Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Russ Finley on Mar 22, 2014 with 46 responses

Will Government Mandated Corn Ethanol Consumption Ever End?

gothic

This spring, the EPA will likely reduce the amount of corn ethanol that must be blended into our fuel supply by about 1.3 billion gallons (for a total of about 13 billion gallons) simply because our transportation system can’t absorb any more of it without exceeding a 10% blend, risking damage to cars. This is called the “10% blend wall.” Unlike beef, or chicken, gasoline, or smart phones, ethanol consumption isn’t consumer driven. In general, because consumers could care less about corn ethanol, fuel blenders also could care less about it except as an economically viable anti-knock additive in more modest quantities. They have to be forced to blend more of it by the government. Unless or until some unforeseen consumer demand arises, mandated blending will be necessary to keep the corn ethanol industry solvent.

And just as importantly, where is future growth going to come from? We can’t use all of our corn crop. This isn’t new technology. We’ve been making moonshine by distilling ethanol from fermented seeds and fruit for thousands of years.

Last year, a bipartisan group introduced legislation to end the mandated consumption of corn ethanol. The odds of it ever getting to Obama’s desk let along getting this consummate Midwest politician to actually sign it, are very close to zero. There is reality, and there is political reality:

CornEthanolBill

Status of S. 1807: Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013

On the other hand, the corn ethanol lobby isn’t all powerful. They lost the blending subsidy given to oil companies as an incentive to blend more ethanol than required by law. They also lost the tariff that protected them from imported ethanol.

A few years ago, in an attempt to dodge the 10% limit on the amount of ethanol that can be blended, corn ethanol proponents successfully convinced the EPA to allow a 15% blend of ethanol to be sold. This moved very little ethanol because few people are willing to risk being sued because they sold fuel that damaged someone’s car engine.

The use of flex fuel cars capable of burning a mixture containing 85% ethanol has also failed to sufficiently expand the amount of corn ethanol sold because consumers won’t go out of their way to by enough E85 to make a meaningful difference.

So, the ethanol industry is turning to ethanol exports. But should we allow this? Roughly 44 percent of our corn already passes through ethanol refineries. In their rush to capitalize on this government created cash cow, corn farmers have plowed under wetlands and prairies to the tune of five million acres, which, according to this article, is “more than the Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined.” And that doesn’t include the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, which is bigger still.
CornPrices

CornCosts2

Users of corn are currently paying roughly $53 billion per year more than was being paid on average for the 10 years prior to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which increased the amount of  ethanol that must be mixed with gasoline to 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 (the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 upped that amount to 36 billion gallons by 2022). You might argue that this is a small price to be paid for national security (energy independence). But considering that we are presently exporting roughly 4 times more refined and crude oil than corn ethanol produced, the “Energy Independence and Security” argument has become somewhat farcical when used to support corn ethanol. Why didn’t we simply mandate a 7% improvement in car fuel economy (ethanol provides only 70% of the mileage of gasoline)?

Oil_Verses_Ethanol

The answer to that question is fairly obvious, at least to me, and I’ve said this before. Government mandated corn ethanol is a shell game to subsidize farmers. Rather than tax fellow citizens and then write checks to farmers, citizens are forced to buy gasoline with ethanol blended into it. The blenders pay the ethanol refiners, who in turn pay the corn farmers. And I have to admit, this is one of the most politically slick moves to raid the public larder to buy votes that I’ve ever seen.

NetGainorLoss

It may very well be a good idea to provide government assistance to the farm belt. I can’t speak to that. Wealth redistribution can actually be a good thing when done in a manner that maintains a large middle class. But I’d rather we just cut them a check than give them the incentive to plow up conservation reserve land, drive up the cost of food, and further degrade water quality. But maybe that isn’t as politically palatable as a shell game that keeps voters from realizing that they are writing those checks anyway.

Sources:

(1) http://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/results/2B850E9E-A49F-33CF-8911-232855E3043C

(2) http://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/results/F9761623-340C-34E7-A6E1-2DF78B7D0748

(3) http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_wkly_dc_nus-z00_mbblpd_w.htm

(4) http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=11551

 

  1. By Fleabag on March 22, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    This is dumb. I want my five minutes back. We’ll never get to a more reasoned discussion about energy policy with this kind of polarizing, bombastic half-truth.

    [link]      
  2. By mtracy9 on March 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I’m more concerned about government subsidies
    to the fossil fuel industry.

    [link]      
  3. By Hank on March 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    When you take flawed information to start with and then used very flawed reasoning to extrapolate theories, this is the skewed thoughts that result. Too many mistakes to even try and reply!!!

    [link]      
  4. By CarbonBridge on March 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Carefully, I choose to comment on only two points which Russ has made.

    First, while 10% is the normal maximum which fermented corn EtOH is blended into gasoline, distilled spirits are seldom marketed or combusted at 10% volumes. The only time this happens is when EtOH rack prices fall so low that it makes economic sense to add more volumes of cheaper ethanol into higher priced gasoline. Most of the time, about 5.6% volumes of EtOH are utilized to oxygenate gasoline to 2.2% oxygen levels required in the Clean Air Act regarding areas of ‘non-attainment’ — interpreted as smoggy big cities.

    Please don’t think that because the gasoline pump has a sticker on it saying ‘may contain up to 10% ethanol’ THAT this is actually the case. Far more often it is lesser volumetric quantities of EtOH in most people’s everyday gasoline.

    Very recently ethanol has jumped much higher in price. Wholesale EtOH rack price/gallon today is $3.40 in Alabama, $4 in Arizona and California and 3.14 in Arkansas. At these inflated prices, less ethanol will be blended into gasoline beyond the Federally Mandated 5.6% volumes. Two weeks ago, ethanol’s rack price varied between $2.50 and $2.75 per gallon.

