Farmers in Colorado and elsewhere are just thrilled with Bush’s push for ethanol produced from corn. Of all the alternative sources of fuel, however, at least according to all the scientific studies I have read – don’t our leaders read the research? – it would be hard to come up with a worse one than corn. And encouraging and pouring research money and investment down such a rat hole makes about as much sense as our fearless leader’s surge, but at least it isn’t costing lives.
Corn to ethanol is a lousy idea for many reasons, a few of which are: 1) it takes as much energy to produce as you get out of it. 2) it does essentially nothing to reduce greenhouse gases. 3) it will inflate corn prices (and has), an effect which will trickle down in the form of increased prices of animal feed, along with an the associated inflationary spiral in food prices (beef, chicken, pork, eggs, etc. and the products made from these products). The increased price of our exported corn is also affecting the folks who can least afford the increase south of our border for whom corn is a staple of their diets.
Anyway, in reading the article I noted the following misleading use of numbers. The article first states that ethanol “gets 30% fewer miles to the gallon than gas,” which sound about right from other reading I have done. It later goes on to say:
I think that the main reason that Mr. Rock (in the above quote) is not too upset about the increase in feed prices for his cattle due the rising cost of corn caused by the ethanol 'surge,' is that in all likelihood this increase will just be passed on in the form of the higher prices he gets for his beef. But the main thing that bothered me about the above statement is the implication that the E85 fuel (85% ethanol which is now available at my local Colorado gas station) is a better buy than gasoline. If one does the arithmetic (the ‘math’ or ‘maths’ as some people improperly call it – just kidding!), it ain’t so. If gasoline gets ‘X’ miles/gallon and ethanol gets 30% less, as stated above, then ethanol gets .70 X miles/gallon. or (7/10) X miles/ gallon. So to get an equivalent number of miles out of ethanol you are going to have to buy 10/7 times as many gallons of ethanol as you would have of gasoline, which is equivalent to paying (10/7) ($2.43) or $3.47 a gallon, which is 12 cents per gallon more expensive than gas!<“in Yuma county, where gas costs around $3.35 a gallon in recent weeks—ethanol E85 fuel was $2.43 per gallon—seldom is heard a discouraging word. Even Brad Rock, who is being hit hard by rising feed prices for the 4,000 head of cattle on his Box Elder Ranch in nearby Wray, admits that the ethanol projects ‘are good for the community from a jobs perspective.’”>
So, beware of ethanol peddlers bearing gifts! (>:)
Ken G – July 10, 2007