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Corn Shortage Hampers US Ethanol Production

timothy posted about a year ago | from the but-think-of-the-poor-candlemakers dept.

Transportation 419

drdread66 writes "A nationwide corn shortage brought on by last year's drought has started to curtail ethanol production. While this shouldn't be surprising to anyone, it raises public policy issues regarding ethanol usage requirements in motor fuel. Given that the energy efficiency of ethanol fuel is questionable at best, is it time to lift the mandate for ethanol in our gasoline?"

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419 comments

The Truth About Ethanol (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852407)

The ethanol industry has a history of abuses stretching back all the way to the Clinton years.

Most economy textbooks don't include the most important facts about how ethanol is critical to our economy.

Perhaps tellingly, several diplomats were barred from the country for agreeing with these claims.

Rich and powerful bankers have aggressively invested in and exploited ethanol, despite the danger it poses to ordinary citizens. Chances are they took a hint from Wikileaks.

Ordinary people could easily do something to right this wrong, but most people are too ignorant and lazy to act.

Next time you're in a major US university's library, try having the library fetch you their collections of prominent publications about sex. Don't be surprised when they say those books have been "checked out" since the Clinton years. Somebody doesn't want you reading them!

No moral person can in good conscience stand by while these injustices persist!

Re:The Truth About Ethanol (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852507)

The real truth is the shuttleworth ubuntu £inux illuminati are making ethanol scare to decrease the cost of Ubuntu Phones. Think about it, both Ethanol and Ubuntu Phones need corn for plastic and getting rid of the competition by making it 'scarce' and 'unreliable' is a great way of freeing up resources for the phones. But to what end? I believe they intend to undercut Android phone prices and take over the mobile market, which will put all your data in Canonicle's hands.

Re:The Truth About Ethanol (0, Offtopic)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#42853011)

omg that makes so much sense! microsoft please save us! we love you steve ballmer!

*burns anything that may have been even remotely related to linux*

Who cares if we are hungry... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852417)

... As long as we can drive around cars! Cleaner burning cars too!

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (5, Informative)

masternerdguy (2468142) | about a year ago | (#42852661)

Actually ethanol burns worse than gasoline and (if you make it our way) takes more energy to make than you get from burning it, but that's ok because of, well, I have to really reach for this one -- JOB CREATION!

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#42852775)

By burns worse are you saying it pollutes more? I guess it does contribute to greenhouse gases since one of the byproducts is Water Vapor.

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (4, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#42852935)

Burning most fuels will produce water, even lowly methane. I suspect the parent was referring to the lower energy density of ethanol; it's about two thirds that of petrol.

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42853175)

But if it produces sufficiently less noxious pollutants, it can be a net gain. For example, if you had to burn 3 gallons of ethanol for 2 of gasoline, if each gallon of ethanol was 50% of gasoline pollution, it'sa net gain.

I'd bother with the exact math, but it's more complicated with E10-E25 and I don't feel like chasing the numbers.

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (2)

NIK282000 (737852) | about a year ago | (#42853263)

Its a gain unless the farming, harvesting, transportation and fermenting process produces more pollution per litre than the equivalent petroleum mining and processing. I don't know the numbers on that either but it's not insignificant.

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852901)

But corn is heavily subsidized, so it's fucking CHEAP. That's the metric we use. When I pull into the Shell station, I really don't give a shit how much energy it took to make my fuel. I just need to get to In-N-Out.

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (5, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | about a year ago | (#42853285)

I'd actually be curious how ethanol does versus gas and oil once BOTH sides have all their subsidies removed.

Subsidies are a pox on the free market.

Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#42853029)

never heard of 'around cars'... are they norwegian? i'll be happy as long as mine has seats and a steering wheel

Ethanol: (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42853105)

It's what cars crave.

Question the Senate & electoral college system (1)

mozumder (178398) | about a year ago | (#42852427)

since that's the reason we have a disproportionate representation of Iowa in our national conversation.

It unfortunately values certain voters more than others, which can be fine in some situations (meritocracy? academic achievements?) but not in the current system, where being a resident of Iowa gives you extra power.

We really need a better system that translates values to political action, as well as questioning the values themselves.

