The Ethanol Disaster

America's renewables policy is bad for consumers, the environment, and the global poor.


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Last November, when the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) proposed moderating years of escalating mandates by reducing the amount of ethanol that must be mixed into gasoline, a top ethanol lobbyist seemed perplexed. "We're all just sort of scratching our heads here today and wondering why this administration is telling us to burn less of a clean-burning American fuel," Bob Dineen, head of the Renewable Fuels Association, told The New York Times.

Here are a few possible reasons why: America's ethanol requirement destroys the environment, damages car engines, increases gas prices, and contributes to the starvation of the global poor. It's an unmitigated disaster on nearly every level.

Start with the environment. After all, when the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which since 2005 has set forth a minimum annual volume of renewable fuels nationwide, was first set, one of the primary arguments for mandating ethanol use was that it was a greener, more environmentally friendly source of fuel that released fewer greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. 

This turns out to be complete hogwash. Researchers have known for years that, when the entire production process is taken into account, most supposedly green biofuels actually emit more greenhouse gasses than traditional fuels.

Some proponents of the ethanol mandate have argued that the requirement was nonetheless necessary in order to spur demand for and development of more advanced, environmentally friendly biofuel like cellulosic ethanol, which is converted into fuel from corn-farm leftovers. But there are two serious problems with cellosic ethanol. The first is that cellulosic ethanol turns out to be rather difficult to produce; despite EPA projections that the market would produce at least 5 million gallons in 2010 and 6.6 million in 2011, the United States produced exactly zero gallons both years—and just 20,069 gallons in 2012.

The second is that cellulosic ethanol is also bad for the environment. At least in the short-term, the corn-residue biofuels release about 7 percent more greenhouse gases than traditional fuels, according to a federally funded, peer-reviewed study that appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change last month.

The environmental evidence against ethanol seems to mount almost daily: Another study published last week in Nature Geoscience found that in São Paulo, Brazil, the more ethanol that drivers used, the more local ozone levels increased. The study is particularly important because it relies on real-world measurements rather than on models, many of which predicted that increased ethanol use would cause ozone levels to decline.

To make things worse, ethanol requirements are bad for cars and drivers. Automakers say that gasoline blended with ethanol can damage vehicles by corroding fuel lines and injectors. An ethanol glut caused by a misalignment of regulatory quotas and demand has helped drive up prices at the pump. And the product is actually worse: ethanol blends are less energy dense than regular gasoline, which means that cars relying on it significantly worse mileage per gallon.

American drivers have it bad, but the global poor have it far worse. Ethanol requirements at home have helped drive up the price of food worldwide by diverting corn production to energy, which dramatically reducing the available calorie supply. A 25-gallon tank full of pure ethanol requires about 450 pounds of corn—roughly the amount of calories required to feed someone for a year. Some 40 percent of U.S. corn crops go to ethanol production, which in effect means we're burning food for automobile fuel rather than eating it. Studies by economists at the World Bank have found that a one percent increase in world food prices correlates with a half-percent decrease in calorie consumption amongst the world's poor. When world food prices spiked between 2007 and 2008, between 20 and 40 percent of the effect was attributable to increased global reliance on biofuels. The effect on world hunger is simply devastating. 

Ethanol lobbyists are still pretending the renewable fuels mandate is a success, and Senators from corn-friendly states in the Midwest are still urging the agency not to proceed with the proposed reduction to the mandate. But at this point, ethanol requirements have few serious defenders except the people who profit from its production and the politicians who rely on those people for votes and campaign contributions.

Judging by the cut it proposed last November, even the EPA seems to be wavering. A final regulation has yet to be submitted, but the proposal would reduce the amount of renewable fuels the agency requires this year from 18.15 billion gallons to 15.2 billion gallons. That's if the EPA sticks to its original plan. The agency is under heavy pressure to moderate its proposed cuts, or avoid them entirely.

Those cuts, if approved, would represent a productive step forward. But they wouldn't be enough. Congress should vote to repeal the renewable fuel standard entirely. The federal government shouldn't be telling people to burn less ethanol; it shouldn't be telling anyone to burn any of it at all.

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  1. Sure it does all kinds of horrible things. But it was the right thing to do. Climate change and real and we had to do something.

    /prog derp.

    1. John creates more green house gases than gasoline. How can this administration support this if their serious about climate change. Truth being they have known this all along.

