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Green Plants, Fossil Fuels, and Now Biofuels

Pimentel & Patzek
published in
The American Institute of Biological Sciences
Nov. 2006
(Click for to read)

 Remember Hugh and Barb's Video (Click)

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Online Complaint Form

C4aQE Director appointed to  DEP Citizens Advisory Council.   Click to read on Rep. Rob Kauffman's website

Is corn ethanol a viable alternative fuel and how does using corn to produce it impact other consumer goods?

Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle, Tad W. Patzek, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, February 2006.   
"More fossil energy  is used to produce ethanol from corn than the ethanol’s energy value.  Growing corn for fuel depletes and can eventually destroy soil value.  Production of ethanol from plants is unsustainable.  Only large government subsidies, courtesy of the taxpayers, support ethanol...."
(Click to read) 

Click for more on the Economics of Fuel Ethanol Production 

Ethanol production using corn
grain required 29% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced."  Ethanol production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybeans and Sunflower by David Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek 2005 (Click)  
Ethanol from corn: Just how sustainable is it?
Click for a pdf file of the PowerPoint Presentation by Tadeusz W. Patzek, Civil and Environmental Engineering, U.C., Berkley
► Dr. Tad Patzek (Professor, University of California, Berkeley) Information - Click here
For Dr. Patzek's papers on Biofuels and Sustainability, click here
► Dr. David Pimentel (Professor, Cornell University) Information - Click Here)

"Kathy McNary says her heart races every time she steps into a grocery store.
"When milk prices go up it's devastating," said McNary, a Caldwell mother of three teenagers. "We need to take money from other places like taking money from gas money or somewhere else...."
...Experts say prices are up for reasons ranging from rising demand for corn — a food for dairy cows — to make ethanol fuel, to a growing worldwide demand for whey, a protein byproduct of cheese production.
"I have three words for you: Supply and demand," said Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation in Arlington, Va.
The feed prices dairy farmers are paying for corn and soybeans have increased by 50 percent to 100 percent in some places, Galen said. High feed prices coupled with increased energy prices have put some dairy farmers out of business and caused others to scale back, he said...."
  Think you're paying more for milk? Well, you are. Even if you don't drink the stuff, you may soon feel the pinch — at the coffee shop.  by Sarrah Benoit, Idaho Statesman Edition, 07/15/07 and Chris Steinbach, The Times-News, July 15, 2007 (Click to read)

MADISON, Wis. "A Wisconsin dairy producer that makes nutritional and weight-loss supplements wants to block an ethanol plant from moving in next door, saying that pollution from the plant would contaminate its products....
Century Foods International, a division of Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods Corp., filed a lawsuit Monday claiming the ethanol plant's odors would taint the dairy-based products it manufactures. Its products include muscle-building powders, weight-loss powders and milk powders for beverages....
...It warns the plant's emissions could spell disaster for Century Foods, the largest employer in Sparta with 310 employees. Sparta is a city of 9,000 people about 115 miles northwest of Madison.
A key part of Century Foods' manufacturing process involves allowing air in the plant through roof vents to ensure the powders dry properly and are consistent. Ethanol plant emissions "are highly aromatic and soluble in milk products," the suit said...."
  Hormel subsidiary files suit to block Wisconsin ethanol plant by Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press, Post Bulletin, Rochester, MN, July 14, 2007 (Click to read)

"...energy prices keep rising, making it more expensive to milk cows and transport dairy products. Farmers are paying higher prices for corn due to the increasing demand for ethanol, a grain-based alternative fuel....
...Larsen noted higher dairy costs are rippling throughout businesses, melting profits for ice cream parlors and slicing deli revenues.
Cheese accounts for one-third the cost of a pizza and higher dairy prices are eroding restaurateurs' piece of the pie...."
   Global issues might make milk $5 a gallon  by Eileen Smith, Courier-Post Staff, South New Jersey, July 15, 2007  (Click to read)

"...While it's old news that corn prices have nearly doubled over the last two years - think ethanol - now experts say corn could move sharply higher still, pushing prices up further for milk, beef, pork and a host of other commodities.
"If we're just at the beginning of this, we could see underlying [consumer] prices go up another 3 to 5 percent - if things get rolling possibly up to another 10 percent," said Darin Newsom, an analyst at agriculture consultant DTN. "I don't want to scare people, but I certainly see a very solid increase in consumer prices."
When corn prices rise, that can make everything from cereal to snack foods to soft drinks more expensive since corn is used by itself or as a sweetener in so many products. Prices for livestock feed also rise, meaning higher costs for producers of steak, pork and chicken...."
  Corn and milk: A 1-2 inflation combo Corn and milk prices just keep rising, driven by a soaring demand for ethanol. Got $4 milk? $6 a bushel for corn? by Jeff Cox, Contributing Writer, CNNMoney.com, June 19, 2007 (Click)

"...corn for ethanol means less corn and less land for other uses, reducing supplies and pushing up prices of soybeans, oats, sorghum, wheat, and barley. It also raises the price of corn used to feed livestock, make breakfast cereal, and sweeten soft drinks. In short, while agricultural landlords and ethanol producers gain, consumers lose....
...More land in corn means increased use of fertilizer and pesticides. It also means more stress on wildlife habitat as more farm land, including idled land and pasture land, is brought back into crop production. And ethanol plants emit pollutants...."
Big ethanol push in U.S. is pork barrel boondoggle by E. C. Pasour, Jr. and Randal R. Rucker*, The Billings Gazette, Montana,  July 14, 2007 (Click to read)

*E.C. Pasour, professor emeritus in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University, and Randal Rucker, professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Montana State University, are research fellows at the Independent Institute (www.independent.org), Oakland, Calif., and authors of the book, "Plowshares & Pork Barrels: the Political Economy of Agriculture."

