Feeding cars instead of people

posted at 6:50 am on April 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

In a way, the entire concept of biofuels as currently applied makes no sense at all. Instead of using food to actually feed people or even animals, we use it to feed our cars. Ethanol has suddenly lost its luster as an alternative energy source as food prices have skyrocketed, including in global-warming-sympathizing Europe:

Alarmed by rising global food prices, some European leaders are rethinking their commitment to use ethanol fuel and are considering other policy changes to lower the costs of basic staples.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown became the latest official to say that the European Union may have to back off its goal of having ethanol account for 20% of the motor vehicle fuel burned on Europe’s roads by 2020.

The use of corn and sugar to make ethanol is a main driver of rampant inflation in worldwide food costs during the past year. Grocery bills are up across Europe, and the United Nations World Food Program says that rising food prices have pushed 100 million people into hunger worldwide.

Rising food demand from developing economies such as China and India, plus stagnant crop yields in food-producing nations, also are behind the recent jump in costs.

Perhaps turning food into transportation fuel would make sense if massive amounts of grain spoiled every year from a lack of demand, but that certainly isn’t the case. Farmers love the higher prices that come from the new demand to fill gas tanks, but higher prices have consequences for poorer nations that have just begun to be felt. Morally speaking, shouldn’t we feed people before we feed cars?

What makes this even more absurd is ethanol itself. It burns cleaner, but has significant problems as a transportation fuel. It has only two-thirds the potential energy of gasoline, which means more of it has to be used to get the same mileage. Ethanol has to be shipped by truck as it cannot be pumped through a pipeline, so much more energy has to get expended just to bring it to market. In order to use more than just a small amount in a mixture, car engines have to be designed differently to use it, which means more energy and resources have to go into producing the vehicles.

Every fill of the tank with ethanol uses the same amount of corn a child would eat in a year, and let’s not even talk about the amount of potable water used to grow the corn in the first place. Given the above, which is the better use of the corn?

If we produce ethanol from waste — such as with switchgrass, which shows promise — then no ethical problem would exist, although certainly the efficiency issues would remain. Until then, we should end the push to turn food into fuel, driven by the global-climate-change hysteria and pandering to the agricultural sector. Feed people ahead of cars. Is that really such a difficult concept?


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Comment pages: 1 2

I have an idea, let’s drill for and produce more oil to power cars. It will be far cheaper in the long run, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and be good for our economy.

bopbottle on April 25, 2008 at 6:55 AM

Eat the food, drill for oil. Oh wait, that makes too much sense.

Zorro on April 25, 2008 at 7:03 AM

Oh I bet the Saudis are dancing up and down on their camels’ humps now.

There will be no slow down of exporting oil to America, we’re still going to be their slaves for a long time to come.

In return of oil, can we export to them all the Liberals, the environmentalists and Al Gore?

Seriously.

Indy Conservative on April 25, 2008 at 7:03 AM

Oh I bet the Saudis are dancing up and down on their camels’ humps now.

There should be two price levels or export fees for American crops, OPEC prices and non-opec prices.

peacenprosperity on April 25, 2008 at 7:09 AM

ed,

you forgot to mention that ethanol is now .50 cheaper than gas, can be made for $1.25/gallon. Let’s ask a question. If consumers could get e85 at every gas station and that e85 was .50 cheaper per gallon which do you think they would choose. It is funny that at the moment that ethanol has made it to the price where it becomes cheaper than gasoline all these stories start coming out about the evils of ethanol.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 7:14 AM

Oh I can’t believe I would live to see the day!

Soylent Green for automobiles,I can just see another horror
flick on this,cars and trucks screaming down the roads with
no care in the world,as the camera pans in and around starving family’s and the children alongside the roadways!Ha

canopfor on April 25, 2008 at 7:21 AM

You miss the obvious. To the average enviroNazi, fueling their Volvo’s is a much better use of grain. First, because it is a demonstration of their love for “Mother Earth” and shows the high level of commitment to the environment. Second, starvation in the third world performs the same useful function as did banning DDT; solving the over-population “problem”.

A related note; the great state of Texas is 268,820 square miles in area. If you were to allot 2,000 square feet per person, Texas could accommodate almost 3,750,000,000 people, or more than half of the world’s population.

From http://www.about.com/,

“Population density of the continents:

* North America – 32 people per square mile
* South America – 73 people per square mile
* Europe – 134 people per square mile
* Asia – 203 people per square mile
* Africa – 65 people per square mile
* Australia – 6.4 people per square mile”

oldleprechaun on April 25, 2008 at 7:24 AM

“you forgot to mention that ethanol is now .50 cheaper than gas”

No it isn’t. It is vastly more expensive to produce. The government (your tax dollars) subsidizes the production and lowers the taxes relative to gasoline at the pump so that you will buy it. If the markets were left alone, you would be buying it off the shelf at Walmart for $20/gallon.

percysunshine on April 25, 2008 at 7:26 AM

As I am totally committed to fighting non existent man made global warming, I don’t care how many millions of people starve so we can have no impact on our carbon footprint.

We’re trying to control Mother Nature here people, and if a few million folks die a horrible death, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay to make my gasoline incredibly expensive.

Snake307 on April 25, 2008 at 7:27 AM

Oh I bet the Saudis are dancing up and down on their camels’ humps now.

There should be two price levels or export fees for American crops, OPEC prices and non-opec prices.

peacenprosperity on April 25, 2008 at 7:09 AM

The gas at the pump in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Middle-Eastern countries is less than half the price we pay here.

Import fees should include exporting all those who are opposing drilling and building refineries.

As I always say, and I am talking generalities now, the American people is one of the dumbest people on Earth when it comes to some issues like National Security.

Under “National Security” you can put all other related issues, such as Energy Independence, Intelligence Community, Political Correctness, Treatment of captured terrorists, Outsourcing, etc., etc., etc.

Indy Conservative on April 25, 2008 at 7:30 AM

The ultimate goal of environmentalists has finally been achieved after 50 years of trying. Forced population reduction in order to save the planet.

percysunshine on April 25, 2008 at 7:33 AM

Here’s an idea(an old one actually). Why use corn when Industrial hemp can be substituted. It grows way faster and doesn’t deplete minerals from farm land at anywhere near the rate corn does. Canada is light years ahead of us in industrial hemp useage due to our draconian laws on cannabis. Let’s face reality, The “War on Drugs” is a bigger money hole than education money wise. If we’re going to try to use renewable sources, use something people don’t eat. Then again, we have to subsidize corn farmers for votes. Don’t Democrats sell votes to stay alive politically, or is it Republicans too?

adamsmith on April 25, 2008 at 7:36 AM

Two words: population control.

