Ethanol is not such a great idea

illustration by akdart
Ethanol is one of those great ideas that aren't necessarily as harmless, beneficial, feasible or affordable as its proponents claim.  The production of ethanol requires a lot of energy, and takes corn away from farmers and other consumers.  Growing lots of corn depends on good weather, which is not a given.  Our country's supplies of oil and gas respond to political and economic pressures, but at this point, crude oil is much easier to acquire than corn -- in quantities great enough to run millions of automobiles and trucks.

Ethanol is a gasoline additive -- an extender -- but it is not superior to gasoline.  The combustion of ethanol does not produce nearly as much energy per gallon as gasoline.  The production of ethanol (as a replacement for gasoline) is not economically feasible without government subsidies.
Ethanol can't be sent in an energy-efficient way through pipelines like gasoline can, because it would be contaminated by moisture along the way.  It must be shipped instead by trucks, barges and railroads.  In addition, all that extra corn farming means more fertilizer and pesticide use, along with increased irrigation.  More diesel fuel will be needed to run the tractors and the harvesters.*
This material came from Recently, the price of corn has suddenly increased, which has driven up the price of soybeans and other food crops.  The rising price of corn is the reason for the sudden jump in the price of Cheetos, Doritos, and everything else that rhymes with Fritos.  There has been an outbreak of food riots around the world because food is in short supply.

Ethanol stands as an example of just another exaggerated claim by utopian environmentalists who have come up with several other supposedly good ideas that may not be good at all.

Biden Admin Reportedly Set To Greenlight Rule Change That Could Spike Gas Prices — But Not Until After The Election.  The Biden administration is expected to ease seasonal restrictions on ethanol-gasoline blends but has delayed the change until after the 2024 election to avoid a price spike, according to Reuters.  The rule change stems from a 2022 request from the governors of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin to allow the sale of gasoline with 15% ethanol year-round, known as E15 gasoline, lifting current seasonal restrictions that aim to reduce smog in the summer months, according to Reuters.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had originally set an effective date of April 28, 2024, for the changes when the agency sent the proposal to the White House in December, but that is now expected to be pushed back to 2025.  Top oil refiners, including HF Sinclair Corp. and Philips 66, have warned against the change, saying that it would complicate fuel supply logistics and increase the risk of area shortages, possibly raising prices, according to Reuters.  The ethanol industry has lobbied for the changes, saying that the environmental concerns are exaggerated.

It's Time For Our Government To Divorce Itself From Its Bad Laws.  Ethanol is an industry that enjoys no natural market.  The only reason the ethanol market exists is because of government mandates.  And who are the beneficiaries of this corporate welfare funded out of your pocket?  You?  Of course not.  No, it's mainly members of the farm/finance/producers cabal in the form of the Renewable Fuels Association.  This ethanol boondoggle translated into a $41 billion industry in 2021 and is expected to grow to $124 billion by 2030, money that comes out of your pocket and could be spent elsewhere if it were not, literally, being set on fire.  The worst part of the entire ethanol fiasco is the fact that not only does it not achieve any of its stated — and oft-changing — objectives but that it actually causes a wide array of unintended consequences, none of which are good.  Number one is the fact that it drives up the cost of one of the most important foodstuffs in the world, corn, the price for which has more than doubled over the last 20 years.  The unnecessary expense of ethanol also drives up the price of virtually every other thing in the economy, from food to transportation to plastics.

The UK has switched to E10 petrol.  Here's what it is and what it means.  The US of A is quite fond of blending ethanol with its petrol, supplementing the fossil-based fuel with some farm-fresh booze in order to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.  But that's America, where farm subsidies prop up corn production to the point that they use it as a sweetener instead of sugar.  And for making each drop of petrol go further — handy when you're driving a Yank-spec behemoth.  The other argument is to reduce carbon emissions.  The idea is that ethanol has less carbon than petrol — just two carbon atoms per molecule to petrol's average of eight — so burning it will release less carbon dioxide.

Mercola: The Stupidity of Ethanol as "Green" Energy.  Carbon neutrality is the holy grail of the biofuel industry.  It refers to a product that has net zero carbon emissions.  In the case of ethanol, the corn or soybeans grown to produce it would have to remove as much carbon dioxide from the environment as is given off when the ethanol is burned.  The manufacture and use of ethanol in the U.S. has been allowed to expand based on the assumption that it's carbon neutral and therefore far better for the environment than gasoline.  However, a 2016 study1 by professor John DeCicco, Ph.D., at the University of Michigan, showed that such assumptions were categorically false.

Big Ethanol vs.  Electric Vehicles.  One of the more entertaining spectacles in Washington these days is the industrial-policy competition between the climate and ethanol lobbies.  The Biden Administration this week handed both sides a victory, yet as usual neither is satisfied.  The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday finalized its long-awaited renewable fuel standards for 2023 to 2025.  The standards dictate how much ethanol and other so-called biofuels must be blended into the nation's fuel supply.  Refiners have to buy credits if they don't meet quotas, which raises the price of gasoline.  Corn farmers, ethanol producers and Iowa politicians are irate becausethe EPA didn't increase the mandated volume for conventional renewable fuels. "The rule is totally inconsistent with this administration's climate agenda because everybody knows that both biodiesel and ethanol is environmentally positive," Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said.

The Nanny State Stains a Deck.  When candidates run for public office — local, state, or federal — they campaign on some careful blend of their résumés, their personalities, and their political issues. [...] Candidates don't run on these regulatory issues, and voters certainly never vote for candidates on the expectation that they will do such things to them if elected.  But it happens every day.  For decades, the federal government has mandated that automotive gasoline include a percentage of corn ethanol, which is destructive to our vehicles' engines, causes an increase in the price refiners must charge for their blends, and unnecessarily burns up a necessary food source, raising the prices of staples (such as cornmeal) on the global market, contributing to the starvation of millions.  This regulation benefits nobody but a few lobbyists and bureaucrats and maybe a couple of politicians.

The Nanny State Stains a Deck.  When candidates run for public office — local, state, or federal — they campaign on some careful blend of their résumés, their personalities, and their political issues. [...] Candidates don't run on these regulatory issues, and voters certainly never vote for candidates on the expectation that they will do such things to them if elected.  But it happens every day.

Ethanol Subsidies Could Trip Up Debt Ceiling Negotiations.  What could possibly be more important than avoiding the federal government's first-ever debt default?  For some Midwestern Republicans, the answer might be ethanol subsidies.  "A bloc of at least eight corn belt Republicans are a hard 'no' on" House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) bill to raise the debt ceiling unless proposed cuts to ethanol tax credits are removed from the package, Axios reported Tuesday.  That group reportedly includes all four members of Congress who represent Iowa and at least four other Republican lawmakers from other "corn belt" states.  Because Republicans have a slim 222 [to] 213 majority in the House, any group of five lawmakers can hold considerable leverage by threatening to vote against a bill.  That's the same dynamic that allowed a small breakaway faction of Republicans to hold up McCarthy's election as speaker in January — but now there are stakes that actually matter, as the Treasury is tipping dangerously close to a possible default if the debt limit is not raised in the coming weeks.