    And secondly, — more than 10% EtOH volumes damaging someone’s engine? This is pure disinformation Russ!

    Actually, ethanol performs better in unadjusted (non-FFV) automobile engines when its volumes are increased to nearly 30%. This becomes the ‘sweet spot’ for ethanol splash blending, not 5% or 10% volumes. Regular gasoline in Brazil typically is infused with about 28% ethanol. The rest of that country drives ‘neat ethanol’ which still has 1-2% water in it using 35 yr. old [$35/factory] FFV chips to adjust the engine’s fuel squirt, spark ignition timing, exhaust characteristics, etc. No problems.

    The solvency issues with ethanol in modern gasoline engines (cars, pickups, lawn mowers, chain saws, snowmobiles, etc.) softening elastomers was solved by 1983. Introduction of ‘gasohol’ didn’t really get started until about 1980 and then, ‘bastard’ neoprene was used in carburetor & fuel pump gaskets as well as fuel line hoses. The tendency for these hoses and seals to soften and occasionally fail was quickly solved.

    During last 30 years we’ve all driven cars and utilized small engines which are all well suited for alcohol blends. In fact, your 4-stroke Briggs & Stratton powered lawn mower will run better on neat EtOH or E-85 than it does on slightly oxygenated gasoline. Simply open up the single fuel adjustment screw on its carb about 1/2 of a turn to allow more fuel to flow through the carburetor. Then, you’ll cut the grass in a completely different aroma of biodegradable exhaust gasses in comparison to gasoline.

    Widespread disinformation circulating about new 15% EtOH blends at the pump (I still haven’t seen any pumps offering 15% blends) ruining your automobile engine — unless it was manufactured after Y2K — is completely bogus. What the 15% volume milestone means is that the business of corn ethanol batch fermentation can continue to expand past its current 14-B gallon annual blendwall previously established in the USA via the RFS or Renewable Fuels Standard.

    [link]      
    • By Forrest on March 23, 2014 at 5:53 am

      Thanks for the info, neoprene was a well used elastomer back then. Also, expensive natural rubber wasn’t happy with alcohols. Modern day, most fuel components utilize Viton for seals. Parker Hannifin has a cross reference on elastomer use vs chemical. Ethanol chemical has few limitations as compared to petrol. Petrol has a wide variety of chemical agents and the brew can be quite toxic and corrosive when breaking down with water, time, heat. Methanol is quite a trouble maker, though. Your point on B&S 4 cycle lawn movers. They are making some lawn equipment flex fuel capability as well. Lol a profitable new industry per fear mongering of ethanol. Advice for winter storage of lawn equipment is stabilize the fuel with treatments. My experience, since they put E10 within fuel supply no winter storage problems. I used to have a devil of a problem starting these engines in spring. Also, the gunk is gone and no water contamination. I changed the fuel pump on vehicle with 250 k miles as a preventative measure, while the vehicle was not a flex vehicle it ran mostly E85, at least in summer. E50 in winter. I made sure the tank had pure E85 before changing the pump per the vapor explosion danger. Also, E10 must improve cold weather starting abilities of engines. The fuel processors and blenders would be happy to eliminate the refinery shut down and retool for spring and fall boutique blends of gasoline per EPA vapor pressure regs if they had latitude to just adjust ethanol blends for the job. They can achieve a wide variety of VP per the simple blending process.

      [link]      
      • By Carl Hungus Jr. on March 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm

        who are you , a lobbyist for the ethanol industry , tons of people would disagree heartily with the BS you are spreading

        [link]      
    • By Carl Hungus Jr. on March 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      BS , this is ruining small carbureted machinery everywhere , I just replaced the gas line on my lawn tractor , which I have NEVER done before and the parts guy said he is seeing this time and time again , and it is from the alcohol in the gas

      [link]      
  5. By newpapyrus on March 22, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    We need to end the insanity of producing ethanol for fuel!

    There’s no logical reason to use food crops for fuel when you can easily use urban and rural biowaste to produce methanol instead of ethanol. Methanol can easily be converted into gasoline for automobiles or into dimethyl ether that can be used as a diesel fuel replacement.

    Methanol would enable practically every urban and rural community in America and in the entire world to become a carbon neutral energy producer.

    Marcel

    [link]      
  6. By CharliePeters on March 22, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    BP-DuPont GMO fuel affect the water?

    [link]      
    • By CharliePeters on March 22, 2014 at 11:54 pm

      Shell GMO fuel from Brazil in California water?

      [link]      
  7. By Forrest on March 23, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Two Administrations from both political parties enthusiastically supported biofuel and communicated the need to do such per countries welfare. Auto Engineers are communicating the need for higher blends of ethanol for octane boost for improvements in pollution control and engine efficiency, E30 appears to meet minimum requirements and maximize effective use of gasoline. Engineers claim that this optimal blend can be exploited per combustion technology and present no loss of mpg per the ethanol side. Blending either more gas or ethanol will result in loss of MPG. Consumers do prefer the lower cost of E15 and the fuel is making it’s way into gas stations. Expert opinion think this will become the standard blend. Gas pump manufacturers claim their pumps are already built to E15 compatibility. Most auto manufactures now list the fuel as approved. Note: one of the ethanol advocacy groups has a standing award for evidence for ethanol damage per approved blends that can be verified independently. No loss of prize money to date. Blenders credit was focused to blenders in need of more equipment to perform the task. Blenders included those within petrol supply chain. While I wouldn’t doubt that farm bank acreage has decreased, the farm bank is supposed to be temporarily unused land. I know environmentalist like to claim the acreage per nature recovery, but that was not the intent nor is it very efficient in that mode. Fallow land is good and a cycle upon farming practices. Around here the farm bank land is scruffy weed laden land put to no use but to gather tax money and offer environmentalist bragging rights. Also, the pollution plume per Mississippi water shed is historically low. They attribute this to modern farming practices that moderate fertilizer use. RFS does support ethanol consumption. This is important per lack of supply chain and infrastructure for the fuel. Also, the industry benefited per stabilization of costs vs production upon temporary problems. Some have claimed the oil Cartel dumped cheap oil upon U.S. shores after Jimmy attempt to kick start ethanol. While this may not be reality it does demonstrate the value of keeping a competitor alive and within higher standard of gasoline additive.