"...Opec on Tuesday warned western countries that their efforts to develop biofuels as an alternative energy source to combat climate change risked driving the price of oil “through the roof”....
...Opec has previously expressed scepticism about alternative energy but Mr El-Badri’s comments mark the first clear threat that the cartel might act to safeguard its interests in the face of a shift towards biofuels...."
  Drive on biofuels risks oil price surge by Javier Blas and Ed Crooks Financial Times in London, FT.com, June 5 2007 (Click to read)

"Since the beginning of the year, ethanol firms and their investors have been climbing all over each other to increase capacity....
...it is difficult to imagine how all of this new supply will not put some significant severe downward pressure on ethanol prices for the foreseeable future.
I suspect that there is still a little money to be made from ethanol, but companies can't just ramp up their production capacity and expect to earn outsized profits...."
Ethanol's Production Problem by Jack Uldrich, The Motley Fool, May 25, 2007 (Click to read)
ALSO:  "...VeraSun Energy (NYSE: VSE), one of the nation's largest ethanol producers, today announced a first-quarter loss of $312,000. Shocked investors drove shares down by as much as 15% in afternoon trading; most analysts expected the company to build upon its year-ago profits of $2.7 million. In an even more frustrating move, VeraSun had actually increased its revenues by 31% to $144 million.
A year ago, VeraSun paid an average of $1.87 per bushel for the corn it uses to produce its fuel. In the latest quarter, though, that price more than doubled to $4.05 a bushel. Ouch...."
from: Cobs Clobber VeraSun's Profits by Jack Uldrich, The Motley Fool, May 8, 2007 (Click to read)
AND: "...Food costs, which have been pushed higher by the increased demand for corn to use in ethanol production, were up at an annual rate of 6.7 percent in the first four months of this year compared with a 2.1 percent rise for all of 2006.... from Consumer inflation moderated in April by The Associated Press, May 15, 2007 (Click to read entire article)
ALSO:  U.N. report warns of negative impact of biofuels production by Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, May 9, 2007 (Click to read entire article)

"The high price of corn is punishing chocolate maker Hershey, which on Thursday cut its earnings expectations as the result of rising demand for ethanol.   
Neither corn nor its distillate ethanol are directly tied to the confectioner's products, but soaring animal feed costs are pushing up dairy prices.  Hershey cited an April 20 projection from the U.S. Agriculture Department that dairy prices would rise this year as a reason for its reduced outlook...." 
Hershey Mired In Chocolate Mess by Carl Gutierrez, Forbes.com, May 10, 2007 (Click to read)

"...The industry has cooled off in the last year as corn prices hit 10-year highs and oil prices retreated -- squeezing ethanol margins. In addition, the cost to construct a new plant has skyrocketed, mostly due to strong global demand for steel and equipment.  
The cost to build an ethanol plant that can produce 100 million gallons a year has risen from about $145 million to between $225 million and $250 million, Kuykendall said....
...he also noted that given the fluctuations in the prices of corn, oil, natural gas and construction costs, the industry could see the number of new ethanol plants fall even further.   
"In an industry this volatile, you could easily see a period where you don't build any plants," he said." 

Private equity firms lose appetite for US ethanol by Lisa Haarlander, Reuters.com, May 10, 2007  (Click to read)

Pennsylvania:  "...With more than 90 million acres of farmland devoted to the profit-rich crop nationwide, the rush to grow corn for ethanol is squeezing Pennsylvania's agricultural life blood, Dennis C. Wolff, Pennsylvania secretary of agriculture, said.
Instead of enjoying profits from record corn prices, the states predominantly dairy and livestock farmers are being hit with huge increases in production costs and relatively stagnant product payments, he said.

Wolff said there is a cruel irony in agriculture booming while also facing some of its toughest challenges in decades.
"With $4-per-bushel prices, crop farmers are jumping on the corn bandwagon," he said. "But for every action there is a reaction."
The reaction to the sudden addition of 12 million new acres of nutrient-hungry corn has been to boost prices for fertilizer, feed and soybeans vital products for all dairy and livestock farmers...."

