Ethanol, Devastating the Environment, But Good For Business

03One gallon of gasoline contains 19.56 pounds of carbon dioxide whereas one gallon of Ethanol, containing 12.57 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon, is pushed as more environmentally friendly. But is it? Comparing apples to oranges isn’t based in reality.

A gallon of gasoline contains 124,262 British Thermal Units [BTUs] of energy and Ethanol only 76,000 BTUs. With only 61% of the energy of gasoline, it requires 1.635 gallons of Ethanol to do the same amount of work. Now we’re getting somewhere.  A gallon of gasoline at 19.56 pounds of carbon dioxide verses ethanol [1.635 gallons] at 20.55 pounds of carbon dioxide. Suddenly Ethanol doesn’t look quite as good!

Let’s look at mileage! In 2013 Ethanol production was 13,300 million gallons. 13,300 million gallons times 48,262 [reduction in BTUs] equals 641,885 billion BTUs less than the equivalent in gasoline. With the average vehicle requiring 6,821 BTUs per mile, Ethanol causes consumers to lose 94 billion miles of free travel annually due to poor mileage.

Not only are consumers losing mileage, they’re paying more at the pump. Refineries pay for a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) for every gallon of gasoline which is not produced below the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the cost of which is passed on to consumers. The Wall Street Journal calls this the “Unicorn Tax,” a tax on something which does not exist. 2013 RFS demanded that 16.55 billion gallons of ethanol or 394 billion barrels [42 gallons per barrel] be blended with gasoline. Through August 2013, only 206 million barrels were produced and only about 309 million barrels are expected to be produced in 2014.   The Energy Information Administration reported that the RIN price averaged about 66 cents per gallon in 2013, so the shortfall in production increased the price of gasoline at the pump about $2.4 billion.

Send your thank you to G.W. Bush and Obama. Bush signed the ethanol mandate into law and Obama made it part of his green energy policy to fight the nonexistent global warming.  We were told Ethanol would  make the country “stronger, cleaner and more secure.” But as seen from the facts above, if a cleaner environment was the goal, there are a lot more ignorant bureaucrats in D.C. than I ever imagined. It is more likely that, like most of the global warming scam, Ethanol was a means to transfer America’s cash into the pockets of the Big Green Machine. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack admitted as much when he told lobbyists that “That Ethanol was good for business.”

Corn uses more land than any other crop, spanning some 97 million acres, roughly the size of California, consuming an estimated 5.6 cubic miles per year of irrigation water withdrawn from our rivers and aquifers. In addition, over 5.6 million tons of nitrogen, is applied each year through chemical fertilizers, along with nearly a million tons of nitrogen from manure that washes into our lakes, rivers and coastal waters. Roughly 40% of that crop is used for Ethanol and about 36% goes for animal feed, leaving only about 24% as a food crop, the majority of which is exported. Only a tiny fraction is used for food in America, and much of that for high-fructose corn syrup, something we could all live without.

As the global price of corn doubled in 2007, farmers rushed to find new places to plant, wiping out millions of acres of conservation land, destroying habitat and polluting water supplies. Five million acres of land set aside for conservation, more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined, have vanished on Obama’s watch. And that doesn’t take into account the 10 million acres needed each year to grow soybeans for biodiesel.

It takes almost 5 billion bushels of corn to produce over 13 billion gallons of ethanol fuel. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon gas tank with ethanol can feed one person for a year, so the amount of corn used to make that 13 billion gallons of ethanol will not feed the almost 500 million people it was feeding in 2000. This is the entire population of the Western Hemisphere outside of the United States.

In March 2014,  an IPCC working group released a report stating, in essence,  that growing crops for fuel posed a risk to the ecosystems and biodiversity of the planet. The International Institute for Sustainable Development was not so diplomatic. They estimated that climate benefits from replacing fossil fuels with biofuels were basically zero.

So why is the EPA pushing increased use of Ethanol? Ethanol increases gasoline prices, destroys mileage, emits more carbon dioxide than gasoline, destroys land, pollutes water, eliminates a food source for millions and drives up the price of food. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost of the damage it does to our vehicles.   Is it possible that this global warming scam is just that – a scam?

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