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The Inconvenient Truth About Ethanol



  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    Al Gore: Votes, not science, led me to back corn ethanol

    Report: Al Gore Reverses View on Ethanol, Blames Politics for Previous Support

    Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore reportedly has had a change of heart on ethanol, telling a conference on green energy in Europe that he only supported tax breaks for the alternative fuel to pander to farmers in his home state of Tennessee and the first-in-the-nation caucuses state of Iowa.

    Speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank, Gore said the lobbyists have wrongly kept alive the program he once touted.

    "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Reuters quoted Gore saying of the U.S. policy that is about to come up for congressional review. "First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

    "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president," the wire service reported Gore saying.

    Credits for corn ethanol subsidies expire at the end of the year unless Congress
    moves to renew the $7.7 billion annual program. Opponents of the corn subsidies say that it removes valuable food products from the table because the U.S. ethanol industry drives up the price of corn.

    Reuters reported that Gore attributed a variety of factors to the food pricing crisis that has emerged, but that biofuels
    definitely have had an effect.

    "The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first-generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices," he said. "The competition with food prices is real."
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,768
    I keep channeling Capt. Renault from the movie Casablanca more and more...

    I'm shocked, shocked to find that politics is going on around :shades: ethanol

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    Funny thing is. He did not win his home state of TN, in his presidential bid.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    More Pork for big Ag.

    Republicans in Congress have taken giant steps forward to restore American economic vitality but, as the current tax legislation, up for a cloture vote in the Senate on Monday proves the GOP has yet to prove that they are serious about cutting spending. Nestled within the legislation that extends the Bush tax cuts for another two years is a 45 cents per gallon subsidy for ethanol, as well as a retroactive $1 per gallon credit for bio-diesel fuel. Continuing these subsidies costs taxpayers approximately $5 billion a year.

    Budget-busting subsidies and bailouts of failing industries have been a mainstay of the Democrats in Congress over the last two years, but the tax legislation reveals that there are GOP senators who are not immune from the temptations of pork.

    Folks familiar with Iowan Senator Charles Grassley are aware of his characterization as a deficit hawk, tough on waste, fraud and abuse, and yet, he’s the last hold-out on ethanol subsidies, an enormous source of government waste.

    Even Al Gore has faced the inconvenient truth that ethanol “is not a good policy.” Corn-based ethanol is expensive and has dubious environmental benefits. Moreover, huge subsidies for corn-based ethanol drive up the cost of food as large amounts of U.S. farm production is diverted to make expensive fuel. Americans are then forced to buy a product that they do not want, because of government mandates for ethanol inclusion in gasoline blends. At the same time, protectionist measures prevent the importation of cheaper forms of ethanol made in Brazil, from sugar cane. These decisions, that enrich the Iowa corn industry, cost taxpayers dearly.

    The good news is that the ethanol subsidy and the bio-diesel subsidy were due to expire at the end of this year. But, sadly, Grassley has placed parochial politics above the good of the GOP and the good of the country, and insisted that the extension be tagged on to the tax-cut legislation. So, there goes another 5 billion.

    Ethanol waste
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,768
    Turning food into fuel isn't a good idea. Turning ANYTHING into a less efficient fuel and still believing it somehow saves ANYTHING is downright silly

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  • eliaselias Posts: 2,120
    edited January 2011
    EPA Grants E15 Fuel Waiver for Model Years 2001 - 2006 Cars and Light Trucks/Agency continues review of public comments for an E15 pump label to help ensure consumers use the correct fuel

    Release date: 01/21/2011

    Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today waived a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol for model year (MY) 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy’s thorough testing and other available data on E15’s effect on emissions from MY 2001 through 2006 cars and light trucks.

    “Recently completed testing and data analysis show that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more home-grown fuels in America’s vehicles, this administration takes those steps.”

    On October 13, 2010, EPA approved a waiver allowing the use of E15 for MY 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. At that time, EPA denied a request to allow the use of E15 for MY 2000 and older vehicles and postponed its decision on the use of E15 in MY 2001 to 2006 cars and light trucks until DOE completed additional testing for those model years.

    The Agency also announced that no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver.

    These waivers represent one of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry to commercialize E15 gasoline blends. Also, EPA is developing requirements to ensure that E15 is properly labeled at the gas pump. The label will be designed to prevent refueling into vehicles, engines, and equipment not currently approved for the higher ethanol blend.

    Ethanol is an alcohol that can be mixed with gasoline to result in a cleaner-burning fuel. E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. The primary source of ethanol is corn, but other grains or biomass sources may be used such as corn cobs, cornstalks, and switchgrass.

