during the bush administration....)

then problem as i said before, it needs more fuel(its something like 9:1 AFR to reach stoichiometry with e85 vs gasolines 14.7:1 AFR) to achieve a controllable burn of the fuel. go look up what power people manage on pump e85(with 85% ethanol that is) and they manage much more power out of turbo and supercharged engines. you can make more power out of a given engine if its tuned/made for e85 and high octane. which is why when you design an engine to truely make use of e85. it makes more power.(yet another reason why we need small turbo engines, low boost for 89/93 octane, high boost when it recognizes it has e85 without the increased emissions of a big engine, and the horrid efficiency due to not being able to extract all the energy possible.)

RE: Face punches for all
By Concillian on 11/16/2012 7:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
And when you take all this into account, you get roughly the same MPG from an engine built specifically for E85 compared with an engine built specifically for unleaded gasoline.

The E85 engine has the downside of requiring some additional hardware for very cold starts, but otherwise is a smaller, lighter engine for a given power / torque requirement with lower emissions (both carbon and noxious) per mile.

I personally think that the thermal efficiency gains result in a better overall design, but before we can really think about that we need to bio-engineer a viable way to produce the fuel on a large scale.

I think that we'll eventually figure out how to produce it without having to grow crops and mash them up, but not until we stop subsidizing corn farmers. I'd much rather see that money go to bio-engineering research working on algaes for converting sun + salt water --> ethanol + fresh water. Or just not spending that money at all. It's doing no long term good going to support farmers.

I'm probably one of the few ethanol proponents you'll find who dislikes the way the government supports it. I envision a process that could keep billions or trillions of exported dollars in our country paying U.S. worker salaries instead of those of Saudis and their oil tanker crews. If we can discover the right process, we can offset the high cost of domestic labor by not having to transport fuel across oceans, only needing to truck it from the sun belt to the snow belt.

RE: Face punches for all
By TheJian on 11/15/2012 9:49:47 AM , Rating: 3
ROFL...So if cows have no food they die right? I eat meat, so less to go around means my bills go up right?

You make no sense, just like all EPA people. The need for the epa has past. They are just screwing us now for their own agenda.

51% of the country voted for this fool who can't do anything but vote PRESENT still. You should have voted this A$$ out, and romney would have promptly dismantled the wasteful EPA and drilled the hell out of america. You got what you asked for, get ready for the bills people. The only people who are going to get richer here, is obama's friends and himself. The rest of us (including the rich who create all the jobs to begin with) will be paying for him and his friends. Saul Alinksy's rules for radicals at work. You should have expected nothing less from someone who worships this guy and others like him (frank marshall davis etc).

saul alinsky rules for radicals
Google that to read about this "Community Organizer" who taught obama how to fleece america ;) Your fellow bastard from...wait for it....CHICAGO ILLINOIS...

Who else worships this A$$?
"Hillary Clinton's senior honors thesis on Saul Alinsky, written at Wellesley College" ...You can google the rest... These two idiots (along with harry reid/pelosi) are destroying what is left of our country.
Or just look there for all the crap this guy did and his followers (clinton, obama etc, all loved him).

Wake up people. Instead of occupy wall street, do something useful and occupy the white house :) They both got 4 good people killed and now intend to blame it on a blackmailed petraues for having sex...LOL. Quit falling for their BS, both Obama and Holder knew about his affair long before they put him in place, just so they could use it later. You'll keep getting corn crap instead of drilling, solar instead of drilling, and dumb batteries until you un-elect/impeach or put in jail every person having anything to do with obama/clinton. Now he gets offered a cushy job at a college to shut up and fall on the sword. Our only hope is, Petraeus actually has the balls to speak up and get this fool impeached for getting 4 people killed. $10 says he takes the cushy job and doesn't testify (at the same college as Van Jones...Remember him? ROFL..So much corruption). You like steak? If obama punts and votes present agian, you'll all be eating less of it. My 2c :)

We don't need another source of fuel...We just need to DRILL and BURN what we have. It's called OIL and COAL. It's unbelievable how easy it is to get politicians to sell out. $500K in donations gets destruction of our economy and BILLIONS in subsidies?

RE: Face punches for all
By FITCamaro on 11/15/2012 12:57:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well you're supposed to stop eating meat because that's bad for you too just like everything else.