    [link]      
    • By Carl Hungus Jr. on March 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Nobody PREFERS this crap , because people are getting such lousy mileage from the blend , 100% gas all the time

      [link]      
    • By Optimist on March 27, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      How do you pack so much BS into such a short post?

      Both political parties did it, eh! Yeah, that’s a sure sign it’s the right thing to do. ROFLOL!!!!

      [link]      
  8. By ben on March 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    The number is actually four administrations: Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and the current team in the White House. Most engineers in the auto industry think we should continue moving beyond toady’s liquid fuels to truly clean energy sources–something that ethanol clearly is not. The EROEI calculation of ethanol is hardly what we’d call compelling evidence that the fuel is worth all the fuss–let alone subsidies. Among numerous reports and studies on the subject, Captain Ike Kiefer’s, USN, analysis during his tour at the USAF War College is among
    my favorites:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/126243673/21st-Century-Snake-Oil-Why-the-U-S-Should-Reject-Biofuels-as-Part-of-a-Rational-National-Security-Energy-Strategy

    Russ does a public service in pointing out the deficiencies of grain ethanol and the need to move beyond the endless log-rolling of Washington politics. Let’s face it, the emperor has no clothes at this juncture and the rear-guard action of the Corn Belt’s politicians and corn grower-processor lobbyists are struggling to keep their longstanding coalition of principally Midwestern Democrat and Republican lawmakers in line in the high hope of maintaining fiscal and regulatory advantages.

    The clock is ticking, as time expires on the geopolitical circumstances that lent some weight to earlier arguments about the energy security aspects of domestic energy production. The debate is slipping away from the alleged merits of home-grown biofuels. Notwithstanding less than subtle coaxing of the Pentagon by Capitol Hill and administration-types, DOD efforts to boost the utilization of biofuels runs the very real risk of taxpayer backlash for the squandering of fiscal resources in an era of significant cutbacks in force structure and a range of programs impacting the well-being of those in uniform. Given the choice between not only food vs. fuel but that of fuel vs. military readiness, future decisions about supply procurement begin to come into much sharper relief.

    Those who continue to beat their drum for preservation of the status quo of from among either traditional sources of fossil fuel energy or the lingering apologists among grain ethanol proponents, stand in the way of systemic reform and long-overdue change in how we power America’s commerce well into the new century.

    For the benefit of all the ethanol drum-beaters, I include my observations with a brief piece of nostalgia in support of the affirmative government–support that your advocacy (intentional or not) sustains beyond any petty discomforts of innovation
    or would-be reform:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5cKYckTWEM

    What a remarkable country that we might somehow endure such utter hubris!

    Ben

    [link]      
  9. By Carl Hungus Jr. on March 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    to hell with the farmers , they act like we couldn’t get along without them . Family farm time in the US and ban Monsanto and the corporate farming

    [link]      
  10. By Carl Hungus Jr. on March 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    the garbage doesn’t stay mixed in the gas , they HAVE to add stirrers in the large storage tanks in EVERY station and I am SURE they have NOT done this ! ! Also , it is RUINING our small engines , ie . weed wackers , chain saws and others and THEY don’t care one bit

    [link]      
  11. By Forrest on March 23, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I’m confused in that ethanol is used within race engines. You know the most advanced and expensive engines assembled and engineered to max horsepower while maintaining integrity. Why are they switching to a poor fuel that destroys their engine and when such a poor fuel can’t produce any power? Stock cars running on E15 and without much fanfare, other than complementing the fuel. Indy class, GT, formula 1, run high blends of ethanol. Are they wasting time beating drums or not reading the blogs? Do they have mixers in the tank? Tractor pulls and dragsters seem to prefer the fuel, if winning. Ford has a variant of the Ecco-Boost for pickups enhance per ethanol that produces diesel torque and efficiencies soon to debut. Why are they wasting their precious money on such a foolish adventure?

    [link]      
  12. By Forrest on March 24, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I don’t get the condemnation of ethanol. Just read a report on 7 year study of biocrop soil CO2 sequestration. Come to find out scientist have over looked the ability of soil at depths of up to five feet to capture CO2. With modern farm practices soil captures 3.25 tons of CO2 per acre per year. This is impressive as compared to a 50 year old Maine forests that capture .8 ton per acre per year. Make sure you read the decimal point before the 8. But, a 65 year old Maine forest absorbs twice as much or 1.6 tons. So, utilizing a farm fuel source per photosynthesis process with the inherent ability to convert sunlight and CO2 to cellulose not the only advantage per global warming proponents. Maybe this is the merit behind ethanol’s lawsuit per California LCFS interstate discrimination? Another tanker ship spill last week, shutting down the most congested shipping lanes. Oops, price of gas shoots up per a hiccup upon petrol supply chain. I read a economist report last year on market ability of ethanol to dampen price swings, lower farm subsidies, lower cost of ethanol, lower cost of base fuel, increase competition, choice at the pump, etc the report from highly respected economist…..50 cents to $1.50 per gallon reduction. However, I did read on the Web, that ethanol production does take more energy to produce than what it achieves and if we produce more ethanol we won’t be able to cook our field corn for nourishment.

