Corn chips or biofuel? Feds push for more ethanol

Corn chips or biofuel? Feds push for more ethanol

Summary: EPA rules that ethanol is greener than gasoline.

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The newest government guidelines on biofuel could lead to more corn being processed into ethanol. The EPA says even if you account for all the fertilizer and processing energy, burning biofuel is better for the environment than fossil fuel.

Corn Belt pols will love this, environmental groups are attacking it as a sell-out to those states, and the battles will continue. Many critics have claimed that food crops should not be used for making fuel. Of course, the oil industry is NOT pleased with the EPA's findings either. The EPA now says using more biofuel will help the U.S. cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Here's the EPA's press release on today's biofuel finding.

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16 comments
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  • Ethanol .... the nice scam

    Adding 10% ethanol will drop your MPG by no less than 20%. While you pay the same at the pump, you have to buy more fuel because of ethanol. What a sweet scam.

    Then there is the issue of all the damage to multiple engine parts. Nobody ever talks about how ethanol, even in small amounts, will eventually cause damage to your car .....
    wackoae
    • Yes

      The idea of turning food, or even using land that can produce food, into a direct fuel source, defies logic. Especially when world food prices are rising; starvation and malnutrition are on the rise world-wide; and food prices soar.

      The combustion age is dead, be it powered by so called bio-fuels or fossil fuels. No combustion technology is without environmental impact. The focus should be on more efficient and affordable solar and nuclear technologies, distributed power generation.

      Wind and Wave are dead ends as well (due to the immediate impact on climate they will cause by removing energy from the planets climate engine and the changes they would cause in world weather patterns.)

      Efficient rooftop solar, combined with next generation batteries and capacitors, all networked into the current power distribution systems, backed by nuclear, would provide the most resilient system.

      For transportation, plug-in electrics (also using current state of the art batteries, motors, and capacitors) rather than the current hybrid dead ends, which typically have average fuel economies that are no better than well designed fossil fuel only vehicals in the same size range, and usually worse than the newer state of the art diesal engines.
      medezark@...
    • Wrong numbers

      You are correct about a decrease, but you don't help the cause by using wrong exaggerated numbers.

      It takes 1.5 Gal of Ethanol to equal the energy of 1 gal of gas.

      This means 10% ethanol will yield 6.6% lower mpg.

      Its not so noticeable with an 15 mpg SUV, but it was painfully obvious with my Honda Civic Hybrid. When I first got it, 100% gas was was common but six months later it was impossible to find, and the nearly 7% drop from 42 mpg was painfully obvious.
      anonymous
      • I can backup the 20% loss

        I have owned a hybrid for 8 years now. I know exactly when the fuel is switched to E10 during the winter because I loose 20% of my millage.

        I treat my Prius (and the Civic Hybrid I had before) like an experiment, and I keep a detail log of millage used. I have 8 years of personally recorded data over two very different vehicles that backs up my statement.
        wackoae
    • Bingo! Fuel is taxed by the gallon.

      nt
      frgough
    • RE: Corn chips or biofuel? Feds push for more ethanol

      @wackoae My sediments exactly: "Adding 10% ethanol will drop your MPG by no less than 20%" Not only are we polluting the environmental more by using more gas from point A to point B, we are also using man hours, energy, and natural resources to produce ethanol which is is an additional strain on our environment in multiple hidden ways. For one: the workers needed to produce ethanol have to use gas to get to work to produce NOTHING. WHAT AN ALL ROUND WASTE! <br>What ever happened to the 75 mile per gallon carburetor developed back in the 60's? It was bought by some big oil company and shelved! Ooh, Top Secret!
      Orbijuan
  • Wait a minute people...

    It simply amazes me how the uninformed always
    speak the loudest....E15 has been one of the
    MOST studied fuel additives since the EPA has
    been formed and has yet to meet objections for
    everyday use.

    As for those running down ethanol....you must
    really enjoy seeing your hard earned dollars go
    overseas more than I do. I would much rather see
    my money being turned into support for our
    nation, state, and LOCAL economy.

    Also, we seem to be missing the fact that corn
    is a renewable crop that can be produced every
    year and we are far from running out. We have
    the 2nd largest supply carryover on record and
    what looks to be a record crop in 2009. And all
    of this has occurred since the ethanol boom
    began...if there is an incentive, farmers will
    find a way to make more with less, as usual.

    Furthermore, the poor countries of the world
    haven't been able to afford food in the last 30
    years. And this is when corn was below 2.00!
    Which is below the cost of production and is why
    small towns and rural america has suffered the
    last 30 years. The starvation and poverty
    excuses are not working. Only in the last 5-6
    years (Mostly because of speculators
    by the way) has grain prices rose to profitable
    levels.

