Monday, December 6, 2010

Ethanol

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.” - President Dwight David Eisenhower

It's rare for a politician to admit he was wrong...

Gore: On second thought, I was just pandering to the farm vote on ethanol, from http://hotair.com/
“It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol,” said Al Gore speaking at a green energy business conference. “First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small."
Worse, the ethanol subsidies have sparked a price war as we shove corn byproducts into our gas tanks.  Gore now admits that “the competition with food prices is real.” So why did he promote Ethanol while a Senator? "I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.” This fondness for farmers and their votes cost the US almost $8 billion in subsidies last year.

According to a recent report by two professors, ethanol contains 76,000 BTUs per gallon, but producing that ethanol from corn takes 98,000 BTUs. So instead of saving energy, we lose energy by using ethanol. By comparison, a gallon of gasoline contains 116,000 BTUs per gallon but only costs 22,000 BTUs to drill the well, transport it, and refine it for a net energy gain.

You may have noticed in Gore's quote above, a mention of  "first generation ethanol." What's that? First generation means fuel from corn and was the first ethanol process to go into wide scale production. Gore is switching his support to 2nd generation ethanol that is made from wood, waste fibers, and grass so as not to drive up the price of food. That's great for food prices but still bad energy policy. Turning wood and grass into ethanol is less effective than corn so the country will lose even more energy.

Bottom Line

Don't forget that politics is rarely about the good of people. "Follow the money" as they say and see who is really profiting from new laws and polices.

BTW - I read a story recently that "Follow the money" was never said by Deepthroat to the two reporters covering the Watergate break in. The line was created for the movie, All the President's Men.

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