Ethanol can mean big money for corn growers, but its popularity is jacking up the cost of fertilizer by Adam Wilson, Reading Eagle, April 12, 2007 (Click to read)
Also posted 4/15/2007 at CentreDaily.com: Ethanol jacking up cost of fertilizer by Adam Wilson - Reading Eagle (Click to read)

"NEW YORK - Forget about oil as the inflation bogeyman we should fear the most. The surging price of corn is the latest threat to American wallets, and where it hits them might go beyond the supermarket.
The issue really starts with the government's push to increase the use of alternative fuels like ethanol to reduce reliance on foreign oil. Because most U.S. ethanol is made from corn, that burgeoning boom is straining corn supplies, and boosting prices.
That makes everything from soda (sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup) to the steak from corn-fed beef more expensive. It's also crimping ethanol producers' profitability, which could lead to calls for increased federal subsidies to keep them afloat.
Ethanol may fuel inflation, Surge in corn prices also squeezes profit margins By Rachel Beck, Associated Press, Beacon Journal, Ohio, February 10, 2007  (Click to read)

“…Ethanol already consumes so much corn that signs of strain on the food supply and prices are rippling across the marketplace. Environmental impacts will multiply as more land and water are devoted to the prized yellow grain.  And, even if these problems were overcome, ethanol's potential growth could be stunted by an energy system currently tailored to gasoline…. …But some observers worry that ethanol development may take the place of more effective initiatives: forcing automakers to increase gas mileage, for instance, or mandating cuts in carbon dioxide emissions….
…One of the largest stakes in the No. 2 producer, VeraSun, for instance, is owned by a Midwestern venture capital firm, Bluestem, founded by Steve Kirby, former lieutenant governor of South Dakota and a big Republican donor. Among other big investors in small ethanol companies: Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the politically connected Carlyle Group private equity firm, where George H.W. Bush was once a director. The 10 largest ethanol producers and their trade groups have handed out $4.7 million in federal campaign contributions since 2000, says the Center for Responsive Politics. The Renewable Fuels Association has increased its lobbying spending 60 percent in the past seven Years,…
…Energy economist Philip Verleger is one of many who traced last summer'shigh gasoline prices to ethanol panic. As it turned out, the taxpayer paidtwice. First, at the pump. Then, because of the long-standing ethanol taxbreaks-now at 51 cents per gallon-the government sent $2.5 billion last year to the flush oil industry to blend ethanol it would have needed anyway….
…Wall Street is so worried that cheaper petroleum will cool ethanol profitability, as it has in the past, that the stock prices of companies that went public with fanfare last summer, VeraSun and Aventine, of Pekin, Ill., have slid 40 percent and 60 percent, respectively…

…Last year's astounding growth in ethanol gobbled up 20 percent of the U.S. corn crop. That surpasses all the corn Americans consumed last year-whether in cereal, corn-syrup-sweetened soda, or on the cob. And the strain has become severe on the nation's primary use of corn-as feed for dairy and beef cattle, pigs, and chickens. Meat, dairy, and egg producers are reeling from corn prices that have doubled in one year-now trading above $4 a bushel for the first time in more than a decade.
The impact may really be felt when meat prices take off at the start of this summer's grilling season….
…Plenty of greenhouse-gas emitting fossil fuels are used to produce ethanol-tractors in the field, trucks on the road, and nitrogen-based fertilizer born of natural gas...

…even if E-85 were widely available tomorrow, it could be pumped only into the 2.5 percent of the nation's cars that are flexible fuel vehicles. Automakers have pledged to churn out many more, but Congress created a perverse incentive allowing them to produce more gas guzzlers if they manufacture enough flex fuel cars. Carmakers earned enough of a break on their Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards that the nation will burn 17 billion more gallons of gasoline from 2001 to 2008 as a result….
…Because of its lower energy content, it takes 1.5 gallons of ethanol to drive as far as 1 gallon of gasoline. Consumer Reports calculates E-85 ended up costing motorists about a dollar extra per gallon last year because of the need to buy more fuel….”

Is Ethanol the Answer?  by Marianne Lavelle and Bret Schulte, U.S. News & World Report, Washington, DC, February 12, 2007 (Click to read the entire article)

"...In Mexico, the price of corn tortillas--the dietary staple of the country's poorest--has risen by about 30% in recent months, leading to widespread protests and price controls. In China, the government has put a halt to ethanol-plant construction for the threat it poses to the country's food security. Thus is a Beltway fad translated into Third World woes..."
Very, Very Big Corn Ethanol and its consequences. The Wall Street Journal Opinion Page, Saturday, January 27, 2007   (Click to read entire article)

"...Nearly all Mexican tortillas are made of home-grown white maize, rather than the yellow variety that is more common in the United States. The growing popularity of subsidised ethanol across the border has prompted the price of yellow corn, quoted in Chicago, to rise by over 50% since October. So industrial users of imported yellow corn in Mexico (for animal feed and syrup) started buying white maize instead.
The government was slow to react. The tariff on imported maize is not due to disappear under the North American Free Trade Agreement until next year. But the government could have blunted the price rise by waiving the tariff or moving quickly to expand the tariff-free quota, says Luis de la Calle, a former trade official...."