Re:Question the Senate & electoral college sys (1)

amightywind (691887) | about a year ago | (#42852525)

The parties should conduct a three tier presidential primary. Start with two states, then 6 four weeks later, and the rest 6 weeks after that. I agree that Iowa and New Hampshire are not representative states. I also agree in assigning electoral votes by congressional district.

Re:Question the Senate & electoral college sys (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#42853051)

I doubt any one change would do the trick. The farm lobby is generally just very powerful, both in terms of lobby and social status.

Prices of goods (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852431)

Screw the ethanol. This probably means all the goods that contain high fructose corn syrup will go up too.

Re:Prices of goods (5, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year ago | (#42852753)

And that's a BAD thing?

One of the few facts I've seen with almost universal agreement on Slashdot is that HFCS soda tastes worse than sucrose soda. The only reason sucrose is more expensive in the USA is the trade blockade designed to favour the Florida sugar growers.

Other countries manage to survive on foods that are not packed full of HFCS. The corn lobby has given rise to an unnatural spiral of growth in its use in the USA.

What you will notice the most is the increased price of meat. 70% of corn grown in the USA goes to be feed for livestock, and you need 10 times the weight of corn for one weight of meat.

Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (4, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | about a year ago | (#42852461)

Least efficient way of making the stuff. The tractors burn more diesel harvesting the stuff than the energy it will produce. Greenwashing at its finest. There are better ways of producing ethanol like from legitimate byproducts with the help of industrial waste heat but that's not what they're doing in the USA. Far too many people on the ethanol subsidy gravy train over there.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (0)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#42852473)

But what else will fly over country produce?

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852719)

There are plenty of other crops that can be produced. However, the U.S. is so damned good at it that we can make way more than we can possibly use, and if we start exporting the extra it will demolish the local farm economy of any country that we sell to. The best answer would be to replace most of it with hemp. It would be better for bio-fuel, but there are plenty of other uses for it.

It might be possible to turn some of it into grazing land or otherwise use the land for dairy production, but the simple fact is that the U.S. has far more agricultural land than it needs.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (3, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#42852517)

Least efficient way of making the stuff. The tractors burn more diesel harvesting the stuff than the energy it will produce. .

Not that I am inclined to disagree, but please... [citation needed]

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (5, Informative)

FrangoAssado (561740) | about a year ago | (#42852699)

This is one of those topics where there are a lot of conflicting studies on the exact numbers (on how much energy you get compared to what you put in), but it seems that everyone agrees that corn ethanol is particularly bad: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_energy_balance [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852821)

Still the article points out corn ethanol produces 1.2 unit for every 1 unit put, so the original claim is wrong.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852803)

Citation? Common sense needs a citation?

Something tells me that even If you got a citation it wouldnt help....

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (1)

BrentNewland (2832905) | about a year ago | (#42852941)

Common sense does not require a citation. However, that post was not common sense. It was a made up "fact" based on what someone "felt" was right. In other words, that post was equivalent to religious doctrine.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (1)

sco08y (615665) | about a year ago | (#42853137)

Common sense does not require a citation.

However, that post was not common sense. It was a made up "fact" based on what someone "felt" was right.

In other words, that post was equivalent to religious doctrine.

Except people routinely feel like they'd like to lie or sleep around, so why doesn't religious doctrine say, "go right ahead"?

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | about a year ago | (#42852527)

I've read that hemp is a useful thing to grow to make various products like this.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#42852675)

The tractors burn more diesel harvesting the stuff than the energy it will produce.

Interesting.

Since WW2 Brazil has been using home grown ethanol as a fuel because they either couldn't get oil (I'm told this is what diesel is made from) or didn't want to pay high prices for it.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (5, Informative)

bird (12361) | about a year ago | (#42852743)

Brazil doesn't make ethanol from maize- they make it from sugar cane.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (1)

darkHanzz (2579493) | about a year ago | (#42852751)

Brazil mainly used sugar beets, I believe. In any case not corn. Corn is, as others mentioned, far from the best choice for producing ethanol

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852757)

the have more sun and they grow more efficient crops than corn !