Nonfactor on April 25, 2008 at 7:39 AM

percysunshine on April 25, 2008 at 7:26 AM

a gallon is going for $2.50 at wholesale, a gallon of gas is going for $3.00 wholesale. There are just as much government tax breaks for gasoline. all the tax credits for drilling reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump. We can debate the effect of government tax breaks for each but the end result is that at this moment in time ethanol is .50 cheaper than gasoline. At a time of record gasoline prices it makes one wonder why the sudden bashing of ethanol when it suddenly becomes cheaper than gasoline.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 7:46 AM

As I am totally committed to fighting non existent man made global warming, I don’t care how many millions of people starve so we can have no impact on our carbon footprint.

We’re trying to control Mother Nature here people, and if a few million folks die a horrible death, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay to make my gasoline incredibly expensive.

Snake307 on April 25, 2008 at 7:27 AM

Don’t we reduce our carbon footprint significantly by significantly reducing the human population? Maybe that’s the real goal of these Global Warming Environmental wackos….

TheBigOldDog on April 25, 2008 at 7:46 AM

The ‘great’ part of it is, most of us on the right were screaming at the top of our lungs when they were talking about doing this, that this is exactly what would happen.

Ed, wasn’t there a study released about a month ago, U Minn, maybe, that laid out how ethanol burns more carbon than gas, overall? Doesn’t matter to me, but it’s something to throw back at the enviro-weenies.

bikermailman on April 25, 2008 at 7:49 AM

Congress is in session. President Bush should proffer an Emergency Energy and Pro-Growth bill, which would:

(a) stop all ethnanol subsidies immediately;

(b) remove any requirements for current and future ethanol admixture to gasoline;

(c) allow drilling and resource development for oil and natural gas under Federal supervision in ANWR and everywhere on the continental shelf;

(d) remove impediments to new coal-fired electric-generating plants;

(e) remove impediments to new nuclear electric-generating plants;

(f) encourage fast development of fast-breeder nuclear technology (which re-uses waste), with controls to prevent diversion for weapons;

(g) require Iraq to give us 5% of their oil production until the costs of our liberation of the country have been repaid;

(h) direct the EPA to redefine CO2 as a beneficial trace gas (which it is), not a ‘pollutant’;

(i) encourage federally-subsidized research into new hydrogen-generating technology (e.g. from organic waste);

(h) charge NASA with preliminary research into orbiting solar-power satellites (power beamed back to Earth by microwave).

This ought to be the policy of the Republican candidate, too. Can someone tell him?

MrLynn on April 25, 2008 at 7:49 AM

An excellent article on this is here:

After 35 years of basically ignoring energy independence, breakthroughs are being seen. But one thing also seems to get little attention. What is missed is that the protein rich corn residue from alcohol production is apparently not being widely used as feedstock as it could be ().
We have started on an ambitious ethanol program, after ignoring for over 30 years energy deficient Brazil’s example, but have failed to realignment our animal feed process/transportation system. Corn residue could be used for human nourishment as well, but I doubt that that will be done, even though Mexico and other areas have seen as much as a three fold price increase for corn meal. The rush to plant corn and reap the harvest of government subsidies has impacted wheat and other grain production. So I expect the cost of bread, milk and other food commodities to continue to increase. As usual we are seeing the unintended consequences of rushing into something once a crisis has been finally realized.

Bio-fuels, in general, are friendlier to our present life style; meaning no great reeducation of our citizens to be able to refuel their vehicles. Thus I agree that we need a fuel that capitalizes on the present infrastructure; I favor one converting long chain carbohydrates into short chain carbohydrates as the best way to “re-produce” oil. While we prohibit drilling in many known oil fields off our coasts and in Alaska because of congressional mandates, we also basically ignore the new technologies such as thermal depolymerization (TDP) and other similar processes that convert organic waste into oil. These are processes that can rid us of our massive organic wastes accumulating throughout our country and at the same time produce a fuel equivalent to #2 fuel oil. Utilizing the new waste to alcohol/ethanol or #2 fuel oil processes at garbage dumps, instead of incineration or burying organic waste is more environmentally sound which should gender public support; that is if the public was aware of the these processes. The present use of Incineration results in concentrations of heavy metals in the area of the facility and the latter method potentially causes water table pollution and are unsightly. Imagine this truth according to NPR; the highest land point in Indiana was a garage dump in 2005 and in Rhode Island a dump was approaching that hallmark. Somehow I don’t believe that building a waste processing facility at a dump site would activate the NIBY complex.

I think that our energy policy lacks a shortage of imagination and due diligence. For a country that produced the atomic bomb in 4 years, we haven’t been able to come to grips with and resolve our energy needs over these many decades.

amr on April 25, 2008 at 7:51 AM

Ed, the pipeline thing is bogus. Pipelines are great things…you can even move raw grain through a pipeline, sometimes even in the same pipeline as oil or gasoline, as long as you clean it between substances. E85 just requires different handling than 100% petroleum gasoline.

James on April 25, 2008 at 7:52 AM

I would still rather see our dollars go to the American farmer than the terrorist loving middle east.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 7:53 AM

Sorry, I messed up on the links

The article: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/research/4260296.html

About use of corn residue: (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87782087).

amr on April 25, 2008 at 7:53 AM

AMR, I can’t speak for all of the ethanol plants, but there’s one already up and running to the north of here near large feedlots that does use the excess to feed cattle. I think the plant going up here is going to do the same. Still.

bikermailman on April 25, 2008 at 7:54 AM

The ultimate goal of environmentalists has finally been achieved after 50 years of trying. Forced population reduction in order to save the planet.

percysunshine on April 25, 2008 at 7:33 AM

Agreed.
When you look at the whole movement from that angle it becomes very clear that just about everything they want leads to population reduction and massing the remaining populations into ever smaller areas where they can be contained and controlled. The ultimate goal is to reduce the worlds population to a few million that live in harmony with nature. If you want to see the future of humans you need look no further than the Amazon forest Indians. Small family groups living off what the land provides naturally.

jmarcure on April 25, 2008 at 7:55 AM

A pipeline doesn’t work for ethanol, unless you build brand new ones. One, the current ones are built for petroleum, and would leak the ethanol. Two, they use water to push it down the line. Can’t use water for ethanol, because they will just mix.

bikermailman on April 25, 2008 at 7:55 AM

Here’s another reason to avoid ethanol mixes (if you can). My mom lives in Delaware, and all gas in the state must contain 10-15% ethanol. Well, even that much can damage a car – my mother’s Jeep Liberty died after not even three years, damaged by all the ethanol. My mom is not wealthy, she bought that car new with the help of a generous yearly bonus, but it’s not like she can afford to be buying cars every couple of years.

