CBO: Ethanol policies pushed food prices higher

posted at 10:55 am on April 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

This won’t surprise anyone at Hot Air, where we’ve covered the starvation model that comes from converting food into fuel, but now we have confirmation from the Congressional Budget Office of the inflationary effect of federal ethanol policies.  Not only did those policies create an increase in costs for food, that creates an even more unpleasant consequence at a time when federal revenues will decrease:

Federal ethanol-fuel policies forced consumers to pay an extra 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent in increased food prices in 2008, and the government itself could end up paying nearly $1 billion more this year for food stamps because of ethanol use, according to a new government report.

The report by the Congressional Budget Office helps answer questions raised by Congress last year as food prices shot up, and some lawmakers questioned the effects of government policies, such as the ethanol mandate.

“Producing ethanol for use in motor fuels increases the demand for corn, which ultimately raises the prices that consumers pay for a wide variety of foods at the grocery store, ranging from corn-syrup sweeteners found in soft drinks to meat, dairy and poultry products,” the CBO said.

Also, government-sponsored subsidies and mandates for ethanol to be mixed with gasoline are supposed to help foster U.S. energy independence and to cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions, but only have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by less than one-third of 1 percent.

Of course, the problem with this price pressure is that it’s inherently regressive.  It impacts most the people who can afford it the least.  For those who have less disposable income, price increases on staples such as food and energy are more than just an annoyance. They can push families at the margins into full-blown poverty and starvation, where choices have to be made between food and heat.

The Obama administration has a ready answer for that: more food stamps.  Rather than just admit that the ethanol program is a flop, both in terms of emissions controls and in replacement power for gasoline, Obama wants to double down by putting more people into government dependency.  He has two reasons for this.  First, his presidential campaign got powered in large part by ethanol producers, whose political support turns out to have a much higher octane than their product.

Second, a dependent class will tend to vote its pocketbook and keep the government cheese coming.  If government policies make food and heat unaffordable but then provides subsidies for the victims of those policies, the food stamps look like a bird in the hand after a while, and policies of economic freedom don’t look immediate enough to cut the tether.  These policies will create a larger economic underclass that will support more nationalized services as time goes on.

Ethanol may be an expensive failure that makes the poor less able to feed themselves, but it looks like a political winner for the Left for those very reasons.


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say it aint so… and all this time I thought the socialist nanny state was to be the great utopia. I’m in shock

gatorboy on April 10, 2009 at 10:58 AM

In other news, a new study reveals that it hurts to drop heavy things on your foot.

OhioCoastie on April 10, 2009 at 10:58 AM

No blood for corn.

Dhuka on April 10, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Wake me when Obama and his merry band of nitwits do something productive and useful that’s in the best interests of the country . . . I look forward to a long sleep.

rplat on April 10, 2009 at 10:59 AM

green hysteria hurts working and middle class, big surprise.

rob verdi on April 10, 2009 at 10:59 AM

by the way another ethanol producer went under the other day.

rob verdi on April 10, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Must be going to just get worse.
Planting that garden at the White House is a bad sign.

elderberry on April 10, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Obama wants to double down by putting more people into government dependency. He has two reasons for this.

Actually three reasons, the third being that Obowa will never admit that his destructive policies are wrong.

Bishop on April 10, 2009 at 11:01 AM

EVERYTHING I buy costs more. Never thought I’d pay almost 3 bucks for a loaf of bread. Everyone tried to say this was a bad idea, and yet, typical of our government, we just went on ahead and did it anyway and now there’s probably no stopping it. What a waste.

OT did you see Hotair was mentioned in a CNN video about whether Obama bowed or not?

scalleywag on April 10, 2009 at 11:02 AM

duh.

our overall willingness to throw macroeconomic sensibility to the wind for the sake of our domestic corn sector has gotten to the point that its damned effing pathetic. is there not one democratic staffer that can get tasked with doing legitimate economic analysis? i mean, this is one of the biggest no brainer-yet still managed to f*ck it-up moves ever…this ethanol crap, and the broader corn subsidy crap.

ernesto on April 10, 2009 at 11:02 AM

Plus if it sits for months, like in a lawnmower or boat, the water separates, and, well, water being not flammable and all… But hey, at least those farm state senators get their way.