      1. Because they are stupid and don’t even bother to think about what they believe.

      2. Because it give them power through the distribution of tax dollars to their friends.

    2. Al Gore has now admitted that he supported the ethanol mandate because he needed the vote from Iowa’s agricultural community. As far as “we had to do something,” we have. We produced automobiles that get much better gasoline mileage using oil based fuels with no ethanol. And just for the record, there have been since before the mandate autos (think Austin Mini) that get superb use out of a small tank of gas: thirty-eight to forty on the highway.

      1. So what? I don’t want to own an Austin Mini. Please stop insisting that I have to.

  2. Good article.

  3. “It’s an unmitigated disaster on nearly every level, writes Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman”

    Which, according to the Law of Federal Policy, means we need to *throw another few hundred billion at it, and spend another 20 years watching it fail on even-more Epic levels before we even consider repealing the law or declaring it unsuccessful*

    See: the Drug War

  4. I love how farmers, usually beloved (at least in abstract) by the same people who would support “cleaner-burning fuel”, are lobbying for more ethanol subsidies and requirements to make their corn more valuable.

    So we’ve got agricorps (corporations!), lobbying (money in politics!), greed (raise the price of corn!), environmental destruction, food prices being driven up (food deserts!), and other hobbyhorses of a…certain type. Yet they don’t make a whisper about this. Now what does that tell us about what they say they care about, and what they actually care about?

    1. I’ve made this point endlessly to progs, who just sigh like I’m a teenager in the school play who hasn’t read the script, and go,

      “Uh, DUH!? Its because of the corporations and the Big Money in politics? which naturally we oppose but this is what happens when you make Well Intentioned efforts to Do the Right Thing and the Republicans Twist It into some money-making scam!! But the reason we don’t fight it is because it opens the door for all sorts of other efforts, and do I need to mention that, uh, all this money you claim is “wasted” on Ethanol? is like, what, a tiny fraction of the Fossil Fuel Subsidies (read: lack of higher taxation) that we all make, so like, don’t make me laugh like you’re worried about the money, because you’d totally be happy if this were like going to Guns or Bombs or Big Tobacco or Fox News … we will naturally repeal this Mandate as soon as we have New Legislation that guarantees that the money will go to Solar or Wind projects instead… and most importantly, stop the Keystone pipeline which is like, a secret plan to actually kill all the Midwestern green energy projects in the works that Tom Steyer stands to make billions off of…”

      They do not need to “think” about the failure of Ethanol at all. its already been written into the existing ‘larger narrative’. If you criticize it? you are portrayed as like one of those “Benghazi Fanatics” trying to make an issue out of ‘nothing’.

      1. Sort of how like Soviet famines in Ukraine were part of a larger narrative?

        1. ‘Capitalism has famines so the point is invalid’
          – /Prog-reflex-response

      2. Yeah, nothing screams “help the little guy (farmers)” quite like billions in subsidies for small business like, Archer Daniels Midland /corn sweeteners, Cargill, ConAgra, etc….

      3. I do think that your contrarian argument was way too well-thought out to come from an actual prog, but still, I don’t understand why the paradigm shift has not yet occurred between ethanol and shale gas. Why is it that despite the fact that ethanol production leads to more carbon dioxide emissions than normal gasoline, does it get so defended by leftist ideologues that claim to support environmental causes? And at the same time, why has hydraulic fracturing become a favorite whipping boy for the same ideologues despite the fact that its role in shifting coal-based energy to natural gas-based energy has helped shaved off more global carbon emissions than any of the heavily subsidized solar and wind energy projects in both the US and EU countries combine?

        1. Because they don’t think about this stuff for a single second. They look to intra-TEAM “experts” to tell them how to think. In this case, they look to the environmentalists, who (for their own reasons) like ethanol and don’t like fracking.

          I don’t think people understand the degree to which your average prog knows absolutely nothing about most subjects they opine about. Since they are both believers in TOP MEN and they are politicized-source users (meaning they 100% believe anything said by the “right” people and disbelieve anything said by the “wrong” people, even if the wrong people are telling them something they supposedly agree with), they just get their marching orders from the correct sources and that’s the end of it.

          Ethanol is good because the right people have said ethanol is good. Fracking is bad because the right people said it was bad. That’s as far as their thinking goes. Seriously, that is literally as far as it goes. The reason you can’t sway them with logic is because they don’t use any. They just get told what to think, and you’re not on the approved list of TOP MEN who get to tell them what to think.