I try to avoid ethanol, but it’s in Wawa’s gas, which is usually several cents cheaper. Until we sell our house, my husband travels 600 miles every weekend (MD to here and back), so not only are gas prices killing us, food is too. We don’t eat foods with HFCS, but we might have to, because it’s cheaper.

the goddess anna on April 25, 2008 at 7:57 AM

This is pure evil! These laws were passed while the Republicans controlled congress!
Pandering Republicans,, like Newt sitting on that stupid couch with the enemy,, giving up their principles and compromising on WHAT WAS RIGHT, just so they could temporarily be liked by the stinking good for nothing mainstream media and liberals across the land,, just so they could could savor a moment on the balcony and shout out to the masses below “Yes, We’ve done something! We care, too!”
And what has their moment of compromise accomplished?
World wide inflation, food rationing and starvation while the imaginary adoring masses have turned into real mobs rioting in the streets!

JellyToast on April 25, 2008 at 7:59 AM

Erratta for Emergency Energy and Pro-Growth bill, above: Last item should be (j).

Add: (k) Offer to help Brazil develop their new-found offshore oil field(s) for a percentage.

Why can’t we edit?

. . . There are just as much government tax breaks for gasoline. all the tax credits for drilling reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump. We can debate the effect of government tax breaks for each but the end result is that at this moment in time ethanol is .50 cheaper than gasoline. . .

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 7:46 AM

The farmers are being directly subsidized to produce ethanol. It would be a lot more expensive than gasoline were that not so. The subsidy should stop. Using food instead of petroleum for transportation is unconscionable.

MrLynn on April 25, 2008 at 8:00 AM

So, why don’t we tie the export price of American produced grains, etc., to the barrel of oil? Let’s see, in January 2008 the price of one metric ton of corn was about $168. What about it now costs, say, 2 barrels of oil? I’m not an economist (so this might be stupid), but what do you think? Would it drive up the price more, or lower the price of oil, or both?

BNCurtis on April 25, 2008 at 8:06 AM

Two words: population control.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I’ll keep on saying it, Nonfactor. Since 1973 this country has lawfully killed 40 to 50 million of its own citizens in the womb. What’s the matter – we’re not moving fast enough for you?

abcurtis on April 25, 2008 at 8:12 AM

We had the opportunity to do something about the current dependence on foreign oil back in the late 1970’s, but due in part to the policies of the Carter Administration, we currently have the situation we have right now. We are still feeling the damage that was done to this country by that idiot to this day.

pilamaye on April 25, 2008 at 8:14 AM

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 7:46 AM

I’m not sure where you’re getting your facts from, but I question them.

First of all, ethanol has emphatically not gotten cheaper, except insofar as it has been the beneficiary of government subsidies (translation; tax money taken from you and me indirectly funding it, as opposed to “paying at the pump”). The reason it is now less expensive than gasoline is that the price of the gasoline has risen past the price of ethanol- big difference.

Second, far from “subsidies” to encourage domestic oil production, our all-wise government has spent the last three decades pandering to the environmentalist radicals by doing everything in its power to prevent domestic oil production. Not only have they prohibited oil exploration in as many places under U.S. jurisdiction as possible (not just ANWR but offshore, and most recently banning exploration for oil shales in Ohio and tar sands in the Dakotas), but they have also prevented the construction of any new oil refineries in the U.S. since a moratorium declared (on “environmental hazard” grounds) by Jimmy Carter in 1977. His similar “holiday” on building nuclear power plants (which remains in place as well) was noticed (and cheered) by the MSM, but this even more damaging policy (which also still maintains) went almost totally unnoticed. By the way, since that policy went into effect, 14% of the then-existing refineries in the U.S. have been shut down due to age and condition, under regulations enforced with Messianic fervor by the EPA. Which means that we now have less oil-refining capacity in CONUS than we did in 1930.

Add in the constant and determined efforts by environmental activist groups (or as I prefer to think of them, neo-Luddite fanatics) to prevent oil exploration, refinery construction, and nuclear power plant construction and operation anywhere by lawsuits and similar diversions, and it becomes painfully obvious that our “energy crisis”, whether in motor fuels or electrical generation, is the result of a deliberate policy created by those “enlightened ones” who view humans as “Enemies of Holy Mother Gaia”, who want to destroy our civilization by “starving the beast”- of energy.

Never confuse intrinsic values of commodities with those that are artificially inflated or deflated by meddling on the part of people who are convinced that they are “moral crusaders”, with “right on their side”.

As Hunter S. Thompson once observed, “Entire empires have been destroyed by vengeful freaks claiming a special relationship with God”.

Whatever they conceive “God” to be. Even, or especially, a “Holy Mother” which is in fact composed mainly of nonliving rock.

cheers

eon

eon on April 25, 2008 at 8:15 AM

The farmers are being directly subsidized to produce ethanol
MrLynn on April 25, 2008 at 8:00 AM

And the oil companies aren’t? And the sugar companies aren’t? We have plenty of food. The problem is inventory management. We had a record crop last fall. corn was so plentiful that it was sitting on the ground because the grain elavators were full. The increase in prices of food are do to a number of factors. One being the input cost like desil fuel, fertilzers, seeds etc are going up. I state again I would rather have my money go to America farmers then Oil Shieks in the Middle East.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 8:15 AM

Two words: population control.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I’ll keep on saying it, Nonfactor. Since 1973 this country has lawfully killed 40 to 50 million of its own citizens in the womb. What’s the matter – we’re not moving fast enough for you?

abcurtis on April 25, 2008 at 8:12 AM

Yes, exactly! I shudder to think how bad of state we would be in if it weren’t for abortion. Now, if we could only stop the open borders immigration policy.

thuja on April 25, 2008 at 8:31 AM

eon on April 25, 2008 at 8:15 AM

The price is the price is the price. It matters not why it is the price it matters what you pay at that moment in time. The numbers come form CNBC as of yesterday. while I agree that the mandatory limits on drilling, nuclear, etc are part of the problem it doesn’t change where we are in the present. Sure we need to get rid of those limits. But renewable fuels are not the main reason for the rise in food prices. Don’t let the oil companies fool you. The moment that ethanol got cheaper than gasoline all these stories started coming out. There is a glut of ethanol on the market at the moment, we had a record harvest last fall, the world is swimming in food stuff. the problem is a lack of inventory management and a lack of planning for certain grain plantings.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 8:35 AM

I’m for it! Yes, we need to use our corn/grains like the Saudi’s use oil. Its unclear to me why the rest of the world can’t grow their own but, apparently, they can’t. So here is a commodity that the U.S. can profit greatly from. I say keep the ethanol plants going even if its at a loss. Because it’ll all be made up for in higher corn/grain prices. Of which our farmers will benefit from and eventually so will U.S. taxpayers benefit from lower farm subsidies. And when the world criticizes us for that we’ll be able to come back w/the “Green” argument. Its for the good of the Earth! Ha! Use their own tactics against them. I want to drive down a neighborhood street and see corn growing in peoples front yards. Cash crops rule! The American farmer is deserving of a break. The return of the family farm. It could happen. Darvin Dowdy

Darvin Dowdy on April 25, 2008 at 8:43 AM

It takes twice as much gasoline equivalent to produce a gallon of ethanol.
That math will not change.