    [link]      
  13. By Globe Core on March 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Bioethanol mixing is applied in automotive industry; it is enough to add 10% of ethanol in gasoline considerably to increase car power and fuel efficiency. Small concentration of ethanol in fuel (to 10%) is not significantly influences on operation of the engine, but with increase of concentration to 85% be required power supply system alteration. Considering that biofuel comes to everyday life more strongly, the world automotive industry adjusted release of cars which can work, both at pure gasoline, and at a gasoline mix with ethanol in any ratio. Globecore blending is intended in production of fuel blending systems….
    http://www.globecoreblending.com

    [link]      
  14. By Forrest on March 24, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I read some of your website:

    Start-

    As the conclusion, the advantages that alcohol uses instead of gasoline:

    - the octane number is equal to 105 units allows to add it to gasoline, as an octane rising additive.

    - alcohol and products of its combustion don’t give compounds of
    sulfur and deposits. As result oil doesn’t get dark, and spark plugs
    operate to 2-2,5 times longer.

    - engine power increase.

    - environmental friendliness

    End-

    You know Ukraine, that country is in the news!

    The point on sulfur compounds within gasoline is a problem for the fuel. EPA just regulated another drop in max limits. It sure helped diesel fuel to clean up. Hopefully, it won;t cost as much as they first complained.

    [link]      
  15. By Russ Finley on March 25, 2014 at 12:27 am

    CarbonBridge said:

    First, while 10% is the normal maximum which fermented corn EtOH is blended into gasoline, distilled spirits are seldom marketed or combusted at 10% volumes … Please don’t think that because the gasoline pump has a sticker on it saying ‘may contain up to 10% ethanol’ THAT this is actually the case. Far more often it is lesser volumetric quantities of EtOH in most people’s everyday gasoline.

    I don’t follow. From the EPA :

    …we are now at the “E10 blend wall,” the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol. If gasoline demand continues to decline, as currently forecast, continuing growth in the use of ethanol will require greater use of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85.

    CarbonBridge said:

    Most of the time, about 5.6% volumes of EtOH are utilized to oxygenate gasoline to 2.2% oxygen levels required in the Clean Air Act regarding areas of ‘non-attainment’ — interpreted as smoggy big cities.

    …again, I don’t follow. The federal oxygenate requirement established by the Clean Air Act was abolished about 8 years ago. Starting around 1990, cars using fuel injection and oxygen sensors automatically monitor the air and fuel mixture to minimize CO emissions, eliminating the need for oxygenates. When was the last time you saw a car with a carburetor?

    And secondly, — more than 10% EtOH volumes damaging someone’s engine? This is pure disinformation Russ!

    Nice try but, as I often point out, strawman arguments don’t work in a comment field. Those are not my words. Feel free to quote what I actually said about retailer’s hesitancy to sell E15 because it may damage cars not designed to use it. Your argument that a 15% blend won’t harm cars is between you and the EPA, not me.

    [link]      
    • By Forrest on March 25, 2014 at 7:32 am

      I didn’t know the status of oxygenate requirement, either. Dropped per request of oil industry that claimed their fuel no longer needed an oxygenate per better quality. Also, the fact blenders prefer to use ethanol additive for supply, cost, and RFS commitment. E15 fuel has been the most tested fuel upon the planet. I think the ethanol industry was surprised at the oil industry aggressive reaction to EPA approval. A lot of effort, money, and court action in attempt to smear and delay the fuel additive. I think they saw the opportunity to gut the RFS per blend wall opening and hated the E15 solution as result. If they accepted the RFS, they would welcome E15 as an easy solution that would save consuming public cost. The petrol industry appears to be o.k. with E10 per lower cost and easier to produce blend stock, but hate higher blends that would encroach on market share wealth. EPA contracted with a test agency to review, evaluate, and retest E15 per the famous API study than claimed auto engine damage per the fuel. It was determined with high certainty the engine damage was not per ethanol. Some older vehicle pollution control equipment when dropping into open loop, would potentially operate engine fuel system per maps (stored data) per unleaded fuel history. Very few cars had this flaw and determined not to be issue per testing. It was funny that the original API study omitted engine failures of engines running on plain gas. The new fuel acceptance route is all but accomplished. Signage requirements, liability concerns, store operators concerns, storage tanks, pumps, misfueling liability, etc. Gas stations are deciding on storage strategy, pump selection, and pricing to gain market share. Some pumps per the blenders, most per flex fuel. A growing trend for station owners to pull mid-grade with very low sales and switch to E15. The fuel attracts more customers per sign price and knowledge of high grade fuel characteristics. But, what you say of carburetor engines….best not use anything above E10, unless you open up fuel orifice or adjust the carb per normal procedure. Be sure not to switch fuels once making the adjustment.

      [link]      
      • By Optimist on March 27, 2014 at 7:36 pm

        So Forrest, if E15 is so great, why doesn’t Iowa, or some other midwestern state jump the gun, support local jobs and show the rest of us what energy nirvana looks like? Or does the nirvana only exist in the ethanol lobbying group that pays you?

        [link]      
        • By Forrest on March 28, 2014 at 6:53 am

          Nice to discuss the topic per merits. Internet is full of emotional bombastic posters. Must be recess.

          [link]      
          • By Optimist on March 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

            Hard to talk merits to people who are so full of half-truths and conspiracy theories.

            Debate the merit of that, if you choose: no midwestern state is going out of its way to increase the local consumption of ethanol. For some reason they all want to export it too the liberals on the coast. Why do you think that is?