Carbon Capture Is a Woke Fantasy.  Private industry is currently developing new processes/technologies to capture and sequester CO2 from ethanol fermentation plants.  Plans are underway for Colorado and Nebraska to pioneer this process, and to start burying CO2 from ethanol in 2024.  Ethanol production is a big business, consuming more than 40% (!) of the U.S. corn crop.  Last summer, to help lower gas prices, Biden increased the amount of ethanol that must be added to gasoline from 10% to 15%.  Ethanol's chemical composition is C3H5OH — almost a hydrocarbon itself, but for that outlying oxygen molecule.  Ethanol is corrosive to car engines, and its production results in a net loss of energy: "Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion to ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make 1 gallon of ethanol ... [which] has an energy value of only 77,000 BTU."  The largest players in the CCUS business by far are the Darth Vaders of climate change:  oil companies.  For decades, oil and gas producers have injected exhaust, like CO2, and water from well sites back into the wells to pressurize the rocks and stimulate production.  Today, however, carbon capture is being embraced by oil companies on a massive scale.

The Democrat War on Fossil Fuels.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) makes the business of refining oil difficult.  The law provides broad powers to the EPA.  It "directs the EPA Administrator to revise regulations to ensure that domestic transportation fuel sold or introduced into commerce, on an annual average basis, contains a specified volume of renewable fuel."  The George W. Bush Administration and a bipartisan majority in Congress enacted the EISA providing authority to the EPA to dictate terms for the blending of renewable fuels in refineries.  In 2021, 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol were blended into gasoline.  Unfortunately for refiners, they were mandated by the EPA to blend 20.17 billion gallons.  Since there was a shortfall in EPA mandated ethanol consumption in 2021, refiners had to purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) credits to make up the difference.  Each gallon of ethanol produced as a biofuel for blending comes with a D6 RIN.  Each refiner/blender has a quota imposed by the EPA based on its annual mandate and the production capacity of the refinery.  If the refinery blends more than its quota, the surplus RINS may be sold as credits on the market.  If the refinery blends less than its quota, it must purchase RINS to make up the difference.  If no RIN credits are available on the market, they may be bought from ethanol producers.  In 2021 refiners had to purchase RIN credits for 6.27 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels they did not consume.

Biden's gas scam.  Just a couple of days ago on Larry Kudlow I again read "gas prices are down."  Even the leading minds in the economy have bought into this.  But in reality, gasoline prices are not down.  The whole gasoline affair is a successful con that the Biden administration has so far pulled on Americans.  The essence is this: for passenger cars, which dominate the nation's highways and city streets, ethanol alcohol is not fuel.  It takes up space in your tank; over time, it corrodes the engine.  Other than that, it evaporates.  You will not get any mileage out of ethanol; diluted ethanol is simply vodka, and if you fill your tank with vodka, it will not run.  The engines of our passenger cars are designed to run on petrol, a product made out of oil and not out of quickly fermented wheat, sugar cane, and the like, as is ethanol.  The difference in mileage is quite significant, ca. 25%. Nobody notices because one cannot get pure gas anymore, and thus comparison of the mileage is eliminated.

Ethanol and Biodiesel: Few Benefits, Many Problems.  Accounting for its effects on fuel economy, air quality, and food prices, biofuels likely produce net harms on balance.
  •   Ethanol and biodiesel are biofuels made from agricultural products.
  •   Ethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline, which means vehicles get fewer miles per gallon.
  •   Per unit of equivalent energy, ethanol produces more carbon dioxide than normal gasoline.
  •   Ethanol use in gasoline spiked after the banning of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and the passage of the 2005 Renewable Fuel Standard program, from 1.5 percent of gasoline consumption in 2002 to 10.3 percent in 2020.
  •   Ethanol fuels produce more nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other air pollutants, which contribute to worsening air pollution, especially in summer months.

Ethanol must go!.  In June, the Biden regime raised the amount of ethanol required to be produced in 2022 to 15 billion gallons.  The supposed reason was to "reduce our reliance on foreign oil," which we easily do could do by drilling for more oil. [...] The claim that ethanol is a renewable fuel is not only dubious, it is a lie.  In a study dating back to 2009, a Cornell agricultural scientist found that an acre of U.S. corn yields about 7,110 pounds of corn for processing into 328 gallons of ethanol.  But planting, growing and harvesting that much corn requires about 140 gallons of fossil fuels.  The energy economics get worse at the processing plants, where the grain is crushed and fermented.  As many as three distillation steps are needed to separate 8 percent ethanol from 92 percent water.  Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion to ethanol, 131,000 Btu are needed to make 1 gallon of ethanol.  One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 Btu.  This means that 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in ethanol.  Ethanol is not a renewable resource.

Halt use of biofuels to ease food crisis, says green group.  Governments should put a moratorium on the use of biofuels and lift bans on genetic modification of crops, a green campaigning group has urged, in the face of a growing global food crisis that threatens to engulf developing nations.  Ending the EU's requirement for biofuels alone would free up about a fifth of the potential wheat exports from Ukraine, and even more of its maize exports, enough to make a noticeable difference to stretched food supplies, according to analysis by the campaign group RePlanet.  About 3.3 m[illion] tonnes of wheat were used in 2020 as feedstock for EU biofuels, and Ukraine's 2020 wheat exports came to about 16.4 [million] tonnes.  About 6.5 [million] tonnes of maize was also used for EU biofuels, compared with about 24 [million] tonnes exported from Ukraine the same year.

Why are we feeding crops to our cars when people are starving?  There's nothing complicated about the effects of turning crops into biofuel.  If food is used to power cars or generate electricity or heat homes, either it must be snatched from human mouths, or ecosystems must be snatched from the planet's surface, as arable lands expand to accommodate the extra demand.  But governments and the industries that they favour obscure this obvious truth.  They distract and confuse us about an evidently false solution to climate breakdown.  From inception, the incentives and rules promoting biofuels on both sides of the Atlantic had little to do with saving the planet and everything to do with political expediency. [...] As biofuels raise demand for land, rainforests, marshes and savannahs in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and Africa are cleared.  There's a limit to how much we can eat.  There's no limit to how much we can burn.  All the major crop sources of biodiesel have a higher climate impact than the fossil fuels they replace.  Rapeseed oil causes 1.2 times as much global heating, soy oil twice as much, palm oil three times.  The same goes for ethanol made from wheat.

Biden regime mandates more corn ethanol in gasoline to damage the engines of cars and trucks across America.  Instead of using abundant and easily obtained fossil fuels straight from the ground, the Biden regime's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just mandated the highest level yet of corn-based ethanol to be mixed into the nation's fuel supply.  Despite the fact that growing corn for ethanol is highly destructive to the environment (i.e., chemical pesticides and herbicides, excessive land use, genetic engineering, etc.), Biden and his cronies want more of it grown than ever before so it can be dumped into your gas tank, destroying your car's engine.  In 2022 alone, refiners will need to blend 20.77 billion gallons of ethanol, biodiesel and other "renewable" fuels into the gasoline supply.  This, claims the Resident-in-Chief, will help to stop inflation somehow.

You'll fill up more often, because ethanol yields less mileage per gallon.
Biden administration raises amount of ethanol that must be blended with gas.  The Biden administration on Friday set new requirements that increase the amount of ethanol that must be blended into the nation's gasoline supply but reduce previous ethanol-blending requirements due to a plunge in fuel demand during the coronavirus pandemic.  The Environmental Protection Agency said it would set the 2022 levels for corn-based ethanol blended into gasoline at 15 billion gallons.  But even as the new rules increased future ethanol requirements, the EPA retroactively reduced levels for 2020 by 2.5 billion gallons and by 1.2 billion gallons for 2021, reflecting the lower amount of ethanol produced and decreased sales of gasoline during a period when the virus led to a drop in driving.

