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Is Ethanol good for the environment?

gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
Ethanol has some real downsides that the government would like to cover up. The administration is forcing it onto CA. after they had to legislate against that nasty MTBE. Ethanol is a bigger smog producer, higher in NoX and big Corporate welfare for ADM. Need any other reasons to not use Ethanol. This is good reading, on who is getting paid off to keep Ethanol alive.


  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    People on this board had me believing that Ethanol was good. It is all fabricated to make a few people rich from our taxes. It costs us taxpayer's about a $1 per gallon in corporate welfare.
    Cornell's Pimental
    found that 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one
    gallon of ethanol, and one gallon of ethanol has an energy value of 77,000 BTUs, so there is a net
    energy loss of 54,000 BTUs in the production of
    one gallon of ethanol.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    Ethanol has never been a good idea as a motor fuel and its promotion as such has been an obvious attempt to subsidize agriculture (again).
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    This is a rather silly thread. There's no such thing as any fuel that's "good" for the environment. The best you can realistically hope for is "no damage to".

    As for data on the subject, please provide a link to an actual WHITE PAPER. That summary is totally void of any detail and clearly has an organizational bias.

    With actual data, we can discuss the programs in place that have greatly improved the growing & refining process. Large steps forward have been made to reduce the environmental impact and to deliver a higher overall energy yield.

    Also, don't forget similar efforts have been made with the production of biodiesel too.

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    How much more would you like? Here is what the Canadiens think of Ethanol corporate welfare.

    ethanol production does not enhance energy security, is not a renewable energy source, is not an economical fuel, and does not ensure clean air...its production uses land suitable for crop production and causes environmental degradation."
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    That summary is totally void of any detail and clearly has an organizational bias.
    You keep Ethanol in the Midwest we don't want it in CA. It is not a left right biased issue, it is a "buying votes from the farmers" issue. If you don't consider "Friends of the Earth" a viable Organization, you will probably continue to believe that it is not costing more to produce than it is worth. The only positive spin you will find on Ethanol is from the folks that are profiteering from it.

    “If the ethanol producers and the corn growers weren’t benefiting from this, we wouldn’t be doing it,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., last week. “There’s no policy reason to do this.”
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    I want the ACTUAL RESEARCH DETAIL to be able to draw a conclusion for myself.


    Being shoveled digested information serves no purpose but to entertain. Not knowing how the conclusion was come to is clearly evidence of a non-objective stance.

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I want the ACTUAL RESEARCH DETAIL to be able to draw a conclusion for myself.
     What is the 52 cents per gallon subsidy? That comes out of my taxes. you should be paying that with every gallon you purchase, not me. As a MN farmer I can tell you the only way to plant corn year after year is with huge amounts of chemical fertilizer. That in itself is very harmful to the ground water in YOUR state. ADM does not care if you have lousy water. My property was right on the Long Prairie River and we refused to use any chemicals that would leech into the river. Only the stuff our cattle produced. You will have a hard time finding data that is current because it is hidden in a cloak of deception. No one in the business is going to tell you they are spending 2 bucks to produce a bucks worth of Ethanol. Not when Uncle Sam has a 5 billion dollar subsidy sitting on the table for the next 8 years. Alaska got an exemption because it caused way more ice fog in the winter during testing. I'm surprised you don't see more in Minneapolis in the winter.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > it is hidden in a cloak of deception

    Yet, you believe the info you have.

    What's wrong with that picture?

    The EPA and select colleges perform studies of that nature all the time. They publicly publish their findings. Let's see those.

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    What's wrong with that picture?

    Nothing is wrong with that picture. Cornell University's study is the only viable study that has been made public. Show me a study where Ethanol is making money and does not have an adverse environmental impact. Here is an article touting the virtues of Ethanol. What's wrong with this picture?

    More than 60% of the world’s supply of ethanol is estimated to be derived from sugar, with Brazil – a sugarcane growing country – in the lead.

    I see nothing wrong with clearing the rainforset to plant Sugarcane, duh!!!
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    I'm for a moderate approach. One that will yield a REALISTIC reduction of gas (oil) consumption, not the total elimination.

    You are the one insisting the ALL OR NONE approach, not me.

    Clearly, we have different goals.

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    U.S. Department of Energy Study indicates that ethanol is responsible for more nitrous oxide.

     Now let me research Biodiesel for you..... &l=1&t=Agriculture&c=93,1030270
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    You are the one insisting the ALL OR NONE approach, not me.

    Where did you get that impression? I already pay higher prices for fuel in CA than you do. I don't want the added burden of transporting Ethanol for some contrived plan to pull the Midwest out of the doldrums. I am looking for viable alternatives to our dependence on foriegn oil. If we are going to use our coal and Natural gas to produce Ethanol, why not just burn the Natural Gas in the car to start with. Why pass it through several layers of bureaucracy first and come out with a less environmentally sound product. That is like making hydrogen from Natural Gas. Why bother, just burn the gas to start with. There is no way we will eliminate foreign oil in our lifetime. I am all for reducing the consumption. There are too many opposing forces at every step. No matter what technology or resource is used someone is not going to like it and put roadblocks in the way. Just as you would block the use of diesel because of your bias toward hybrid/ethanol burning vehicles. I think your use of those resources is great. You get great mileage from your Prius and I applaud that. There are other options that are good also. I want them all to have an equal chance to succeed.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    Hello? Anyone care to post the links to the actual data on ethanol?