RE: Face punches for all
By tastyratz on 11/15/2012 2:14:28 PM , Rating: 2
Except corn BUY CORN EAT CORN have some corn syrup sweetened soda to wash it down and drench their corn flakes.

Corn is EVERYWHERE I am so sick of it.

The epa can shove all this corn talk right up their cornhole

RE: Face punches for all
By YashBudini on 11/15/2012 3:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
Well FIT, you got that urban myth wrong. Grass fed beef is perfectly fine, and ironically, it's corn fed beef that's the problem.

RE: Face punches for all
By djc208 on 11/15/2012 10:12:42 AM , Rating: 2
All true, but what is the cost of all the modifications required to make the car run ethanol reliably? Just another expense in trying to use it.

And while the engine can be designed to run more efficiently on ethanol the question is can the engine be 33% more efficient? From what I've seen, no. Which means you can take out some of the sting but it's still a net loss.

RE: Face punches for all
By marvdmartian on 11/15/2012 1:43:37 PM , Rating: 2
When the farmers, who are in the business to make a profit, turn more crop land to growing corn, and less land to growing other grains, the price of those grains go up as well. So please don't tell us that it doesn't happen!

You obviously don't know anything about how an engine has to be modified for >10% ethanol gasoline, either. Ethanol, while completely innocuous against steel parts, is pretty darn corrosive to aluminum parts it comes in contact with.

Want to guess what a lot of modern engines use for a lot of parts, inside the engine, to cut down on weight?

All those aluminum parts now have to be plated with a metal that will handle the higher ethanol content, AND not corrode because they're in contact with the aluminum. The metal of choice has usually been nickel.....and nickel plating parts doesn't come cheap!

And since the car manufacturers don't make special engines for use only with E85 (thus, the FLEX FUEL designation), we're still driving lower compression engines that get crap for mileage with E85.....generally, 2/3 the MPG you'd get with straight gasoline.

Seriously, do some actual fact checking, before you post your next bunch of drivel, would you?

RE: Face punches for all
By JediJeb on 11/14/12, Rating: -1
RE: Face punches for all
By HoosierEngineer5 on 11/15/12, Rating: 0
RE: Face punches for all
By willj1220 on 11/15/2012 10:53:28 AM , Rating: 1
tractor that cost $5000-$7000 back 30 years ago now cost around $35,000-$50,000

Your looking at lawn tractors because tractors now cost anywhere from $238k 7280R to $405k 9560R.

And combines cost from $306k S550 to $455k S690.

And these price above are base models

Source: John Deere Website, and father (farmer for 40 years) and grandfather (farmer for 70 years)

RE: Face punches for all
By JediJeb on 11/15/2012 4:18:13 PM , Rating: 2
True on the costs, I was thinking of a small farm like my parents where a 50-60HP tractor was used. Those big ones make the price changes look even more astronomical. The fact is without any kind of exaggeration the price to run a farm operation has outpaced the income from selling the products.

I know several farmers, and whether large or small farms are involved, none are rich. They may handle huge sums of money but even those who run the largest operations would be lucky to even call themselves middle class by what they make after expenses are taken out.

RE: Face punches for all
By bjacobson on 11/14/2012 6:52:01 PM , Rating: 2
I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I don't care about the ethanol nearly as much now that the corn subsidy expired as of December 31st, 2011?:

Now, all producers of ethanol are on equal footing.
There's lots of other waste biomass that can be used more efficiently than corn to produce ethanol.
When the ethanol market gets big enough, somebody can come spin up a secondary production technique using one of the biomass sources that's twice as efficient at producing ethanol as corn per acre.

By Dorkyman on 11/14/2012 5:16:34 PM , Rating: 3
What a disaster this administration is, on so many levels.

I was stunned on election night. Maybe there was ballot-stuffing, or maybe not. If so, I hope the truth comes out quickly. If not, I guess the voters get exactly what they deserve.

RE: Disaster
By m51 on 11/14/2012 6:13:43 PM , Rating: 3
This goes way back before the current administration. The CEO of Archer Daniels Midland (they and Con Agra are the huge agricultural conglomerates) was the one who personally wrote the check that financed Nixon's watergate break-in project. They have had their fingers in the political pie for generations. The majority of their profits are dependent on some type of government rulings, import limits, duties, tariffs, subsidies, etc etc. They have enormous political pull on both sides of the aisle, this is why although the corn-ethanol subsidy issue keeps coming up nothing ever happens.