Ethanol: a Dumb idea or a Crime — or Both.  Expanded use of ethanol — enabled by President Biden's lifting a summertime ban on fuels with a 15 percent blend — is a poor answer to high gasoline prices and a refusal to recognize the failures of the corn-based fuel additive.  Reuters described the president's action as a win for the corn lobby, but all others appear to be losers.  Shortcomings of ethanol as an alternative to gasoline have been reported continually since at least 2007 when the U.S. government expanded its requirement that distributors blend ethanol with fuels to reduce dependence on foreign oil.  The additive also has been touted as a way to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.  "There is a great danger for the right to food by the development of biofuels," U.N. human rights advocate Jean Ziegler said at the time.  "It (the price) will be paid perhaps by hundreds of thousands of people who will die from hunger."  A year later he called the diversion of food crops to fuel production a "crime against humanity."

How Long Can You Eat if Your Power Goes Out?  U.S. fertilizer prices have risen dramatically, in some cases fourfold in the last few years.  This not only creates huge upward price pressures, but impacts usage, potentially impacting yields.  Also Union Pacific has reduced major U.S. fertilizer companies, like CF Industries, one of America's largest, to shipping about 80% of their potential volumes.  This can result in some of America's premier farmlands, the Corn Belt, not getting adequate fertilizer during the critical spring planting season.  Ironically, "Union Pacific has said it is limiting rail traffic and hiring aggressively as part of a plan to improve service after grain and ethanol shippers complained about shortcomings."  So U.P. is limiting the food supply to further limit the food supply by converting more corn into ethanol — a devil's twofer.  And the Biden administration plans to increase ethanol limits.  A threefer.

New Iowa law requires more ethanol in state's gasoline.  Iowa is the first state in the nation to require most gas stations to sell fuel with at least 15% ethanol under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.  Reynolds signed the bill on a farm near Prairie City, about 20 miles east of Des Moines.  The Republican governor signed the bill on a flatbed wagon backed by tractors and corn planters, highlighting what she called a victory for Iowa farmers and biofuels advocates.  The ethanol industry consumes about half of Iowa's corn crop, and the state leads the nation in corn and ethanol production.

Death of Honey Bees From Ethanol Plant Prompts Call for Focus on Chemical Overloading.  Every year, honey bee colonies placed in multiple locations across the 9,600-acre University of Nebraska-Lincoln research center were dying — as it turns out, from widespread pollution originating from an ethanol facility located a few miles upstream.

Biden authorizes the emergency sale of ethanol-based E15 fuel this summer to combat soaring gas prices.  The Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency waiver for a higher-ethanol gasoline blend on Friday, allowing summertime sales of the fuel in an attempt to help lower gasoline prices at the pump.  The move represents a temporary win for the biofuels industry and corn farmers, as it will likely expand sales of corn-based ethanol, and a setback for oil refiners, which view ethanol as competition.  It also is an attempt to temper the pace of inflation which has surged to a 16-year high and bring down gas prices that average $4.159 a gallon nationwide.  Rising consumer prices are seen as a major vulnerability for President Joe Biden's Democratic party leading into the November mid-term elections.

E15 fuel announcement will backfire.  The Biden administration has announced the suspension of the rule that prevented the sale of fuel containing up to 15% ethanol alcohol during the summer months.  The current rack price (wholesale price) of a gallon of ethanol is about 75% of the rack price of a gallon of pure gasoline, so the retail price of E15 fuel should be cheaper than regular E10 fuel by about 10 cents per gallon, according to the White House.  The additional ethanol will replace some petroleum-based fuel, which will slightly reduce the demand for crude oil and theoretically lower its price.  E15 (also known as Unleaded88) fuel sales have been banned from June 1 to September 15 because alcohol is more volatile than gasoline.  The concern was that ethanol evaporates more readily than gasoline in the summer heat, and then the fumes contribute to smog.  President Trump issued an executive order to allow the sale of E15 during the summer to please farmers, but courts overturned the order.  This time, President Biden had the EPA issue an emergency rule permitting summer sales of E15, but environmentalists may challenge this rule in court.

Biden Infuriates Environmentalists, Oil Refiners By Allowing More Ethanol In Gas To Lower Prices.  In his latest attempt to ease the relentless pain at the pump, President Biden has pulled off something remarkable.  He's managed to infuriate climate activists and the oil and gas industry, all while jacking up demand for America's most vital agricultural commodity:  corn.  The president is set to announce Tuesday during a visit to an ethanol plant in a remote town in Iowa that the EPA will eliminate restrictions on high-ethanol-content gasoline to be sold during the summer months.  The decision hasn't yet been confirmed, but senior administration sources have leaked the news to WSJ and a handful of other media outlets.

Joe Biden Announces a Mind-Numbingly Stupid Move on Gas Prices.  As has become typical during most Democrat administrations in the modern era, gas prices have exploded during Joe Biden's tenure.  The national average is hovering around $4.10 a gallon, nearly double what it cost the day Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election.  And while the White House would love to claim the rise is solely due to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the precipitous rise began over a year before that.  That's largely due to Biden's anti-energy policies.  While campaigning for president, he routinely promised to end the use of fossil fuels.  As president, he's shut down pipelines and frozen federal leases.  The United States, after becoming energy independent under Donald Trump, is once again reliant on foreign tyrants.

Children of the Corn and the Fraud of Renewable Energy.  [Scroll down]  Since 2005, Congress has required oil refineries to add ethanol, mostly from corn, to their gasoline.  It's called the "Renewable Fuel Standard" (RFS). [...] [Mario] Loyola explains how RFS is not only uneconomic, but is destroying the environment.  Loyola asserts that "today's corn-ethanol program is a glaring failure, and it is unconscionable that politicians of both parties are conspiring to keep it alive despite knowing full well what its problems are."  Ethanol has about one-third less energy than does gasoline.  So cars using ethanol get fewer miles per gallon.  Flex-fuel vehicles that use E85 get up to 27 percent fewer miles per gallon.  A huge problem with corn ethanol as a fuel for ICE (internal combustion engines) is its EROI, i.e. its energy return on investment.  EROI is the amount of energy produced against the amount of energy used to produce it.  The formula for EROI is the energy output divided by the energy input.  An EROI of 1.0 would mean that you're expending as much energy to produce energy as the energy being produced, so it's would be a wash, a draw, and utter folly to produce energy with such a low EROI.  Corn ethanol has an EROI of 1.5 as compared to gasoline's 11.  Because of corn ethanol's low EROI, you're basically swapping one type of energy for another.

How To Fix The Ethanol Industry.  In the previous column, I described what I believe are the problems with the nation's ethanol program.  In a nutshell, the U.S. government creates demand for ethanol via federal mandate.  This mandate pits states, powerful public interests, and various political groups against each other.  As a result, proponents and opponents fight a never-ending war around these mandates.  This means there is year-to-year uncertainty that impacts ethanol producers.  The ethanol mandate is unpopular in states that don't produce much ethanol, in the refining industry, among environmental groups, and among many food manufacturers (who feel it artificially drives up the cost of corn).  Supporters of the mandate include large swaths of the Midwest, where ethanol supports numerous jobs — both in the ethanol industry and among corn farmers.  This support includes a powerful farm lobby, and a powerful bipartisan block of farm state senators that consistently supports ethanol.

