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Heard the One About the Farmer’s Ethanol?

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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:02 PM
Original message
Heard the One About the Farmer’s Ethanol?
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/07/books/07book.html
March 7, 2008
Books of The Times

Heard the One About the Farmer’s Ethanol?

By WILLIAM GRIMES

After motherhood and apple pie, energy independence probably qualifies as the most popular political slogan in the land. It is, as they say, a no-brainer. Robert Bryce agrees: You have to have no brain to think it is possible or even desirable.

In “Gusher of Lies,” Mr. Bryce, a freelance journalist specializing in energy issues, mounts a savage attack on the concept of energy independence and the most popular technologies currently being promoted to achieve it. Ethanol? A scam. Wind power? Sheer fantasy. Solar power? Think again. For the foreseeable future, which is to say the next 30 to 50 years, fossil fuels will reign supreme, as they have for the last century. Deal with it.

With all the gusto of a hunter clubbing baby seals, Mr. Bryce goes after one cherished green belief after another, but he is an equal-opportunity smiter. Having kicked the props from under every green technology in sight, he goes after the political right.

The current administration and its neoconservative allies, he argues, have made energy independence part of the war on terror, a moral and tactical blunder. “Energy independence, at its root, means protectionism and isolationism, both of which are in direct opposition to America’s long-term interests in the Persian Gulf and globally,” he writes.

...
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Buzz Clik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. Time out! Can you take a moment to educate a stupid man?
Detroit loves ethanol because it can use it to inflate fuel-efficiency ratings on their cars artificially. The mammoth Chevy Suburban, produced as a flex-fuel vehicle capable of burning both ethanol and gasoline, magically boosted its fuel efficiency to 29 miles per gallon from 15, since under federal rules only a vehicle’s gasoline consumption need be factored into the equation. Ethanol, in other words, has allowed American car manufacturers to produce more gas guzzlers and contribute to increased imports of foreign oil.


No. Please. No. Someone tell me that this is not true.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. A decent write-up
http://www.examiner.com/a-805394~Timothy_P__Carney__Big...
...

In 1988, however, Congress passed the Alternative Motor Fuels Act, carving out an exception to CAFE standards. If you made a “flex-fuel” car — a car that could run on a blend of 85 percent ethanol (any car can run on 10 percent ethanol, but most cannot handle a fuel blend of mostly ethanol) as well as gasoline — that car would give you huge credits toward your CAFE requirements.

The federal government would multiply ethanol’s mileage by 6.6 and assume all flex-fuel cars would use ethanol half the time. This means a car that gets 20 mpg on gasoline and 15 mpg on ethanol would be treated for CAFE purposes as if it got 60 mpg.

This summer, congressional Democrats are pushing for higher CAFE standards, with the 35-mpg average just adopted by the Senate seen by many as likely to be adopted by the House as well.

Currently, most compact cars do not get 35 mpg, and it is doubtful that automakers could bring their whole fleet up to that average. Even Toyota, whose massive sales of the hybrid Prius give the company a leg up, said a 35-mpg CAFE would be “difficult to meet.”

...
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Detroit's Flex-Fuel Credit is Missing its 'Flex'
http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=5&docID=wee...
...

This dual-fuel or flex-fuel credit was originally enacted in 1988 as a way to create a market for greater production of ethanol. If Detroit built cars and trucks that could run on an 85 percent ethanol blend called E85, the theory went, more fuel would be available, and ethanol stations would pop up all over.

They haven’t. In fact, the flaw in this law is that although the government calculates the mileage of dual-fuel cars and trucks on the assumption that they are run half the time on ethanol, hardly anyone actually uses the E85 fuel. The main reason they don’t use it is that ethanol is so rarely available. Only about 1,400 of the country’s 167,000 service stations sell E85; in eight states, including New Jersey and much of New England, there are no stations at all.

A 2002 National Academy of Sciences report, based on 1999 data, concluded that E85 accounted for just 1 percent of the fuel burned in dual-fuel vehicles. “The current incentives,” the academy wrote, “lower fleet fuel economy without corresponding benefits.”

Detroit, however, for years has used the flex fuel credit to meet fuel economy standards with some of the largest gas guzzlers on the market. The credit can be used to lower an automaker’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards up to a maximum of 1.2 miles per gallon through 2014 — a significant difference for some big companies.

...
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Buzz Clik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
2. By the way, who is the reviewer, William Grimes?
He seems to carry a bit of baggage into the conversation.
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justgamma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:36 PM
Response to Original message
5. 30 or 50 years?
"Ethanol? A scam. Wind power? Sheer fantasy. Solar power? Think again. For the foreseeable future, which is to say the next 30 to 50 years, fossil fuels will reign supreme, as they have for the last century. Deal with it."

So what then? We shouldn't even try?
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Captain Angry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 05:41 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. He must be a whole lot of fun to be around.

Ethanol is a scam. We need to stop funding that one right now.

But wind and solar are proven in other countries, we could be deploying it right now on a major scale. A particular administration doesn't see the value in that unfortunately.
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RC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Ethanol is a scam. Why is it only made from corn, a energy and water intensive food crop?
Edited on Sat Mar-08-08 07:02 PM by RC
The very fact that the bu$h administration thinks Ethanol from corn is a good idea should tell you something.
There are other much better crops to turn into Ethanol, such as sugar beets. We grow sugar beets up here and every year we let the excess rot in the ground. Last fall it was over 10% of the crop. Some years it has been as high as 15%. The farmer wasted time, energy and money growing these extra beets. He does not get reimbursed for whatever Crystal Sugar decides they don't want. The farmer has to suck it up once again because he is under contract to American Crystal Sugar to plant X number of acres.

The following is for American Crystal Sugar only. This doesn't include the rest of the sugar producers in the country. To give you a rough idea, 10% of 9.6 million tons is 960,000 tons of sugar beets left to rot in the Red River Valley alone. Crystal Sugar does this every year.



Comparison of the Years Ended August 31, 2006 and 2005

The harvest of the sugarbeet crop grown during 2005 and processed during fiscal 2006 produced a total of 9.6 million tons of sugarbeets, or 19.0 tons of sugarbeets per acre from 507,000 acres. This represents a decrease in total tons harvested of 5.8 percent compared to the 2004 crop.
http://sec.edgar-online.com/2006/11/29/0001104659-06-07...

South American uses sugar cane, not food crops for its Ethanol.
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losthills Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 07:12 PM
Response to Original message
8. I think people should look behind the propagandistic
motives of this piece.

Ethanol is not a "green technology," and has nothing in common with wind and solar power. Virtually every environmental organization is against it.

It looks to me like a pathetic attempt to drag renewables down by tying them to a technology that is an obvious scam. The author is trying to convince people that fossil fuels will continue to "rein supreme," but he is wrong....
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