Ethanol myths

A picture truly is worth a thousand words:


Nothing gets my goat more recently than the almighty praise of ethanol. This is nothing but a political scam to win votes from the farm lobby. Ethanol is doing NOTHING to help solve our energy problem. Borrowing from a John Stossel article, there are several myths regarding ethanol:

  • If ethanol’s so good, why does it need government subsidies? The claim that using ethanol will save energy is a myth. Studies show that the amount of energy ethanol produces and the amount needed to make it are roughly the same. “It takes a lot of fossil fuels to make the fertilizer, to run the tractor, to build the silo, to get that corn to a processing plant, to run the processing plant,” Cato Institute’s energy expert Jerry Taylor says. And because ethanol degrades, it can’t be moved in pipelines the way that gasoline is. So many more big, polluting trucks will be needed to haul it. More bad news: The increased push for ethanol has already led to a sharp increase in corn growing — which means much more land must be plowed. That means much more fertilizer, more water used on farms and more pesticides.
  • Won’t ethanol allow us to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East? Another myth. A University of Minnesota study shows that even turning all of America’s corn into ethanol (not likely) would meet only 12 percent of our gasoline demand.
  • Doesn’t ethanol cut cut down on air pollution? Wrong again. Studies indicate that the standard mixture of 90 percent ethanol and 10 percent gasoline pollutes worse than gasoline.
  • Doesn’t ethanol reduce greenhouse gases and reverse global warming? Nope. “Virtually all studies show that the greenhouse gases associated with ethanol are about the same as those associated with conventional gasoline once we examine the entire life cycle of the two fuels,” Taylor says
  • Then why is ethanol all the rage? Why are we paying more at the pump to subside our U.S. supply? Why is the importation of cheaper, foreign-sources of ethanol banned by our government? Well, we find out that besides farmers, who are getting a huge bump in corn prices, there are two other sources reaping big rewards:

  • Ethanol is good for processors of ethanol, such as Archer Daniels Midland, the big food processor known for its savvy at getting subsidies out of the taxpayers.
  • Ethanol is good for vote-hungry presidential hopefuls (and politicians in general). Iowa is a key state in the presidential-nomination sweepstakes, and we all know what they grow in Iowa. Sen. Clinton voted against ethanol 17 times until she started running for president. Coincidence?
  • And finally, on a personal note, I have seen the impact of corn shortages on the meat industry. The cost of feed is at an all-time high — leading to higher meat prices in the grocery store. Also, since ethanol is siphoning off the high-quality corn, meat producers are left with a lower grade, full of mycotoxins, which is leading to health issues in the animals that form our meat supply.

    All in all, ethanol is a losing situation for the vast majority of us.


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