    The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated an increase in the overall volume of renewable fuels into the marketplace, reaching a 36 billion gallon total in 2022. Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel because it is produced from plant products or wastes and not from fossil fuels. Ethanol is blended with gasoline for use in most areas across the country.

    EPA granted the waiver after considering the E15 petition submitted by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers in March 2009. In April 2009, EPA sought public comment on the petition and received about 78,000 comments.

    The petition was submitted under a Clean Air Act provision that allows EPA to waive the act’s prohibition against the sale of a significantly altered fuel if the petitioner shows that the new fuel will not cause or contribute to the failure of engine and other emission-related parts that ensure compliance with emission standards.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    Heavily subsidized Georgia ethanol plant closes

    12:26 pm February 8, 2011, by Kyle Wingfield

    A Georgia biofuels company has drawn the attention of noted corporate-welfare critic Timothy Carney in the Washington Examiner:

    To turn wood chips into ethanol fuel, George W. Bush’s Department of Energy in February 2007 announced a $76 million grant to Range Fuels for a cutting-edge refinery. A few months later, the refinery opened in the piney woods of Treutlen County, Ga., as the taxpayers of Georgia piled on another $6 million. In 2008, the ethanol plant was the first beneficiary of the Biorefinery Assistance Program, pocketing a loan for $80 million guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers.

    Last month, the refinery closed down, having failed to squeeze even a drop of ethanol out of its pine chips.

    The Soperton, Ga., ethanol plant is another blemish on ethanol’s already tarnished image, but more broadly, it is cautionary tale about the elusive nature of “green jobs” and the folly of the government’s efforts at “investing” — as President Obama puts it — in new technologies.

    $162 million down the toilet on biomass ethanol
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,767
    Ugh, but I'm not surprised.

    I hope folks are patient for 'algae ethanol'. And I'm still waiting on all the 'cellulosic ethanol'...
  • newdavidqnewdavidq Posts: 146
    Six gas stations in and around Kansas are now offering E15 (15% ethanol 85% gasoline). This is a 50% increase in the amount of ethanol added to gasoline. This forum has aired a lot of opinion and information in the past; I think its time to reactivate it and take another hard look at this development and why this is a very bad thing for American motorists.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    I would be curious as to the mileage difference in a FFV. I would NOT run that stuff in a vehicle not rated as FFV. I can tell a big difference in my Sequoia on the highway, when I run RUG with no ethanol vs the crap we get here in CA. If it costs 15% less it is probably a wash. I still contend ethanol is a net negative on the environment using Corn. The farm subsidies are just too much for the big ag companies to ignore. Corporate welfare to the max.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    Ah! You're up early!

    As always completely agree on corn ethanol. Only there because Iowa is a perpetual swing state.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    edited October 2012
    good point. I think I read over 90% of the land in Iowa is farmed. Mostly corn. Both parties protect those stinking farm subsidies for their rich constituents.

    I am always up at 5 AM old habits are tough to break.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    edited November 2012
    EPA OWNED BY SPECIAL INTERESTS like ADM...Screw the Consumers... :confuse:

    EPA rejects bid to relax ethanol mandate
    2012 drought prompted request over corn fuel use

    Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday rejected a request from eight governors and nearly 200 members of Congress to waive requirements for the use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline, after last summer's severe drought wilted much of the nation's corn crop.

    The move is a victory for corn farmers who have seen corn prices jump 400 percent in recent years. But it is a loss for pork and beef producers who say the diversion of corn to ethanol raises feed prices and ultimately prices at the supermarket. - relax-ethanol-mandate

    Wanted a pound of bacon the other day, $7 a pound. I can live without it.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,738
    I can understand preferences when alternative energy is being started and the fuel situation was different when ethanol was first brought on, but there comes a time when these things need to either be able to stand on their own merits or fade away. Same goes with wind energy. Personally, I've always been skeptical that ethanol may actually use more resources and energy than it provides. As for wind, I don't think people factor in the operation and maintenance costs over time to operate those gigantic windmills. I'm thinking we'll see a lot of them abandoned and rusted out a decade from now.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    Right on with both. I cannot think of any thing positive to say about Ethanol. Many windmills are being torn down. Worn out and too expensive to maintain. The subsidies are gone which makes them no longer profitable to the operators. Time will tell with home solar. If they do in fact last 20-25 years they will pay for themselves.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    edited November 2012
    Well it's the intelligent man who can change his mind once new data presents itself.

    Haven't you ever supported something and lived to regret it? I sure have.

    It's also admirable to confess in public to choosing political ambition over common sense. I have no problem with politicians confessing their sins. Few do you know.

    It's the people who never change their mind about anything that worry me the most.

    Science is, after all, the process of science disproving itself. That's what science does.