    I can make a statement here that Ethanol is really good and 100 percent renewable and great for the environment.

    Hmmm, it seems I didn't post any supporting data (and I'm not talking supporting opinions but rather scientific data).

    Yet under the rules most people seem to use here, that statement must obiously be true.

    For the record, the above is in jest, I have no position on ethanol ... because I haven't seen conclusive data either way. However I do have a position on scientific evidence... I am enthusiastically in favor of it!
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Here is published scientific data from Cornell University. I don't believe they are in it for the money. All the pro data I have found on Ethanol is filtered by companies that have a vested interest in the growing of corn or production of Ethanol. Congress knows it is not viable but they don't want to upset the farm states. It does in fact have a $.52 per gallon Federal subsidy as of today. I would be glad to read any more recent data that is not diluted by entities that stand to get rich on my tax dollars. This corporate welfare to the max. html
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    Thanks for posting the link, but this is not a scientic study, it is a summary from someone who read a study. The key importance in determining truth is not the data in a study, but rather how the researcher processed the data, or assembled the data. Either can skew the study - and the results.

    However, the study is available (though probably not on line):

    "His findings will be published in September, 2001 in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Physical Sciences and Technology "

    BTW, this information is thus 3 years old...

    Here is a pretty good report that lists lots of references, if anyone wants to persue the topic:

    The following is the conclusion (since it is an engergy department study, it is in the public domain and not copywrited).

    "We conclude that the NEV of corn-ethanol is positive
    when fertilizers are produced by modern processing
    plants, corn is converted in modern ethanol facilities,
    and farmers achieve average corn yields. Our NEV
    estimate of over 21,000 Btu per gallon could be
    considered conservative, since it was derived using the
    replacement method for valuing coproducts, and it
    does not include energy credits for plants that sell
    carbon dioxide. Corn ethanol is energy efficient, as
    indicated by an energy ratio of 1.34; that is, for every
    Btu dedicated to producing ethanol there is a 34-
    percent energy gain. Furthermore, producing ethanol
    from domestic corn stocks achieves a net gain in a
    more desirable form of energy, which helps the United
    States to reduce its dependence on imported oil.
    Ethanol production utilizes abundant domestic energy
    feedstocks, such as coal and natural gas, to convert
    corn into a premium liquid fuel. Only about 17 percent
    of the energy used to produce ethanol comes from
    liquid fuels, such as gasoline and diesel fuel. For every
    1 Btu of liquid fuel used to produce ethanol, there is a
    6.34 Btu gain.
    When looking at past NEV studies, it appears that
    energy requirements for producing a gallon of ethanol
    are falling over time. One of the primary factors for
    this increase in energy efficiency is the increase in
    U.S. corn yields. When ethanol first emerged as a
    gasoline extender in the 1970s, corn yield was averaging
    about 90 bushels per acre. This study used
    1995-97 average corn yield of 125 bushels per acre,
    which is about 39 percent greater than the yields of the
    1970s. Corn yields continue to rise in the United
    States—the average corn yield per acre for the past 3
    years (1999-2001) was about 135 bushels per acre. If
    the 1999-2001 average corn yield were used in this
    analysis, the total energy used to produce a bushel of
    corn would decline by more than 4,200 Btu. As corn
    yields increase over time, we can expect the energy
    balance of corn ethanol to increase, as well. Other
    major factors causing this increase in energy efficiency
    are related to the energy-saving technologies adopted
    by ethanol producers and manufacturers of fertilizers
    and other farm inputs. Higher energy costs will likely
    continue to provide incentives for these industries to
    become more energy efficient, which will continue to
    push the NEV of corn ethanol higher."
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    Forgot to mention, the previous DOE report mentions the Cornell scientist and why his conclusions were so different. And his data was from 1991; the 2001 was an update with a co-author, and the data is at variance with many other scientists.