            [link]      
  16. By Trish Chingon on March 25, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Hemp

    [link]      
  17. By ben on March 28, 2014 at 10:08 am

    There are plenty of “emotional bombastic posters” to be sure. These should not be confused with rambling, semi-coherent and wishful-thinking cheerleaders that we have to to suffer; no names mentioned, of course ;) Stick to the facts! And, by the way, you don’t get to make up your own despite the temptation to do otherwise.

    I might ask Forrest his views on Capt. Ike Kiefer’s piece on ethanol–if he’ll take
    the time to read it.

    http://www.au.af.mil/au/ssq/comments.asp?id=31

    Some very good points made here by a military man seeking, at risk to his own standing with DOD’s senior leadership, one important goal: Discourage the US government from supporting an energy policy/program that aims in a misguided direction; the same longstanding objective of ETI’s editor, regular contributors and, hopefully, most readers.

    Thanks, Ben

    [link]      
    • By Forrest on March 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      You do have a flair for drama. Read some of it. The site is dedicated to bashing alternative fuels, so it would be as if I challenged you to read Growth Energy website. The author of the 38 page “report” presents a philosophical argument of which I have heard before. Food, land, energy in/out and backing claims with outdated info. Evaluations like these often bogus as they pick and choose bench marks i.e. land mass comparisons. He didn’t mention the current U.N. mapping of land mass use wherein we have more bare land than farm land. It would be quite nice if these poor countries could produce bio fuel stock. Also, the question shouldn’t be gasoline or ethanol. Ethanol will never replace or dominate gasoline sales, but ethanol does make better use of gasoline per efficient engine technology. Ethanol is strong where gasoline is weak. Also, very stabilizing upon market place to have a fuel with completely separate production path in case of temporary oil supply problems. Military and air transportation desperately looking to alternatives per their vulnerability and future outlook of jet and diesel fuel costs/supply. Also, military is sick of protecting critical international oil supplies seeing oil money go to empowering trouble makers.
      Annual geological processing of crude oil extremely low. It can’t keep up with demand. Ancestral warehouse of oil are less today than 100 years ago. Can’t argue with that. Compare that fact that modern production of energy of present day production within supply chain. Meaning we can determine and increase stores/demand. Also, since a current day process, it will undergo continuous improvement and have enormous potential opportunity for improvements we can’t predict.

      [link]      
  18. By ben on March 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Forrest may need to get up a bit earlier and to bed a little later, if he seeks the trajectory of 21st century fuels.

    How is the Strategic Studies Quarterly’s Strategic Journal of the United States Air Force remotely a “site dedicated to bashing alternative fuels?” Most informed readers will acknowledge that the USAF/the other armed services/DOD have gone well beyond the call in supporting virtually every form of energy development. This stems from a no-nonsense, strategic view that supply diversification equals greater energy security. I dare say the very first comment offered on the SSQ website following the article was contributed by Prof. A.S. “Charles” Hall of SUNY’s
    College of Environmental Science and Forestry–hardly what we’d call a hotbed of
    fossil fuels advocacy or that status quo for that matter. Aye, quite the contrary!

    Since my closest business associate was a colleague of the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and who managed coordination with the Congressional Armed Services Committees,
    this has been an issue of genuine interest over the years.

    The issue here isn’t one of whether there’s a need to move beyond the constraints/ vulnerabilities of fossil fuel sources, but one of efficiency, environmentally soundness and economic sustainability in producing fuel from a continuum of energy sources fostering national welfare and security. Ethanol is a very small and temporary part of such a future. To the extent it becomes smaller and shorter-lived will prove more of a bow to the discipline of EROEI, environmental sensibility and economic merit based on market-pricing and the forces of supply and demand than that of government fiat.

    If such an understanding reflects a “flair for drama,” well, I confess to being guilty as charged. What I won’t concede is the point that ethanol does not represent an integral part of the long-run liquid fuels supply that will move a new generation of Americans or sustain their economic well-being.

    No amount of drum-beating for corn-fuel will alter the slow unwinding of the Midwestern energy shibboleth that has for more than a full score enjoyed a great
    deal of getting while the getting was good. It’s now time to move to the next generation of alternatives requiring a lot less energy-intensive processing.

    Try to keep an open mind while not shying from opinions that don’t necessarily confirm your own. ETI has proven itself a solid forum for the shedding and sharing of light while inviting a chin-out attitude about speaking truth to power–something to applaud regardless of our own opinions.

    Ben

    [link]      
  19. By Forrest on March 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Government put to law alternative energy mandates for the purpose of promoting alternative energy sector growth. Corn ethanol was to be positioned as beach head for alternative fuel to the light duty vehicles market as the corn ethanol process was proven capable had capability to quickly ramp up cost effective production. The RFS probably the bulwark legislation to ensure maintaining a growing market of these alternative fuels. The mandate intended results were to push steadily increase in consumption and production of ethanol upon a timeline. American public supported the effort per the wisdom of future needs of country and history of becoming increasingly vulnerable per reliance upon a shorter list of foreign suppliers. Also, new found ability to produce more domestic product attractive given the trade imbalance. Corn ethanol has delivered on those ideals and continues upon the RFS timeline. So, lets not forget government mandate of ethanol consumption is exactly the intention of the law. This is what the nation wanted and promised to investors or those choosing this field of work. The law hasn’t expired. Investors have acted per government timeline promise to deliver ethanol. The law doesn’t have a provision to accommodate petro’s new found resources neither their desires upon higher price fuel. The law does provide allowances per inability of ethanol production, but no adjustment for petrol’s complaining.

    [link]      
  20. By Forrest on March 29, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Ethanol production 2013 increased 3% for U.S. and Brazil. Euro Zone increased 8% and Africa 136%. Continent of Africa production is expected to continue increase per the attractiveness of displacing expensive petrol imports with the ability of growing fuel, GNP increase, and job growth. The land area has immense potential for the job with high benefit of environment.

