The TRUTH about Ethanol: good for drunks, not cars
Recently, a number of politicians have been extolling the virtues of ethanol as an alternative energy source. But, by now you might have realized that when politicians advocate a policy change, constituents should run for the hills.
[T]he average retail price of E-85 ethanol fuel has risen faster than gasoline over the past year, and now costs nearly as much with the subsidies included [51 cents on every gallon of ethanol pumped].And who's pushing this national conversion to Ethanol?
And since a gallon of ethanol has only about two-thirds the btu-equivalent energy of a gallon of gasoline, the effective price of ethanol, despite the subsidies, is really about $4/gallon.
The biggest beneficiary of the subsidies is Archer Daniels Midland, which makes almost 40% of all ethanol fuel used in the United States, and a big chunk of that used in Brazil as well.
The underlying reality is far worse than the price. No matter how subsidized, production of enough corn to reach the three CEOs' [Ford, GM, and Chrysler] theatrical goal of 25% of transportation fueled by ethanol, would require planting 12-13% of the land area of the United States in corn, 270 million acres or .45 million square miles of cornfields.
These sad facts are known . . .
- corn ethanol, switchgrass ethanol, and wood ethanol consume 29%, 45%, and 57% respectively more btu's of fossil-fuel energy in their production, than they produce when they're burned as fuel [.]
- substituting ethanol for one gallon of gasoline from "imported oil," costs the nation $7.24. So much for "independence."
The organized groups outside government pushing hard for what Bill Ford senselessly called "the big-number game-changing ethanol play for this country," are a very strange new kind of "hybrid."Sounds just like the kind of people whose advice we shouldn't take - if we value our lives.
On one side are a pack of war-mongering neo-conservative in the Set America Free Coalition—Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, James Woolsey, Meyrav Wurmser and others straight out of meetings planning regime change throughout the Mideast and Asia.
But these neo-cons' major go-ethanol manifesto is signed by a group called the Apollo Energy Alliance, consisting of friends of Al Gore and George Soros, and various "progressive Democrats" and unionists.
The common father of this strange alliance is the George Shultz who created the George W. Bush Administration; Shultz's Rocky Mountain Institute with Amory Lovins, like Shultz's Committee on the Present Danger, began promoting the ethanol fraud as a way to attack the nations of the Middle East.
The ethanol part of the "flex-fuel" package is 100% fakery, along with related proposals to burn various products of "atholes."In short, the ethanol bandwagon is nothing but another corporate-sponsored neo-con scam that merely takes the nation down a different road to the same grisly economic demise.
By contrast, the hydrogen-fuel proposals, including some work by the major automakers, are potentially revolutionary for engine propulsion. But the best prospects for producing hydrogen efficiently involve, again, using the high heats from nuclear power plants to crack hydrogen out of ammonia or related stocks.* * *
The third element of "flex-fuel," electric-diesel hybrid engines, while obviously not fakery, changes nothing in the collapse of the U.S. auto sector, but a few more miles per gallon in a somewhat more expensive car.
The fundamental problem is real wages and unemployment, as the House Democrats reminded Bill Ford.
Overall U.S. auto sales are falling, this year toward the 16-16.5 million units characteristic of almost a decade ago. The sales drop is concentrated in—the upper Midwest region, where U.S. autos and auto parts are made! Fewer cars and light trucks are being bought by those Americans most inclined by loyalty to buy U.S.-made vehicles.
Car sales are shifting toward corporate and rental fleets and toward the wealthy. The three Cornball Brothers are kicking their own sales in the head by their layoffs and plant shutdowns and the shutdowns radiating from their effect.
Neither hybrids nor fuel mixes are going to revive sales in the teeth of continued globalization. The capacity is unutilized, by 50% or more. It is up to Congress to use it or lose it. American industry's most versatile remaining machine tool capabilities are fast disappearing now.
As one United Auto Workers union leader in a southern state succinctly put it recently, "the only thing you can run on ethanol, is an old drunk."Dubya might be interested, but to US ethanol is useless.