    "Pimentel reported the lowest NEVs by far, about
    -33,500 Btu/gal. There is a difference of more than
    50,000 Btu between Pimentel’s NEV and the estimate
    derived in this study (table 1). Many factors
    contributed to Pimentel’s low estimate. For example,
    with the exception of Ho, Pimentel’s 1991 study used
    the lowest corn yield among the studies. His 1991
    study used the highest fertilizer application rate and
    the lowest corn ethanol conversion rate. He increased
    corn yield and reduced fertilizer application rate in his
    2001 study, but oddly, the NEV in the latter study
    went down. His estimate for energy used for nitrogen
    fertilizer processing was extremely high and appears
    not to reflect technology used by modern facilities.
    The amount of energy required for ethanol conversion
    in Pimentel’s studies also appears outdated.
    Conversion estimates used by the other studies ranged
    between 40,850 Btu/gal (LHV) and 57,000 Btu/gal
    (LHV), while Pimentel’s studies calculated about
    75,000 Btu (LHV) to convert a gallon of ethanol. In
    addition, he is the only author to include an energy
    value for steel, cement, and other materials used in the
    production of equipment, farm vehicles, and the
    ethanol plant."
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    That is an interesting report. And a quite large discrepancy in the net gain for Ethanol. If the report is accurate, why are we still paying 52 cents per gallon to subsidize the production? Sounds to me like they should be making a handsome profit. The transportation to places outside of the Midwest was ignored in the calculations. And the worst part is the added smog factor was not mentioned. NoX is higher with Ethanol added. That is why CA and NY are fighting the implementation. We just got rid of one hazard in MTBE and along comes another potential hazard. It seems like a snow job to me to satisfy the Midwest farmers.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Anyone ever have an ethanol rush? It's cranberry, kahlua and ethanol with a twist of lime. You absolutely must try it. Oh.. by the way... this is one of the most ridiculous threads I've ever seen here. More political propaganda than anything else. ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    As a matter of fact there was a $2 a gallon tax on it during prohibition. Must have been a popular drink mix.....wake up did you drink too much Ethanol?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    More political propaganda than anything else.

    It is very Apolitical and affects all of us. It takes money from the East and West coast drivers and puts it in the pockets of huge corporations and big farmers in the Midwest. And it is not something I want in my gas. In fact if they force CA to use it I will go all diesel. It may be ridiculous to you, not me.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "And it is not something I want in my gas. In fact if they force CA to use it I will go all diesel. It may be ridiculous to you, not me. "

    Hmmm, you do realize that the only diesels allowed in California are in vehicles over 6000 lbs? So you are saying you would buy a Ford Excursion, or F250 or Chevy Tahoe XT?

    However, I take your point. I was never fond of MTBE either. I wonder what alternatives to Ethanol are available (and what they would cost)?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    There are ways to get around the CARB rules. You can buy a diesel car with 7500 miles on it, possibly from another state. The real stickler on Ethanol is shipping is a pain. It cannot be piped over so it will have to come by truck to the refineries where it will be mixed. It does raise the NoX and sulfur which is counter productive. CA is fighting the Feds on this one. Our governor is bigger than Iowa's so maybe we will win. Ethanol is just a get rich corporate scam.
    And isn't that something, I can buy a huge diesel Pickup truck and not a VW TDI, that is so much cleaner burning than any of the big 3 diesel PU manufacturers.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "There are ways to get around the CARB rules. You can buy a diesel car with 7500 miles on it, possibly from another state."

    Nope, you cannot buy a car from another state, unless it is pre-1992, when the current diesel rules were implemented. You would not be able to register the car here. The VIN would show up as a new diesel and would be rejected.

    So I suppose we can go ahead and buy that 1991 Mercedes 300D with 300K miles on it...

    Rules will probably change in 2007 when the cleaner low-sulfer diesel is due to be introduced in all states.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Actually I just got my SOCO/CFN cards. There is a station a mile from my home that sells ULSD less than 15 ppm diesel. So I am ready. Actually the law against small diesel cars went in last year for the 2004 cars. My VW dealer sold lots of VW TDI's up till this year. They bring a big premium on the used market. The San Diego Trader had a 2002 Bug TDI listed at $19k. Too rich for my blood. I'll look up the regs on bringing used diesel cars into CA.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Here is a link that explains the loopholes in the CA DMV laws.

    mike91326 "VW Passat TDI" Jul 12, 2004 1:58pm
    Here is the actual rules that allow you to bring a non CA new car into the state.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    I don't think the suggestion about Vegas would work. The law requires that you show a repair invoice, not just some statement.

    Also, realize that you would have to register the vehicle in two different states, and that when you register a vehicle in California from another state, you pay CA sales tax as well as the vehicle fees... I know because it happened to me when I moved here in 1989.

    So you would have to pay out-of-state sales taxes and registration plus CA sales taxes and registration.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I'm not sure how easy that Vegas deal would be to pull off.

    How long ago did you have to pay sales tax on a used vehicle you brought from a different state? My partner that works with me in Alaska lives in Long Beach and his wife got nervous driving his new Envoy with Alaska plates. It is a year old and she took it in and got CA plates for a total of $233. No sales tax. It surprised me also. They said if the car is over 90 days old there is no tax. I think the laws have changed since 1989.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "They said if the car is over 90 days old there is no tax. I think the laws have changed since 1989. "

    Good to know and good riddance... my car was 12 years old at the time...
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    This is a typical E85 compatible vehicle. I don't see any reason to use Ethanol. It gets a worse air pollution score than the gas only version and when running E85 it uses more fuel. What kind of scam is this E85?

  • STUDIES: w_Much_Energy_Does_it_Take_to_Make_a_Gallon_.html



    "U.S. Department of Agriculture, July 2002. This study analyzes many of the previous studies on the energy balance of producing ethanol. The conclusion by the study's authors is that there is 34% more energy in a gallon of ethanol than it takes to produce it."

    "Michigan State University, May 2002. This comprehensive, independent study funded by MSU shows that there is 56% more energy in a gallon of ethanol than it takes to produce it."


This discussion has been closed.