A Big Crock of Biofuel

Ethanol has become public enemy number one. Not only do we get lousy gas mileage with corn based ethanol, we get higher food prices too! This problem began in 1994 when a Senate vote on mandated ethanol use was tied 50-50 and broken by Vice President Al Gore. So say thanks to Mr. Gore for the real crisis that is looming….food shortages. The general public is just now becoming aware of the real problems ethanol is causing and support for elimination of mandated biofuels is building from the left and the right.

Ethanol is placing liberals in a real bind. One one hand, they feel the need to try to manipulate companies like Exxon Mobil by forcing them to accept alternative fuel, yet by using these alternative fuels, it drives up the cost of food and disproportionately affects the poor worldwide. So, we can either “save the environment” by ethanol and starve millions worldwide by driving up food prices, or we can just stick with tried and true fossil fuels and keep feeding everyone. Not surprisingly, the same people that demand we use ethanol also oppose drilling for additional sources of oil, including in ANWR. If we had started drilling for oil in ANWR ten years ago, it is possible that oil prices would be considerably lower than they are now. Higher oil prices means higher prices on all the goods we buy and higher transportation costs.

Ironically, corn-based ethanol and other blends of biofuels have been shown to produce substantially more greenhouse gases than regular gasoline. This ethanol issue illustrates a common problem with our representatives in Washington D.C. Too often policies are promoted based off of fads in the public without their consequences being fully studied before being made law. In this case, mandating the use of ethanol was justified under the guise of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The result? Ethanol produces MORE greenhouse gas emissions than regular gasoline, using ethanol drives up the price of food worldwide, and ethanol causes us to use more fuel than we would if we used regular gasoline because of decreased fuel efficiency. If ethanol was really this hidden gem and had huge potential, wouldn’t it be advantageous to big oil companies to research this technology themselves? Yet, ethanol has not replaced traditional gasoline among the private sector by any big energy companies largely because it is a lousy fuel source. Policy makers in Washington have mandated that we use this new technology without researching the true effectiveness or consequences. This is yet another example of the government sticking their noses and their policies where they shouldn’t. It has only resulted in harm to American citizens and businesses with literally no benefit.

Right now, 1/3 of the corn produced in the U.S. goes to ethanol production. It takes 400 lbs of corn to make 25 gallons of fuel. So with that 400 lbs of corn, we can either feed a grown man for a year or we can fill up our car twice. It seems to me that feeding everyone affordably is more important that responding to a global warming “crisis” that doesn’t even have a scientific consensus yet. After all, we can actually prove that people are starving, whereas we can’t prove that ethanol will have any effect on anything climate related.

Now, I’m not saying that all biofuels or all ethanol are lousy fuels, but for now, the ones that are available certainly seem to be. The mandated use of ethanol isn’t solely responsible for the rising food costs worldwide, but is unquestionably a large factor. The farmers and researchers that are beneficiaries of ethanol use don’t want the public to know the truth…that corn-based ethanol is a bad fuel that never should have been mandated in the first place. Corn-based ethanol has been called a “transitional” technology by some, so why are we forced to use it? Because it is a fad that congress has bought into.

Congress needs to do its job and eliminate subsidies for ethanol NOW. But with Reid and Pelosi in charge, we can count on further bad energy policy for the future where more clout is given to environmental fads than actual verifiable research. As long as liberals (Democrats and Republicans) are at the helm, we can be assured that $7 per gallon milk is right around the corner.

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you again, Paul, for telling us “the rest of the story”!!!

  2. It’s amazing to me that liberals are only just now waking up to this issue. It seemed obvious from the outset that using food to create fuel would have repercussions. It’s one thing to use the oil-waste from a fast-food restaurant to fuel your hippie van, and quite another to replace wheat and rice crops with corn crops that don’t go to food production, but rather into cars and trucks. Feeding our vehicles before we feed our kids is a pretty apparent mistake. Gore’s messianic enviro-fascism may just be coming to an end (I hope!)

    In any case, I really like your blog. I publish a grassroots journal dedicated to conservative politics and foreign affairs–we have bloggers of the “conservatarian” variety, the “neocon” variety, and so on.

    If you are interested in cross-posting, let me know. You would be a great addition to our “Domestic Issues” column.

    Thanks–

    Erik
    http://neoconstant.com (if you would like to check out the Journal)

  3. I really enjoy reading this blog!

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