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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thank you government for increasing carbon dioxide

Using ethanol to stretch out American oil supplies began in the 1970s. The tune changed to fighting global warming sometime in the 1980s, as the farm lobby found a steady customer for maize and soy.

But now the climate change crowd is turning on ethanol.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
A University of Wisconsin-Madison study shows that the shift of more than 7 million acres into cropland led to massive releases of carbon emissions into the atmosphere after a 2007 federal law mandated ethanol in gasoline. 
The increased carbon emissions is equivalent to 20 million new cars driving down American roadways every year, according to the researchers' estimates in the study released Wednesday.  
The findings show big changes in land use across the Midwest, including Wisconsin, and other parts of the United States between 2008 and 2012. That coincided with a change in federal law that required blending ethanol from crops like corn and soybeans into gasoline.
The federal Energy Information Agency reported that 10% of 143 billion gallons of gasoline came from ethanol in 2016. Wisconsin ranked ninth in carbon dioxide releases during the period due to farming practices, the study showed. The authors said most of the conversion to farmland came from pastures, forests and some wetlands.
The study underscores the unintended consequences of a federal policy meant to reduce America's reliance on fossil fuels.
I am not sure the university researchers are on the level. A farm would accommodate photosynthesis which converts carbon dioxide and water into hydrocarbons and oxygen, but what intrigued me was that last sentence: "The study underscores the unintended consequences of a federal policy meant to reduce America's reliance on fossil fuels."

Politicians and bureaucrats fall for simpleton solutions to complicated problems all the time. Look at gun control. Congress made it harder in 1968 to buy guns. The homicide rate immediately skyrocketed.

Still, I don't trust the study or the reporting on it. Buried in the story was this:
Geoff Cooper, executive vice president of the Renewable Fuels Association, took issue with the methodology of the UW study of using satellite photographs over time to judge changes on the landscape.
Cooper also said the number of acres of corn production in the U.S. has fallen more than 3% between 2007 and 2017 while production per acre increased by 16% since 2007.
"In other words, the additional corn needed to support expansion of the ethanol industry came from increased productivity on existing cropland — not from converting native grasslands into new cropland," Cooper said in a statement. 
While I disagree with Cooper's position on ethanol -- let the free market decide, not Congress -- his comment is reality based. Increasing production on the same amount of land is efficient. And given the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the years, this should spur some of that increased production.

Carbon dioxide is a nutrient, not a pollutant. It is good for the planet.

I cannot say the same for the federal government.


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  1. I don't care much about the carbon dioxide issue one way or the other. What I care about is the wear and tear on my old pickup truck (I just upgraded from a 1981 Ford to a 1992 Chevrolet). I go to Oliver's Fuels and Oils when I can afford to and fill up with non-ethanol gasoline. My truck runs a lot better and gets much better mileage per gallon. I had to overhaul the carburetor on my lawnmower because ethnanol ate up the gaskets, so I only use non-ethanol gasoline in my lawnmower and weedeater. They are both fifteen years old and still running smooth.

    Eliminate the ethanol mandate. Place ethanol-blended gasoline and non-ethanol gasoline pumps side by side at the filling stations. Let the consumers decide which one to purchase.

    Exit Question: If an ethanol industry fails on the prairie and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

    - Elric

  2. The deep state never does anything to benefit non-Beltway Americans, and the ethanol mandate is no exception. Here in Montana, I have to buy premium to (mostly) avoid this engine-ruining crap.

    1. MK, my MT brother! The custom tune on my 2006 Stang GT runs on 93. Gonna hi test 'til the day it dies, or I do, whichever comes first.

  3. A few years ago when hunting pheasants near a small Kansas town, we saw many piles of corn each several stories high at the rail head, unused and unsold. The market for it the year before had been great but the year I was there it tanked, so one of great over production, all ethanol driven decisions. When government programming drives market decision, there is always waste and ruin. So,
    Who will win the struggle for virtue, the environmentalists or the tree huggers? In Colorado the eagle was taken off the endangered species list so windmills could kill them with impunity. The idea was wind would replace Fossil,so oil drilling in the state could be regulated out of existence, which it nearly was, costing 60000 jobs.
    Maybe soon the virtue alarmists will go to real war, kill each other off, spare us, the birds, the land, and our machines.

  4. Let's not forget that wonderful mandated additive MTBE that got into our water supplies ... note ... not all the country's water supplies, just highly concentrated in areas mandated for reformulated gas use that the Dallas Fort Worth area.

    Ehtanol replaced MTBE.

  5. "The federal Energy Information Agency reported that 10% of 143 billion gallons of gasoline came from ethanol in 2016."

    No, that's a misstatement (lie?). Zero gallons of gasoline came from ethanol, ever.
    The gas station sells stuff that's 90 percent gasoline and ten percent ethanol.

  6. Using food (or a cattle feed) to power our transportation is a grotesquely uneconomic use of resources which would not be happening without Federal Government interference.

    It is just like solar, wind, electric cars and all of the so-called “green” technologies which will go away once the FedGov stops subsidizing them. It doesn’t surprise me that ethanol generates more carbon dioxide emissions that do fossil fuels. It is simply much less efficient than they are.

    I could not care less about carbon dioxide emissions. All of man’s such emissions have zero effect on climate mostly since they are relatively trivial in size and mostly consumed by plant growth.

    But what is really grotesque about ethanol is diverting food into gas tanks when people are starving.

    Steve in Greensboro

    1. Exactly. This is what the DOE hath given us. Burning food. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! The only alternative energy that has any viable future is solar and even that needs to be subsidized. Let the free market decide and get gummint out of the picture. - GOC

  7. So all that carbon from corn. Where did it come from? Did we import it from Mars? No, it was here, it was in the biosphere. We are recycling it time and time again.
    Contrast that with the plant food contained in fossil fuels. We now have more CO2 and H2O thanks to drilling and burning them.
    My only concern in all of this, is that if we ever get the truth from our government, we won't believe it. Not to worry though, won't happen in my life time.

    1. So all that carbon in coal? Did we import it from Mars?

      We've had higher and lower temperatures and CO2 amounts. Why don't you show us your calculations that show the ideal amount of both?

    2. There have been ice ages when CO2 has been much, much higher.

      Note, even when it was very high, millions of years ago, it was still just a trace gas.

  8. Thanks to George Mitchell (father of fracking) we have oil and gas to last for the next 500 years. We don't need to be burning ethanol.

    On the other hand the raw material used to produce ethanol-laced gasoline is edible. And (despite Norm Borlaug) there are plenty of poor people in the world that could use more food - or use cheaper food. By poor people I do not mean the overweight couch-potato poor of the US - I mean those living in South America and Asia with a few pieces of cardboard as their home. Dropping the price of grain a few pennies is often the difference between affording enough to eat and lacking the ability to buy enough food to feed a family.

    Solution is obvious. Stop the ethanol subsidies and export the excess grain as food.

  9. Any energy source that takes more BTU's to produce than you can get out of it as a fuel is just plain old effing dumb. It's a fraud and always was.

  10. Exactly. It is another federal boondoggle to fleece us deplorables in flyover country with a hidden tax. It's obvious to us rubes, but our betters in the federal government know what's best for us. And who is getting rich with those invisible, intangible RFS credits that increase fuel costs? The ethanol industry and federal mandate were fraudulent scams from their inception. Without the federal mandate they would never have gotten off the ground in the first place. - Elric