Akzed on April 10, 2009 at 11:04 AM

This is one of those perfect “pocket book” issues that the GOP could really take the ball and run with.

But they won’t.

myrenovations on April 10, 2009 at 11:04 AM

In other news, a new study reveals that it hurts to drop heavy things on your foot.

OhioCoastie on April 10, 2009 at 10:58 AM

Perfect!

scalleywag on April 10, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Paging Chuck Grassley…

beatcanvas on April 10, 2009 at 11:05 AM

You know, if the Congressional Black Caucus group that just visited Cuba had come back spouting Fidel Castro’s opposition to food crop-based biofuels, their trip might have actually done some good.

jon1979 on April 10, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Oblameless thinks we eat too much anyway. And didn’t he give everyone a $13/week tax cut to offset rising prices?

mossberg500 on April 10, 2009 at 11:07 AM

There are not many things that I call evil…

But this, is evil. People are starving all over the world…

People are hungry here in America herself…

And we are turning FOOD into gas, because we won’t DRILL for oil here? And using TAX dollars to pay for it?

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 11:07 AM

In theory, I don’t have a problem with ethanol, or for that matter, any other ‘alternative’ fuel. I think it would be quite awesome to be able to pay a minimal amount, get 100 miles per gallon, silent clean burning hovercraft, whatever happens to come along.

Fact of the matter is, there is currently nothing that is compareable to gasoline or diesel fuel that is anywhere near market-ready, let alone mass-production ready.

Does that mean we abandon the quest? No way. Ethanol may not be the answer, and honestly should never have been subsidized. If there is a marketable alternative, it will rise and fall on its own merits. When the government mandates use and props up with price incentives, we have an artificial choice that often has unintended consequences.

Also, I have suspicions that while current ethanol does not appear to be working, there are many such ideas and refinements to the process to make it better. For example, I read recently of a hybrid corn plant, bred more like sugarcane, where the entire stalk is sugar filled rather than just the corn itself. IIRC, it was supposed to provide something like 5 times the output of tradational corn ethanol. Could this help? Perhaps.

Until then, let’s drill for some oil!

JamesLee on April 10, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Given that you need internal combustion engines to plant corn, harvest it, transport it, convert it to ethanol, etc., it ends up costing three gallons of gasoline to produce four gallons of ethanol, as Levin points out in his book.

Akzed on April 10, 2009 at 11:08 AM

jon1979 on April 10, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Yup. If those clowns couldn’t even hit that low hanging softball out of the park, it just provides more evidence the CBC lack basic literacy skills.

F%$#ing douchebags.

PimFortuynsGhost on April 10, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Any local yokel from the farm belt around here can tell you easily that when you take food and burn it for fuel, the price of food will rise…but the best and the brightest who never so much as having seen a real tractor up close had all the answers.

Corn ehtanol is one of the scams of our times…actually costs more energy to produce one gallon of corn ethanol than one gallon of corn ethanol can produce at its most optimum.

And corn goes in to a lot more food products than corn flakes and those Fourth of July ears of roast corn the yuppies like.

Forcing less of anything on the market causes prices for that product (and its derivatives) to rise. Basic Econ 101.

Funding corn ethanol actually pulled funding and interest away from other, more viable, petro-alternatives.

But, Congress wanted to give away our money…so the corn ethanol hoax was born.

The list of similar hoaxes continues to grow.

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Y’all don’t understand. Obama is the bestest president ever. Every single one of his policies is perfect, he’s perfect, we’re in utopia now. Everyone loves him, especially the military and everything is better now that he blames every little thing on the previous administration.
/did I miss anything, little Obamaniacs?

mjk on April 10, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Awww, what’s a few starving kids in Africa worth…certainly not harming the environment.
The campaign should be, the whales are starving, then oil wells would be built overnight.
We will stop eating meat, if we can drill for oil…let the liberal fight begin.

right2bright on April 10, 2009 at 11:11 AM

Why should I put E 85 in my car when it gives me 25% less fuel efficiency and doesnt cost 25% less? There is no value there. And if my food costs are higher too, it’s even more expensive.