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    In the case of Corn ethanol science refuted its viability from the start. Politicians pushed it as a payoff to big Ag. Yes Gore admitted his error. Too bad the President and the wonks in the EPA refuse to be honest.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,738
    Well, the corn belt is pretty much a mix of red and blue states, so I guess we'll be stuck with ethanol regardless of its merits. What galls me even more than this decision is the EPA wanting to stick us with 15% ethanol when the industry tries to tell them it will mess up many engines. I think that agency is run by zealots that are out of control and devoid of impartiality or common sense. Of course agriculture is really big business these days, so besides the electoral votes there is probably plenty of lobbyist payola to go along with it.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    that agency is run by zealots that are out of control and devoid of impartiality or common sense.

    Many congress people in the Midwest are owned by the big ag lobbyist.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    AAA urges EPA to halt approval of E15 for vehicles

    Washington — AAA, the nation's largest travel organization, on Friday urged the Obama administration to halt the sale of E15 — a new fuel with a higher blend of ethanol — because of possible engine damage to most vehicles on the nation's roads.

    With little consumer understanding of E15 and less than five percent of cars on the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, "AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected."

    AAA said just 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto manufacturers.

    General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have approved the use of the fuel for new model vehicles only. Chrysler Group LLC said this week it still doesn't approve the use of E15 for any of its vehicles. approval-E15-vehicles?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

    Not to mention lower mileage with more ethanol content.
  • gogogodzillagogogodzilla VirginiaPosts: 707
    Don't worry, the EPA will still push this, for the good of the planet.

    And that's what's really important, you know.

    We should be willing to bear any burden, carry any cost to ensure that our Mother Earth is free from the ravages of man-made pollution.

    Praise our glorious mother!

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    Study: New E15 gas can ruin auto engines

    This week's warm Washington temperatures had some thinking about rolling the Lawn-Boy out of the garage for the first cut of the year. And we all know what that means: Difficult starts due to E10 gas that gels when it sits.

    Now, according to a new study, cars and truck may face the same fate thanks to President Obama's demand for a higher ethanol in the new E15 gas.

    The fuel industry's American Petroleum Institute tested the 15 percent ethanol gas approved in 2010 and found it gums up fuel systems, prompts "check engine" lights to come on, and messes with fuel gauge readings. 20078
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Were we wrong about ethanol? From yesterday's New York Times...

    Greentech Squeezing More From Ethanol

    Published: May 3, 2013

    "WASHINGTON — Faced with a crop of lemons — too much ethanol, a population of cars not tuned to burn it effectively and a driving public leery of the fuel’s properties — the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to make lemonade.

    ADVOCATE C. Boyden Gray sees benefits in E30 gasoline blends. The effort to untangle itself from this sticky situation is part of a larger proposal by the federal government to make the most sweeping changes in gasoline since lead additives were banned.

    Tucked inside the E.P.A.’s March announcement of a plan to cut the amount of sulfur allowed in gasoline was an audacious suggestion that sought to solve all three ethanol challenges at once. The proposal, for a fuel that is 30 percent ethanol, could reduce tailpipe emissions and improve fuel economy — and even encourage drivers to use more ethanol.

    'You make the dog like the dog food," said William H. Woebkenberg, senior engineer for fuels policy in the United States at Mercedes-Benz.

    The idea is that while today’s typical pump blend — E10, which is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline — has drawbacks, a blend of 30 percent ethanol and 70 percent gasoline could take advantage of ethanol’s strengths. Unlike a flexible-fuel vehicle that can use E85 formulations but offers little financial or performance benefit, an engine tuned specifically for E30 would perform better on that fuel than on the standard E10, creating a market incentive.

    The idea has widespread support among technical experts.

    It also has another appealing aspect: current ethanol policy is probably unsustainable, because Congress has ordered the oil companies to use ever-larger amounts of ethanol. To comply with the mandate, ethanol levels would have to exceed 10 percent of each gallon of fuel, yet many automakers advise against using higher concentrations unless the car is equipped for it. With a declining demand for gasoline, the problem becomes more acute.

    The 30 percent idea is laid out deep in the 938-page text of the proposed Tier 3 rule, which would lower the amount of sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds, to the level required in California. In the proposal, the E.P.A. asked automakers to comment on E30.

    Like other efforts to introduce new fuels, it would require big investments at gas stations for blending pumps and storage tanks.

    Still, there is a powerful incentive in the E.P.A. plan: offering automakers the option of having their cars certified on E30. Before a new car can be sold in the United States, the company must submit data on the vehicle’s pollution output and fuel economy to the E.P.A. Certifying with E30 would call for engines optimized to take advantage of the blend’s octane rating of 93 or perhaps higher.