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (5, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | about a year ago | (#42852787)

Since WW2 Brazil has been using home grown ethanol as a fuel because they either couldn't get oil (I'm told this is what diesel is made from) or didn't want to pay high prices for it.

Brazil AFAIK made ethanol from sugar cane. Sugar cane is an excellent choice for ethanol production; it is one of the most efficient plants when it comes to photosynthesis and it produces lots of sugar which is easy to turn into ethanol. Ethanol from sugar cane should have no problem producing more energy than is consumed.

Corn is just fairly crap all around when it comes to ethanol production.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852725)

Nah. Requiring the use of cellulosic ethanol in fuels before anybody knew how to make it, then fining producers for failing to include it fuel when it wasn't available at any price- that's the height of stupidity. Ethanol from corn is stupid, yes, but it's not even in the running for most stupidest.

Re:Ethanol from corn is height of stupidity (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#42852795)

I don't know but I'm having a hard time believing it costs more to harvest than the energy it will produce. Maybe you could provide a reference for that?

Kill Corn Subsidies! (5, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about a year ago | (#42852489)

Kill the corn subsidies, period. They prop up the house of cards that hold the corth ethanol and HFCS industries that would otherwise not exist because they can't survive in a real capital market.

The sooner these tax-payer-subsidized industries get the rug pulled from under them, the sooner things like cellulosic ethanol and other *real* technological innovations can come to fruition.

Re:Kill Corn Subsidies! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852549)

If you had your way then we'd all be reduced to using real sugar.

Re:Kill Corn Subsidies! (5, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about a year ago | (#42852727)

reduced to using real sugar

My point exactly. Make the industry stand on its own two legs goddammit. The US Government has enough money leaks already. Sure HFCS prices will rise without subsidies, but that's capitalism for you. Once industries are faced with the *real* price of corn, sugar and ethanol alternatives will be sought out and maximized. A cheap or cheaper alternative will be found, that's innovation.

Corn subsidies breed stagnation, not innovation.

Re:Kill Corn Subsidies! (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year ago | (#42852799)

Hell no. You might have to import it from those *shudder* socialist nations.

Re:Kill Corn Subsidies! (5, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about a year ago | (#42852917)

Corn subsidies don't promote really food security, they prop up a food additive industry, fuel industry and the ranching industry. If subsidies were targeted at *only* corn that was meant for direct human consumption (not animal feed, HFCS, etc)....then maybe it might be possible to label it as a "food security" program. But when the majority of corn acreage is dedicated for animal feed [usda.gov] or HFCS, or ethanol production, its much more than just a simple "food security" program...

Re:Kill Corn Subsidies! (3, Insightful)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year ago | (#42852837)

I concur. I'm very pro-farming in general, and I concur that farming subsidies have caused a lot of problems. While it's fairly obvious we should protect our domestic farming economy, there's less stupid and harmful ways of doing so.

Re:Kill Corn Subsidies! (3, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#42852849)

Yes...

Under the guise of protecting jobs, the sugar lobby bribed congress and congress instituted a sugar import quota system. The result is sugar prices are twice what they are in Mexico or Canada. The result is also that candy manufacturing has now largely moved to Mexico and Canada. Net result: a loss of jobs. Good job.

Easy Online Income (-1, Offtopic)

kupofatu (2837653) | about a year ago | (#42852491)

http://www.cloud65.com/ [cloud65.com] just as Phyllis explained I cannot believe that some people can get paid $6404 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you read this page

Re:Easy Online Income (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42853167)

Why hasn't this spamcunt been banned yet?

Never should have happened (5, Interesting)

trdtaylor (2664195) | about a year ago | (#42852493)

It never should have happened in the first place. Ethanol uses absurd amounts of energy to produce because you have to boil water from it
(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050329132436.htm)

This is not something we can tech out of. It's always going to be wasteful and one of the worst possible fuel choices for vehicles.

Re:Never should have happened (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#42852701)

Ethanol uses absurd amounts of energy to produce because you have to boil water from it

You're doing it wrong.

In Scotland and Ireland they boil the ethanol from the water.