Can I get food stamps?

originalpechanga on April 10, 2009 at 11:13 AM

But the planet might be 12/1999999th of a degree cooler in twenty years because of our sacrifice!

LibTired on April 10, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Memo to all: I know yall may not have nothing to eat but please keep smoking because all the SCHIP kids have got to have their FREE health care!!

Dire Straits on April 10, 2009 at 11:13 AM

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Not to mention the estimates of how much water is necessary to produce a single gallon of ethanol, current estimates put it at somewhere around 50 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol.

Bishop on April 10, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Given that you need internal combustion engines to plant corn, harvest it, transport it, convert it to ethanol, etc., it ends up costing three gallons of gasoline to produce four gallons of ethanol, as Levin points out in his book.

Akzed on April 10, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Ah, but you left out the BEST part of the equation…

Ethanol only has about 2/3 of the energy of gasoline… so based on a pure energy standpoint, it actualy takes Energy OUT of the Macro system.

Only the current US Government, would think that raising prices on food, and raising prices on energy, and using tax dollars to do it… would be a good thing.

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 11:16 AM

When are we going to hold the politicians, activists, and bureaucrats who force this tripe on us accountable…….?

Seven Percent Solution on April 10, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Handing “policy” over to libs is like giving a five year old lighter fluid and a box of those strike anywhere matches.

LibTired on April 10, 2009 at 11:18 AM

by the way another ethanol producer went under the other day.

rob verdi on April 10, 2009 at 11:01 AM

good news! now the govn’t can prop up the cost with more subsidies to the soon to be govn’t run monopoly

gatorboy on April 10, 2009 at 11:18 AM

But this, is evil. People are starving all over the world…

People are hungry here in America herself…

And we are turning FOOD into gas, because we won’t DRILL for oil here? And using TAX dollars to pay for it?

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Evil!

Christian Conservative on April 10, 2009 at 11:19 AM

When are we going to hold the politicians, activists, and bureaucrats who force this tripe on us accountable…….?

Seven Percent Solution on April 10, 2009 at 11:18 AM

We’re not.

myrenovations on April 10, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Well duh??!! Ya think?

vapig on April 10, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Nuke plants and giant slot cars, please.

faraway on April 10, 2009 at 11:24 AM

Plus if it sits for months, like in a lawnmower or boat, the water separates, and, well, water being not flammable and all…

Akzed on April 10, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Well, that’s one way to control emissions!

loudmouth883 on April 10, 2009 at 11:24 AM

Evil!

Christian Conservative on April 10, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Yes…. give a man a fish, and he will eat for the day…

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime…

Take that fish, squeeze out the oil to make fuel? and everyone goes hungry.

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 11:27 AM

There was nothing fundamentally wrong with pushing ethanol. The error was relying solely on subsidies and not putting a permanent floor on oil prices. Oil price volatility has always been the fly in the ointment wrt developing alternative transportation fuels. It is irrational for private parties to invest in alternatives when oil can drop on its own or by manipulation to $30 per barrel. Therefore, this national security issue won’t be solved by the market.
But don’t worry folks. India and China have many hundreds of millions of people to lift out of poverty yet. In a year oil will be on the rise and in a couple it’ll be over $100 again and America cash will be flooding into Russian and Iranian militaries and Saudi funded terrorists.

edshepp on April 10, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Bishop on April 10, 2009 at 11:15 AM

There seem to be three kinds of leftists:

1. “do gooders” who want to save the world (regardless of the cost or consequences), thanks to some emotional smug feeling they derive from it;

2. manipulative pols who want to grow the size of govt so that they can control it; and

3. thugs who want to sow war and discord under a banner of “peace” – note, this third realm is where the far left and the far right meet.