          1. It’s always telling when these positions are presented in such absolute terms. I might be more receptive if, for instance, AGW were presented as more likely than not and requiring some deep consideration. Instead, it’s ABSOLUTELY 100% KNOWN, any opposition or even questioning is HERESY, and failure to drop everything and agree to TOTAL GOVERNMENT is a great moral failing.

            1. Well, look at what I described above, and you realize that you could change a few words and be talking about a religion. The priests (TOP MEN) tell them what to believe, and so they do. Even if another religion (TEAM) says something that agrees with their beliefs, it’s still wrong, because the other religion is bad and wrong.

              One of the reasons the progs hate the god-botherers so much is that deep down they can feel how similar they are, when they want to feel all superior.

              1. Competing religions never seem to like each other much.

                What I find particularly upsetting about the climate business is that it’s corrupting one of the most important human tools ever discovered: the scientific method. We need that, along with its inherent skepticism and rigid demands for inductive reasoning from fucking reality, to advance technologically. If politics really takes over the scientific method, then we’ll see more and more instances of Lysenkoism. Not good.

          2. What I don’t get, though, Episiarch, is that many left-leaning environmental groups have talked about the idea of increasing natural gas explorations for a long time, at least since the early 2000s. In fact, an article that was posted by a left-leaning environmentalist named Bjorn Lomborg talks about the positive impact that this shift from coal to natural gas has had on global carbon emissions. My question is not so much about why the proggie foot soldiers haven’t changed their views on the issue, because the reason’s pretty obvious there. Rather, why hasn’t at least a few of the “top men” started to think about changing their drumbeat now that some on the left are now figuring it out?

            Link: http://www.project-syndicate.o…..rn-lomborg

            1. many left-leaning environmental groups have talked about the idea of increasing natural gas explorations for a long time, at least since the early 2000s.

              Yeah, right up until it actually happened, when they flipped into opposition.

              1. Yeah, right up until it actually happened, when they flipped into opposition.

                They liked it when it was expensive. Once it became cheap they opposed it. Inexpensive equals bad, and corporate profits are of course evil.

                1. They liked it when it was expensive. Once it became cheap they opposed it. Inexpensive equals bad, and corporate profits are of course evil.

                  EXACTLY. If somehow the laws of thermodynamics can be negated in the future and wind/solar become suitable for large-scale energy production/harvet the enviros will find a reason to hate those technologies.

                  These people are regressives, they won’t be happy until we all “commune with nature” and “live in harmony” by being huddled half-naked in mud huts rubbing two sticks together for warmth.

              2. Yeah, I know, but why exactly did they flip? Was the venture too successful economically and therefore too many profits to be made? If that’s the case, what might happen if someone figured out a way to make wind power profitable without subsidies? Will they then talk about how windmills kill their favorite endangered migratory birds if you build them high enough to make it profitable and consistent enough? It wouldn’t be so sad if the reaction wasn’t so predictable.

                1. Never underestimate the influence of foreign interference in other countries domestic affairs. I believe it’s reasonably well accepted that the far left, “communist” entities have been funded from abroad in our past. It’s common knowledge that the ranks of many leftish protests are filled with commercial protesters. Occupy was no different.

                  Attacking a country doesn’t always have to be done on the battlefield.

              3. They do that in almost every case. As long as some energy source is an abstract theoretical alternative to whatever they don’t like now, it is great. As soon as it becomes an effective reality, they discover the negatives they did not really think about when it was merely theory (and everything has drawbacks).

                In effect, they simply don’t want cheap energy of any sort, because that makes modern civilization they loathe possible.

            2. Lomborg, first of all, has been made persona non grata in much of the prog circles because of his stance that there isn’t much you can do about global warming (if it even exists). So once he got tarred with the “not one if us” label, he was now a “wrong” thinker and nothing he suggests will be listened to. Secondly, a lot of the TOP MEN have their own reasons for flogging various ideas (Al Gore makes a fuckton of money from his various environmental schemes and companies, for instance), so they may not change their drumbeat because the current drumbeat has been giving them what they want, be it power, money, advancing Ludditism, you name it.

              The foot soldiers, as you call them, are exploited by their own TOP MEN all the fucking time. But the TOP MEN don’t care because the very kind of person who becomes a prog foot soldier is the kind of person who doesn’t look at actions, only words. And their TOP MEN have realized that they can do any fucking thing they want as long as they mouth the right words.