You can't get pure alcohol that way (3, Informative)

cnaumann (466328) | about a year ago | (#42853209)

In the olden days, if you wanted nearly pure ethanol, you would first use simple distillation it to remove most of the water. Arguably, this is boiling the ethanol from the water. This gets you to about 96% purity, but it is impossible to remove the last 4% of the water with simple distillation. To get to nearly pure alcohol, you would add benzene or cyclohexane to the 96% pure mixture and continue boiling. The benzene from a three-way azeotrope and removes the last of the water by boiling. In this procedure, the pure alcohol is what is left over after the water, benzene and some of the alcohol is boiled away. You literally do "boil the water from it".

These days, molecular sieves are employed to remove the last of the water.

Not if you want to win votes in the farming states (5, Insightful)

Xenkar (580240) | about a year ago | (#42852503)

Corn ethanol is and probably always will be a handout to the farming states. It takes more oil to grow the corn for ethanol than we save from blending ethanol into our engines.

The rest of us are screwed over by this. It would be better for the economy and the environment to just calculate out how much profit the farmers are getting and just hand out yearly checks for that amount. But that would be socialism and we can't have any of that.

3D print some (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852531)

or grow it in (private) space. Problem. Solved!

This 7P for GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852573)

that FrreBSD is THINKING ABOUT IT.

Shouldn't have had the mandate... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#42852579)

Like 99.9% of government laws and regulations, we never should have had a mandate of ethanol in gas. Its bad for cars, makes no economic sense, and is actually less green (you've got to use more oil to make corn-based ethanol than it will save)

If we are going to use ethanol, it makes sense to use sugar like Brazil. Unfortunately the US has a pretty terrible climate for growing sugar except in a few key areas, and those few key areas have lobbied for massive tariffs on the importation of sugar, making it cost-prohibitive to import sugar from the areas of the world where it makes sense to grow sugar.

The US farming industry is a mess. Honestly, unless you are a factory farm, you're almost better off to buy an unproductive piece of ground, make a half-assed effort of farming it, take out crop insurance and live off the proceeds of that.

Re:Shouldn't have had the mandate... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42852651)

> Like 99.9% of government laws and regulations, we never should have had a mandate of ethanol in gas. Its bad for cars, makes no economic sense, and is actually less green (you've got to use more oil to make corn-based ethanol than it will save)

But it made us all feel good!

Re:Shouldn't have had the mandate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852915)

Like 99.9% of government laws and regulations, we never should have had a mandate of ethanol in gas.

Use of this rhetorical flourish is very telling.

Its bad for cars, makes no economic sense, and is actually less green (you've got to use more oil to make corn-based ethanol than it will save)

Wrong, it's not bad for cars that are designed to use it, and complaining that cars need to be fixed for it is as wrong headed as burning unleaded gasoline would be because your old engine needs whatever that particular poison offered before it was eliminated.

And no, you don't need to use more oil to make corn-based ethanol, the people who came up with those numbers used shoddy math, such as charging the whole cost of growing a field when less than 100% of the product when to making ethanol. I'm not sure of the exact margins, but really, don't you think it'd matter if a third of the product went to feedstock instead?

If we are going to use ethanol, it makes sense to use sugar like Brazil. Unfortunately the US has a pretty terrible climate for growing sugar except in a few key areas, and those few key areas have lobbied for massive tariffs on the importation of sugar, making it cost-prohibitive to import sugar from the areas of the world where it makes sense to grow sugar.

You left out a word. But actually, research is being done for all sorts of options such as Switchgrass to be used instead.

The US farming industry is a mess. Honestly, unless you are a factory farm, you're almost better off to buy an unproductive piece of ground, make a half-assed effort of farming it, take out crop insurance and live off the proceeds of that.

You don't want to know what the mess is like in other places then.

corn no, hemp yes (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852615)

The cost to manufacture corn ethanol is approximately equal to that of gasoline, after all of the subsidies given to the growing of corn. Hemp ethanol is significantly cheaper and does not have subsidies. Hemp ethanol manufacture estimates a cost of $.50 per gallon. There are ethanols that are viable replacements for gasoline. Corn ethanol is not one of them.

Re:corn no, hemp yes (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#42853255)

Smoke the hemp and people won't want to go anywhere or do anything. Think of all the fuel we will save.