“1-for-2″ will never be an economical scenario.

TexasJew on April 25, 2008 at 8:52 AM

Ethanol is a rotten apple in the ‘green’ bushel. Another is wind turbines.

If you think the cost-benefit analysis is bad for biofuels, have a look at wind energy, before your electric bill skyrockets.

petefrt on April 25, 2008 at 8:53 AM

The cost of fuel is a much larger factor in the price of food than grain prices.

The rising demand for both fuel and grain is driving the pricing.

Sinner on April 25, 2008 at 8:54 AM

This is were Bush blew it big time. After 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, he should have made oil a nation security issue and used his executive power to push for the opening of ANWAR, more offshore drilling, and easing regulation to build new refineries. With the rah-rah mood of the country at the time he could have made it happen and 6-7 years later, now, we would not be in this pinch ’cause the oil and gas would be a-flowing.

ernie on April 25, 2008 at 8:56 AM

It takes twice as much gasoline equivalent to produce a gallon of ethanol.
That math will not change.

“1-for-2″ will never be an economical scenario.

TexasJew on April 25, 2008 at 8:52 AM

Check who commissioned that report and the assumptions that made.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 8:57 AM

Funny nobody seems to want to talk about the elephant in the room – population. There is plenty of food to go around, the REAL problem is that there are ‘too many people in the wrong places’ ie nations that don’t have the food production capacity of the richer nations. Part of the problem is the Catholic church, sadly enough. When Catholic missionaries start teaching the poor and hungry locals that ANY birth control is evil, you have more people on ever-less food.

Another bit is that we Americans scarf more food per person - and in particular more meat – than anyone else. While kids as young as 10 have obesity problems here, other people’s children are starving. Meat consumption is important because of the production costs in grain/water/etc that goes to grow the meat in the first place. Cutting back on diet helps, but so does encouraging people to limit themselves to 2-3 kids a couple.

Dark-Star on April 25, 2008 at 8:59 AM

To solve this problem, all the governments have to do is … nothing! If they let the market decide the most cost effective way to fuel vehicles and the most cost effective way to feed people, the vehicles would get fueled and the people would be fed, all at the lowest cost and the least environmental impact.

But bureaucrats have to think they know better than Billions of people, all thinking about these problems and working to solve them, so them impose some stupid requirement and expect the whole World to follow their rules. The result is higher prices, starving people, and environmental degradation.

gridlock2 on April 25, 2008 at 9:02 AM

Too lazy to get a link for you: the American Automobile Association said the national average for E-85 ethanol was $2.91 per gallon. AAA also gives an adjusted price reflecting the fact that ethanol has less energy than conventional gasoline. By that measure, a price-adjusted gallon of E-85 was $3.83 per gallon.

The farmers are being directly subsidized to produce ethanol
MrLynn on April 25, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Umm- not so much. Farmers are subsidized to produce a grain–you only get the 50 cent ethanol subsidy if you also make ethanol. Interestingly, hundreds of planned ethanol plants have been scrapped over the last 6 months because there is a tiny margin in it.

Even if every grain of corn was made into ethanol it would only replace a small percentage of our oil use. And we’ve planted several million fewer acres of corn this year compared to last.

The increase in prices of food are do to a number of factors. One being the input cost like desil fuel, fertilzers, seeds etc are going up. I state again I would rather have my money go to America farmers then Oil Shieks in the Middle East.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 8:15 AM

Incorrect- farmers are not able to name their price, they are truly at the mercy of the markets. So get ready for some ch-ch-changes in American ag. My cost to get milk and beef to you folks is through the roof and only going to get worse over the next year.

Tio on April 25, 2008 at 9:04 AM

Check who commissioned that report and the assumptions that made.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 8:57 AM

Michael Economides at the University of Houston has said 3 for 1,
the leading agricultural economicst at Cornell – the top Ag school in the country – said MORE than 2-for-1.
It’s all crap, it’s been crap, and people have known its crap for years. Corn ethanol has always been a monstrous scam. It’s the same with switchgrass or anything else.

Anyone who has been within 500 miles of an agricultural community knows how energy (ie – gas and diesel) dependent agriculture is.
Farmer buy their fuel by the hundreds and hundreds of gallons. It is their main cost, these days.

Sorry – for transportation fuels, it’s going to continue to be fossil – oil, gas, oil or gas derived from coal, oil sand or, secondarily, oil shale.

Corn, sugar, switchgrass, turkey offal, kitchen grease – just taxpayer-financed nonsense. Transportation and waste costs, as well as normal agricultural space considerations, kill that whole scenario.

TexasJew on April 25, 2008 at 9:09 AM

This is an issue John McCain actually has conservative creds on and this should be an important theme of his campaign. From today’s New York Sun.

The article, “The Ethanol Illusion” went so far as to praise Senator McCain for summing up the corn-ethanol energy initiative launched in the United States in 2003 as “highway robbery perpetrated on the American public by Congress.”

Cornell University did an ethanol study that was published in August 2001. They correctly predicted the inflationary effect on food prices, although even they did not predict just how dire it would be. This factoid flies in the face of enviromentalism.

If all the automobiles in the United States were fueled with 100 percent ethanol, a total of about 97 percent of U.S. land area would be needed to grow the corn feedstock. Corn would cover nearly the total land area of the United States.

Buy Danish on April 25, 2008 at 9:14 AM

There are many arguments made against using ethanol for fuel. The “using food for fuel” argument doesn’t make any sense. Let’s start with the fact that the US and other countries pay farmers not to plant corn (set-aside programs) and subsidize corn in order to make it worth planting corn in the first place. Then add to that that most of that corn is being used for feed for animals, which is another waste if there is really any kind of food shortage.

People don’t starve because we don’t have enough food. They starve because they can’t afford food at any price short of free, much less the actual cost to produce the food.

taznar on April 25, 2008 at 9:23 AM

How many illegal immigrants will be driven to Western nations in search of food? Yet again Liberalism creates bigger problems than the one it is trying to solve.

If the damned eco-Marxists and their Democrat enablers would get the HELL out of the way of our drilling for our own oil and gas then the price of everything would fall and we could break the back of 3rd world despots who DO drill whenever and wherever they need to.

Google “Bakken oil”

DerKrieger on April 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM

The left has forever been crying that Bush must be making up a threat and scaring people into submission.