              1. “Lomborg…has been made persona non grata in much of the prog circles because of his stance that there isn’t much you can do about global warming.”

                Wait, don’t progressives love to follow and generally believe in those type of doomsday theories? Ah, wait, they want to also think that their favorite top guys can change everything with the right kind of science, I get it.

              2. What is bad about all of this is that the climate is changing. It always has. Earth has had radically different climates in the past, ranging from much, much warmer to so cold that most of the planet was frozen. It’s even been considerably different in historic times.

                It might be nice if climate science were to become rigorous enough and reliable enough to make some reasonable predictions so that we could see major changes coming. Despite the rhetoric, somewhat warmer conditions might have a number of positive effects. Colder could be a bigger problem. Either way, being equipped with advance notice would help us to mitigate any negative effects and to adapt to the new situation.

                Whether or not human influence affects swings in temperature at all, we need to be able to understand the climate. By shitting away their credibility, they may be tossing out whatever predictive capability they may gain, because no one will fucking believe them.

                1. The faithful will always believe. Like Tony.

                  Seriously though, I don’t think climate is something that can be predicted. Too many variables, many of which are unknowable. We don’t control the intensity of the great blast furnace in the sky that is capable of nullifying any earthly variables in the climate equation. Climate prediction bullshit funded by politicians who want academic support for an agenda. Nothing more.

                  1. Maybe not, but we can get to the point where we can make better guesses.

                2. Despite the rhetoric, somewhat warmer conditions might have a number of positive effects. Colder could be a bigger problem.

                  Actually somewhat warmer will have a number of positive effects including a reduction in many severe weather events. What so many forget/miss is that nasty weather isn’t fueled by heat, but a combination of hot and cold. No thermal gradient means no bad weather, since it’s all basically a giant heat engine.

                  Colder is a bigger problem. We’ve seen what a little colder does and called it the little ice age (and the dark ages for the even earlier version). It was a bad time. Poor crop production. Rampant disease and death.

                  The silly notion that 1960 or 1980 were Panglossian Earth would be funny if it didn’t result in the death of thousands due to insufficient economic growth.

        2. I do think that your contrarian argument was way too well-thought out to come from an actual prog…”

          Well spotted ; it was in fact a pastiche of all the various retorts made when I’ve brought up the subject of

          “What happens when Big Government tries does what ‘Environmentalists’ want? = Destruction of the Environment and Cronyism”

          Its not altogether different than when I’ve talked with Lefty Foreign Policy wonks about the general-shittiness of Multilateral Sanctions, or of “Foreign Aid” to impoverished countries compared to ‘lowering tariffs and barriers to trade’

          There is a standard grab-bag of ‘conversation deflectors’ where when you point out how “Ethanol Sucks, and it was Your Idea”, the natural reaction is, “LOOK OVER THERE = KOCHTOPUS KEYSTONE MILITARY SPENDING!”

        3. Farming is considered idyllic, mining is an ugly raping of Mother Earth. I don’t think it is any more complicated than that.

      4. So it ‘sends the right message’? It’s a ‘wake-up call’?

    2. It really is the perfect storm of government incompetence. It’s maybe not as bad as the DDT scare which caused millions of deaths from malaria, but starving to death ain’t no fun either.

      1. I hear that ‘senator’ tastes like shit, but… you can eat them..

        1. They must be well-done. Too many parasites.

      2. Regarding DDT, the birds of prey are back, so it does seem like the DDT ban did its job. Which is good, since red-tailed hawk tastes like the chicken it just ate. Mmmmmm….

        1. Contrary to the wishes of the Greens, Uganda and S. Africa have begun using DDT properly (spraying it on as a liquid rather than atomizing it) and those two countries have cut infant mortality from malaria by 80%.

  5. I think the thing holding this up is the promises made at election time going thru Iowa. Its nothing more than a welfare program for the agriculture sector at the expense of the consumer. At the very least the mandate should be removed. In all rights if it pollutes like a dirty coal plant it should be treated the same and put out of business.

    1. Welfare programs for the agricultural sector have a long history in this country, dating back, if I recall correctly, to the founding. I suppose that some of them, at one time or another, have probably dons some sort of good. Probably by accident.

      OTOH, why shouldn’t agribusiness lobby the government? Everybody else gets to.

      The problem isn’t lobbying. The problem is allowing the government enough power to be WORTH lobbying.