Corn is food (1)

X10 (186866) | about a year ago | (#42852625)

Corn shortage should affect food supply, not methanol production. Biofuel from corn is the most cynical thing humans have invented.

Re:Corn is food (1)

amorsen (7485) | about a year ago | (#42852817)

That is actually the only benefit of corn ethanol. It ensures an oversupply of corn compared to consumption for food in average years, and in drought years you can just stop producing ethanol.

It would admittedly be cheaper and less wasteful to mandate that the government buys 20% of the corn production in non-drought years and buries it in the ground...

It has always been about political bribery. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852659)

Ethanol in gasoline has always been about large producers bribing congress to force its use and increase their profits. It is a terrible idea from a practical point of view. Now that renewable energy is cheaper than fossil, it will be interesting to see how congress reacts . . . with all the petro money going their way to maintain our dependence on the fossil fuels.

Of course we know how they will react from experience. Just like with "health care reform," where we are forced to pay twice as much for our health care as the best in the world . . . for the crappiest health care in the industrial world . . . congress will side with the wealthy and screw us again. Bet on it.

http://PoiesisResearch.com/Handbook.php

Fuck Archer Daniels Midland (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852771)

With a fucking CORN COB.

Not good for vehicles! (2)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year ago | (#42852825)

There is finally a local gas station that sells ethanol-free gas. Suddenly, my truck's mileage jumped from 18 mpg to 20 mph. The stuff was actually wasting fuel! It may be a great idea in Iowa, but it sucks out here.

Re:Not good for vehicles! (5, Informative)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year ago | (#42853087)

It doesn't "waste fuel". Ethanol is less energy-dense than gasoline. Your vehicle was extracting the same percentage of energy from the ethanol as it was from gasoline (more or less, and a piss poor fraction it is, too). There's just less energy to be had per gallon. So yes, you get better mileage from pure gasoline. It has better energy density.

Re:Not good for vehicles! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42853331)

I bet he pays the same price per gallon for ethanol gas even though its less energy dense. Its like putting sawdust (cellulose) in bread (another newly popular corporate trick as it counts as 'fiber').

Re:Not good for vehicles! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42853277)

Ethanol isn't added to fuel to gain more energy. (Well, not gasoline, some others it might). The benefit is cleaner tailpipe exhaust. The lower energy was recognized and understood, and compared to the air quality, considered an acceptable trade-off.

Your choice, pay in the lungs or at the pump.

This has always been a bad idea. (3, Insightful)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year ago | (#42852827)

While the overwhelming majority of corn turned into fuel ethanol is not human consumable, it is used as feed for livestock. The economic implications have already hit. Food prices are rising, as producers get squeezed. End consumers don't want more expensive meat. This goes the entire way up the stack, with pricing accordingly.

Not only that, but every acre of ethanol production corn is one less acre of food for human or animal consumption. So, veggies and starches go up as well. Not as much as livestock feed prices, but quite a bit.

Gets better. You need to grow the corn in advance of pouring it into a gas tank. Makes sense, right? Which means you'll have a minimum of one year of higher food prices across the board, as that is how far in advance (minimum) that corn production is locked in. It would be more intelligent to scale things back down slowly, but I doubt it'll happen. Worse, the EPA wants to move to 15% ethanol. Which is VERY bad for small engines not built for it. That's a couple billion dollars of motorcycles, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, generators, etc that may be damaged by higher ethanol rates. This sort of thing needs to be planned out a decade in advance, ideally.

Only the corn lobby, politicians accepting campaign donations and "environmentalists" made out on this one. Yes, some less bright environmentalists pushed for it as increasing "renewable" energy. Just because something is technically renewable doesn't mean we should do it. Burning food in our cars isn't the ideal solution. The environment and everyone in the US buying food took the hit for them. Thanks guys.

I'd rant about synthetic hydrocarbon fuels pulled from atmospheric carbon and cracked water (to provide hydrogen and oxygen), but I honestly don't feel like it at the moment. Back to programming the firewall.

Re:This has always been a bad idea. (1)

jjjhs (2009156) | about a year ago | (#42853079)

Politicians have no remorse for the damage it causes in vehicles and to those people getting the repair bills.