Stop the Ethanol Madness.  As a way to replace dwindling reserves of oil, ethanol subsidies had a certain brutal logic, especially if oil prices were going to keep rising with no end in sight.  But as a way to address climate change, the program never made any sense.  Corn ethanol may well be worse for the climate than fossil fuels, and the program does significant damage to both the economy and the environment.  Its sole beneficiaries are large agricultural corporations — and the politicians who serve them.  Corn ethanol is the mainstay of the nation's Renewable Fuel Standard, which was created in 2005 when gasoline prices finally rose again, though that price shock, too, proved fleeting.  The RFS creates a complex web of targets for both corn ethanol and "advanced biofuels."  To qualify as "advanced," biofuels such as biodiesel (from sources such as palm oil and recycled cooking oil) and futuristic cellulosic ethanol (from sources such as prairie grass and tree bark) must have a significantly lower greenhouse effect than corn ethanol.  The RFS program created both a gradually rising biofuel mandate, and within that mandate, a gradually rising proportion of advanced biofuels (particularly cellulosic ethanol) relative to corn ethanol, such that advanced biofuels are supposed to make up the majority of the mandated volume by 2022.

New study casts doubt on ethanol's climate benefits.  A new study is casting doubt on the climate benefits of using ethanol as a fuel, finding that it may actually contribute more to global warming than gasoline.  Researchers found that emissions from changes in land use to account for the growing demand for corn make corn-based ethanol no cleaner than gasoline.  In fact, they determined that these changes likely make ethanol's emissions at least 24 percent higher than those for gasoline, according to their study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Now is the Time to Get Serious About Nuclear Energy.  Still another policy disaster Democrats have foisted on us is ethanol.  It is the most land greedy of the "green energy' alternatives.  Ethanol is a witches' brew of politics, taxpayer confiscation, mileage reduction, and small-engine destruction.  We're creating giant land footprints in a futile attempt to reduce our "carbon footprints."  Land footprints are real problems in the here and now.  Carbon footprints are unproven, hypothetical problems in the distant future.  We now devote fully one-fourth of our corn-growing farmland to the production of ethanol. [...] Coercion is also a necessary part of the ethanol fiasco.  In California it's illegal to use ethanol-free gasoline on public roads.  You can buy ethanol-free gasoline for your lawnmower at only a few locations and at prices even higher than California's already highest prices in the country.  Federal mandates require virtually all gasoline to include 10 percent ethanol.  There is pressure to increase that to 15 percent.  Even the 10 percent gasoline reduces mileage because ethanol produces only 70 percent of the energy produced by gasoline.  Ethanol takes more energy to produce than it produces.

Environmental regulations strike again:
Plans for $2 billion Washington methanol plant 'effectively ended,' as company terminates lease.  Plans for a more than $2 billion Southwest Washington methanol plant are "effectively ended," according to a Friday [6/11/2021] statement from Port of Kalama officials, as Northwest Innovation Works — denied a permit by the state this year — will terminate its site lease.  The project, years in the planning, suffered a big setback in January when the state Department of Ecology rejected a request for a shoreline permit required to build the plant, which would have been one of the Pacific Northwest's largest users of natural gas.  Northwest Innovation officials, in a statement Friday, said in the aftermath of that permit denial, Washington's "regulatory environment has become unclear and unpredictable."  That statement said the company is assessing "an appropriate path forward," and is developing other projects, including one to produce hydrogen.  The statement did not include information about possible sites for new projects.

Corn Is the Latest Commodity to Soar.  America's biggest cash crop has rarely been more expensive.  Corn prices have risen roughly 50% in 2021 and a bushel costs more than twice what it did a year ago.  Corn has been one of the sharpest risers in the broad rally in raw materials that is prompting companies to boost prices for goods and fueling concern among investors that inflation could hobble the post-pandemic economic recovery.  Lumber prices have shot to more than four times what is typical, pushing up home prices and obliterating renovation budgets.  Copper, a cog of industry found throughout the home and in electronics, hit record prices Friday.  Crude oil hasn't cost so much since 2018 and soybeans are trading at their loftiest level since 2012.

Corn Prices Rise 30 Percent So Far This Year.  You've likely seen mentions of inflation popping up amid some MSM discussions.  Without a doubt you have seen significant price jumps at your local supermarket.  The reason is simple, JoeBama's economic policies are beneficial to the multinationals, crushing to the domestic U.S. economy and driving massive increases in prices in a variety of sectors.  As a consequence the leftist financial media (almost all financial media) are churning out deflection points, but if you understand the background you can predictably see the cause and effect.

Not so Green.  [Scroll down]  Then we have the biofuels scandals.  This is UN-promoted stupidity where forests are logged in America and shipped across the Atlantic to burn in a British power station; where native forests are cleared in Indonesia and Brazil to grow palm oil for bio-diesel; and where food grains are distilled to make ethanol fuel for motor vehicles.  Nothing green about any of this.

Trump Is Totally Caving On The Ethanol Question — Again.  One of the more disappointing aspects of Donald Trump's presidency, at least for me, has been his continued support for both the execrable Renewable Fuel Standard and the ethanol lobby, particularly in Iowa.  Sadly, in a pre-October surprise, the President has handed yet another gift to those players while dealing yet another blow to America's drivers, boaters and the fossil fuel industry.  This weekend, Trump approved the use of gas pumps designated for 10% ethanol blends for E15, or 15% blends, subject to state approval.  The political component of this decision doesn't even make much sense, to say nothing of the confusion it will cause among consumers and potential, costly damage to small engines and marine motors.  And yet, here we are.

States ask EPA for nationwide biofuel waiver to help oil refiners weather coronavirus.  The governors of five U.S. states have asked the Trump administration for a nationwide waiver exempting the oil-refining industry from the nation's biofuel laws to help it survive a demand meltdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to letters seen by Reuters.  The request places Republican President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election in November, in a tough spot between the oil and agriculture industries, two important constituencies.  They are being particularly hard-hit by the global pandemic as it decimates energy consumption, breaks transport supply chains and makes labor harder to come by.

Nearly 30% of ethanol plants idled, including four in Minnesota.  Four Minnesota ethanol plants are idled and many more have throttled back production as COVID-19 has sapped gasoline demand, crushing the biofuel industry.  U.S. ethanol production has hit an all-time low.  Nearly 30% of the nation's 204 biofuel plants have been idled since March 1, while many others have slashed production.  "The fuel market is just telling us to shut down and not operate," said Randall Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel in the southern Minnesota town of Claremont.  "Economically, its abysmal."

EPA looks at suspending ethanol blending requirement.  I'm not sure how much this will matter now that we're basically out of places to store all of the oil that we're pumping, but it's still worth looking this proposal over.  Last week we discussed the possible opportunity available to us if the EPA would agree to at least suspend the mandates of the Renewable Fuel Standard until the worst of the pandemic is behind us.  Getting rid of it entirely would be preferable, but that would require congressional action that the Democrats would never agree to and it's unclear if the President could be convinced to support the idea even if they did.

Corn Squeezing.  Every time Americans fuel up their vehicles, they're unwillingly lining the pockets of the politically powerful agribusiness cartels — as well as foreign ethanol cartels — to the tune of billions through a pervasive but hidden tax on fuel that forces them to pay for ethanol mixed in with their gas.  And soybeans with their diesel.  It's done under the auspices of something called the Renewable Fuels Standard — which is actually a Carter-era mandate that requires that almost all the "gas" sold in the United States contain at least 10 percent not-gas (ethanol alcohol, made from corn) in order to "conserve" the actual gas.  Same with diesel, much of which is made — by mandate — from soybean squeezings rather than oil.  In fact, the RFS is probably the single-greatest (and worst) example of corporate rent-seeking in the history of the United States.  A mandated "market" for a product — ethanol (and soybeans) that would have a hard time on the free market, if these "renewables" had to sell on their merits.