There are 10's of billions of dollars of profit per year at stake here, it will be very difficult to kill this no matter how obvious a travesty it is.

RE: Disaster
By JediJeb on 11/14/2012 10:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
The sad fact is they call them Farm subsidies, yet it is companies like this that get most of the benefits without passing any of it down to the actual farmers.

RE: Disaster
By kyuuketsuki on 11/14/2012 9:40:18 PM , Rating: 3
Don't be a dope. This wouldn't be any different under Romney. It certainly wasn't any different under Bush. Special interests are a bipartisan problem.

RE: Disaster
By Argon18 on 11/15/2012 2:11:30 PM , Rating: 2
He didn't say anything about this Corn problem being unique to Obama. He only said this administration is a disaster on so many levels. Which it is.

Economic intervention
By PontiusP on 11/14/2012 5:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
Repeat after me folks:

This is what happens when the government thinks it's smarter than the marketplace and tries to intervene in the economy. One folly, is patched with another folly, patch with another and so on.

They need to completely remove themselves from the corn, sugar and milk businesses. And while they're at it, all other businesses as well.

Economic intervention is an absolute *disaster*. Sadly, the tyrants in both parties seem to think it works well, and are hell bent on "trying it one more time".

RE: Economic intervention
By PaFromFL on 11/15/2012 8:19:34 AM , Rating: 2
No. This is what happens when you trust the private sector to do what is good for society. The private sector corn lobby has bribed the EPA, Congress, and anyone else who matters to force ethanol gas on us. It is the private sector that needs to completely remove itself from meddling in government.

Government meddling by by large corporations and special interests is the absolute "disaster". We need separation between business and government even more than we need separation between church and state. Corporations are not people, and certainly not responsible patriotic citizens.

RE: Economic intervention
By YashBudini on 11/15/2012 12:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
Corporations are not people

Fascist Justice Roberts disagrees.

and certainly not responsible patriotic citizens.

Ahh, I see you're learning the definition of "global."

RE: Economic intervention
By Dorkyman on 11/15/2012 1:05:16 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, reads like something out of Pravda.

I'd much more trust the private sector than a pig bureaucrat in Washington who just knows what's best for all of us peons.

Politicians want votes. Farmers vote with their wallets. It's as simple as that.

RE: Economic intervention
By YashBudini on 11/15/2012 3:54:03 PM , Rating: 1
Farmers vote with their wallets. It's as simple as that.

As did BP when they cut corners drilling in the gulf.

RE: Economic intervention
By JediJeb on 11/15/2012 4:21:12 PM , Rating: 1
Politicians want votes. Farmers vote with their wallets. It's as simple as that.

So does most every other person who votes, otherwise we would have a whole new set of people running the government ever few years.

I don't like it, but I get it.
By d33pblue on 11/15/2012 6:30:30 AM , Rating: 1
I agree with most everyone here that government subsidization of corn ethanol should end. The reasons are well documenented.

That said, it's not hard to see why they are supporting it. It supports American industry and helps wean us off foreign oil. Given the immense pressure on the government to do something about both of these issues, it's little surprise they have taken the stance they have on this issue. The people at the EPA are smart, I'm sure they know the drawbacks. Apparently the drawbacks don't outweigh the benefits *for them*. For others, they do. Fair enough.

With that in mind, I'm just embarrassed for this website and this author. The article and especially the pictures are held to an elementary school level of journalistic integrity. I don't know what direction the owners of this website want it to go, but I'd venture a guess that this article isn't taking them there.

RE: I don't like it, but I get it.
By maugrimtr on 11/15/2012 8:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
The downside is basic economics. If you use a food crop as fuel, you cannot sell it as food. Hence the supply of food decreases, demand stays static or increases, and price increases as sellers can now charge more. Incidentally, this means the corn input for ethanol is also increasing in price, making ethanol ever more expensive to produce.

Ethanol is displacing food. Next we'll see rising food imports which means that, instead of dependent on foreign oil, the US will become dependent on foreign food. You have to wonder which is worse...

RE: I don't like it, but I get it.
By Mint on 11/15/2012 11:06:29 AM , Rating: 2
Your "basic economics" are pretty flawed. Sure, for something like oil, we have limited resources, and on top of that about half of its production is controlled by OPEC, who intentionally throttle production to keep prices where they want rather than compete with each other. That keeps supply constant.