      1. “The problem isn’t lobbying. The problem is allowing the government enough power to be WORTH lobbying.”

        Thanks, one for the memory banks.

  6. There is one major reason ethanol production is so central to our energy policy: Iowa. First in the nation caucuses so nearly every major candidate for president is going to want to pander to the state’s concerns. Iowans want high corn prices because that’s a huge portion of their economy. Ethanol production boosts corn prices. So presidential candidates of both parties are going to lean on their congressional supporters to support ethanol production. Ergo, we get a stupid ethanol policy so that our next Liar-in-Chief can gain “momentum” in his primary contest.

    McCain — for all of his faults — steadfastly refused to join the ethanol bipartisan crazy train and didn’t even bother to campaign in Iowa as a result in 2008. He still won the nomination. I would have hoped that would at least slowed down the ethanol craziness… doesn’t seem to have.

  7. Even the people who make ethanol don’t believe in their product, if they did they would modify their factories, trucks, farm equipment to use it if it was such a great deal. Instead they use other conventional fuels

  8. Reminds me of the bumper sticker I hate most:

    No Farms No Food

    WTF does that even mean? I know what the ProgTards think it means…that we need a bajillion small farms else we’ll all die. But that’s so fucking stupid on so many levels that I just want to run the person off the road.

    1. It’s a moral thing. Big corporate farms make profits for rich people, and that’s bad. They even sell the food at a lower price than small farms, and that’s bad. You see, food is supposed to cost more because the more something costs the better it is. And corporate profits are bad.

      1. “the more something costs the better it is.”

        Part of the answer to Zeno’s question as to why progressives like ethanol and not fracking. Ethanol helps the farmer, just don’t let the progs catch him using pesticides or GMO corn. Their heads will explode from all the contradictions.

    2. Even more then the COEXIST bumper stickers? Like some Palestinian terrorists is going to read that and go “Oh I never considered that possibility”

      Prog bumper stickers have nothing to do with raising awareness, helping a cause, or making someone think. They are all about advertising their smug sense of moral superiority.

      1. Or more often the case, they just want to show all their other progressive friends just how “committed” they are to the keystone issues of the year. I genuinely think that most of them are just your normal hard-working citizen or young student that doesn’t really prioritize using their time to research and understand the issues that their friends or superiors passionately talk about, so they just go along to the same drumbeat and position without a thought.

      2. So what is your least favorite common bumpersticker?

        “Well behaved women rarely make history”

        “Hate is not a family value”

        1. “Wag more bark less”

          I want to monster truck over every fucking car I see with one of those. And then I saw the pinnacle of horror one day:

          “Purr more hiss less”

          I used to think seeing douchebags with Black Dog stickers on their cars was bad enough (at least I almost never see that out here in Seattle) but these new ones are horrible.

          1. I worked at the Black Dog (yes the actual Black Dog Restaurant) on Martha’s Vineyard for a couple years.

            I hate that one WITH A PASSION.

            1. It always amused me getting off the ferry and watching so many people immediately line up at The Black Dog before even going and seeing the island or going to the beach or going clamming or even going to Belushi’s grave.

              1. Belushi’s grave is there? I’d didn’t know that. I’d like to go, kneel down, and tell him I’m carrying on his mission from God. Then I’d go cuss in front of the Penguin.

              2. I will admit that their food was excellent for a rustic seafood place. The smoked bluefish spread in particular is one of my favorite things in the world to eat.

                But you are right about people walking straight off the ferry and directly to the Black Dog as if this was some rite of passage on the Vineyard. Tourist trap gotta trap.

                When were you on the Vineyard?

                1. Late 80s. My friend’s mom had a house there and we’d go for a few days sometimes. The drive to the ferry took a while coming from CT so we only went a few times. The Block Island ferry was a lot closer.

                  1. It was still pretty cool back then, although not much changes there besides the landscape. I’ve been going there since I was a kid, and I lived there year round from 90-94ish.

                    Do not live on MVY year round. Period. I still don’t know why I stayed so long.

                    I don’t know if you ever made out to Chappy and the Dyke bridge, but that entire part of South Beach was washed away in to the bay over the last decade. They say it’s starting to fill back in now, but the evironuts were losing their minds when it happened. Good times.