Tortilla blues from The Economist print edition, Feb 1st 2007, MEXICO CITY

"The Earth Policy Institute says that 79 ethanol plants are under construction, which would more than double ethanol production capacity to 11 billion gallons by 2008. Yet late last month, the Renewable Fuels Association said there were 62 plants under construction. 
The lower tally has led to an underestimate of the grain that would be needed for ethanol, clouding the debate over the priorities of allocating corn for food and fuel, said Lester R. Brown, who has written more than a dozen books on environmental issues and is the president of the Earth Policy Institute. “This unprecedented diversion of corn to fuel production will affect food prices everywhere,” Mr. Brown said....  

...Mr. Brown is among those who believe the ethanol industry is growing too quickly. He called for a federal moratorium on the licensing of new distilleries. “We need a time out, a chance to catch our breath and decide how much corn can be used for ethanol without raising food prices,” he said Thursday...."

Rise in Ethanol Raises Concerns About Corn as a Food by Alexei Barrionuevo, The New York Times, January 5, 2007 (Click to read)

"...Our up-to-date analysis of the 14 energy inputs that typically go into corn production and the 9 invested in fermentation and distillation operations confirms that 29 percent more energy (derived from fossil fuels) is required to produce a gallon of corn ethanol than is contained in the ethanol. Ethanol from cellulosic biomass is worse: With current technology, 50 percent more energy is required to produce a gallon than the product can deliver. Investigators differ over the energy value of the by-products of making corn ethanol, but the credits range only from 10 percent to 60 percent. In any event, biomass ethanol is a bad choice from an energy standpoint. 
Moreover, the environmental impacts of corn ethanol are enormous. They include severe soil erosion, heavy use of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides, and a significant contribution to global warming. In addition, each gallon of ethanol requires 1700 gallons of water (mostly to grow the corn) and produces 6 to 12 gallons of noxious organic effluent.  
Using food crops, such as corn grain, to produce ethanol also raises major ethical concerns. More than 3.7 billion humans in the world are currently malnourished, so the need for grains and other foods is critical. Growing crops to provide fuel squanders resources; better options to reduce our dependence on oil are available. Energy conservation and development of renewable energy sources, such as solar cells and solar-based methanol synthesis, should be given priority. "


Editorial: Green Plants, Fossil Fuels, and Now Biofuels by David Pimentel, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University; Tad Patzek, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California–Berkeley published in The American Institute of Biological Sciences, November 2006 (Click to read the entire Editorial)

"...For years, farmers’ hearts would leap when the word “ethanol” appeared in a newspaper headline.
Now farmers almost dread it because they know the ensuing story is likely to outline the inevitable bust that awaits them if the current unplanned, willy-nilly ethanol boom continues....
...More and more farmers, however, are growing skeptical. All wish (as do I) ethanol future success. All know, however, that today’s gold rush is foolishly unreal. And we know because we can read....
...Far off the mark, also, is invoking Brazil in every ethanol discussion, says Tad Patzek, the UC-Berkeley engineer highlighted here two weeks ago.
“It’s a perfectly rotten analogy,” he explains, “because most Brazilians are too poor to own cars. As such, there are millions and millions fewer miles driven in Brazil. The comparison would only be valid if all Americans drove their cars only one day every other week.”
No one explains the Brazil-U.S ethanol analogy this way because no one offering it has examined the facts...."
  No easy answers to ethanol dilemma by Alan Guebert For the Lincoln Journal Star, November 26, 2006 (Click to read)
(Click to read more about Brazilian ethanol production)

"In recent weeks, the falloff in oil prices has sapped some of the euphoria from ethanol stocks . The stock price of Pacific Ethanol (nasdaq: PEIX - news - people ), in which Gates sunk $84 million, is off by nearly 70% from its high. Shares of ethanol giant Archer Daniels Midland (nyse: ADM - news - people ) have fallen 16%....

...But rosy predictions of ethanol's viability often ignore the volatility in the price of corn and natural gas, which fuels most ethanol plants. In fact, it's not far-fetched to imagine a perfect storm in which low-priced oil coincides with climbing natural gas prices just as a drought hits the Midwest, ravaging the corn crop.

One thing is clear: The global oil market cannot be waved away, and voters' tolerance for the ethanol mandate and tax credit will wane as the spread between the two fuels widens.
Already this summer, supply constraints pushed up ethanol prices such that they added between eight and 60 cents to the price of gas, depending on the region of the country...." 
Energy Investing Ethanol Gusher! by Jessica Holzer, Forbes.com, 10.09.06 (Click to read)

"...This year cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption. The problem is simple: It takes a whole lot of agricultural produce to create a modest amount of automotive fuel.
The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol, for instance, could feed one person for a year. If today's entire U.S. grain harvest were converted into fuel for cars, it would still satisfy less than one-sixth of U.S. demand....
...There are truly guilt-free alternatives to using food-based fuels. The equivalent of the 3% of U.S. automotive fuel supplies coming from ethanol could be achieved several times over - and at a fraction of the cost - by raising auto fuel-efficiency standards by 20%. (Unfortunately Detroit has resisted this, preferring to produce flex-fuel vehicles that will burn either gasoline or ethanol.)
Or what if we shifted to gas-electric hybrid plug-in cars over the next decade, powering short-distance driving, such as the daily commute or grocery shopping, with electricity?
By investing not in hundreds of wind farms, as we now are, but rather in thousands of them to feed cheap electricity into the grid, the U.S. could have cars running primarily on wind energy, and at the gasoline equivalent of less than $1 a gallon...."

