Slowly, the Truth About Ethanol Emerges

We’ve talked quite a bit about the dangerous delusion of ethanol fuel. It creates (maybe) as much energy as it consumes, so it doesn’t actually benefit our energy situation. It diverts corn to fueling cars instead of people, thus raising global food prices and causing hunger. It tears up engines. It doesn’t benefit the economy. And … to cap it off … it actually harms the environment.

Conservatives and libertarians have been saying this for a decade. Looks like the AP finally caught on:

But the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.

Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch.

Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.

Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive.

The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.

All right, let’s take on that last part first. I don’t know of a polite way to say this but … to hell with the farming industry. I am sick and tired of Washington’s romantic vision of farming and anything that can remotely be called farming. We’re not talking about Ma and Pa Kettle tending their 40 acres like my grandparents did; this is Monsanto and DuPont and other mega-businesses raking in tons of money to rape the land. This is driving family farmers to ruin their own plots. One of the main characters in the AP’s report is a family farmer debating whether to ruin his 91 acres while out-of-towners buy up the entire county and plow up the land for corn. Ethanol isn’t <>Little House on the Prairie.

The key to understanding the Obama Administration has never been their supposed socialism or radicalism or Alinskyism or whatever else Sean Hannity has been talking about this week; it’s how much they bend and sway for every big special interest group out there. The healthcare reform bill was practically written by insurance lobbyists and honed by union lobbyists. Their labor policies are entirely dictated by union money. They never proposed a serious alternative to the sequester because they couldn’t figure out which special interest to sell out in favor of the others.

And their “environmental” policy is not dictated by science, data or any concern for the Earth. It’s dictated by alternative energy interests. It’s dictated by campaign contributors and bundlers. And it is dictated by the massive ethanol lobby that continue to rake in billions from this planet-befouling, car-destroying, economy-crippling poison. And the only reason there is now a growing pushback? Because some lobbyists are now aligning against ethanol.

You should read the entire article, which is long but worth your time. The idiocy and mendacity of the Administration would be astounding except that it’s what we’ve gotten used to from these clowns. They are puzzled that artificially driving up the price of corn has resulted in … people growing far more corn than the environment can realistically support. They’ve turned back decades of progress that has seen crop yields boom while land use, fertilizer use and pollution have fallen. In some areas, they are driving us toward a second Dust Bowl. Remember when Obama used to say no lobbyists would work in his Administration? Yeah, he had ethanol lobbyists and their adherents on his staff.

Ironically, it was the EPA that saw what was coming and tried to warn them about it. The Administration responded by — tell me if this sounds familiar — forcing the EPA to change its analysis until it produced the conclusion they wanted.

This is a catastrophe. And the people who should be leading the charge against ethanol are Obama’s own dim-bulb supporters. I can guarantee you that if five million acres of conservation land disappeared under Bush, the environmentalist would be going completely apeshit. But the most we’re getting is polite missives and “concern” and a thousandth of the protest we’d get if Mitt Romney squashed a daisy.

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    One trip back to Nebraska is all I needed to know about the effects of farming corn for fuel. Sure, my cousin is getting rich off of the government, and laughing his head off at how stupid people are for paying him to grow so much corn, but he was also pissed at that amount of land that had previously been reverted back to prairie was being put under the plow again.

    Ethanol, the fuel of last resort.

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  2. John Binder

    I’m not a big fan of a lot of the stuff that goes under the title of Green. So much of it is nothing but propaganda. Even the names they choose (Green, renewable etc) are part of the propaganda, but when you dig underneath all the propaganda and start to really understand the technologies being talked about you often find out that they aren’t nearly as “clean” and “sustainable” as their advocates like to pretend.

    Here is the biggest problem with biofuels.
    “Due to losses at all steps in biochemistry, one has been able to get only about 1 to 2% energy efficiency in most crop plants. Sugarcane is an exception as it can have almost 8% efficiency. However, many plants in Nature often have only 0.1 % energy efficiency.”
    http://www.life.illinois.edu/govindjee/whatisit.htm

    And the efficiency only gets worst when you add in the energy costs of doing things like harvesting, transporting and processing materials (all of which use fossil fuels). The reality is that biofuels suck for the environment. Because of the poor efficiencies they involve huge land uses, huge amounts of the environmental problems normally associated with agriculture and ironically large amount of fossil fuel use.

    Here is a fun fact for you since Ethanol is basically the scientific word for booze.

    In 2011 40% of the US’s corn crop was used in the making of 13,948 million gallons of ethanol. The US Census Bureau estimates that there around 7 billion people on earth which means around 2 gallons of ethanol is produced in the US for every man woman and child which is more than enough to get the whole world plastered. In fact 2 gallons of ethanol is the equivalent of 426 2/3 twelve ounce cans of beer with 5% alcohol which means it’s enough to keep the whole world plastered for quite some time.

    Quote
    12/01/12 7,055,639,015
    http://www.census.gov/population/popclockworld.html

    Quote
    (milllion gallons unless otherwise noted) Ethanol 2011 Production 13,948

    Quote
    In the 2010/11 agricultural marketing year,2 40 percent of the corn crop and 14 percent of soybean oil production was used to produce biofuels and other products
    http://www.eia.gov/biofuels/issuestrends/

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  3. AlexInCT

    We’ve talked quite a bit about the dangerous delusion of ethanol fuel. It creates (maybe) as much energy as it consumes, so it doesn’t actually benefit our energy situation.

    I think I actually saw this broken down into the chemistry & physics once by some grad student, and the actual result was that it actually produced less energy than it took to make it, unless some major efficiencies were put in place. And even then the return was around 5-15%. Simply not worth it. Especially when you are destroying food-stuff to make this kind of crappy energy. Nobody points out the cost on the poor whoom often are the largest beneficiaries of cheap corn products. Unfortunately some people will not let reality interfere with their fantasy of how things should be.

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