Those who are leftists because of the first reason can eventually become conservatives if they operate out of sincere motives.

Wanderlust on April 10, 2009 at 11:29 AM

I continually find myself amazed at the quality of the Democrats’ ideas.

From ethanol, to raising taxes during an economic downturn, I am in awe at the creativity and deliberate thoughtfulness of the left.

I know who’s in charge, and it is the most trustworthy, intellectually honest, and transparent group of people I’ve ever seen holding the reigns of U.S. power. My family can sleep well at night, knowing that our modern day Praetorian Guard is on an everlasting vigil, keeping watch over the well being of the American people.

Thank God for you, Barack Obama. Thank God for you, Democratic party.

Thank God for you.

.sarc.

blatantblue on April 10, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Dang this list is getting long:

For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my life-long home state of Illinois. I mean George Ryan, Obama, Blago, Bobby Rush, Jesse Jackson Jr, Roland Burris, and ADM, who wouldn’t be.

WashJeff on April 10, 2009 at 11:33 AM

wow, you mean a knee jerk liberal reaction to try to solve problems and imagined problems turned out bad? Shocka.

kirkill on April 10, 2009 at 11:33 AM

It’s worse than raising prices. So long as we agree that a certain percentage of farmers should abandon economics and implement some government plans to build a greater world (and no, I don’t really agree with that), how about growing food and shipping it to Africa or other impoverished areas?

radiofreevillage on April 10, 2009 at 11:36 AM

I’m seriously thinking that our POTUS has no idea what it’s like to be an American.

bluelightbrigade on April 10, 2009 at 11:36 AM

It’s worse than raising prices. So long as we agree that a certain percentage of farmers should abandon economics and implement some government plans to build a greater world (and no, I don’t really agree with that), how about growing food and shipping it to Africa or other impoverished areas?

radiofreevillage on April 10, 2009 at 11:36 AM

OH MY GOD!

Checks his Remote Temperature Readout device from the sensors placed on third Ring of He11…

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Two points.

First, this is hardly *NEWS*. Anyone remember Mexico bitching up a storm because the price of corn tortillas went up a year or two back? Maybe we ought to outsource the CBO to Mexico – our southern neighbors got this right sooner…

Second, this is *NOT* the end-game for biofuels. Corn-to-ethanol uses the sugar because we know how to turn sugar into alcohol, and corn is easy to grow. The end goal is not corn into ethanol, it’s cellulose into ethanol, i.e. corn *stalks* or the wood 2x4s in your house, or the clippings from your lawn… The chemistry is there, but it’s not ready for industrial-scale applications yet.

Mew

acat on April 10, 2009 at 11:42 AM

And remember, things like windmills destroy about two jobs for each new one they create. From The mirage of “green jobs” in HA by Ed:

Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

petefrt on April 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Everyone knows what a waste it is to use corn to produce ethanol.

What we should be doing is popping it by the ton, then launching it into the upper atmosphere to block the sun and reduce global warming.

Hey, do congressman read these posts? If so, kindly remove this, cuz I know they’ll think it’s a grand idea.

fogw on April 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM

This is one of those perfect “pocket book” issues that the GOP could really take the ball and run with.

But they won’t.

myrenovations on April 10, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Because the GOP needs rural voters to make up for losses in the cities. You’ve got to EXPLAIN these issues to the voters: Corn used for ethanol = less corn for people = higher corn prices = higher prices for corn oil, corn starch, corn syrup = higher prices for food containing corn products = higher prices for corn fed to livestock = higher meat prices, for minimal net energy and cost benefit.

But try to ‘splain that to a sheeple–in the time it takes to read the above paragraph, the MSM reporter cuts in for a word from their sponsor (Niblets from the Jolly Green Giant, ho-ho-ho), and the sheeple are asleep. ZZZZZZZzzzzzz.

Steve Z on April 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Let’s at least get the science right.