Ethanol could leave the world hungry One tankful of the latest craze in alternative energy could feed one person for a year by Lester Brown, August 16, 2006, from Fortune Magazine (Click to read the entire article)

"...With E85 costing an average of $2.91 in August, the fuel-economy penalty means drivers are essentially paying almost $4 for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, the report said.
Another way of looking at it: Consumer Reports found that the Tahoe's driving range decreased to 300 miles on a full tank from 440 on gasoline -- more trips to the pump, if drivers can even find a pump...." 

"...The government credits vehicles that can run on E85 with about two-thirds more fuel economy than they actually get using gasoline, even though they may never run on E85. For example, the two-wheel drive version of the Tahoe used in the study would normally be rated at 21 mpg. But because it can run on E85, it earns a 35 mpg credit...."
Consumer Reports says mileage takes a hit with ethanol blend by Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch.com, August 31, 2006 (Click)

"...Even if all of the 300 million acres (500,000 square miles) of currently harvested U.S. cropland produced ethanol, it wouldn't supply all of the gasoline and diesel fuel we now burn for transport, and it would supply only about half of the needs for the year 2025. And the effects on land and agriculture would be devastating....
...Recently, there has been lots of excitement and media coverage about how Brazil produces ethanol for its automobile fuel and talk that America should follow its lead. But Brazil consumes only 10 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel annually, compared with America's 170 billion. There are almost 4 million miles of paved roads in America -- Brazil has 60,000. And Brazil is the leading producer of sugar cane -- more than 300 million tons annually -- so it has lots of agricultural waste to make ethanol...."
  The False Hope of Biofuels, For Energy and Environmental Reasons, Ethanol Will Never Replace Gasoline by James Jordan and James Powell, Washington Post, Sunday, July 2, 2006; Page B07 (Click to read article)

"Whether ethanol will play a modest role in cutting U.S. dependence on foreign energy over the long term is still open to debate. Whether ethanol companies are a good place to put your money is not....
...Anybody suggesting you buy ethanol stocks either isn't paying attention or has been taste-testing the product...."
Ethanol investors better sniff for bubbles by Jay Hancock, Baltimore Sun, July 5, 2006 (Click to read)

"Alternative fuels may not be the perfect way to reduce our dependence on gasoline. They produce less energy than gasoline and cost more; it's improbable that their production will be ramped up for more than a fraction of America's vehicles; they have corrosive effects on normal fuel systems; and it's not certain we'll come up with the automotive technology these fuels demand anytime soon...."  Can Gasoline Be Replaced? from PC MAGAZINE, SPECIAL ISSUE, The Future of TECH, August, 2006 and online at PCMAG.com by Bill Howard, Editor of TechnoRide.com (Click to read)
Also see: How far can you drive on a bushel of corn? Crunching the numbers on alternative fuels. by Mike Allen published in the May, 2006 Popular Mechanics (Click)

Expert urges stiffer ethanol regulations Ex-pollution official says state must watch industry by Gary L. Smith of The Journal Star, Granville, Illinois, August 3, 2006

"You're going to be using our water. You're going to be making our back yards stink. Are you going to be using our local work force as well?" she* asked.
Neither company president Mark Marquis nor any other officials replied, and Biagi* said later that she was "disappointed at the silence." She also pointed out that developers had not fully answered questions on such issues as the plant's water supply and the impact on local roads of increased heavy truck traffic...." 
(Click to read entire article)

Dear Tom and Ray: I've always wondered about ethanol. Seems too good to be true -- you just plant some corn, harvest it, and in no time you have fuel for your car....
..how much of this ethanol blitz is a big, wet, government-subsidized kiss to big agri-business and corn growers? Is it ethical to use food to fuel our cars when people are going hungry? And if I'm using the stuff in my Grand Cherokee, will the price of a corn dog go through the roof?..."
Car Talk, July 2006 (Click to read entire answer)

"...the same ethanol/gas mixture we use here in the Metroplex, is now selling for more money than regular (non-ethanol-enhanced) gasoline in Iowa. That’s ironic, considering that Iowa is an ocean of corn islanded with ethanol refineries.  
Typical of the American ability to blame someone else, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s Lucy Norton claimed the rising price of E10 in Iowa on East Coast distribution problems. That, of course, does not explain ethanol’s high price in Iowa; the distribution there, from cornfield to refinery to gas station, can encompass as little as 10 driving miles.  
The best irony? Farmers using E10 ethanol are also complaining that they also get lower gas mileage than they did without it. To which I reply: “Welcome to the new reality and mess created by Congress, a mess that Iowa farmers also lobbied to make.”...
  from WHEELS As the World Turns …… the parking on the left is now the parking on the right By Ed Wallace, Special to the Star-Telegram, August 2, 2006 (Click to read)
Also click here for a link to Ed Wallace's article Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts
...and Ed Wallace's July 28, 2006 Wheels When After All, It was You and Me
Was the death of GM’s EV-1 electric car a plot, or just a matter of taste and cheap gas? (Click to read)