                    1. I’ve been in enough resort/summer places in the off season to see how those places get, and they don’t look fun year-round. The Vineyard is nice but I could see myself being bored shitless within a week. I spent much more time on the CT and RI shores, and up in Maine, than on the Cape. I’ve actually spent more time on the Jersey shore than on the Cape.

                      SNOOKI WANT SMUSH SMUSH

                    2. MVY had some of the highest per capita drug addiction rates in all of New England, and wasn’t because of our sandy beaches.

                      Imagine being bored during the winter in a small coastal fishing village, and now imagine that village is only accessible via plane or ferry. It was that ridiculous.

                      This statistic I always found staggering- it has an average winter time population of about 15K, and a summer time population well over 200K, like two completely different islands.

                      Pro tip: Visit after labor day, when it’s still warm out and the kids and vacationers have all gone home. The locals come out en force and the parties are epic.

                    3. It’s probably better now what with the internet and Netflix and good tv and video games and the like, but yeah, before that stuff my god the winters on the island must have been insanely boring. No swimming, no beach parties, nothing to do but drink and smoke weed and read and watch terrible television. At least on the mainland you had more options.

                      I totally used to start my end-of-summer vacation the Friday before, or on, Labor Day so that I was on vacation when everyone else was finishing up and leaving. There’s nothing like driving north on 95 into Maine and seeing the two southbound lanes turned into a parking lot, and realizing you won’t have to deal with that when you come back in a week. I should try that with The Vineyard some day.

                    4. The other thing that’s awesome about the post labor day Vineyard is that all the locals (as I was for a time) work like dogs throughout the summer so that we can survive through the winter. Once the vacationers leave you have a crowd of service industry folks with a wad of cash, questionable morals and a knowledge of the best spots to do things of which your mom would not approve.

                      Some of the best parties I’ve ever been to were post labor day Vineyard bashes.

                2. Are you saying that someone has found a culinary use for bluefish? I’m astonished.

            2. So does everybody who lives in southeastern New England. But the spoofs are pretty good: “Bad Dog” (crapping dog) & “Fat Hog” (what it sounds like) being the best.

              1. You have to give the guys at the BD credit, they got lucky with a great name and a great logo and it went bananas.

                I can’t even imagine the gross sales of BD related merchandise at this point. Has to be something insane.

        2. Those family stick figures bug me. Though the zombie ones are kinda cool.

        3. So what is your least favorite common bumpersticker?

          I’ll tell you what my favorite bumper sticker is. Well it was more a sign than a bumper sticker. It was on a tank truck used to pump septic tanks. The sign said:

          “This truck is full of political promises”

        4. “A Mind Is Like A Parachute, It Only Functions When Open”

          A perpetually open parachute (and a perpetuallly open mind, for that matter) will drag you through all kinds of brambles

          1. I’ve also heard:
            “Don’t let your mind be so open your brains fall out”

          2. Some people’s minds aren’t as open as they’d like to believe.

      3. Libertarian bumper stickers, however, are not like that. They are the good bumper stickers, because I agree with them.

        1. Uh oh, butthurt! Name a libertarian bumper sticker, retard.

          Bumper stickers are annoying as fuck. All of them. I don’t fucking care what your opinion on anything is. It’s not our fault that the ones that TEAM BLUE/progs tends to choose are even more annoying than JESUS IS______ or a fish symbol.

          1. Name a libertarian bumper sticker

            “Taxation *with* representation ain’t all that great either.”

            But, unlike samgamgee, I actually agree with it in a non-sarcastic manner.

    3. I’m no fan of that one. but there are several I hate more;

      “What If They Gave A War And Nobody Came”

      Great, if you can arrange it, but if yours is the only side that doesn’t show, then it’s 1939, and your name is Poland.

      “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Republican”

      Friends don’t interfere with friends’ exercise of the franchise. I mean, is that or is it not pretty much what the KKK was doing in the Freedom Rider era?

      “Wouldn’t It Be Great If The Schools Had All The Money They Needed And The Air Force Had To Hold A Bake Sale To Buy Another Bomber”

      Set aside, for an instant, the assumption that what’s wrong with the Public Schools is a dearth of money. Encouraging the Military to seek independent funding is an ideal rife with possibilities, all of them bad.

      Anybody else have a few?

      1. When the union shipyard changes shift, there are always a few SOLIDARITY stickers driving by.

        1. Like Your Weekend? Thank a Union.

    4. MP, you and I are on the same wave-length. The bumper sticker that gets me going is the one that asks, “Who’s Your Farmer?” as if that somehow matters to me.