The Renewable Fuel Standard is killing the environment.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, where oxygen levels are so low that sea life is killed or maimed, was larger than three U.S. states.  One significant cause is agricultural runoff jettisoned from the Mississippi River, which feeds the massive algal blooms whose decomposition depletes water oxygen.  Like many other ongoing environmental problems affecting the Midwest, this one is aggravated by the Renewable Fuel Standard.  The RFS is intended to promote the production of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.  Designers of the policy envisioned corn ethanol leading initial growth in biofuel sales, followed by more advanced biofuel varieties that would be made from grasses or crop wastes rather than food.

End the Failed Renewable Fuel Standard Experiment.  Since 2005, the federal government has required that refineries blend increasing amounts of ethanol (grain alcohol) with gasoline.  There are requirements for cellulosic, biodiesel, and advanced biofuels, with the rest of the mandate typically being met by corn ethanol since it is the cheapest.  The stated goals of the RFS were to reduce reliance on foreign energy and to move toward cleaner fuel sources.  It falls short on both fronts.  Worries about dependence on foreign oil were mitigated by the U.S. shale oil and fracking boom, exemplifying the sort of innovation and market changes that central planners inevitably fail to account for.  The RFS is worse than unnecessary when it comes to reducing foreign energy consumption, which is itself a goal of dubious benefit.  The RFS works against this objective because meeting the excessive biodiesel mandate has actually required significant imports.

Trump says farmers will be 'so happy' with new plan to boost ethanol.  President Trump said Thursday he's preparing to announce a "giant package" to boost demand for ethanol, responding to rising concerns in rural America about the administration's exemptions for refineries from blending biofuels. [...] Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told farmers and producers in Illinois Wednesday that Mr. Trump will soon announce a plan to "mitigate" the loss of an estimated 4 billion gallons of ethanol from refinery exemptions granted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump intervention triggered EPA's surprise biofuel waiver decision: sources.  A phone call from US President Donald Trump last week ended a nearly two-month-long review of the nation's biofuels program, three sources familiar with the matter said, with the White House siding in favor of oil refiners over corn growers.  Trump gave Andrew Wheeler, head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, the green light for the regulator to announce it had granted 31 small refinery exemptions out of the 40 applications, saying he wanted the issue off his desk, the sources said.

Corn at the Pump.  We don't have food scarcity in America.  We have surpluses.  American agriculture inspired an industry of farm equipment and machinery that is supreme in the world.  John Deere.  New Holland.  Massey Ferguson.  So it seemed simple enough to replace the oil we couldn't extract from the ground with a bi-product of the things we could make grow out of it.  That would be ethanol.  And Americans surely did know how to make that.  They had been doing it right from the nation's beginning, turning American corn into American bourbon.  Mostly legal.  Sometimes not.  In which case it was called moonshine, the scientific and boring name for which is "ethanol."  It also works with the internal combustion engine.  The car you drive burns the stuff.  So do your lawnmower, chainsaw, and outboard.  With less satisfactory results.  Ethanol is not generally kind to two stroke engines.  A small engine mechanic I know says the stuff doesn't just keep him in business.  It pays for his vacations.

Trump lifts year-round ethanol restrictions, could lower gas prices.  The Trump administration on Friday [5/31/2019] announced that it would allow for the year-round sale of gasoline with higher concentrations of ethanol.  The action addresses a rule the Environmental Protection Agency had in place preventing the sale of so-called E15 fuel, which contains 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, between June 1 and Sept. 15.  The purpose was to prevent air pollution and curb dependence on foreign petroleum, but the ban has stopped some retailers from selling E15 at all because of the need to change out pumps.

Waive goodbye to ethanol.  Markets thrive on competition.  Unfortunately, this doesn't just apply to real economic markets.  It also applies to markets for bad ideas and political pandering.  With approximately 200 Democrats now running for president (we lost count a few weeks ago), the bidding to bribe Iowa caucusgoers is becoming intense.  This is unfortunate not just because it is unseemly but also because the offers are coming at the expense of the nation's well-being and the environment's health.  The worst pander so far comes from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.  When she is not privately belittling her staff in ALL CAPS 4 a.m. emails, Klobuchar is attempting to gain traction in Iowa by fattening the wallets of ethanol barons.  Her specific plan is to stop granting waivers to small refiners that let gasoline producers out of a small part of the requirement that they mix their product with large volumes of ethanol, which is economically unnecessary and environmentally harmful.

Climate and the fate of corn.  Corn as a source of food for humans in the U.S. has a buffer in the 30% of the crop that goes to the ethanol mandate.  The focus on climate may also go from being a way to thrash the economy with carbon taxes to its impact on food prices.

The Absurdity of Using the Biosphere to Power the Technosphere.  There are two main types of biofuel, bioethanol and biodiesel.  The primary sources of bioethanol are corn and sugarcane; the primary source of biodiesel is palm oil.  In both cases, the spread of plantations to grow these crops has devastated some of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet.  From cane ethanol in Brazil, to palm oil in Indonesia, thousands of square miles of rainforest are lost every year to new plantations.  In 2016, for a few brief weeks, the world paid attention to the problems being caused by biofuel production.  That was when forest fires raged across Indonesia, sending a toxic haze across thousands of miles, making the air barely breathable for millions of people in Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Singapore and Malaysia.  The cause of these fires?  Land owners burning rainforests to make room for palm oil plantations.  The idea that achieving alleged "carbon neutrality" is a sufficient benefit to offset the replacement of rainforest with monocrop plantations of palm trees and sugar cane is ridiculous.

Midwest floods threaten ethanol supply, could affect prices at the pump.  As waters from last week's catastrophic floods in the Midwest begin to recede, people are getting a chance to assess the damages in the region.  Several people have lost their homes, farms, and livestock.  In Nebraska alone, farmers and ranchers face up to $880 billion in losses.  But, the consequences of the devastation are being felt beyond the heartland.  Several railroad tracks are damaged, affecting the shipment of ethanol and, in turn, potentially raising gas prices weeks before summer driving season.

Researchers: Biofuels mandate may cause more harm than good with plowed-up land.  Hundreds of thousands of acres of grasslands and wild habitat in the Upper Midwest have been plowed up to plant corn and soybeans in the past decade because of demand created by the government's ethanol mandate, according to a trio of academic researchers who argue that federal biofuels policy is causing more environmental harm than good.  Their study, released Thursday [3/7/2019], found that the shift has destroyed crucial habitat for monarch butterflies and increased the use of chemical fertilizers, while causing the release of millions of tons of carbon dioxide — equal to putting about 5 million more cars on the road each year.

How ethanol threatens energy security.  [I]t is disheartening to see the future of small refineries in increasing peril as government officials wrestle over renewable fuel policies.  The crux of the issue relates to federal requirements that compel corn-based ethanol to be blended into motor fuels as a way to reduce American dependence on foreign petroleum imports.  There is also a laudable green energy component to the ethanol mandate, but it is arguable that as much carbon is emitted through ethanol production as would be released by fuel combustion alone.  The requirement to blend the fuel has been placed on the refineries by law but most small refineries were built decades ago and lack the capability to produce the mix.  As a result, a complicated system of credits was created under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which are a lot like the infamous cap-and-trade program.

Biofuels mandate fueling wildlife crisis.  More than 10 years ago, the National Wildlife Federation supported passage of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  We agreed with the aspiration to develop cleaner, more sustainable fuels to help the country gain energy independence while promoting a healthier environment.  We were promised that no habitat would be lost, that the RFS would accelerate development of truly advanced, low-emission biofuels, and that the program would be halted if adverse impacts occurred.  Every one of those promises has been broken, repeatedly.