"...the Energy Department reports, "Ethanol has only about two-thirds the energy content of an equivalent volume of gasoline," so it substantially reduces fuel economy. In effect, using it is like switching to a larger vehicle. And in many big cities, ethanol cannot be added to ordinary gas without the resulting mixture violating federal air-quality regulations. It must be added to a costly base blend that compensates for ethanol's environmental shortcomings. When you consider all the direct and indirect costs of using ethanol, it's the equivalent of $4-a-gallon gasoline -- and closer to $5, given its lousy fuel economy. Give the feds credit. It isn't easy to find something worse for consumers than $3 gas, but they managed to do it...." Making pain at the pump worse By Ben Lieberman, The Washington Times, July 30, 2006  (Click to read)

E85 (fuel mixture of 85% Ethanol, 15% Gasoline) gets 20 to 25% fewer miles per gallon than gas  Click to see Flexible Fueled Vehicle chart using the Chicago Board of Trade price per gallon of ethanol and the average U.S price per gallon of gas from www.fueleconomy.gov

"Shares of ethanol provider Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc. ... dropped 10 percent in their market debut Thursday, as jittery investors questioned the potential profit growth in an industry in which production capacity is easy to add.
...Aventine's difficulty also dragged down shares of VeraSun Energy Corp. ..., another ethanol producer, which went public earlier this month.
'The bloom could be off the proverbial ethanol rose,' said Sal Morreale, who tracks IPOs for Cantor Fitzgerald in Los Angeles....
...Ethanol faces significant hurdles to widespread use, including high costs, limited land and water availability for crops and mixed governmental and corporate support...."

From UPDATE 2-Aventine shares fall 10 percent in debut, Reuters, June 29, 2006 (Click to go to the entire article)

Energy illusions: Time to end subsidies for ethanol pipe dream Editorial, Salt Lake Tribune, June 29, 2006 (Click)

"...ethanol was never, and probably will never, be all that serious an alternative to gasoline. Right now it accounts for maybe 3% of fuel use in America. You need to use tons of natural gas to make it, and that means any increase in natural gas prices will just crush these ethanol guys. And finally, since it corrodes pipelines, you need to transport it by train or truck or barge, not pipeline.
The only place they ever really implemented ethanol as fuel was in Brazil, but that was all about making money for the sugar-cane industry. There were maybe five families of rancheros who I think practically owned the Brazilian government, the way our government is of, by and for the corporations, and they wanted to make more money off sugar cane, so they made Brazilian autos run on ethanol, which can be made from sugar.... " 

Ethanol: Live Fast, Die Young, Take Profits By Jim Cramer, RealMoney.com Columnist 6/15/2006 TheStreet.com (Click to read entire article)

"In a seemingly desperate attempt to convince Americans that using ethanol is not just another massive farm subsidy, but a way to lower the cost of automobile fuel, and lower dependence on foreign oil, ethanol proponents are pointing to Brazil....
...it is obvious why ethanol works in Brazil:  when you’re paying $4.20 a gallon for gas, ethanol with a wholesale price of around $1.40 and a retail price of less than $2.00 is a great deal...."
Brazil’s Success with Ethanol Cannot be Duplicated in the United States by Fred Antoun, Jr. (Click to read entire article) 

Presidential Hopefuls Need a Viable Vehicle Fuel Action Plan to be Elected by Fred Antoun (Click)

"...Our federal farm bill subsidizes the growing of corn - about $10 billion this past year, according to the Environmental Working Group. That policy leads to overproduction of this thirsty crop, which drains the Great Plains' precious Ogallala Aquifer and requires massive amounts of nitrate fertilizer that, inevitably, seep into that same groundwater....
...The latest: Some, perhaps a majority, of our newest ethanol plants are making the switch from natural gas to coal to make the fuel. Because coal is cheaper, a new Iowa ethanol plant has chosen that route. Similar plants are planned for North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and perhaps Kansas....

...Producing one gallon of corn ethanol needs 1,700 gallons of water to irrigate the corn and process the fuel..."  
Corn ethanol isn't all it's cracked up to be by Pete Letheby, Salt Lake Tribune, May 19, 2006 (Click to read) 

...."When you put the LP costs and the fertilizer and the diesel together, you're talking serious dollars," said Worthington, a 43-year-old, third-generation Iowa farmer. "Something has to give."
In February, the USDA forecast that U.S. farmers would spend 12.5 percent more on fuels and oils this year compared with last, with the highest prices this year occurring in the first six months. Fertilizer costs in 2006 are expected to be 6.5 percent higher...."
  Cost of raising corn grows Prices for fuel, fertilizer eat into farmers' profit by Anne Fitzgerald, DesMoines Register, May 21, 2006 (Click to read article)

"...the current 8 billion gallons of ethanol planned to be produced this year might reduce our total oil consumption by 0.5 percent, which is virtually insignificant in the scheme of things.  