Well, that is what the left does with global warming. The reaction to the global warming hoax is killing people worldwide (just like the DDT ban did) and it is only a matter of time before the world just has enough of this charade and tells the environuts to shove it.

Grafted on April 25, 2008 at 9:28 AM

I wonder if the water shortages in the country, atlesat the South, is partly due to all the extra corn being grown?

jp on April 25, 2008 at 9:30 AM

In California, many families would rather feed their cars then their children.

right2bright on April 25, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Many of you are hitting salient points, while some are regrettably excoriating biofuels as the sole driver of food prices, while only occasionally mentioning other exacerbating factors. I work in the agriculture industry, servicing many of the same farmers being castigated by the Environmental Working Group and the rest of the anti-farm lobby. The plain and simple fact is that ethanol is a first-generation biofuel, and every farmer knows it, whether they will admit or not. What ethanol has done is spark the engine of change in a moribund industry, freeing farmers to invest in infrastructure upgrades, business education and provide them more cost-competitive access to global markets. Farmers are not getting rich on these grain prices, as I can assure you that they are getting stovepiped on seed, fuel, fertilizer, chemicals and every other tangential industry tied to agriculture.

The real progress is being made in that the industry is paring itself down to the most efficient, business-savvy producers. Do I want to see any farmer have to sell the iron and lose the leases? Absolutely not, but this process is nothing more than the fundamental maturation of an industry too-long reliant on government bailouts. Farming is critical to the economy of America, and ethanol, while short-sighted and less efficient in its supposed purpose, is also realigning and expanding the role of the American producer into a global economy. Everyone’s out to make a buck, and the industry will shift towards cheaper, cleaner waste-based fuels…be patient, the world will not collapse during this transitive phase.

Flyover Country on April 25, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Deroy Murdock had a good column on this yesterday at NRO

jp on April 25, 2008 at 9:32 AM

jp on April 25, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Not a chance. It has to do with a severe drought that is regionalized in the American southeast. Those areas are getting a lot of rain this spring, and it is quickly rebuilding the water tables.

Flyover Country on April 25, 2008 at 9:32 AM

This is were Bush blew it big time. After 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, he should have made oil a nation security issue and used his executive power to push for the opening of ANWAR, more offshore drilling, and easing regulation to build new refineries. With the rah-rah mood of the country at the time he could have made it happen and 6-7 years later, now, we would not be in this pinch ’cause the oil and gas would be a-flowing.

ernie on April 25, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Agreed, well stated, and a missed opportunity to wean us off foreign oil…the largest reason for our trade deficit (which would have helped the RNC).

right2bright on April 25, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Law of unintended consequences.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on April 25, 2008 at 9:34 AM

Perhaps we should frame our argument better: The enviromental whackos are interested in Malthusian population control, and are using ethanol as a straw man in their plan to eliminate a large portion of the third world population. By pretending to care about the earth, they can cleverly starve a chunk of the third world out of existence.

Think_b4_speaking on April 25, 2008 at 9:37 AM

First off, I have to correct one myth that seems to be running rampant here. We do not get most of our oil from the Middle East. The number one nation we get our oil from is CANADA! Followed by Saudi Arabia, MEXICO, NIGERIA and Venezuela. While I would love to see Saudi Arabia (and Venezuela for that matter) fall off of that list and it can happen if we did indeed drill our own oil!

Second to Unseen – oil and ethanol do get roughly the same amount of subsidy dollars, but when you break it down per gallon produced the subsidy for ethanol is roughly double that of oil.

LL

Lady Logician on April 25, 2008 at 9:40 AM

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 7:14 AM

Yeah, but my car won’t run on E85.
Well, it will, but only for about 3 years before it dies.
I won’t even put the 10% stuff in my bike. It’s hell on engines.

SouthernDem on April 25, 2008 at 9:53 AM

Let Refineries be free to expand their production capabilities and put an oil rig in the ground of ANWAR today. Then watch OPEC prices change direction.

The extreme environmentalist movement has become irrelevant due to their inability to acknowledge their policies are not in touch with reality.

MSGTAS on April 25, 2008 at 9:55 AM

And just in case you need to see why biofuels are not really a bright idea, we’re now struggling to feed these kids since the World Food Program cut off their support. They’re the lucky ones, because some of us are digging a lot deeper.

You think you got problems? Try living on reprocessed maize.

michaelo on April 25, 2008 at 10:01 AM

You miss the obvious. To the average enviroNazi, fueling their Volvo’s is a much better use of grain. First, because it is a demonstration of their love for “Mother Earth” and shows the high level of commitment to the environment. Second, starvation in the third world performs the same useful function as did banning DDT; solving the over-population “problem”.

oldleprechaun on April 25, 2008 at 7:24 AM

Exactly !

Maxx on April 25, 2008 at 10:03 AM

People need to refuse to purchase ethanol and ethanol blends. This will remove the demand and finally cripple this boondoggle. A 10% blend requires a decreased price of $.10 to even break even with the loss in mileage. Don’t but it, don’t use it, and maybe the government will finally do what is right and stop subsidizing it.

trs on April 25, 2008 at 10:09 AM

You will love your Earth!

RMC1618 on April 25, 2008 at 10:13 AM

If consumers could get e85 at every gas station and that e85 was .50 cheaper per gallon which do you think they would choose.

That’s absurd. The only reason ethanol is cheaper is because of massive subsidies.

The fact of the matter is, if ethanol was available at every gas station, taxes would have to be increased on a massive scale and food prices would triple. You’ll see starvation and food riots in borderline areas of the world.

Ethanol has always been a terrible choice as a fuel. It’s weak, it’s difficult to transport and it takes food off the table. I’d rather drill for oil in Alaska instead of starve people in Africa.

Asher on April 25, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Feed people ahead of cars. Is that really such a difficult concept?

Not to sentient beings.

To politicians, on the other hand.

Perhaps we could turn them into biofuels? At least they’d have done some good once in their parasitic lives.

Misha I on April 25, 2008 at 10:22 AM

People don’t starve because we don’t have enough food. They starve because they can’t afford food at any price short of free, much less the actual cost to produce the food.

taznar on April 25, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Technically true, but overall incorrect. There are communities and countries that can barely afford food prices as they are now. If the price for food doubles because it’s being diverted to create fuel, these people become even more vulnerable to starvation.

I doubt it matters very much to someone that’s starving to know that it’s because they are too poor to eat, even though there isn’t really a shortage.

Asher on April 25, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Economics 101: The Price of Gas

A quick easy read explaining why gas is so high in price.

