There are more ethanol costs than meets the eye

Editor:

When it comes to ethanol stories and letters, it seems amazing that we never get to see, read, or hear about the hard problems with this issue.

Steve Templin (Letters, Dec. 17, 2009) was correct in talking about the increase in ethanol use would benefit farmers and the industry, and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. However, like most programs mandated by the government, this has real problems that were not discussed and reviewed ahead of time.

The process of making ethanol releases more greenhouse gasses into the air than anyone wants to admit; it takes millions of gallons of water per day to operate that factory; and that, in turn requires more facilities to clean up the water before it can be returned to the waterways. The government (which is you and I as taxpayers ) pays the ethanol maker 50 cents per gallon beyond the manufacturing cost to make it, and any cost analysis I have seen does not include the trucking costs involved to get the corn ( or whatever biomass is used) to and from the factory.

The storage life of ethanol is much shorter than gasoline, therefore, every state could need two to six ethanol plants, which brings into play the “not in my backyard” syndrome. And most of all, gas mileage is reduced by 10 to 15 percent. Therefore, if you now fill your gas tank every seven days, you will have to fill it every six days (or drive less), and you will have already paid 50 cents per gallon in extra taxes.

If the goal is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we could probably do it cheaper just by drilling for our own oil — we have lots — or convert cars to natural gas — we have lots of that also.

I doubt electric cars are the answer. Where do we get all the added electricity to plug them into, since we cannot build any more generating plants?

Maybe this would be a good project to investigate and report in the Farm and Dairy. Everyone seems to depend more and more on you for the information that affects all of us in this part of the country.

H. Sidney Case
Cortland, Ohio

3 Comments

  1. Matt Cain says:

    There are several inaccuracies in this opinion piece that should be corrected:

    1) There is no need to have an ethanol plant in every state. Ethanol is routinely transported and stored across the nation. Typically this is through the rail system, although trucks are used for more localized deliveries.

    2) With an E10 blend, you pay 5 cents per gallon for the ethanol subsidy, not 50 cents per gallon of gasoline. There is only 1/10th of a gallon of ethanol in E10.

  2. Pyotr Petrovich says:

    Reply to H. Sidney Case from Cortland, OH

    There is no $0.50 per gallon subsidy to ethanol plants; the “blender’s credit” of $0.45 is collected by the oil companies who blend and distribute. In order for the ethanol mandate to get through congress, they apparently had to gift this money to the oil magnates. For you to have missed this point is an insult to the ethanol plants and their farmer owners/suppliers.

    Where in the world did you come up with the idea that ethanol can not be stored? Ethanol is shipped by sea freight around the world and can be stored forever. If you leave gas/ethanol blend in your lawnmower over the winter, the cheap gaskets may dissolve, so it is better to drain the tank until you get a new mower with better gaskets made for ethanol. This is a gasket problem not an ethanol problem.

  3. Brian says:

    Yes, why are we capping all our oil wells and restricting oil and gas development. We have been hoodwinked. There is plenty of oil in Alaska, continental US, Gulf of Mexico, both coasts and Canada for hundreds of years, not weeks like the US Government has been telling us.

    Also, based upon the very own EPA our air quality is better now than it was in 1956, so where is all the pollution? The only place pollution can be found is in the minds of the socialist.

    What about natural gas, something this country has an abundance of; where is the drive to build vehicles that burn natural gas? It’s not happening.

    Lets face some facts, we have been lied to for so long we don’t know which way is up. And you can bet the farm this whole ethanol drive is part of the lie too.

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