Also, ethanol must be mixed with gasoline, which causes a more rapid evaporation which, in turn, will require more processing, and create much more difficult transportation problems for the more volatile blended fuel. It will also require adding more blends for the various markets, which will add greatly to distribution costs, and make the final fuel product even more expensive than normal gasoline...."
  Ethanol is not the answer by Jesse M.Townsley JR. For the Daily Record/Sunday News, May 21, 2006 (Click to read)

"...If there were ever a time when the truth in advertising standards should be put back into place, it's now -- during the current (third) attempt to convince the public that the massive use of corn-derived ethanol in our gasoline supply will alleviate our need for foreign oil. Ultimately, the answer to just one question determines ethanol's actual usefulness as a gasoline extender: "If the government hadn't mandated this product, would it survive in a free market?" Doubtful -- but the misinformation superhighway has been rerouted to convince the public its energy salvation is at hand...."
Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts, by Ed Wallace, BusinessWeek online, April 27, 2006 (Click to read the entire article)  Ed Wallace hosts the talk show Wheels, Saturdays from 8:00 to 1:00 on 570 KLIF and is a weekly columnist for the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Click to Read "Ethanol, a costly snake oil & danger to America..." by Ray Wallace

The ethanol industry would like us to believe that ethanol will be required by law to be added to gasoline as an oxygenate well into the future.  Oxygenates will only be required by law until May 2006.
According to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the sections of the Clean Air Act that currently require an oxygenate (currently ethanol or MTBE) to be added to gasoline will change on about May 5, 2006, and then ethanol will no longer be required as an oxygenate.
(Click for PDF file)

See Section 211(k) of U.S.C. 7545 of the Clean Air Act (Click for PDF file)
Guest Essay: We pay dearly for ethanol by DeEtta Antoun, Director, Citizens for a Quality Environment, The Public Opinion, April 12, 2006 (Click to read article)

Ethanol mandate for gas dropped, CRITICS APPLAUD CHANGE, SAY ADDITIVE NOT NEEDED by Paul Rogers, The Mercury News, February 16, 2006  (Click to read)

The Real Biofuel Cycles by Tad W. Patzek, April 17, 2006 (Click to review this paper)

Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle, Tad W. Patzek, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, February 2006.   
"More fossil energy  is used to produce ethanol from corn than the ethanol’s energy value.  Growing corn for fuel depletes and can eventually destroy soil value.  Production of ethanol from plants is unsustainable.  Only large government subsidies, courtesy of the taxpayers, support ethanol...."
(Click to read)

"...the ethanol subsidy, a handout that has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars during the last three decades, with little to show for it. It also shovels yet more federal cash on the single most subsidized crop in America, corn. Between 1995 and 2003, federal corn subsidies totaled $37.3 billion."  The ethanol subsidy is worse than you can imagine. By Robert Bryce, Slate, Tuesday, July 19, 2005  (Click to article)

RE: Ethanol not a panacea:
"...Exxon Mobil Corp. had $36 billion in net income last year. If an alternative fuel source could be developed that would compete for that business, the potential rewards would be enormous. There would be a race to get there first, and firms would be lining up to do ethanol research. We wouldn't need a subsidy....
(Click to see Penn-Mar Farmer/Owner subsidies) 
...The fact is, ethanol is a scam that allows farm states to extract resources from everybody else and pretend to be virtuous while doing so. We would all be better off if Congress just wrote these states a check with no strings attached. At least then we wouldn't be wasting all that energy...."
Ethanol's a Big Scam, and Bush Has Fallen for It   by Kevin Hassett, Bloomberg.com Columnist, February 13, 2006


"This is a very serious facility that may be too noxious for you to handle," Patzek said.
Ethanol fuels debate by Jim Hook, Public Opinion, January 31, 2006

"As far as a fuel, it's substandard," said Patzek. It requires 35 percent more ethanol to drive the same distance as a gallon of gasoline, he said...."

Opinions on ethanol shared at Pa. forum by Don Aines, The Herald Mail January 31, 2006 (Click) 

"For Greene Township resident Mike Lautenslager, the two-hour ethanol forum helped cement his opinion about the alternative fuel....
"...I’m not against alternative fuels, but it seems like this is more of a pollutant than a positive. They don’t gain enough from it," Lautenslager said...."

Experts cite ethanol pros, cons by Leah Farr, The Sentinel, January 31, 2006 (Click)
"...Those costs include the fact that ethanol production itself uses too much energy and it’s generally an unsustainable fuel, Patzek argues. “Even if we used all the bio-mass (in the U.S.), it’s still insufficient to create all the energy we consume....” 
Experts weigh ethanol pros, cons by Leah Farr, The Sentinel, February 1, 2006 (Click)
Local residents watch ethanol debate closely by Jim Hook, Public Opinion Online, January 31, 2006
Dr. Tad Patzek, University of California, Berkley Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, discussed the negative aspects of the production of fuel ethanol from corn.