Tim Burton on April 25, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Asher on April 25, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Your missing econ 101. The more ethanol used the cheaper it becomes.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 10:28 AM

Yes, exactly! I shudder to think how bad of state we would be in if it weren’t for abortion.

thuja on April 25, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Thank you thuja for telling us frankly what liberal policies are all about…. killing you neighbor so YOU can live better.

How deceived you are. Children are born with two arms and two legs and only one mouth. Every person has the ability to provide for many. But liberals say… no, just let them die, that’s the solution.

This is the thinking behind abortion, global warming and environmentalism and you just said it plainly.

Maxx on April 25, 2008 at 10:37 AM

Cornell University did an ethanol study that was published in August 2001. They correctly predicted the inflationary effect on food prices, although even they did not predict just how dire it would be. This factoid flies in the face of enviromentalism.

Buy Danish on April 25, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Well, no it doesn’t. Thinking environmentally does not mean thinking stupidly. That ethanol is a terrible idea should be obvious from an environmental perspective. That most “environmentalists” don’t understand the problems with ethanol is that they have never thought about any subject with any depth ever in their entire lives. Let me give an example. An “environmentalist” who is deeply worried about Climate Change whined to me about the price of gas. My response was to point what an idiot he is. He eventually got the point and decided high gas prices weren’t so bad–a logically consistent position at least. Sadly, there aren’t enough people like to get the “environmentalists” out of fantasy land and into thinking more deeply about subjects.

thuja on April 25, 2008 at 10:39 AM

This topic has so many meaty places to jump in, it is hard to narrow focus, but I will try.

The more I learn about ethanol and see the consequences of increased production, the more apparent it becomes that energy policy dictating its use is a boondoggle of epic proportions.

Unseen, I try to understand your logic but it simply goes against everything I see. Here in North Texas, fields formerly used to grow different types of grains are now filled with corn. There is a reason these farmers switched to corn, and I believe it to be economic.

Sure, there may be multiple things converging to exacerbate the problems, but in my opinion it starts with the faulty science of using “moonshine” to partially power America’s vehicles.

I have a simple question – when the US dictated phasing out of MTBE as an additive replaced by corn, was that disingenuous? Was it only MTBE that was getting into groundwater?
My understanding is that MTBE is unable to exist in the environment by itself, and if there were traces of MTBE in groundwater, than gasoline was there too. MTBE by itself would have evaporated prior to getting in there. So if that is the case, then what did we really gain by using ethanol in it’s place? Won’t gas continue to get into groundwater in some levels (with or without additive du jour)?

Stev0 on April 25, 2008 at 10:57 AM

Part of the problem is the Catholic church, sadly enough. When Catholic missionaries start teaching the poor and hungry locals that ANY birth control is evil, you have more people on ever-less food.

Right, its the Catholic Church’s fault. I’m sure all the people in undeveloped nations are not using birth control because the Catholic Church says not to. That has got to be the most idiotic statement on the board today.

kcluva on April 25, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Ethanol is a huge scam, and has always been a huge scam, as many here have noted.

One thing that nobody here has yet noted is that the MAJOR problem of ANY kind of Bio-Fuel, the reason that NONE of them really work, and will NEVER work, is scaling. What do I mean? Well, allow me to explain:

Both Ethanol and Biodiesel as fuels are HIGHLY efficient, when produced in SMALL QUANTITIES by INDIVIDUALS.

Biodiesel is, by far, the more efficient of the two. One can simply take old fryer grease or other organic waste oils from cooking (many places will still give it to you for free since they must pay to dispose of it) and using a contraption you can build at home for minimal cost, you can process that oil into biodiesel. The total cost per gallon works out to about a buck a gallon. Add in the higher fuel efficiencies of diesel engines, and you reap a huge fuel savings as an individual.

The system is similar for Ethanol. Basically, Ethanol is distilled corn mash. MOONSHINE. Americans have been making it for YEARS on their own. Of course, you need a special license to produce it, so it’s more expensive right there, and it’s l;ess efficient than gas, but you CAN make it for roughly $2.00 a gallon. So right now it’s cheaper than gasoline for individuals to make.

The problem with BOTH of these systems is that THEY DO NOT SCALE UP. While a single individual, working in his back shed or garage, can make as much biodiesel or moonshine that he needs, it’s a different story when you start thinking about large-scale manufacturing, raw materials transport, growing costs, finished product transport and storage, and (in the case of Ethanol) engine alterations needed to make it worthwhile.

Of course, one also has to take into account that you are no longer using a WASTE product, but now you are using a fresh product, cut directly out of the food supply line. As we are seeing, this impacts food supplies the world over.

Ultimately, while Ethanol and biodiesel are great things for hobbyists and tinkerers to do to save themselves some money, they just don’t work out when you try and scale them up. The quicker we as a society understand this, the better off we will all be.

wearyman on April 25, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Yes, exactly! I shudder to think how bad of state we would be in if it weren’t for abortion.

thuja on April 25, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Thank you thuja for telling us frankly what liberal policies are all about…. killing you neighbor so YOU can live better.

How deceived you are. Children are born with two arms and two legs and only one mouth. Every person has the ability to provide for many. But liberals say… no, just let them die, that’s the solution.

This is the thinking behind abortion, global warming and environmentalism and you just said it plainly.

Maxx on April 25, 2008 at 10:37 AM

Maxx, I invite you to leave fantasy land, which is filled with socialists anyway, and come to planet Earth. On planet Earth, we have a finite surface area and there is only so such much land. I suppose we’ll have to make do with it.

thuja on April 25, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Maxx, I invite you to leave fantasy land, which is filled with socialists anyway, and come to planet Earth. On planet Earth, we have a finite surface area and there is only so such much land. I suppose we’ll have to make do with it.

thuja on April 25, 2008 at 11:18 AM

And the solution is to let people die, even promote the death of the ultra poor in third world countries. This is the liberal solution, which is nearly the same as the “ultimate solution.”

The earth is not over crowded thuja, that’s just the lie you have bought into. We do not have finite resources, energy is neither created or destroyed… or did you skip that day of sixth-grade science?

But thank you for admitting that abortion, global warming and environmentalism are all driven by the same lie, the myth of over population. And of course the liberal goal is to promote death.

Maxx on April 25, 2008 at 11:31 AM

People need to refuse to purchase ethanol and ethanol blends. This will remove the demand and finally cripple this boondoggle. A 10% blend requires a decreased price of $.10 to even break even with the loss in mileage. Don’t but it, don’t use it, and maybe the government will finally do what is right and stop subsidizing it.

trs on April 25, 2008 at 10:09 AM

All of the stations here in eastern Massachusetts seem to be selling 10% ethanol. So where do I find 100% gasoline?

MrLynn on April 25, 2008 at 11:45 AM

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 10:28 AM

As in the other thread. Play your Stocks.. and leave the real jobs to the people who actually work it alone.

