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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol

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  • texasestexases Posts: 5,528
    Newpaper today: ethanol not only boosted corn prices 46% over the last several years, it's making farmers plant corn instead of wheat and soybeans, so their prices are going up, too (22% for soybeans). So everything we eat will be going up because of the corporate welfare known as ethanol.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    This why I'm saying "NO" to buying GM or Ford. Unless they back off or let go of this ethanol thing, Im looking at buying my first foreign car.
  • smithjamalsmithjamal Posts: 1
    It maybe a fact because ethanol uses organic materials, but is we can minimize the pollution then why not? it's all worthy...

    Green Car
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Bio diesel uses organic materials (used cooking oil, animal waste, mostly thing we do not eat) and gets far better mileage. Let use bio diesel instead and eat the corn. Better mileage and a full belly.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    As gagrice pointed out it takes almost as much energy to produce ethanol as it has in the finished product. (This applies to corn ethanol. Sugar cane ethanol can be produced more cheaply.)

    I'm not sure why but this kind of government provided wheel turning reminds me of an old joke -

    A guy is watching as a government truck is driving along. Every so often the truck would stop. One guy would get out and dig a hole. Then the other guy would get out and fill the hole back in. This continued at regular intervals for some time until the guy finally asks what on earth they are doing. "We're planting trees. Can we help it if the guy that puts the tree in the hole is sick today?"

    Ethanol production is a lot like that....
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,830
    This is unverified (by me), but just wondering if others have heard the same -
    I was told be a co-worker yesterday that there may be a tequila shortage soon. According to him, agave takes about 8 years to raise properly, so given the (artificial & temporary?) demand for ethanol, Mexican farmworkers are abandoning & destroying agave crop in order to raise corn.

    Sounds a bit suspect to me. Suddenly corn is more profitable than agave? Seems like with an 8-year turnaround, it would've been all along.

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    Hmmm I don't know. I have seen teh whole mess kicking up a lot of agricultural products as corn prices are guaranteed domestically and now we are growing less what and soybeans because the farm biz would rather grow a guaranteed price crop.

    Now I've seen gas prices go up when oil prices go up which is a bit of a lag, but 8 years seems a bit of a stretch.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,528
    Sad but true - read about it here: Agave out, corn in
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,830
    Dang. Guess I'd better start getting my fill of margaritas before the price of tequila goes higher than gas prices (I guess it already is, gallon for gallon, but even I can't drink a gallon). Now that really IS an "inconvenient truth" for me :(

    Interesting... I assumed that the US produced enough corn, or at least has the immediate capability to do so, to satisfy the ethanol-related demand.

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    But capacity isn't the trick here. This is a very thinly veiled gift to the large agricultural conglomerates and once one crop has a known, high price everyone will get into the act.

    I wonder if it's too late to plant?
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,528
    Another example of this kind of problem - Europe decided biodiesel was great, and there are palm trees that produce it, so guess what? Large tracts of rainforest in Indonesia cut down for palm trees. Ain't that eco-illogical! More about it here Palm Oil Disaster
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Glad I’m a scotch drinker. I like red wines also, oh and dark beers, Actually, I’ll drink most anything, but I’m trying cut back on the extracts and mouthwash :P
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,859
    This push for ethanol is affecting a LOT more than fuel prices. If growers switch over to corn from other crops, those other crops are suddenly in shorter supply... you guessed it higher prices :sick:

    How many O's are there in boondoggle?? :P

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,878
    We cannot come close to producing enough corn to make the ethanol needed to satisfy the mandate. Until this latest boooooondoggle we did have a surplus of corn. We sold corn to other countries such as Mexico. They are probably planting corn so they will have enough to make tortillas. Tacos without tortillas are messy. Tacos without tequila are uncivilized. So our ethanol program has caused an International crisis.

    We have ADM and Congress to thank for destroying the Tequila industry in Mexico.

    I guess I better not drink any of my stash of Hornitos. It may be worth a fortune in a couple years.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    "I guess I better not drink any of my stash of Hornitos. It may be worth a fortune in a couple years."

    You can put it up on Ebay!
  • eliaselias Posts: 1,903
    There is a recent MIT study which I recall was authored by a female gradual student which consolidates "all" the previous studies regarding whether it costs energy to produce ethanol. It explains why some studies show that it costs energy, others that it saves energy. It's all in the assumptions and the specific processes used/theorized and how their energy-input/output is measured. Bottom line was apparently that ethanol can indeed save energy in some cases, via some processes. But not all.
    All that said, I still have no doubt that Ethanol/FFV/CAFE in USA is an incredible scam which has resulted in huge increases in oil imports and lots more monster-SUVs on USA roads. Fwiw, Consumer Reports detailed this in a recent issue but did not mention the Tequila angle..
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    "authored by a female gradual student" Other than the female part that kind of describes me as a student - "Hey, I'll get around to it!" :P

    Sorry. Oh, it's a scam all right. Actually the Model T was likely the first of the flexible fuel vehicles. Ethanol was around then and indeed a Model T would run on it just fine. The reason people didn't use it was because gas was more economical. It still is but now we have a big government program designed to make believe it isn't.