    I realize that corn based ethanol is not the
    long term answer but give me another alternative
    fuel that can be used immediately and impact the
    same size market...don't worry, I'll wait.
    america10
    • The only reason our dollars are going overseas

      is because environazis have shut down domestic drilling.

      So, typically, they create the problem, then claim to have the solution.
      frgough
  • Ethanol for fuel from food crops is stupid!

    Ethanol for fuel from food crops is stupid!

    Plain and simple. E15 will damage a lot of engines, but then Government Motors whats you to buy a new one to help the economy.

    It takes 1.5 Gal of ethanol to replace 1 Gal of gas. You will get 6.66% lower mpg with 10% ethanol than you will with straight gas, and 10% lower mpg with E15. If E10 cost at least 10% less than straight gas maybe it'd be an option, but it doesn't.
    anonymous
    • I tend to agree

      I don't think food crops should be used. Hemp would be one of the best non food crops to use for biofuel, but there are other possibilities as well.
      I don't know about engine damage or mpg, but using food crops will raise the price of those crops when used for food.
      ITLeader
  • Needs repeating

    Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it is plan food.

    Anthropogenic global warming is a hoax. The evidence for
    deliberate fraud in the data for the sole purpose of pushing a
    political agenda is now so massive that only those engaged in
    willful deceit still attempt to promote the dangers of global
    warming.

    The takeaway: Whenever you hear someone discuss the dangers
    of global warming, you know you are dealing with a liar who
    knows he is lying and doesn't care he is lying because his lies
    are the tool he needs to take away your freedom and lifestyle.

    Learn it.
    frgough
  • Corn is the WRONG commodity to be using.

    Corn is probably the LEAST efficient crop to use for making Ethanol. Sugarcane is FAR better.

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-some-advantages-of-sugarcane-ethanol.htm

    Also, Cellulose is even more efficient than sugarcane, but still needs a lot of work before it is common place.

    http://www.ecogeek.org/biofuels/798

    However...chances are there are more corn LOBBYISTS in Washington, than there are for the other two plants.

    And as we all know...Washington does NOTHING without its hands in the pockets of lobbyists.

    And that means BOTH PARTIES.
    IT_Guy_z
    • Agreed

      Hemp would be better IMO

      http://greenexperience.net/hemp-the-ideal-biofuel/

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2008/jan/28/whyishempoffthebiofuelme
      ITLeader
    • Cullulostic Ethanol

      There are still a great number of hurdles to be crossed before cellulostic ethanol can compete at scale with high sugar content feedstocks, such as corn and sugar cane, and sugar beets.
      medezark@...
  • You guys are referring to Ethanol processes which are outdated

    Then fair is fair, we need to immediately stop using
    grain for beer and other such beverages. Think of the
    energy wasted, why not just drink water. Think of the
    land tied up in this wasted grain production.
    People pick and choose their points to fit their bias.
    Take away all government subsidies on ethanol, but
    make sure you do the same with oil, solar, wind &
    electric.

    Corn is cheap and viable. Until we can use other
    biomasses or Cellulosic ethanol we should use corn.
    Period. When you take away the incredible indirect
    land use rule corn based ethanol is 51% cleaner than
    gas. Get over your biases based upon media reports
    injected by the Grocery store association and oil
    companies. Like I said it isn't the golden ticket but
    it is a stepping stone in the right direction. Shoot
    the final solution might encompass algae. Who knows.
    america10
    • *Cough*

      One reason corn based ethanol is considered a viable option is that we OVER PRODUCE corn, driving down prices. Any combustion process is going to create greenhouse gases, either directly in the combustion process or within the conversion process. And don't forget that the products of ethanol combustion are WATER and CO2, with water being a much more potent greenhouse gas. Sugar Cane also has a much higher "energy yield" when converted to ethanol (About an 8 fold increase over equivalent corn input).

      But, on the positive side, the vast majority of corn produced in the united states is used for animal feed, rather than human consumption. And the processing of corn to ethanol actually yeilds a more protein rich animal feedstock, which should reduce the net flatulence of the animals which eat it. Tricky.

      That being true, the increase in food costs associated with recent oil price increases was probably caused by speculators rather than any "real" economic processes. (Someone needs to take a close look at the commodity markets. Recent commodity "bubbles" would seem to indicate that allowing these speculative markets to exist creates dangerous volativity that harm the economy as a whole.)

      In my opinion, the combustion age needs to be put on the fast-track to an early demise, regardless.
      medezark@...