But as for anyone else, I do not care for ethanol. Alaska has been using it for YEARS and it made people sick due to the combined fumes when you would fill up your car. The exhaust was just as bad. I remember when they first started putting it in the fuel here and having to take my Mom to the ER almost every other night for a month and in which the Doctors couldn’t pin point what the problem was. It only became known when spring came around and she stopped having to fight for oxygen then it was the heavy amount of ethanol they first put it. All for the sake of getting air pollution under control. I can’t tell you how many people were sick that year…. but I can say they do not use the same amount that they started with.

upinak on April 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM

How about algae to oil process?

http://www.scribemedia.org/2007/11/15/glen-kertz-valcent-vertigro-algae-biofuel/

Kokonut on April 25, 2008 at 12:05 PM

I think making ethanol out of corn and other potential food is a bad idea. But as you mention, there are studies showing it can be produced out of waste as well. And flex-fuel engines can run on any combination of gasoline, ethanol, and methanol. The latter can be made out of nearly anything. So if you can produce ethanol and methanol out of waste and run your cars on them, I say do it. They may not be as efficient of gasoline, but it’s a way to stop being dependent on the Middle East for our energy concerns, and that’s important for the War on Terrorism. (I wrote about this a few months ago on my blog here.)

JS on April 25, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Why does everyone think we are getting our oil from the middle east. LMFAO Good LORD… people do some RESEARCH!

upinak on April 25, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Economics 101: The Price of Gas

A quick easy read explaining why gas is so high in price.

Tim Burton on April 25, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Excellent article. The Ludwig von Mises site is the go-to place if you want to understand economics.

Maxx on April 25, 2008 at 12:25 PM

A related note; the great state of Texas is 268,820 square miles in area. If you were to allot 2,000 square feet per person, Texas could accommodate almost 3,750,000,000 people, or more than half of the world’s population.

Okay as long as none of those 3.7 billion aren’t Californians, then we’re good.

ScottMcC on April 25, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Two words: nuclear energy

Entelechy on April 25, 2008 at 1:04 PM

Maybe we should start looking in to ways to turn oil into food.

schal on April 25, 2008 at 1:43 PM

Forget about oil, put corn into our cars and eat the environmentalists. They’re grain-fed and really tender.

You just have to make sure that you clean them really good.

29Victor on April 25, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Plenty of misinformation on this thread.

I have no stake in any biofuel concern. To the contrary, I am a net purchaser of grain who still owes Ed a steak from his CQ days, thanks to a PETA ad he ran there. But this stuff is getting ridiculous.

Anyone who tells you that biofuels are the primary source of food inflation isn’t being truthful to you. You know why so many countries buy their food from the United States? Because we have had a long-sustained policy of oversupply that has been crippling to agricultural interests while maintaining a cheap source of food. Other countries, up until recently, have been able to purchase American grain and afford to ship it, sometimes over ten thousand miles, than they could raise it within miles of their capitals. What has changed? While the cost for raising the American crop has definitely risen, fuel costs have tripled in three years, with some countries clearly overbidding just to ensure shipment.

420 million bushels of corn, even in the midst of a biofuel boom, were left over from 2006 at the time the 2007 crop was harvested. That is approximately 3.5% of the total harvested crop, and right in line with the common carryouts (leftovers) of 3-5%.

There is no food shortage beyond those created by a lack of infrastructure and delivery. Ethanol experiences the same thing when trying to reach a retail market–limited access creates distribution and price problems. But this is due to its dependency on blending by oil companies, (who pocket the subsidy everyone complains about) for the right to include it in their blends.

End the subsidy, drop the tariff on ethanol imports, and mandate flex fuel cars so that the stupid government policy of blending ethanol by oil companies can end. No one would ever again be required to purchase a drop of ethanol if they didn’t want to. And ethanol would never again need to lean on a different commodity to sustain itself.

Let the free market work it out at that point. People could freely choose to make the economic decision, and sometimes that would be corn based ethanol. Other times people would fuel with gasoline if the situation demanded it. Oil and alcohol would both have a vested interest at that point in delivering the fuel for the lowest cost possible, something that we all know does not occur regularly today. Ultimately, the consumer should get to make the choice, not government.

One more thing. Of the most common criticisms of biofuels, the 8 year old Cornell study, is often cited. That study reflects the current economics and efficiency of ethanol about as well as an eight year old study of my kids aged 5,4, and 2. It does not account for the value of corn ethanol by-products, or adjust for yield and efficiency improvements that the early industry had to hammer out, and have improved upon–a bushel of corn today produces 40% more ethanol than the corn cited in that study. Closed loop ethanol plants are coming on line today that purchase NO outside energy to produce their product, and this kind of investment in efficiency is likely to continue, driving down their cost. Another biofuel concern is seeking to build a pipeline to the east coast dedicated to their product, trying to alleviate the costs to ship the product over the road and accrued transportation charges.

Biofuels are an important asset, brought to you by red blooded Americans. All those dollars spent on biofuels help Americans in small towns and communities rather than being spent for purposes potentially dangerous to our national interests. 6 out of every 10 dollars spent on fuel is now given to someone outside this country, and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Unfortunately, however, it appears a concerted effort is being made to kill the industry in it’s crib and maintain a full time dependence on crude oil. That is a position that should be considered carefully, and subject to study–not hysterical claims that biofuels=food shortage.

Caustic Conservative on April 25, 2008 at 2:57 PM

Dark-Star on April 25, 2008 at 8:59 AM

Classic Marxist perspective.

Red Pill on April 25, 2008 at 2:58 PM

JellyToast on April 25, 2008 at 7:59 AM

I agree.

Red Pill on April 25, 2008 at 2:59 PM

E85 isn’t “$0.50 cheaper per gallon,” it’s $0.50 MORE per gallon when adjusted for energy density – and that’s not even counting the subsidy, which as has pointed out above, is twice as much for ethanol as for gas.

Unfortunately, energy policy, like environmentalism, economics, and every other damned thing, has become a “religion” with unquestionable tenets, ruled almost entirely by urban legends (like the “Middle Eastern Oil” crap).

It doesn’t matter how many times you point out the facts, someone else (or the same person) will be back the next day with the same nonsense.

Merovign on April 25, 2008 at 3:18 PM

The farmers are being directly subsidized to produce ethanol
MrLynn on April 25, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Farmers get absolutely no subsidy to produce ethanol. None. In fact, we used to get crop subsidies when prices were low thanks to the huge surpluses of grain that biofuels have gone a long way in eliminating. Those have been gone for three years now. Go ahead and check.