    As Dan Quayle once said, "It a question of whether we are going to forward to the future or past to the back."....
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,878
    Another joke is NASCAR running ethanol. They have run alcohol mixtures in racing for a very long time. This is part of the GM FFV scam. I guess it sells E85 vehicles. You can drive a Suburban to work and feel you are doing your part to conserve.
  • nascar57nascar57 Posts: 47
    I cant believe all the bashing that goes on for a DOMESTICALLY produced fuel. I have been burning ethanol for the past 2 months in my 07 Silverado. Here in North Dakota, E85 is 2.40/gallon and gas is 3.24/gallon. Its a no-brainer. The Silverado gets 14.5-15mpg with E85, and around 16-17 with gasoline. Obviously we know it isnt the long-term solution, but hey its an ALTERNATIVE to the bending over that the oil companies are giving you people that bash ethanol and only run gas. Ethanol is a traded commodity on the Chicago Board of Trade. It is supporting this country's farmers and creating jobs HERE and not in the hell-hole middle east. Like I said, its not the long term deal but hey why not have another option other than gas. Cellulosic ethanol is on the horizon which is awesome, but the argument that food prices are increasing by 5-6% is BS, we as Americans have has the cheapest food in the world for the past 20 years, its about time that the producers actually start getting a fair price for what they produce, then maybe the government wouldnt have to subsidize farmers. Ethanol plants could still survive without the .50/gallon tax incentive also. Ethanol is trading for 2.17/gallon, the newer plants get 3 gallons for each bushel of corn, 2.17x3=$6.51, currently corn is at $3.83, DUH!!!!! Plus throw in the extra money earned by selling the DDG's to ranchers and it increases that margin. Its not doom and gloom, thats just what the oil companies want people to spread. Be a lil smart and lets not put all our bags in the NON-RENEWABLE basket, use your brains!
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    There is no ethanol pump within a thousand miles of my home. I will not buy a car that is being advertised that way.

    As has been pointed out we are using as much oil to produce ethanol as we would to make the equivalent gas. It's a government giveaway to agricultural interests. If you allow corn to free market ethanol is dead. We did this thirty years ago and got the same result.

    You can spare us the DUH! and "use your brain" insults, please. We use our brains and can see the many subsidies used to prop this up.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,878
    The Silverado gets 14.5-15mpg with E85,

    If you are getting that kind of mileage with your Silverado 5.3L engine that is good. I barely get that with unleaded regular driving like a grandpa that I am. If I drive like the rest of the folks around here I am lucky to get 13.5 MPG.

    If you consider robbing Peter to pay Paul legitimate, then ethanol is a good deal. It does not lessen the amount of oil we buy from the Middle East by ONE DROP. It is a massive case of corporate welfare. The dribble down affect happens to be helping a few people in the Midwest at the expense of the rest of the USA. If you are happy with that, so be it.

    Just don't try to convince those of us that are paying the bill that it is good for the country.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    Read this and tell me I'm supose to be happy about ethanol. I'm paying more for gas AND food. :sick:
    Give us diesels/bio diesel and we can eat the corn.