The end goal isn’t ethanol-from-corn, technically from starches, it’s ethanol-from-cellulose, i.e. corn stalks, grass clippings, the 2x4s in your house… Cellulose is way more common, and isn’t terribly useful for food.

The problem is, cellulose-to-alcohol works in the lab, but isn’t able to scale up. ADM et al tried to shortcut the system, to get some plants up and running, to work out the bugs in the system – and high oil prices made it quite lucrative – but lower oil prices will kill it unless the science and engineering catches up soon….

Mew

acat on April 10, 2009 at 11:45 AM

Steve Z on April 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM

So your saying that Farmers’ shouldn’t sell corn at the highest optimal price they can obtain?

I don’t agree with Ethanol, but I also don’t blame a farmer for making as much money as possible on his crop. I actually view Ethanol as another form of Welfare.

PappaMac on April 10, 2009 at 11:50 AM

There are alternatives to this growing food for fuel idiocy (HR 1866).

Rae on April 10, 2009 at 11:53 AM

This is one of those perfect “pocket book” issues that the GOP could really take the ball and run with.

But they won’t.

myrenovations on April 10, 2009 at 11:04 AM

What GOP?

Ernest on April 10, 2009 at 11:54 AM

This may have already been pointed out, but ethanol can be produced from non-food plants, like switchgrass. Moreover, this stuff can grow in places where corn and other food plants cannot, so it wouldn’t be using land that could be used for growing corn.

Methanol can be produced with just about anything. It can be made from your trash. So I don’t see these bio-fuels as necessarily using food products to produce fuel.

JS on April 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM

how about growing food and shipping it to Africa or other impoverished areas?

radiofreevillage on April 10, 2009 at 11:36 AM

We do that already. But the food doesn’t get to the starving people because food is a great weapon for corrupt leaders.

myrenovations on April 10, 2009 at 11:58 AM

myrenovations on April 10, 2009 at 11:58 AM

And, apparently, a target for Somali pirates.

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Methanol can be produced with just about anything. It can be made from your trash. So I don’t see these bio-fuels as necessarily using food products to produce fuel.

JS on April 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM

No, but it does use WATER.

Farmers know, that WATER availablility is now one of the primary concerns when planting crops. We could grow much more food in this country… on a LOT more land… but there just is not enough fresh water…

Please drive by and look at the fields that make Feed for cattle and such (ie, grass)… you’ll notice the Sprinkler systems?

If your using that water to raise grass, you are not using it to raise FOOD.

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Methanol can be produced with just about anything. It can be made from your trash. So I don’t see these bio-fuels as necessarily using food products to produce fuel.

JS on April 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM

No, but it does use WATER.

Farmers know, that WATER availablility is now one of the primary concerns when planting crops. We could grow much more food in this country… on a LOT more land… but there just is not enough fresh water…

Please drive by and look at the fields that make Feed for cattle and such (ie, grass)… you’ll notice the Sprinkler systems?

If your using that water to raise grass, you are not using it to raise FOOD.

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Methanol can be produced with just about anything. It can be made from your trash. So I don’t see these bio-fuels as necessarily using food products to produce fuel.

JS on April 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM

No, but it does use WATER.

Farmers know, that WATER availablility is now one of the primary concerns when planting crops. We could grow much more food in this country… on a LOT more land… but there just is not enough fresh water…

Please drive by and look at the fields that make Feed for cattle and such (ie, grass)… you’ll notice the Sprinkler systems?

If your using that water to raise grass, you are not using it to raise FOOD.

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Wow….. triple post…. sorry folks…

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 12:04 PM

Old news, but nice that CBO finally picked up on it, just a little.

A source Dems can’t rebut well, even when they don’t like the message.

CBO is beginning to rise in my eyes. Perhaps the one-eyed man in the land of the blind (willfully and actual), but a little reality dose.

Harry Schell on April 10, 2009 at 12:05 PM

This may have already been pointed out, but ethanol can be produced from non-food plants, like switchgrass. Moreover, this stuff can grow in places where corn and other food plants cannot, so it wouldn’t be using land that could be used for growing corn.