    The ability of ethanol to improve production efficiency per avoiding the handicap of terrestrial processes of old…the news of synthetic yeast gene technology success. This is within the GMO field of study that continues to improve crop production and plant yield for ethanol and biodiesel production. The technology is expected to invent more capable yeast to endure higher concentrations of ethanol while working. Also, within cellulosic process the desire to feed on all parts of plant material with less costly and timely pretreatments.

    [link]      
  21. By ben on March 29, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Regrettably, more inchoate ramblings from the Forrest who remains comfortably
    lost in the trees. Or is that corn fields? If nothing else, he remains devoted in his religious convictions about the merits of alcohol fuels. I just wish someone might help him with temptations of the drink, as he apparently consumes so much of the stuff that it invites a line of advocacy that might make folks at the RFA blush. Well, I guess that might be overdrawn, since we’ve yet to see any blushing out of that quarter despite the outlandish claims made by some in defense of corn-fuel.

    RFS has worn thin like so many other “temporary” federal programs designed to offer a brief nudge and then managing to hang on despite evidence of diminishing returns. is this more Big Government with sponsorship out of the very types who hypocritically profess to be against affirmative government while making annual demands on the Treasury for their supporters at home and, of course, in the shops of the fleece peddlers who populate our nation’s capital while feathering the nest of their political patrons. Sounds an awful lot like what we’ve heard of the complaints for the better part of a century about the Petro State. Could it be a case of
    birds of a feather……?

    I guess we’ll just have to stick with that advice of Mark Twain. Although some insighst from H.L. Mencken might come in handy, too ;)

    Ben

    [link]      
    • By Forrest on March 30, 2014 at 7:46 am

      I’ll post even though you can’t decipher. Your Libertarian ideal of eliminating regulation per ethanol expense falls flat as the request would benefit the largest corporations at the cost of small business. Farmers in Iowa not the bogymen to control elitist within DC politics. Sure they have powerful constituency per political clout as they enjoy popularity of their cause, but farmers not knee deep in wealth for crony capitalism effort. Agricultural Chairmen Stabenow not that powerful or intelligent. And ask yourself why is the House Energy and Commerce Chairman position so desirable? Hint, it’s not per the task to pick corn ethanol pockets. My personal politics best described as conservative Tea Party. No connection to fuel, corn, farming, ethanol, other than a few cousins with dairy farms.

      You posted of military intelligence (oxymoron) to persuade populace of futile attempt of renewable energy. That’s not the military concerns I’ve read often. I remember reading articles depicting the opposite concerns. That the military was very vulnerable to current status of fuel. Their assessments of national security as well raised red flags of our vulnerability per enemy attack of grid, electric controls, oil refineries, pipelines, and super tankers. Iraq war effort exposed the weakness in fuel supply chain as the condition attractive target to incapacitate powerful enemy sitting in fuel guzzling machines. Office of Budget and public thought Halliburton profiteered from $190/gallon fuel supply. Military went on to programs to lighten load of fossil fuel consumption. Installed solar panels, invest in alternative fuel technologies, and technology to increase efficiencies. Articles of military desire to set up fuel product in occupied territory desirable per pallet loaded equipment. Non explosive processing feed stock much easier transport and this production method to refuel equipment included opportunity to purchase feed stock from financially hurting citizenry as well as greatly reduce cost.

      [link]      
      • By Forrest on March 30, 2014 at 8:09 am

        Note the military is mightily concerned upon energy weight, power, and engine efficiency to maximize range. They also desire minimal fuel selection per logistics and refueling mistakes. Hence the military is mostly variants of diesel fuel engines. This makes the fleet less flexible and more vulnerable. I would suggest to evaluate ethanol as fuel additive per plan B if in critical need. First the fuel can be operated per diesel cycle. Second, the technology available to mix diesel with ethanol and easier yet the fuel can be injected per air intake. If diesel fuel supply problems, the land fleet will operate as powerful. Also, the sugar ethanol process is compact and reliable. Production equipment already available per skid mount transport.

        [link]      
  22. By ben on March 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Someone probably mention to Forrest that very top-heavy concentration of market dominance that invites the “crony capitalism” that he strenuously objects to concerning fossil fuels is actually eclipsed in the US biofuels (corn-ethanol) industry with over 40% of production/sales coming from the top 5 companies: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), POET, Valero Energy, Green Plains and Flint Hills. None of these are exactly what we’d call the family farms! The next 40% of the market is accounted for by major agribusiness-energy corporations benefiting from access to multi-million dollar subsidies, annually, from the US taxpayers.

    Yet, despite all this Big Government largess, Forrest informs us that “my personal politics best described as conservative Tea Party.” Wow, talk about someone in
    serious need of philosophical reconciliation! Then again, “conservative Tea Party” does speak volumes!! To think, this chap actually has the audacity to refer to our uniformed military personnel engaged in the collection and analysis of intelligence as an “oxymoron.” I have to chuckle at the humor of witnessing the kettle and pot comparing notes on their respective shortcomings :)

    So here we are, left with these sorts of limitations in the midst of efforts to advance the dialogue on a constructive course for America’s energy security. Again, it really doesn’t take much objective analysis to see inherent deficiencies of ethanol as a significant or viable part of our national energy requirements. EROEI will continue to pose a practical barrier (because it necessitates too-high process energy costs) to ethanol’s meaningful expansion in the years ahead.

    Sorry to say, but to paraphrase the folks over at BASF: “We don’t make the laws of physics, we just live with them.”

    Can others out there relate to my incredulity?