    Using high-octane premium-grade gas in an engine that does not require it offers no benefit. But in engines designed to squeeze the fuel-air mixture to very high pressures before igniting it with the spark plug, high-octane fuel burns predictably and can produce more horsepower. (On the other hand, burning low-octane gas in an engine tuned for premium grade can cause erratic combustion, or knocking, and result in severe engine damage.)

    Ethanol contains only about two-thirds as much energy as gasoline, gallon for gallon. But if it is burned in engines designed for high cylinder pressures, it will produce competitive horsepower.

    In general, the oil companies have opposed using higher concentrations of ethanol. The oil industry is trying to get Congress to change federal rules so they can use less ethanol, not more.

    But various engine and fuel experts like the idea, because the E.P.A. is inviting the auto companies to take advantage of the good characteristics of ethanol, including an octane rating that is well over 100.

    'That’s getting smarter,' said Margaret Wooldridge, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. The way ethanol is used now, she said, if anybody does notice there’s any ethanol in the fuel, it’s always in a way that is negative.'

    The trouble with the flexible fuel vehicles on the market now, which can run at blends of up to 85 percent ethanol, is that they are still mostly optimized for gasoline, not ethanol, she said. While there are millions of such vehicles on the road, they run mostly on E10 because that is a better bargain for the driver.

    Higher concentrations are no better, and ethanol companies are struggling for acceptance of E15 with drivers, who show little enthusiasm. '15 is the answer to the question nobody asked,' said
    Woebkenberg of Mercedes-Benz. 'It is a detriment.'

    But an E30 blend in an engine designed to use that fuel would be attractive to car buyers, he said, 'with ridiculous power and good fuel economy,' and owners of those cars would seek out the fuel, unlike owners of flex-fuel cars.

    'I hope that the E.P.A. agrees to do it,' said C. Boyden Gray, a former aide to President George H. W. Bush who is now a Washington lawyer representing energy clients. In coming years, Mr. Gray and others say, more cars are going to be engineered for high-octane fuel so they can get better fuel economy as automakers move to double economy, and high-octane fuel with 30 percent ethanol is cleaner than blends relying more heavily on gasoline.

    But Mr. Gray and other experts said that the E.P.A. would probably have to do more than just give automakers the option to certify vehicles on E30; it would probably have to mandate its availability to give car shoppers confidence that they would be able to refuel such vehicles."
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Just read that story with my morning coffee - makes sense to tune the engine to the predominant fuel, but we're going to wind up with stations blending six or eight different fuel types.

    Maybe it'll wind up like McDonalds where you can mix your own soft drink flavor. Eight gallons of E10, two gallons of E30 and a splash of diesel for tartness. :D
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    edited May 2013
    That's scary. Also of concern, with all those different blends, is the increased vulnerability for mistakes. For example, there would be more opportunities for distributors to mistakenly putting E30 in E10 pumps, or some variation on that.

    When you order a grande skim carmel cappucino at Starbucks, and you notice that the barrista gets it wrong, he/she apologizes with a smile and pours a new one for you. If E30 comes out of the pump that reads E10, how are you going to know before your car suffers damages? If E30 has higher octane, and your car's computer adjusts for it, you'd think you had a tiger in the tank, while the wrong blend ruins the critical rubber and plastic parts under your hood.

    That said, the benefits of E30 mentioned in the NYT article sound very exciting. If true, E30, or some variation on it, could be a big net positive for motorists and our country alike. I look forward to reading more about it.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    If E30 comes out of the pump that reads E10, how are you going to know before your car suffers damages?

    Simplist solution is to buy a diesel vehicle. On this trip I have only had one tank of gas that gave me 18 MPG. It was Shell gas bought in Arkansas. The rest are 16s. Not much better than than our CA crap designer gas. Have not seen any real gas all ethanol laced. I agree that mixing all the different formulas will be confusing and dangerous for the public. Still no scientific evidence that ethanol can be made using less energy than it takes to make it. Or that it is CO2 neutral. Plus the damage to the ecosystem dumping into the gulf. The only positive is the cash flow into the pockets of ADM and Monsanto.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,767
    That whole E30 idea only works with engines of higher compression ratio than can run E0 or E10. So now we'll have a fleet of cars INCOMPATIBLE with current fuel sources.

    Folks don't like a bad idea (E10)? Then mandate a worse idea (E30).
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    CORYDON, Iowa (AP) - The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America's push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain has washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply.

    With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming. And when President George W. Bush signed a law that year requiring oil companies to add billions of gallons of ethanol to their gasoline each year, Bush predicted it would make the country "stronger, cleaner and more secure."
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