Methanol can be produced with just about anything. It can be made from your trash. So I don’t see these bio-fuels as necessarily using food products to produce fuel.

JS on April 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM

The state O’bama claims to have been born in is now going to try making ethanol from sugar cane.

Del Dolemonte on April 10, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Forget the fact that we’re fueling cars on what we eat, but prices of EVERYTHING increased last year because of the OVERALL price of fuel?

I get a quarterly bill for my trash pick up and it has a $7 fuel surcharge on it. It doesn’t matter to the trash company if their trucks are powered on gas, diesel, corn, or jelly beans! All they know is it cost more to fill up the trucks.

I believe the root cause of the increase in fuel was the speculators driving up the market and the lack of regulation in the market pertaining to speculators.

Furthermore, I believe the skyrocketing fuel prices was the tipping point in this entire economic freefall. Consumers simply had less disposable income and they stopped spending.

Gotta get to the ROOT CAUSE.

Oink on April 10, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Given that you need internal combustion engines to plant corn, harvest it, transport it, convert it to ethanol, etc., it ends up costing three gallons of gasoline to produce four gallons of ethanol, as Levin points out in his book.

Akzed on April 10, 2009 at 11:08 AM
Ah, but you left out the BEST part of the equation…

Ethanol only has about 2/3 of the energy of gasoline… so based on a pure energy standpoint, it actualy takes Energy OUT of the Macro system.

Only the current US Government, would think that raising prices on food, and raising prices on energy, and using tax dollars to do it… would be a good thing.

Romeo13 on April 10, 2009 at 11:16 AM

This is about right. If gasoline is considered to be iso-octane, it produces 30,597 Joules/liter when burned; ethanol produces 21,107 Joules/liter. If 3 liters of gasoline are burned to make 4 liters of ethanol, you burn 91,791 Joules worth of gasoline to make 84,428 Joules worth of ethanol, or a net loss of 1,841 Joules per liter of ethanol produced.

Even for global-warming scare-mongers, ethanol is a net loser: It produces 71.3 grams of CO2 per megajoule (million joules) of energy, whereas iso-octane produces 69.6 grams of CO2 per megajoule.

Since it takes 1.087 MJ of gasoline to produce a MJ of ethanol, making the ethanol emits 1.087 * 69.6 = 75.7 g of CO2, then burning the ethanol produces 71.3 g of CO2, for a total of 147 g CO2 per MJ of ethanol. If you simply burned the gasoline in a car, it would produce 69.6 g of CO2, LESS THAN HALF of what is produced by converting to ethanol and then burning the ethanol!

Al Gore, wake up! All that “green” ethanol is DOUBLING CO2 emissions! You’ve gotta save the world and the polar bears!

To paraphrase Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake corn.

Steve Z on April 10, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Ethanol plant construction has ground to a halt.
Several plants are in bankruptcy.
Several plants have closed.

Many ancillary firms have laid off a lot of workers.

The ethanol industry is down to junk and can’t borrow money.

The economists that think ethanol can be economically viable for fuel are drunk on alcohol.

seven on April 10, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Ethanol may be an expensive failure that makes the poor less able to feed themselves, but it looks like a political winner for the Left for those very reasons.

Potus Antipathy Obama, leader of the defeat freedom DNC, holds plagues, not healing, in his express delivery wings.

No matter how thoroughly American industries meet and exceed federal mandates, Persistent Obama Democrats demolish everything.

There is no regard for legality or for contractual law with the Obama Pirate.

maverick muse on April 10, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Dump Obamanomics.

The economists that think ethanol can be economically viable for fuel are drunk on alcohol.

seven on April 10, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Ethanol needs to prove itself in homegrown production and use as it did on the private scale prior to the Prohibition that gave the oil industry a monopoly on energy production (not to mention moonshine runners fortunes made by organized crime leaders including Joe Kennedy).

So, drill here, drill now.

maverick muse on April 10, 2009 at 12:29 PM

To paraphrase Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake corn.