Dr. Tad Patzek (Professor, University of California, Berkeley) Information - Click here
Dr. Patzek's Online Library of Biofuel Literature (Click Here)
Patzek - Biofuel Q&A and Emails (Click)  ►Recent Papers (Click)

"...Energy outputs from ethanol produced using corn, switchgrass, and wood biomass were each less that the respective fossil energy inputs....
...Ethanol production using corn grain required 29% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced...."  Ethanol production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybeans and Sunflower by David Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek 2005 (Click) 
Ethanol from corn: Just how sustainable is it? Click for a pdf file of the PowerPoint Presentation by Tadeusz W. Patzek, Civil and Environmental Engineering, U.C., Berkley

► Dr. Tad Patzek (Professor, University of California, Berkeley) Information - Click here

► Dr. David Pimentel (Professor, Cornell University) Information - Click Here)

Subsidizing ethanol guzzles consumers' gas and money, There are better ways to cut dependence on Mideast oil by Mark J. Perry, March 30, 2006 (Click to read article)

- Corn ethanol takes more energy than it makes from the Environmental News Service website July 7, 2005 (Click to read article)

- Cornell ecologist's study finds that producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy   Susan S. Lang, Cornell University News Service, July 5, 2005 (Click)

- UC scientist says ethanol uses more energy than it makes--A lot of fossil fuels go into producing the gas substitute (Click to read article)  by Elizabeth Svoboda, Monday June 27, 2005

- Taxpayers For Common Sense ArticleEthanol Plants exist only because of massive government subsidies.  They offer no cost or environmental benefits that would sustain the plants.  

- Cornell University Ag Department StudyIt costs 1 1/2 to 2 times more to make ethanol from corn as to make gasoline.  "The growers and processors can't afford to burn ethanol to make ethanol." U.S. drivers couldn't afford it, either, if it weren't for their tax dollars paying for government subsidies to artificially lower ethanol prices.

- The CATO Institute position*.  Ethanol production exists only because of "lavish" government subsidies to agribusiness, which allow large farm businesses to profit by selling a product that in not economically sustainable.

- The Heritage Foundation position*.  Ethanol requires more fuel than it produces.  Ethanol subsidies are "shortsighted and irresponsible"... "increasing costs to families and businesses"  

- Washington Post EditorialThe government "shouldn't pour billions in taxpayers' cash into products that will never be remotely viable."  Ethanol takes as much oil energy to make as it provides.  There are no environmental benefits that outweigh the environmental problems with ethanol.

- The Agribusiness Council  Ethanol lowers gas mileage, damages cars, deflates the price of corn, pollutes the air, uses enormous amounts of water and requires more energy to produce than it saves.  

- Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle, Patzek, UC Berkeley, 7-12-05.   More fossil energy  is used to produce ethanol from corn than the ethanol’s energy value.  Growing corn for fuel depletes and can eventually destroy soil value.  Production of ethanol from plants is unsustainable.  Only large government subsidies, courtesy of the taxpayers, support ethanol. (Click here for full study) 

* While we do not necessarily agree with the all positions of the Heritage Foundation or The CATO Institute, we do agree with their referenced position on the ethanol subsidies and the unacceptably high cost of fuel from corn.


The ethanol scam: Big money & politics Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Friday, March 11, 2005

"All factors considered, it takes 1.3 gallons of petroleum to produce 1 gallon of ethanol. As such, ethanol production increases dependence on foreign oil."  (Click for entire article - .PDF)

ADM Stock Sinks After Ratings Downgrade Associated Press April 6,2005
"Archer Daniels Midland Co. stock dropped Wednesday after an analyst warned the ethanol business faced industry overcapacity."......"The primary issue driving our downward revision is that the expansion in the ethanol industry exceeds demand." 
(Click for entire article)


Shares in Archer Daniels Midland fell 17 percent Friday, April 29, 2005.   
"Reduced sales and lower prices for ethanol, a fuel derived from corn, contributed to the subpar fiscal third-quarter results," the company said.  "We believe that ethanol profits will decline further because there is currently an oversupply in the ethanol markets"
 Archer Daniels Midland Earnings Miss Views By JIM PAUL Associated Press Writer Originally published April 29, 2005, 6:54 PM EDT from the Baltimoresun.com website

"Who would spend 10 cents to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline that reduces mileage, degrades your car, destroys fish and wildlife, increases air pollution, and makes the United States more dependent on foreign oil?" Click here for the article (in PDF) by Ted Williams from 2004 National Audubon Society's Incite 

Overcapacity created by new subsidized ethanol refineries, coupled with falling demand makes ethanol a loser... By: C. L. “Bud” Carty, (Click to read) sent to the Public Opinion, Letter to the Editor, May 4, 2005 (not yet published)  

Will the proposed Penn-Mar Ethanol plant benefit local farmers? (click here)

  ► More on Economics of ethanol (Click and see Questions #10 and #11)  

Laws of Supply and Demand. (Click for article)   
Editorial from Quad-State Business Journal 

That cheaper E85 ethanol is a myth in Maryland by Jay Hancock baltimoresun.com May 4, 2005 (Click to read article) 

The Ethanol Mistake: One Bad Mandate Replaced By Another by Ben Lieberman

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