      I’m going to print a bumper sticker that asks, “Who’s Your Fracker?” I’ll make it white lettering on a green background, just as is the one above, and then I can make the argument that I really, really care about the environment.

  9. So what happend to today’s global warming article?

    Was it deleted? Will it come back?

  10. The whole ethanol thing is a primo example of why politicians should never get involved in economics.

  11. The whole ethanol thing is a primo example of why politicians should never get involved in economics.

  12. I’m opposed to ethanol subsidies and mandates, but this article gets some things wrong or at least takes some things out of context.

    First, corn ethanol is energy positive (not counting the free solar input). The gain is about 33%. That’s not a huge number, but multiple studies have come to the same conclusion. Pimentel(sp?) is the outlier here and makes some odd comparisons to reach his conclusions.

    Second, US ethanol production is only “worse” for CO2 emissions if new land is cleared for production. That is where the deficit comes from. The fact that the US is generally producing more on less land directly contradicts the claims cited in the NYT. The issue is a much bigger one for our enlightened European betters who are happily subsidizing the razing of Indonesian rain forests to grow more rape seed for biodiesel.

    And the notion that using corn residue which has already incurred its carbon debt is a bad thing. Well, again, just wrong. The link to the AP doesn’t work, so I haven’t even read that puff piece on the article, but in order for it to be worse CO2-wise, the conversion to ethanol will have to require a net input of energy. And that all depends on the particular technique used (note that I’m talking only about CO2 and not $$).

  13. Finally, I’ll add that just looking at the energy content of a gallon of ethanol vs. a gallon of gas is misleading. You also need to understand the thermodynamic efficiency of using each fuel properly. Ethanol has a higher octane rating meaning that the fuel can be used in higher compression ratio engines. Look up the Otto cycle and you’ll see that the efficiency is strongly dependent on that compression ratio, so you can extract more of the total chemical energy in a gallon of ethanol than you can a gallon of gas in properly designed/tuned engines. This still leaves about a 10% net deficit like for like, but it makes it a much closer comparison than just blindly comparing the heat energy you get burning the two.

    1. What’s the carbon footprint of building all those new engines and autos?

      1. NotAnotherSkippy doesn’t understand much of the “science” he’s spouting.

        The enthalpy of combustion;
        Octane produces 634 kJ per mole of CO2 produced;
        ethanol produces 325 kJ per mole of CO2 produced.

        No matter how efficient the engine gets, at 100% combustion you get more heat out of a molecule of octane than you do out of a molecule of ethanol.

        The only way you get ethanol to be superior to petrol is if you start adulterating the fuel mixture with (e.g.) nitrous and those engines, while notoriously efficient, are poorly suited to everyday or long-term engine use. Further, even in the circles where nitrous-ethanol engines are common, they aren’t head and shoulders above diesel or conventional petrol engines.

    2. Well done N.O.S.! This is exactly correct in nearly every regard. The fuel efficiency issue is complicated.

      In my vehicle, additional of some ethanol INCREASES fuel mileage. Continuing to increase it begins to reduce fuel mileage. I assume that the octane issue is at work here and that the higher octane allows better engine timing (timing advances with low octane to reduce pre-ignition, or knocking).

      The CO2 and net-energy-gain calculations get played with to make whatever point the manipulator wants by cherry-picking special situations as if they were general considerations.

  14. If you build it, they will come.

  15. If you mandate and control main stream media you pretty much own the hole operation. The consumer will never know the difference.

  16. Ethanol has problems and I am certainly opposed to subsidies and mandates, however the article is misleading.

    “A 25-gallon tank full of pure ethanol requires about 450 pounds of corn?roughly the amount of calories required to feed someone for a year.”

    This assumes that the 450 pounds of corn goes missing from the food supply. The majority of corn produced is used as animal feed. The byproduct of ethanol production is distillers grain or “cake”. This is shipped straight to the feedlots. The food value of the grain lost during the ethanol production process is not hugely significant.

    1. Yes, and distillers grain is higher in protein. The loss in ethanol production is primarily sugars.

  17. Use your feet, save the planet… keep your ass fit. Don’t be a “McDonald’s” fat pig.

  18. But… corn is green.

  19. Colder could be a bigger problem. Either way, being equipped with advance notice would help us to mitigate any negative effects and to adapt to the new situation.

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