Steve Z on April 10, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Marie Maize

maverick muse on April 10, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Anymore of this green shenanigans and Charlton Heston’s predicitions will come true.

Soylent Green: it’s made of people.

Zorg on April 10, 2009 at 12:36 PM

This may have already been pointed out, but ethanol can be produced from non-food plants, like switchgrass. Moreover, this stuff can grow in places where corn and other food plants cannot, so it wouldn’t be using land that could be used for growing corn.

Methanol can be produced with just about anything. It can be made from your trash. So I don’t see these bio-fuels as necessarily using food products to produce fuel.

JS on April 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Good point. Biofuels aren’t good or bad per se, but somebody has to do the math and determine the net energy loss or gain, and the net FOOD loss or gain per acre.

Brazil makes a lot of ethanol from sugar cane, which is a much more efficient process than corn ethanol, and a net energy winner, although somebody might need to consider the food cost of the lost sugar.

This is where free markets, NOT directed by government subsidies, can help. If the lost sugar supply increases sugar prices, Brazilian sugar growers will sell their sugar on the open market instead of converting it to ethanol, or if the price of ethanol increases, they will convert it to ethanol.

When the government tries to force the market in a given direction, as the US government has for corn ethanol, we get stupidities like people starving and food prices rising, while farmers convert valuable corn to fuel at a net energy loss, while doubling the overall CO2 emissions. In a truly free market, no one would buy ethanol from corn (unless it was from corn stalks, which have no food value), and corn products would be cheaper, meat would be cheaper, gasoline would be cheaper, and less CO2 would be emitted.

What would it take to convince Obambi of these truths?

Steve Z on April 10, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Marie Maize’s Hush Puppies & Corn Fritters, aka “Gore Fingers,” provide the definitive side dish accompanying the German frozen chicken “Obama Fingers” for this evenings’ Good Friday menu.

Weltkaiser only in his own vane dreams, the political timing is appropriate, given the European media ridicule from France and Germany howling at Obama: “Yankee Go Home!”

maverick muse on April 10, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Rather than just admit that the ethanol program is a flop, both in terms of emissions controls and in replacement power for gasoline,

In what universe did you take chemistry? Ethanol is in fact clean burning. Unless you’re talking about petroleum based fertilizers, which is a boogeyman invented by the greenies. Maybe you actually believe CO2 is a pollutant! Never mind conveniently ignoring the byproduct of the production of ethanol from corn can be used as feed for cattle. And ignoring the protectionist sugar lobby which will tell any lie to keep foreign sugar out of the us. Saying ethanol is a flop in terms of emission controls is extremely inaccurate. So you don’t get the same energy value from ethanol that you get from gasoline, BIG DEAL. If that eliminates the brown cloud across the front range I do not see that as a bad thing.

Steve Z on April 10, 2009 at 12:17 PM

And how much fuel/energy is consumed producing gasoline? Are you assuming that corn is the only source of ethanol? That would be silly. Where do get 3L of gasoline to make 4L of ethanol? That sounds extremely suspicious and misleading.

Given the scientific knowledge I am surprised I haven’t seen some rube hawking HHO as the ultimate solution.

Brazil has been successfully using ethanol for years. The flop mentality is just ignorance.

jdkchem on April 10, 2009 at 12:52 PM

The other bad points about producing fuel from crops are…
1.That source is susceptible to climate and weather.
2.Uses large amounts of water.
3.Takes land away or out of food production.
4.Expensive.
5.Inefficient.
6.There are others but i don’t recall them.
There are better sources of bio-fuel. The best being algae.

vulcannomad on April 10, 2009 at 1:14 PM

Only statists are this willing to ignore Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs…

phreshone on April 10, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Of course some city children with one chemistry class think they know what is up.
We burn gasolene and diesel planting, harvesting and shipping switch grass and sugar cane.
also my friend ran one of the earlier ethanol plants and killed a herd of cattle that ate contaminated distillers grain.
It takes fossil fuel to plow
to plant,
to till
to cultivate weeds
to harvest
to haul harvested grain and then a whole lot more to bring the mash to a brewing temp.
Of course hauling ethanol to a market for sale is also expensive. One pilot plant was considering cow manure for energy to heat the alcohol to brew. The real people came along and told him it waould cost a lot to dry the manure to a dryness so it could burn. They also had to calculate the cost per ton of hauling wet manure is high before it is dried.