The ethanol quagmire.  As it does every fall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it is mandating even higher levels of ethanol in our transportation fuel supply while ignoring market realities and the negative impact of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard on American consumers.  The Renewable Fuel Standard, enacted under President George W. Bush in 2005 and expanded in 2007, requires ever-increasing amounts of biofuels to be mixed with fossil fuels each year until 2022.  And the EPA has been issuing mandates each November for more biofuels, particularly ethanol.

Ethanol Is Bad Science And Bad Policy.  It is energy and cost intensive to turn corn into fuel, which is why it cannot survive without government mandates and subsidies.  Though 1994 made ethanol a reality for environmentalists, it was the Renewable Fuel Standard of 2005, by President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress, that really kicked the industry into high gear.  The Renewable Fuel Standard gave EPA the authority to create quotas for ethanol[,] which forced its use even though it is less efficient than pure gasoline and results in lower miles per gallon.  In 1993, before Vice President Gore allowed EPA to mandate ethanol, it accounted for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of fuel.  It's now 10 percent.  President Barack Obama also did the environment no favors by turning over 5 million acres of land designated for conservation over to corn farmers to promote ethanol as "green" energy during his time in office, with another million acres of farmland that switched to corn because the profits were guaranteed by taxpayers.  Ethanol does not pass any standard for evidence-based policymaking and the Trump administration should end 24 years of government wishful thinking by his predecessors rather than increasing its use.

Ethanol Mandate Wastes Money, Pollutes Air, And Ruins Cars — Don't Expand It, End It.  Some people have called the new plan to boost ethanol to 15% of our gasoline fuel supply a "reform" of the ethanol program.  It's not.  It's an expansion of the program, which should instead be shut down.

Trump to move to allow year-round E15 gas sales.  The Trump administration is moving to allow the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol year-round, which would help farmers by increasing demand for corn, but faces opposition from environmental groups and the oil industry.  President Donald Trump is expected to make the announcement ahead of a rally Tuesday in Iowa, the biggest corn-producing state in the nation.  Current rules prevent the sale of fuel containing 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, during the summer because it can contribute to smog on hot days.

Want to feed the world?  Stop burning ethanol.  The question was posed:  "Just how much food value are we burning up for the sake of this federally imposed silliness?"  The answer was found in a paper by D.K. Albino, published by the New England Complex Systems Institute:  "The total amount of ethanol produced in the US in 2011 was 13.95 billion gallons, enough to feed 570 million people that year."  Now, that number is so large that it does not seem real.  So your humble narrator made his own research to find "the real number."

EPA finally admits ethanol mandate is causing environmental damage.  The federal requirement to blend ethanol into gasoline on the theory that it will reduce the hypothetical global warming that hasn't appeared yet has been a joke from the start.  By adding a huge amount of demand for corn, it did push up prices for that commodity, and made vast swaths of the rural Midwest prosperous, though it has injured poor Mexicans and others who depend on corn for a substantial portion of their nutrition and driven up the rice of feed used for animals, raising meat prices.

EPA Says Ethanol Damages The Environment — Isn't It Time To Kill The Program?  Amid all the media hoo-ha over President Trump's latest tweets, tariffs and the Russia investigation, you might have missed a significant report — the Environmental Protection Agency says ethanol made from corn and soybeans and added to our gasoline has become an environmental disaster.  So why do we continue to make it?

EPA Releases Long Delayed Report on Ethanol and the Environment.  An extensive report from the Environmental Protection Agency found that including ethanol into the U.S. gas supply is wreaking havoc on the atmosphere and soil.  In a study titled "Biofuels and the Environment:  The Second Triennial Report to Congress," the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that ethanol derived from corn and soybeans is causing serious harm to the environment.  Water, soil and air quality were all found to be adversely affected by biofuel mandates.  "Evidence since enactment of [the Energy Independence and Security Act] suggests an increase in acreage planted with soybeans and corn, with strong indications from observed changes in land use that some of this increase is a consequence of increased biofuel production," read a portion of the 159-page report.

EPA says ethanol harms the environment.  Beginning in the 1980s, the federal government has adopted mandates requiring ethanol be mixed into gasoline in order to stretch out oil supplies and to save the environment.  Now the Environmental Protection Agency has finally admitted that ethanol does more harm than good.  The agency finally released a 159-page assessment, which included this passage, "Evidence since enactment of [the Energy Independence and Security Act] suggests an increase in acreage planted with soybeans and corn, with strong indications from observed changes in land use that some of this increase is a consequence of increased biofuel production."

Irony Alert:  EPA Finds Ethanol Is Environmentally Damaging.  Amid growing demands from the corn lobby that the government mandate even more ethanol be blended into the nation's gasoline supplies, new finding call such proposals into question.  One of the chief claims of the corn lobby is that ethanol is a more "green" type of energy because it's renewable.  From there, the argument is extended to claim that it's better for the environment all the way around.  But the conclusions of a study underlying the latest EPA report on the environmental impact of ethanol (seven years in the making, dating back well into the Obama administration) concludes that the opposite is true.  Ethanol produces significant negative impacts on the environment, in some cases worse than the gasoline it's supposed to be replacing.

The ethanol gravy train rolls on.  Like most people I've spoken with, I have no innate, inflexible antipathy to ethanol in gasoline.  What upsets me are the deceptive claims used to justify adding mostly corn-based ethanol to this indispensable fuel; the way seriously harmful unintended consequences are brushed aside; and the insidious crony corporatist system the ethanol program has spawned between producers and members of Congress.  What angers me are the legislative and regulatory mandates that force us to buy gasoline that is 10% ethanol — even though it gets lower mileage than 100% gasoline, brings none of the proclaimed benefits (environmental or otherwise), drives up food prices, and damages small engines.  In fact, in most areas, it's almost impossible to find E-zero gasoline, and that problem will get worse as mandates increase.

Is Ethanol Cronyism on the Ropes?  Congress created the requirement to blend plant-based ethanol into the nation's fuel supply supposedly out of concern for greenhouse gas emissions, as well as out of a fear that consumers would become increasingly reliant on foreign fuels just as global oil prices seemed to be skyrocketing.  It was wrong on both counts.  The Government Accountability Office consistently projects that the RFS won't meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  In stark contrast, a 2016 University of Minnesota study finds that an unintended consequence of the biofuel mandate is that it actually increases net greenhouse gas emissions.  As the authors explain, the RFS creates a "market rebound effect" whereby the mandated expansion of biofuel production increases the overall fuel supply.  This in turn lowers fuel prices, which encourages greater consumption.  The lower emissions from biofuel use, based on Environmental Protection Agency figures, aren't enough to offset the overall increase in fuel consumption.  And this analysis doesn't even get into the debate over the full life-cycle impact of ethanol production.

Here are 1,366 well sourced examples of Barack Obama's lies, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, hypocrisy, waste, etc..  [#247] The EPA has a very expensive ethanol mandate that applies to all oil refineries.  However, in August 2013, it was reported that Obama had given one oil refinery an exemption from this mandate.  This exemption is illegal for two reasons.  First, the exemption was not approved by Congress.  And secondly, the Constitution requires that federal laws apply equally to everyone.  In addition, Obama refused to say which refinery it was that received this exemption, which is completely contrary to his repeated promises of "transparency."