    A pricier T-bone this summer?
    Demand for corn edges hay production, meaning farmers pass on costs
    MARY HOPKIN; Tri-City Herald
    Published: May 31st, 2007 01:00 AM
    KENNEWICK, benton county – Corn is popping up in mid-Columbia fields where hay, beans and peas were harvested last year, and dairy farmers, ranchers and horse owners will likely pay more in an unexpected spinoff of the demand for ethanol.
    And that translates to higher costs for consumers, too. Prices of corn, milk and meat are expected to go up this summer.
    Washington farmers planned to seed an additional 50,000 acres of corn this year, according to a March survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
    Dave Losh, a statistician in the service’s Olympia office, said farmers planned to plant 190,000 acres of corn this year – a 36 percent increase over last year.
    Blooming demand for corn to make ethanol pushed corn prices to $3.36 per bushel in March, compared with $2.06 a year ago. But the increase in corn acreage means cutbacks in other crops – mainly hay, which already was in tight supply.
    Chep Gauntt, owner of Gauntt Farms in Kennewick, replanted one of his hay fields into corn and expects as much as a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction in hay acreage overall.
    “Without a good corn market I wouldn’t have done it, and I expect there will be a tight supply for domestic and export hay,” he said.
    Shawn Clausen in Warden, Grant County, hasn’t cut the amount of hay he’s growing, but he has replaced some dry beans and peas to double his corn crop this year to 1,400 acres.
    “Corn prices were really good early this spring so you couldn’t contract on the futures market and the risk was low,” he said.
    His corn is already sold to a local feedlot. Feedlots and dairies need the corn, but they also want hay, which will be expensive and in short supply.
    “We have to have both,” said Cody Easterday, vice president of the Washington Cattle Feeders Association and owner of Easterday Ranches in Mesa. “Corn is energy and hay is fiber and protein.”
    The entire livestock industry will be hurt by a hay shortage, he said, noting hay already has been in short supply for the past two years and that alfalfa can cost up to $170 per ton.
    “We are going to be paying more and that will raise our production costs, which ultimately affects consumers,” Easterday said. “The consumer is going to have to pay for it one way or another.”
    Les Wentworth isn’t necessarily replacing hay for corn, but he has turned to corn for a rotation crop on five-year-old alfalfa fields. This year, he planted 150 acres of corn. Wentworth said the 500-acre farm his father first planted in the 1950s primarily produces alfalfa hay, but he also has grown green peas and dry peas, wheat, soybeans, watermelon and cantaloupe.
    “This is the first time I’ve planted corn,” he said.
    Nationwide, farmers are expected to grow the largest corn crop ever, planting 90.5 million acres – a 15 percent increase compared with last year, according to the USDA.
    The hay shortage also has companies offering premium prices to lease land for growing hay.
    “Normally, hay ground leases for $320 to $340 an acre,” Wentworth said. “But right now every time someone calls me they are increasing their offers. I got an offer of $400.”
    Wentworth said he’d take the $400 if he was retired and was looking for safe, reliable income off his property, but the income is better if he works the land himself.
    “I make the money on the gambling,” he said.
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218
    There is one country out there that will still function and won't be affected if suddenly, Middle East oil stops. Due to shortage of oil years ago, they decided to produce their own solution to the crisis...and boy...they did it well..they even sell it to their people cheap and have enough to export...We can talk forever but if we are really serious as a nation, we can learn from Brazil and with our latest technology, I bet we can do better if there's a real political will.

    Those so-called law to mandate 40-50 MPG that some politicians want to have for cars will really not solve our dependency..but having another alternative to oil is better.

    If we put our best minds together without political interferance, we can come up with many alternatives.

    By the way, let's not forget Denmark.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,528
    Ethanol from sugar cane is more efficient than from corn, they even use the stalks to help fuel the process. Wish corn was as efficient.
  • jkinzeljkinzel Posts: 735
    I appreciate you enthusiasm for ethanol and IF we were in a state of gas rationing as we were during WWII I might agree.
    However, we are not in a period of gas rationing and to compound the issue we what, 10, 20, 30 times more cars on the road as we did in 1941. Maybe 50 times, I don’t know, but I do know ethanol by corn is only going to worsen our economic problems and do nothing to solve our dependence on oil.
    The cost of anything that has any corn products in it has gone up. I have been told by a person that works in a grocery store that food prices will be 20% higher by summer and possibly 30% higher by fall. Enjoy your $30 T-bone, Oh, and save the fat, we can use it to make bio-diesel.
    Ethanol is scam
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,878
    If you research Brazil and ethanol you will find they abandoned ethanol and left thousands of motorists with ethanol only cars stranded. The main reason Brazil is energy independent is they have found a huge reserve of oil. Ethanol only accounts for 20% of their energy needs.

    You are right that we need to come up with solutions. Big corporations are running the show and the result is boondoggles like our ethanol program. Ever wonder why the oil companies are not fighting ethanol? Is it because ethanol does not save us a drop of oil?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Why is this Ethanol thread in the "Hybrids" discussion area?

    Are there any hybrids which can use E85?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,878
    It is there so you don't miss any posts :) It also appears in news. I guess for those looking at alternatives.
  • easym1easym1 Posts: 218
    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0417-23.htm

    Brazil has not abandoned ethanol. I think your information is incorrect. Try going to the site above.
  • m6vxm6vx Posts: 142
    This is part of the GM FFV scam. I guess it sells E85 vehicles. You can drive a Suburban to work and feel you are doing your part to conserve.

    You don't even have to put E85 in your tank --- just buying an FFV means you're doing your part!

    The whole FFV/CAFE credit thing is a bunch of BS that has no real effect on saving fuel.
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