Corn is different. It's true that there is a limited amount of farming land, but we're not nearly at the point where long production is constrained. More importantly, prices didn't go up this year because we're using way more corn for ethanol. The opposite is true, as ethanol production has declined for two years:

Jason is misleading you to push his agenda.

The price increase for corn is solely due to the drought. Unless we expect droughts to suddenly become a regular occurrence, supply of corn is not expected to be a problem.

RE: I don't like it, but I get it.
By PaFromFL on 11/15/2012 8:40:05 AM , Rating: 2
Corn ethanol subsidies support one influential American industry at the expense of thousands of smaller industries (just ask anyone who makes a living using tools powered by small engines). E85 might wean us off foreign oil, but E10 actually increases net oil consumption. Fracking technology will wean us off foreign oil.

It is time for greedy corporations and special interests to be held accountable for actions that damage our country. The corn lobby should be made to pay for the damage they have done, and those government officials who have accepted payments from the corn lobby should spend some time at Gitmo. One good violent purge would discourage future hanky panky.

The worst aspect of ethanol
By DaSHinVegas on 11/16/2012 1:30:37 PM , Rating: 3
What seems to be missing from most articles about ethanol is that it also serves to inflate demand for gasoline itself. Not everyone realizes that a motor gets lower economy on 10% blend than pure gas. In my car I take a 3 mpg hit by using E10. This is, in fact, the worst aspect of ethanol.

Using my car as an example:

Economy on E0/Pure Gasoline - 27mpg
Imagine a trip of 270 miles, I have used 10 gallons of gasoline.

Economy on E10/10% ethanol, 90% gasoline - 24mpg
To travel the same 270 miles I would use 11.25 gallons of fuel. As that fuel is 90% gasoline, that means I have used 10.125 gallons of gasoline AND 1.125 gallons of ethanol.

Do you see the problem here? Not only is that ethanol wasted, but it actually results in a greater use of gasoline. In other words, if our whole nation was using pure gasoline, our demand for gasoline would actually be lower.

We need to get this crap out of our fuel.

RE: The worst aspect of ethanol
By Concillian on 11/16/2012 7:31:37 PM , Rating: 2
Another example that is using a grossly exaggerated difference in MPG. You do not lose 12% MPG from 10% ethanol.

Were these A/B/A tests? I highly doubt methods that produce results that are very different from rather well founded science that expects a change in mileage on the order of 5% or less based on the difference in energy per unit volume.

In other words, if our whole nation was using pure gasoline, our demand for gasoline would actually be lower.

Wat? Not true. Using ethanol not only reduces gasoline demand directly, but also indirectly:

Ethanol has significantly higher octane than unleaded gasoline. E10 raises octane of unleaded by approximately 2 points. This allows refineries to produce ~85 octane gas for an end result of ~87. Doing this allows for more gasoline per unit of crude, further increasing efficiency and reducing demand for oil. This roughly offsets the MPG difference, making it approximately 1 for 1 reduction of gasoline demand per unit of ethanol used.

I think there's a lot of valid arguments against ethanol usage, but I don't think you've hit them.

I buy non-ethonal gas
By Souka on 11/16/2012 3:26:25 PM , Rating: 2
A few months ago I got a free portable generator... but had fuel/carb issues.

After reading, I learned the problems with ethonal based gas, espescially with long term storage. Now all my garden equipment and generator use non-ethonal gas.

I also read that MPG might be better for cars, so I gave it a try.

My 1999 Subaru forrester (with about 200,000 miles) gets a fairly consistent 20.5 MPG . I track MPG every tank fillup.

A number months ago I switched to NON-Ethonal gas ( to find local station selling it).

My MPG is now a steady 23.5 MPG , with about a dozen fillups.

I did some math and the $$/mile is actually a bit cheaper with NON-ethonal gas, despite the higher cost per/gallon.

As a result... I will put NON-Ethonal gas in my car if possible, but I won't go out of my way either.

There are also potiental benifits of avoiding "corrosion" as well using non-ethonal.

My PERSONAL $.02 with non-ethonal gas....


RE: I buy non-ethonal gas
By Concillian on 11/16/2012 6:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
So you go from 23.5 with 0% ethanol to 20.5 with 10% ethanol in your Subaru?

That's interesting considering I've been running E85 in my Subaru for years and my average tank changed from ~23 MPG on CA E10 to ~18 MPG on E85.

You lost ~15% by adding 10% and I lost ~25% by adding 70%?