In concession to ethanol industry, Trump says he backs E15 gasoline year-round.  President Trump on Thursday said the administration will approve year-round sales of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol — a major policy shift for the federal government that indicates the White House is looking to strike a deal between the biofuels industry and its critics.  Mr. Trump made the declaration in the Oval Office on Thursday morning [4/12/2018].  "We're going to raise it up to 15 percent ... makes a lot of people happy," the president said.  "We're going to go to 12 months ... We'll go from eight months to 12 months."

Quit Digging.  EPA with the help of corn state representatives dug a ditch when they created the ethanol mandate, the renewable fuel standard and then created renewable identification numbers-RINs — as a mechanism to track compliance with blending requirements.  RINs worked to the advantage of companies with blending capabilities but created a big disadvantage for independent refiners that had to buy RINs — blending credits.  In addition, traders found a way, as they always do, to turn RINs into a commodity that they could buy and sell and hence turn a profit.  Recently, the largest independent refiner on the east coast declared bankruptcy because of the high cost of RINs.  According

Environmental Illusion and a Public Swindle.  According to environmentalists and the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol mandate in the Clean Air Act as modified by the Energy Policy Acts of 2005 and 2007 has resulted in cleaner air and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  In reality, the mandate has produced no real environmental benefits while enriching corn farmers, large retailers, and ethanol manufacturers and imposing unnecessary and unreasonable costs on fuel producers and auto manufacturers.  It has also had a negative effect on food prices.

Environmental groups back Ted Cruz, Republicans on overhaul of Renewable Fuel Standard.  Green groups were among the loudest champions for the federal government's sweeping ethanol mandate a decade ago, touting it as a near-magic fuel that could help ease a climate crisis.  But the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that boosted ethanol use has fallen out of favor so badly that environmentalists now see themselves on the same side of the debate as Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, arguing that the entire program is deeply flawed and must be completely overhauled.  The intense opposition to the RFS from environmental and conservation groups comes as the White House and congressional leaders work to craft the most serious reforms the program has seen since it was established more than 10 years ago.  As Republicans and oil-industry groups bemoan the RFS as a job killer in the oil refining sector, environmentalists say their once-high hopes that ethanol could reduce carbon emissions, preserve land and help fight climate change have been proven wrong.

Good news:  Dems admit ethanol mandate failed — Bad news:  Trump promised to save it.  Created as a means to combat so-called climate change, the RFS required that ever-increasing amounts of ethanol be blended into gasoline.  And despite documented evidence of ethanol's damage to consumers and the environment, the RFS became little more than another taxpayer-subsidized, crony-capitalist, corporate-welfare program where the federal government picks the winners (Big Corn) and the losers (everyone else).  In a sort of good news/bad news announcement last week, key Democrats behind the biofuel push contained in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 announced that they had "made a mistake" with the ethanol mandate, and they introduced new legislation to fix it.  "The law hasn't worked out as we intended," said former California Congressman and Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman.  Following a joint call with reporters, Waxman joined current members of Congress, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Sen Tom Udall (D-NM), to introduce legislation that will phase out corn-based ethanol.

The great rethink of ethanol.  For the first time in years, there is an emerging consensus that the biggest racket in national politics deserves to end.  Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and 10 other Republican senators held a luncheon summit at the White House with President Trump with the goal of drastically reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal mandate that annually funnels $13.5 billion from the wallets of American fuel and food consumers into the coffers of agribusiness giants.  Before the national nightmare of Obamacare, there was the RFS, the most sweeping and intrusive federal intervention in the American economy undertaken in modern history.  Enacted under President George W. Bush in 2005 and expanded in 2007, the RFS requires that biofuels, mainly ethanol, be increasingly mixed with gasoline in greater proportions each year until 2022.

Time for the ethanol lobby to be put out to grass, Sen. Grassley.  The ethanol lobby is talking tough and issuing ultimatums to the Trump White House.  Its message, in brief, is "Don't mess with our federal mandate."  If the White House wants credibility in its free-enterprise talk and promises to drain the swamp, it should tell the ethanol lobby to get lost.  The fight began because refiners are finding it increasingly unaffordable to comply with the federal ethanol mandate, and if it continues it might kill independent oil companies.  The office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, came to the White House on Wednesday and sought to dictate terms, telling the executive it could provide whatever relief it chose to those independent refiners, but it mustn't touch the mandate, officially called the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Get the EPA out of the way of American exporters.  When Americans think of exporting goods, they rarely, if ever, think of ethanol.  But America has a growing ethanol export industry being constrained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  A few minor changes to rules within the EPA can create a substantial increase in ethanol exports, which means more work for everyone in the value chain for ethanol from the farmer to tanker.  Creating more demand for your product makes economic sense.  The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a federal program that requires transportation fuel to contain a minimum amount of renewable fuels.  The program originated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, H.R. 6.  The RFS was later amended with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, H.R.6.  The statute required the U.S. to use four billion gallons of renewable fuel starting in 2006 reaching thirty-six billion gallons in 2022.

Filling the Swamp Isn't Draining it!.  The ethanol mandate originated in the 1990 Clean Air Amendments and was added as a way of buying agriculture's support.  It was not needed for clean air purposes then and it is not needed for greenhouse emission reductions now.  It's only benefit is to enrich corn farmers and ethanol manufacturers.  At the time of the Clean Air debate, the oil and auto industries urged Congress to set tailpipe emission standards and let the two industries work together to meet them.  Instead, Congress wrote a formula for gasoline into legislation.  When the ethanol mandate switched from being about clean air to climate change, advocates claimed that it would result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.  The evidence demonstrates the opposite.

Trump Bends The Knee To King Corn.  [T]oday's energy picture makes the ethanol mandate entirely obsolete.  Thanks to the fracking revolution, the U.S. is now awash in domestic supplies of oil and natural gas.  Oil prices have dropped and net imports are lower than they've been in more than 30 years.  The U.S. could become a net exporter of oil within a decade.  So the idea that replacing some oil with ethanol is vital to national security or stable energy prices is a relic of a bygone era.  Nor is the RFS a win for the environment.  In fact, various studies have shown that, when you consider the entire life cycle of each energy source, ethanol is a bigger polluter than gasoline.  A 2014 University of Minnesota study, for example, found that "corn ethanol is about twice as damaging to the air quality as gasoline."  The Environmental Working Group has called ethanol "a disaster for the climate."

EPA chief Scott Pruitt has 'epiphany,' sides with ethanol industry in key policy fight.  After heavy pressure from lawmakers and other stakeholders, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Thursday night sided with pro-ethanol lawmakers and said his agency will abandon many controversial changes to the nation's ethanol mandate — prompting a top biofuels leader to claim that Mr. Pruitt apparently has had an "epiphany" over the past few days.  In a letter to seven key senators, Mr. Pruitt — who had been critical of ethanol during his time as Oklahoma attorney general — shot down several major concerns about looming adjustments to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal law that requires the blending of ethanol with gasoline.  The letter comes just days after Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and perhaps the loudest pro-ethanol voice in Congress, threatened to hold up nominees for top-level EPA posts if Mr. Pruitt didn't acquiesce to their demands on the RFS.

Study finds:  Corn better used as food than biofuel.  Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source.  Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use.  For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.

The Ethanol Boondoggle Will Continue.  Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue informed reporters this past weekend that one promise Donald Trump intends to keep is his support for ethanol.  At a farming event in Iowa with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King, Perdue said, "Ethanol is here to stay, and we're going to work for new technologies to be more efficient."  Unfortunately, this is one Trump campaign promise that would have been good to break.  The Renewable Fuel Standard — known as the ethanol mandate — is a classic example of what happens when the government interferes in the marketplace, with an agenda to boot.  Through presidential administrations both Republican and Democrat, the government has heavily subsidized the production and distribution of ethanol, as well as required a certain amount of its use, in the hopes of making renewable fuels the next great thing.  That hope hasn't been realized.