Consolidated Cornholio, or what? (1)

blagooly (897225) | about a year ago | (#42852869)

Big Corn state's Iowa Caucus is the first vote for president. Therefore I contend, the corny ethanol policy. Why? Lazy me. Party rules? A law that prevents the other 49 from being first? A Corn Dictus.

yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852897)

who came up with this legislation anyway?

Other problem (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#42852927)

Oh, so now it's a problem.
The fact that we the first world are plundering resources from poor countries.
Corn here. Palm oil instead of food there.
Time we start caring.

Misleading summary (3, Insightful)

Sarusa (104047) | about a year ago | (#42852945)

Should be 'A nationwide corn shortage brought on by ethanol mandates, as designed by the people who imposed them'.

Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42852987)

Bioethanol made from corn in the US releases more CO2 equivalent per joule than either gasoline or diesel and is basically subsidised pollution. Anything that reduces the ability to pollute on this scale is a good thing. The USA is looking increasingly insane to the rest of the world, which isn't to say we don't think that you're batshit bananas already.

Earie crisis stalks land. May pop soon.... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#42853095)

So, we make less net-energy negative fuel... And release less of this energy as heat into the atmosphere. Thanks for letting us know! Is there any downside?

No more corn juice in my fuel!!! (5, Interesting)

jddeluxe (965655) | about a year ago | (#42853111)

I drive one of the most common cars in the U.S., a Honda Accord with with a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. I'm lucky to have a station nearby that sells ethanol-free gasoline, and I originally switched just to test, but over the long term, I'm paying 1-2% more for ethanol-free gas, but have have gotten 5-7% better gas mileage. Adding 10% corn-based ethanol to gas makes it cost more to drive the same distance, and adds to fossil fuel pollution by itself while being used and additionally throughout it's production cycle from corn stalk to your tank....

Corn was a bootstrap (3, Insightful)

stox (131684) | about a year ago | (#42853127)

The concept was that by establishing a market for ethanol as a fuel, it would then justify investment in other technologies to generate ethanol. The bootstrap would significantly reduce the risk of developing those technologies. Now is the time to cut the subsidies for Corn based ethanol production and to push the alternatives.

Of course not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42853189)

"...Given that the energy efficiency of ethanol fuel is questionable at best, is it time to lift the mandate for ethanol in our gasoline?"..."

Every time someone uses fossil fuel instead of my highly profitable ethanol a kitten dies. Won't somebody think of the polar bears? Our children will never see snow in their lifetimes!!!

Biofuel and world hunger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42853231)

At least we got a good tee shirt out of it.

http://thepeoplescube.com/peoples-blog/biofuels-causing-world-hunger-one-fill-up-at-a-time-t7438.html

shortage? what shortage? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#42853299)

The only shortage is in intelligence, what is needed is a shortage in greedy bastards trying to squeeze out every penny from the unwitting public. Corn is not the only producer of ethanol. The issue is not the origin of fuel but in the efficient use of it. This administration had the big three auto makers over a barrel (excuse the pun), but instead, paid them off with big fat bonuses all the while the consumers, ie taxpayers got the shaft. We can put man in space, put spacecraft out to the edges of the solar system, joyride on Mars, and yet, 25 to 35 miles per gallon is the best we can do. If you cannot see the logic of a situation, look at the money and where it's going and where it ends up.

Get rid of the subsidy (2)

brianerst (549609) | about a year ago | (#42853373)

It was always a bad idea. Ethanol has a low energy density, binds with water (requiring energy to separate out), can only be blended in low amounts with gasoline without destroying existing engines and the corn variety is probably net energy negative given the energy inputs.

If you want to drive a bio- or alt-fuel industry, it would be much better to have an ever-rising stored-carbon tax (i.e., a tax on the amount of stored "fossil" carbon release per unit of energy). We could then import untaxed bio-ethanol from places where the economics and fuel cycle makes more sense (like Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane and bagasse). You could even make the tax rebatable on the few carbon-negative alternatives out there - Cool Planet Fuels [coolplanet.com] supposedly has a carbon-negative fuel cycle that outputs high-octane gasoline and biochar at an unsubsidized $1.50 a gallon that is going into production this year.

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