There's no question that gasoline MPG is better, but I think your values are a little off. They're certainly off from expectation given stored energy per unit volume.

I love ethanol as a fuel, but using it in cars meant for unleaded gasoline (low octane) wastes a lot of the potential benefit of ethanol. There's a lot of thermal efficiency gain to be had. I'm re-builing my engine to take advantage of it this winter. We'll see what my MPG ends up at. Right now MPG is worse, but power is 50 HP more than on pump gas. I think I can keep most of the power and bring the MPGs back if I choose a design that won't have to "flex" to the low octane of unleaded.

While I don't think using ethanol from crops is long term viable, I think it's a necessary stepping stone towards more direct forms of bio-solar ethanol. I also think mixing it into gas in low percentages is going to happen no matter what anyone wants, just because it's the most benign oxygenation additive.

Corn Fuel
By Gurthang on 11/14/2012 4:28:07 PM , Rating: 1
I dislike ethanol as a fuel no matter the source though I will admit that in small quantities (I seem to remember under 5%) it can help "regular gasoline" burn cleaner and I will accept it at those levels. But beyond that it is an industry that has thus far failed to meet the goals of the enterprise and needs to weened off of the subsities. Though I still hope at least one of newer alternatives may meet them like some of the agal fuel farms or artificial photosynthesis.

RE: Corn Fuel
By NellyFromMA on 11/16/2012 2:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
When you take away from a tight food supply source to offer a non-cost effective alternative to fuel, you simply aren't thinking things through properly.

Not you, the decision makers that be. I agree with you.!
By danjw1 on 11/14/2012 5:29:43 PM , Rating: 2
Someone needs to start a petition on I don't think it would have a problem getting lots of signatures from just about EVERYONE, other then the corn lobby. Get enough and the administration has to respond.

By Rob94hawk on 11/14/2012 8:12:10 PM , Rating: 2
E85 is awful when it comes to mpg but great if you plan on bumping up your compression ratio with a nice heads and cam package to go with it.

Glad I built my engine around 93 octane and not E85. I'd figure they'd kill ethanol eventually and I'd be stuck.

By Shadowmaster625 on 11/15/2012 8:37:53 AM , Rating: 2
$74 billion is just pure insanity. Of course they are going to say whatever they have to, and make up whatever they have to, and pay whoever they have to, to keep that money flowing. This is one of the many obvious reasons why big government should not be big, and it should not be giving grants to ANYONE, for ANY THING what so ever. This is always the end result, no matter the intention.

Acreage and production reporting
By iowafarmer on 11/15/2012 11:19:35 PM , Rating: 2
As a farmer I've reported to the FSA office in my county to the acre the basket of crops grown on my farm this year. There are no secrets in production agriculture, I must report my production history to secure crop insurance, anyone with access to the data base should be able to punch a key and total the yield for the reported acres of any and all crops grown at that particular point in time to the bushel. If a farmer thinks he will have a crop insurance claim he is required to report the suspected claim within 72 hours. I suggest you change the article title.

To change the subject, but in contrast to points made in the article. Seems your thanksgiving dinner this year will cost about 20 percent less than it did in 1986 and only a few pennies more than last year.

In case you are interested in some actual corn production facts I'll include a link to a government chart of historical and current corn production:

You might also be interested in a few distillers grains facts:

I accept your thanks for my part in producing a cheap and safe food supply. And thank the government for doing it's part to keep it safe.

By NellyFromMA on 11/16/2012 2:21:18 PM , Rating: 2
Stop me if you've heard this one before. It's the eleventh hour and the Obama administration is facing a crucial decision, one that could have a deep impact on the nation's economy and a united voice of experts is facing noisy opposition from special interests. It's game time and the administration is on the field, ready to make the big play... and they instead choose to punt.

Hey Jason, not sure if you heard or not, but President Obama is not a dictator. That means he can not single handedly decide anything for this nation. He must deal with a hypocritical, highly partisan House of Representatives and Congress who seem to be intensifying their partisanship after the election rather than realizing the American people have had enough.

So, why are you making it sound like Obama punts all the time? He's offered solutions to various things, its just more often than not he's obstructed.

I figured this would be obvious to you seeing as how you have written on these matter before. Wth?

Hang 'em high
By Beenthere on 11/14/2012 6:25:25 PM , Rating: 1
Bama and the EPA execs defrauding America should be hung by their thumbs for six months until they get a clue.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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