The only transfer payment left to most producers is the $10/acre they use to enforce their various reporting and rules requirement. Let’s face it, if they weren’t paying farmers to comply most farmers would ignore a government bureaucrat outright. But even that standard payment is just a component of inflated land rents that should be eliminated so USDA can butt out of agriculture completely to focus on the school lunch program or something else they could be good at. Using socialist methods to manage grain supply hasn’t worked out so well for them.

Caustic Conservative on April 25, 2008 at 3:24 PM

All those dollars spent on biofuels help Americans in small towns and communities rather than being spent for purposes potentially dangerous to our national interests. 6 out of every 10 dollars spent on fuel is now given to someone outside this country, and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Exactly, which is why we can always look toward using our own domestic oil by which we have plenty to sustain ourselves independently. 60% of our oil is imported while 40% is domestic when about two decades ago it was 40% of our oil was imported. Again, it’s about national security. Why should we be overly dependent on unstable countries to get our own oil? Already, Nigeria oil pipeline was bombed (not to mention striking Nigerian oil workers) just recently and Nigeria is #5 on our top oil importer.

I’d say using a food-based plant to covert to ethanol is really a bad way of doing things. Just because we have an “oversupply” does not mean we will have an “oversupply” of corn for the next 20 or 30 years. Secondly, biofuels’ energy density isn’t as great as petroleum and they are not as cleaner burning either.

A new study from The Nature Conservancy and the University of Minnesota finds that many biofuels — seen by many as a potentially low-carbon energy source — actually emit more greenhouse gases than the fossil fuels they aim to replace.

According to the study, co-authored by Joe Fargione, a regional scientist for the Conservancy, “converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a ‘biofuel carbon debt’ by releasing 17 to 420 times more carbon dioxide than the fossil fuels they replace.”

http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/features/art23819.html

Not only that, growing corn takes up more space to grow and convert into ethanol as a biofuel. An acre of corn might net you around some 30 to 50 gallons of oil while algae based processes could net you around 30,000 gallons of oil a year. Corn can only be grown once a year. Natch, algae is the fastest growing plant in the world….not corn.
http://www.scribemedia.org/2007/10/09/algae-greenfuel-valcent-vertigro/

Kokonut on April 25, 2008 at 3:24 PM

And to add to the national security about oil, I’d say we tap into what we have in our backyard such as the Green River shale formation in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado with proven (accessible with today’s technology) oil reserve between 800 billion to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil which is undoubtedly several times bigger than Saudi Arabia’s.

Kokonut on April 25, 2008 at 3:26 PM

The assumptions of the UofM study have been panned by many because of their false assumptions, primarily that the loss of land use has been primarily to the production of corn for biofuels (false–most of it is due to zoning that takes it out of all crops) and that the rain forest is burning so that acres of biofuel can be planted (also false.) Another problem with the study involving some of the same people and published by Science magazine assumes an ethanol production increase from 15B gallons per year to 30B gallons per year by 2015. The Energy Security Act caps ethanol production at 15B gallons in 2015, so nobody knows why the study used that assumption other than it produces an impressively scary number for headlines and soundbites.

Caustic Conservative on April 25, 2008 at 4:03 PM

Caustic Conservative on April 25, 2008 at 2:57 PM

Very interesting and informative post CC. Thank you. Although I do have a few disagreements with you. For example; I still don’t think that the overall Bio-fuel economies scale well, particularly in comparison to fossil fuels. Of course, American Ingenuity may just solve this issue, and I hope it does. The promise of infinitely renewable bio-fuels is certainly interesting. As it stands right now though, I don’t think we are there, and the whole thing stinks of eco-scam.

As far as ending the subsidies, I am absolutely right there with you. IF bio-fuels are to be successful, they MUST do it on their own, in the free market. HOWEVER, I think you weaken your argument by adding in a mandate for flex-fuel vehicles. Mandates are never the answer. The success of Ethanol and the success of Flex-Fuel vehicles are something that, again, must be decided by the market.

Ultimately, I think that’s the big gotcha here for most conservatives. We see an unproven commodity being artificially propped-up with subsidies, and unfunded mandates being sent down from on-high. At the same time, within MONTHS of the great Ethanol mandates, corn and other food shortages start happening all over the world. Is it any wonder that people are concerned?

The Government (not just the US govt, ALL of them) needs to get OUT of the fuel business. Drop any and all fuel-related subsidies and mandates, eliminate any restrictions on oil drilling and refining in the US, and remove all legal restrictions on home-brew fuels. (No more wasting FBI time and manpower chasing moonshiners) Then sit back and watch the market take care of it.

wearyman on April 25, 2008 at 4:03 PM

upinak on April 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM

I do not “play” stocks. The work required and the knowledge needed is a full time job like any other. Usally 12-14hours day and on top of that I work full time at my “day job” on the weekends.

Maybe if more people studied the markets, economics, and the reason things are priced the way they are they would be less stupiity flying around.

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 4:24 PM

Why does everyone think we are getting our oil from the middle east. LMFAO Good LORD… people do some RESEARCH!

upinak on April 25, 2008 at 12:10 PM

While we import the most from Canada. Our second largest importer is SAUDI ARABIA. Last time I looked SAUDI ARABIA was in the Middle East. Iraq is our 6th largest and Kuwait is our 8th. All in the middle East. Maybe you need to do some research before assuming others are wrong.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 4:34 PM

People do not know what they are talking about when it comes to ethanol. You can still use the grain for feed grain. I know, I have actually worked on and owned a farm. And ethanol has been around for decades.

Terrye on April 25, 2008 at 4:35 PM

A lot more land has been lost to urban growth than to biofuels. And people just do not want to farm anymore anyway. And the public always bitches. They either bitch because prices are high or because prices are low but subsidies or because of chemical fertilizers or because of run off and the smell of hogs and blah blah blah.

Just bitch bitch bitch.

Look at all the land in the southwest that goes to golf course for Chrisake. The truth is people will make this all political and then the the merits of alternative fuels will take a back side to whose side you think is supporting.

You can make fuel out of anything from manure to tree tops, but the truth is if energy costs stay where they are food will be high, because costs of production will be high.

Terrye on April 25, 2008 at 4:41 PM

unseen on April 25, 2008 at 4:34 PM

WOW, being that you are supposedly a trader, I am surprized you would show THIS! I hope you know that that actually showed Saudi was double sticking their “BBL”. Do you know what that means?

It means that they were actually saying there were 2 BBL when in actuality there was only ONE! You don’t have to be a genius to figure out measurements and cash comparisons. Oh if you wonder why they haven’t had this in MSM or even on a “Blog”, think about how Saudi is supposedly our ally and our friend. They are trying to make “amends” while ripping us off. You are so smart, figure it out there comodities boy.

I actually do know what I am talking about there oh bright one. Give me something else there lightening rod!

upinak on April 25, 2008 at 5:05 PM

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