    Ben

    [link]      
    • By Forrest on March 31, 2014 at 6:01 am

      Very dramatic Ben- very daring to label military intelligence as an oxymoran. Are you really equating ethanol as big business compared to oil. So you know all about my politics now. Good grief.

      [link]      
      • By Ben on March 31, 2014 at 5:37 pm

        Sorry, Forrest, but I’m just quoting from your responses. If you don’t want to believe that military intelligence is an oxymoron than simply don’t say so. Likewise, if you don’t want folks to believe your self- description of “conservative Tea Party” well, that’s okay with me–but you’ll need to offer such a clarification for yourself rather than attempting to blame me. Good grief, indeed!

        In reading and responding to the ETI blog over the past few years,
        I must say that your entries have routinely exhibited less coherence and more disingenuity than any others that I’ve encountered. One might hope that a measure of repentance is close at hand. Alas, I fear that my hopes will be dashed and we might fully expect more post hoc, ergo propter hoc out of the Forrester.

        Give this man another glass of alcohol–or at least some ethanol :)

        Ben

        [link]      
        • By Forrest on April 1, 2014 at 7:40 am

          I was reading an article on rules of debate that referred to dishonest debate tactics most often used by politicians. A list of fifty four in which Ben is well versed in applying. Yes, Ben has been following me around this web site….rather creepy. He post ring with emotions and stray to drama queen tendencies. He wants to go personal per some man crush interests? Or stalker like personality?

          Here is the first dishonest debate tactic utilized by Ben:

          Name calling: debater tries to diminish the argument of his
          opponent by calling the opponent a name that is subjective and unattractive.
          These are all efforts to distract the audience by changing the subject because the speaker cannot refute the facts or logic of the opponent.

          [link]      
          • By ben on April 1, 2014 at 10:34 am

            Sticking to the merits of the argument, to include a willingness to simply stand by one’s own statements is all that we might hope to promote. My responses to your entries are of no more personal interest to me than any others, so you need not flatter yourself with any thoughts to the contrary.

            Perhaps a degree of narcissism precludes such objectivity on your part. That’s sad, but it need not detract from the thing that matters most; a rejoinder to frail arguments made in defense of corn-ethanol’s energy inefficiencies and inherent limitations in meeting America’s future energy requirements.
            No amount of subterfuge or belly-aching about debate
            tactics–this is hardly a debate–can disguise the paucity of arguments made on behalf of the Corn Belt’s favorite federal program of redistribution. So much for those alleged “conservative Tea Party” politics. Maybe you should consider public office.

            Ben

            [link]      
  23. By Jeff on August 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Corn crops that produce ethanol aren’t sweet corn, it’s field corn used for feeding cattle. It’s cut for silage, and sold for ethanol production. Research the different ways ethanol is produced. We’re not using land for food crops, in fact 90% of all corn grown the United States is for human consumption. Ethanol isnt as harmful to vehicles as the anti ethanol campaigns claim. If you’re using a 10% blend you’re not going to have problems. If you fuel up with E-85 in a non flex fuel vehicle, the oxygenation will damage your fuel system over long term use. The oil companies received $0.51per gallon of E-10 added to their refined gasoline, or 5.1 cents for every gallon produce. Those subsidies ended in December 2011. I’m unaware if there are still mandates, tariffs and subsidies, just don’t make it sound like farmers are receiving tax credits or government checks to plant field corn. It’s ironic that the same people and party who started the ethanol backed subsidies are complaining about them now. I own a farm in South Dakota, where we grow corn and soybeans. If you want to know the truth about GMO, ethanol or farming in general come out for a visit. Youll be pleasantly surprised how farming and agricultural business operates.

    [link]      
    • By Forrest on August 12, 2014 at 8:15 am

      The political spectrum of ethanol support is not Left Right. The Conservatives disliked any deficit producing expenses. Libertarians disliked government intrusion into marketplace. Environmentalist were attacking corn ethanol as stupid feedstock. The petrol industry and API was busy with miss leading propaganda to disparage market growth. The left was holy intolerant of fossil fuel production as compared to Right that was tolerant of all of the above energy production. The environmentalist of the left are activist and organized to magnify their influence where as the silent majority is sitting by trying to enjoy life and avoid the confrontations. If this majority is pushed to far and suffers stupid legislation such as expensive green power and ensuing results in loss of quality of living they will roar back and punish those whom offer bad solutions no matter the political punditry apologists attempts to deflect anger. Media will always act political, but they can not reinvent reality. At least the obvious reality.

      BTW, I’ve been reading about air pollution and the health problems of very small particulates. Wow, EPA is just within recent times regulating transportation pollution. This per my observation….EPA can stick it to industry and voters love it whereas EPA is weak upon regulations affecting the public as they fear voting public. It’s not all science, just as the military is not all defense. Get a load of this…Henry Ford and Thomas Edison back in 1919 urged utilization of 30% ethanol to boost gasoline octane over lead, the invention of GM empolee Thomas Midgley, whom later died of lead poisoning. API, Dupont, and GM attacked Henry Ford per the insistence. Lead was utilized until the 70′s where again the ethanol was dissed per quickly acceptance of MTBE environmental mistake. Currently, the gasoline is blended with octane boosting aromatics that EPA has on the watch list. All roads appear to point to the obvious decision to blend gasoline with 30% ethanol as this will eliminate the most health adverse element of the fuel, make the fuel cheaper, extend the supply of gasoline, make gasoline blend greener, enable more efficient auto engine combustion, stabilize fuel costs, and produce more rural small business employment. Their is enough ethanol supply to do the job as demand gradually increase for the super premium fuel.

      [link]      
    • By Russ Finley on August 12, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Corn crops that produce ethanol aren’t sweet corn, it’s field corn used for feeding cattle. It’s cut for silage, and sold for ethanol production.