This explains why farmers are conservatives. They know how to manage and calculate costs.

seven on April 10, 2009 at 1:27 PM

What society in the history of the world has burned food as fuel?

Cinematicfilm on April 10, 2009 at 1:52 PM

BUT IT SAVES POLAR BEARS!!!! Don’t you get it???

marklmail on April 10, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Cinematicfilm on April 10, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Dead and dying ones.

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 1:58 PM

ernesto on April 10, 2009 at 11:02 AM

If we didn’t heavily restrict foreign grown sugar, and ban foreign made ethanol, we wouldn’t have to use corn to make ethanol in the first place.

MarkTheGreat on April 10, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Ethanol was good for my family. We managed to unload a few square miles of farmland in August ’08. Got top dollar too.

My only fear is that I may need the land for the survival bunker if our socialist/facist ways continue.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart.

riverrat

riverrat10k on April 10, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Ethanol was good for my family. We managed to unload a few square miles of farmland in April‘08. Got top dollar too.

My only fear is that I may need the land for the survival bunker if our socialist/facist ways continue.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart.

riverrat

riverrat10k on April 10, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Edited for month correction

riverrat10k on April 10, 2009 at 3:01 PM

ENVIRONMENTALISM: PEOPLE FROM D.U.H

Kini on April 10, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Ethanol may be an expensive failure that makes the poor less able to feed themselves, but it looks like a political winner for the Left for those very reasons.

And cap-and-trade will be the same, multiplied by 1000 or so.

Socratease on April 10, 2009 at 4:35 PM

I see they’re building a new plant on highway 14, down by Lamberton. This money pit is being dug deeper and deeper by the dfl, here in Minnesota. (that f in dfl really tworques me off) I came from the farmland, so I want to see farmers getting ahead, but this is nothing more than buying false hope. (and their votes)
At the same time, making more and more people dependant on Uncle Sam.

oakpack on April 10, 2009 at 5:26 PM

“…making more and more people dependent on Uncle Sam.”

oakpack on April 10, 2009 at 5:26 PM

And that, my dear oakpack, is the entire point of view of the Left in a nut shell corn husk.

coldwarrior on April 10, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Children and Minorities hardest hit.

- The Cat

MirCat on April 10, 2009 at 7:07 PM

So much misinformation from both sides of the argument.

The true cost of gasoline and diesal fuel is never mentioned in the ethanol argument. About half of the defense budget goes towards protecting middle east oil fields, and the shipping lanes to get it here.

As to corn based ethanol, all that is removed is the carbohydrates, leaving about 17 lbs of a 56 lb bu of corn. Water comprises 15% of the weight by the way.

The 17lbs left is pure protein, currently a great animal feed. Since many parts of the world have a protein shortage, it cost much less to ship protein than whole corn.

Funny, it was less than 5 years ago that everyone blamed farmers and corn for making everyone fat.

The amount of BTU’s of energy to raise corn and make ethanol is also without merit, since much of the energy is natural gas, not liquid fuel. Natural gas is used to make fertilizer, and runs much of irrigation wells.

For much of the corn belt, water is drained away from fields, not applied to the fields. Check out “tile drainage” in the midwest corn belt.

I’d much rather have a natural molecule of ethanol than the gas additive MTBE as once used (since it is a know cause of cancer), but that is just me.

Highplains on April 11, 2009 at 1:03 AM

I think this ethanol / corn thing is great. We need to MOVE FORWARD on bio-fuels! Don’t stop and THINK about the law of unintended consequences. Just like budgetary laws, don’t THINK, JUST PASS ‘EM!

GarandFan on April 12, 2009 at 3:09 PM