      Strawmen don’t work in a comment field. Nobody said it was made out of sweet corn. To make sweet corn or field corn edible you process it first, which can be as simple as cooking it in the case of sweet corn or grinding it into flour which is then converted into more edible products as is the case with field corn, or it can be processed into animal protein by feeding it to livestock. Sweet corn and field corn are both processed and then consumed by humans as food. Grains (wheat, soy, rice, etc) usually need to be processed into something more edible. If field corn isn’t food, neither is sweet corn, wheat, soy, rice and on and on.

      Research the different ways ethanol is produced.

      It’s pretty obvious that I know more about the production of corn ethanol than you do.

      We’re not using land for food crops, in fact 90% of all corn grown the United States is for human consumption.

      Forty percent of our corn crop now passes through ethanol refineries.

      I’m unaware if there are still mandates, tariffs and subsidies, just don’t make it sound like farmers are receiving tax credits or government
      checks to plant field corn.

      The article makes it clear that there are no longer tariffs on imported ethanol and that the subsidies were ended. It also clearly states that the blending of ethanol is still mandated. The article does not claim that farmers are receiving tax credits or government checks. I’m not sure you even read the article.

      It’s ironic that the same people and party who started the ethanol backed subsidies are complaining about them now.

      I don’t know which party you are talking about. This legislation was a rare bipartisan effort. The ending of the mandated consumption would also have to be a bipartisan effort.

      I own a farm in South Dakota, where we grow corn and soybeans. If you want to know the truth about GMO, ethanol or farming in general come out for a visit.

      The truth? Field corn isn’t food? The political party that started corn ethanol wants to end it? My article claims that farmers are receiving tax credits and government checks? We’re not using land for food crops?

      A quote from George Monbiot: “What you want to believe is almost always wrong.”

      [link]      
  24. By Forrest on August 13, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Jeff and Russ post’s reminded me of prior articles, I had to reread. Interesting tidbits:

    . University of Illinois study estimates land use for corn ethanol will drop to 15% by 2026 per improvements in farming, seed, and processing. Currently 40% of corn crop is processed by ethanol plants, but that stat is misleading as processing plants produce more than ethanol i.e. feed, corn oil. The acres currently dedicated to corn ethanol is 25%. Also, the DDG replace more soybeans acres. Soybeans produce less bushels per acre.

    . Cost of food continues to increase per sixth year of fossil fuel increase. Crude oil cost is susceptible to international unrest. Corn price falling, about one half the cost of 2 years ago, yet food cost continues to rise. Ethanol fuel the best value fuel on market, about $1 less per gallon than gasoline.

    . Cow and beef industry suffering from regulations pertaining to greenhouse gas production. These ruminates burp and fart methane and CO2 gas per their ability to digest cellulose upon organisms in digestion track. These animals account for 95% of all animal production of GHG emissions. Methane emission accounts for 4% of total GHG emissions. Total impact of land use, methane, CO2, manure, deforestation is estimated to be 20%-24% of all greenhouse gas emissions. One cow is equivalent to one car in CO2 emissions. One hundred calories of food processed to only 4 calories of meat. Pig, chicken, and fish multiple times more efficient and less polluting. So, this live stock may decrease in abundance per cost of regulation. Also, the health interest in feeding this livestock grass, will again lower need of corn feed. Prior to ethanol, field corn was mainly animal feed.

    . Carbon rating of ethanol continues to decrease per technology and re-evaluations per science. One problem EPA only accounts one bushel of DDG as one bushel of corn displaced. This is a bad evaluation as they are not comparable one to one. DDG’s are increasing in value and much more nutritious per pound. More comparable to corn gluten. Recent study of photosynthesis activity by satellite, pegged corn fields higher than all geographic zones. Higher than dense jungle. This on land that is not rated tropic. Carbon sequestration of corn fields was greatly underestimated, especially with modern practice of minimizing nitrous oxide emissions per modern fertilizer components and low till practices. Ethanol plants currently entering into the California low carbon fuel market per the plant use of anaerobic digestors. Ethanol plants have entered into cellulosic processing and have increased variety of co-product production. The new term for these processing plants is bio processors.

    [link]      
  25. By CharliePeters on November 9, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Shell Sugar ethanol may increase CA gas price

    A random ‘Smog Check’ inspection & repair ‘secret shopper’ audit, ethanol cap and elimination of dual fuel CAFE credit can cut California “Wallet Flushing” car tax over 50% in 2015. (Prevent Over 2000 tons per day of sulfur, PM, HC, O3, NOx, CO & CO2.) Improved performance of AB32 at reduced cost.

    Mary Nichols AB 32 opinion.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl-Nrep74qg

    [link]      
  26. By Forrest on November 10, 2014 at 7:22 am

    The compliance to CA AB 32 is fraught with corruption. The state as well appears to be overrun with biases and agenda’s. The glee per fascists of state looking for problem for them to supply a solution. They’re simpler and less costly approach to rewards and incentives to help help economy move to environmental solutions. Enacting a horrendous gov’t program is not one of them. California needs to sharpen sticks and just run the state officials out and replace the crew with leadership whom have common sense tempered with business IQ to determine low cost and low bureaucratic path. Increasing cost and complexity of government shouldn’t always the first choice to make things happen.

    [link]      
  27. By CharliePeters on May 10, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    AB 32 climate change law

    * Do you want $2 Gasoline at the pump?

    * Do you want clean air and water?

    Ethanol waiver and elimination of E-85 flex fuel credit can cut our CO2 transportation pollution over 50%

    Let’s improve performance of CA Climate change law AB 32 (Pavley) in 2015 for future generations

    [link]      
Register or log in now to save your comments and get priority moderation!