Trump's agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, declares that 'ethanol is here to stay'.  For a few moments, President Trump seemed like he might back away from the country's costly ethanol mandate.  First, Trump tapped an ethanol opponent to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.  Then in February the president plugged market deregulation for the renewable fuel industry instead of government subsidization.  But those hopes officially came crashing down this weekend when U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue fastened a little pin to his jacket lapel that read "Don't mess with the RFS."

Increasing number of Americans are willing to drive farther, pay more for ethanol-free fuel.  Ethanol's rise over the past decade has given birth to an under-the-radar market:  Americans who are willing to travel miles out of their way and pay significantly more per gallon for ethanol-free fuel.  Like locally sourced food or antibiotic-free chickens and eggs, so-called E0, or "pure gas," has generated a cultlike following willing to pay a premium.  More than 12,000 service stations across the U.S. and Canada now offer E0, according to and other groups that track fuel trends.  While federal mandates make finding pure gas somewhat difficult — the vast majority of stations in the U.S. sell primarily E10, gasoline blended with about 10 percent ethanol — specialists say there is a dedicated market for the product.

Renewable energy tax cut rewrite may be uphill battle for GOP.  In 2016, renewable energy received $10.9 billion in tax preferences, compared to $4.6 billion for fossil fuels.  A decade ago, fossil fuels got $8.2 billion while renewables pulled in only $5.3 billion in tax preferences, according to Congressional Budget Office figures recently presented to Congress.  The dynamic began to shift in the early days of the Obama administration.  The massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, along with ramped-up production in the wind and solar power sectors, shifted tax preferences toward renewable energy; from 2008 to 2009, for example, tax preferences for green fuels jumped by nearly $10 billion, from $7.4 billion to $17.1 billion.  At the same time, tax preferences for fossil fuels decreased from $5.5 billion in 2008 to $3.6 billion in 2009.

How The Ethanol Mandate Is Killing The American Prairie.  According to a report by the Organic Consumers Association, 95% of the 240 million acres of prairie land that once blanketed the middle of our country, from Texas to North Dakota, already is gone.  Only isolated pockets of prairie tall grass, some 35 million acres set aside for soil and wildlife conservation, remain.  And that — largely in the Great Plains — is at risk of being destroyed.  Among the factors most responsible for this tragic loss of our prairie heritage is the federal renewable fuel standard, a congressional mandate requiring refiners to mix renewable fuel (mostly corn-based ethanol) with U.S. gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil products.  The renewable fuel standard has generated a huge surge in ethanol production, increasing from 9 billion gallons in 2009 to 15.9 billion gallons per year today, according to the Energy Information Administration.  By 2022 the total is projected to reach 36 billion gallons.  Ethanol per se is not the problem, however; Washington's lack of common sense is the problem.

Ethanol Mandates Mean Big Profits for Big Oil.  When the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush, it was well-intended:  It would increase America's oil independence and reduce dependence on foreign oil, it would produce cleaner air, and it would help farmers.  The Act required refiners to add ethanol to every gallon of gasoline they produced.  If a refiner decided it couldn't (too costly) or wouldn't (internal decision) do so, it would be required to buy ethanol credits.  Those credits, called RINs (for Renewable Identification Numbers), are now being traded and reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in gains for the big oil companies.  According to the New York Times, the Act has "inadvertently become a multi-billion-dollar windfall for some of the world's biggest oil companies."

Green Pixie Dust Energy Policies.  [Scroll down]  As to getting all US energy from "clean, renewable" sources by 2050, that is a ridiculous pipe dream.  The United States currently plants corn on an area the size of Iowa, to produce ethanol that accounts for 10% of its gasoline fuel blend.  Replacing 100% of US gasoline and diesel with corn ethanol would require cropland the size of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico combined!  Plus massive amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, tractor and truck fuel, and electricity for distilleries.

Ethanol Harms Cars, the Economy, and the Environment.  A new study from the University of Michigan confirms what pretty much everyone knew all along.  Researchers found that biofuels actually create more greenhouse gases than simply using petroleum, because plants only absorb a fraction of the carbon dioxide released by burning the fuels in the first place.  Moreover, ethanol production and distribution is energy-intensive, throwing off even more greenhouse gases.  "When you look at what's actually happening on the land, you find that not enough carbon is being removed from the atmosphere to balance what's coming out of the tailpipe," University of Michigan professor John DeCicco said.  "When it comes to the emissions that cause global warming, it turns out that biofuels are worse than gasoline."

Corn: The Environmental Impact Statement.  Is it possible the environmentalists have been praying at the wrong altar?  Is it possible that corn — as a fuel — is a worse pollutant than (gasp!) oil?

The Rogue EPA's Shocking Disregard For The Law.  Under the 2007 law, the EPA was supposed to produce a report every three years on whether adding corn-based ethanol to our gasoline supply had any benefits — but the EPA didn't do it.  With its own inspector general saying it's breaking the law, the EPA — which did produce one report in 2011 — has now promised it will live up to the deal by producing a new study in 2017.  Hey, it's only seven years overdue!  But the EPA says the next one will come out in 2024 — another clear violation of the law.

The Rogue EPA's Shocking Disregard For The Law.  In a report released this week, the EPA's own inspector general claims the agency has not sufficiently studied the environmental impact of blending ethanol with gasoline, as required by law.  The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law by President Bush, required the increased production of biofuels, in particular ethanol, and mandated it to be blended with gasoline.  It was a bad law to begin with, one that unfortunately was bipartisan in nature.  As any mechanic worth his salt will tell you, ethanol use can do serious damage to car and truck engines.  More seriously, an Associated Press investigative report in 2013 found that corn-based ethanol was having far nastier impacts on the environment than predicted by the EPA and Energy Department.

Greens Reconsider Biofuels Mandate.  Environmentalists who once championed biofuels as a way to cut pollution are now turning against a U.S. program that puts renewable fuels in cars, citing higher-than-expected carbon dioxide emissions and reduced wildlife habitat.  More than a decade after conservationists helped persuade Congress to require adding corn-based ethanol and other biofuels to gasoline, some groups regret the resulting agricultural runoff in waterways and conversion of prairies to cropland — improving the odds that lawmakers might seek changes to the program next year.

EPA admits never studying effects of ethanol as required by law.  When Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 it introduced the current levels of controversial and problematic mandates for ethanol fuel blending which we've been wrestling with ever since.  But it also provided a mechanism to monitor the effects of the ethanol mandate on the environment and the economy which would be reported to Congress every three years.

Who pays for our renewable fuel policy?  America's wildlife.  In 2007, with the best of intentions, Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to reduce dependence on foreign oil, accelerate development of sustainable biofuels, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Nine years later, we are living with the severe unintended consequences:  large-scale loss of wildlife habitat (especially native grasslands) and degradation of water quality.  Simply put, the RFS has been devastating for wildlife.  This is a government-created crisis and it's time for reform.

Renewable Fuel Standard:  Stealing food to make unnecessary ethanol.  The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) — also known as the ethanol mandate — was passed by Congress in 2005 and expanded in 2007.  Regardless of market conditions, it required ever-increasing quantities of biofuel be blended into the nation's gasoline supply — though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does have the flexibility to make some adjustments based on conditions, such as availability and infrastructure.  At the time of its passage, it was unfathomable that a decade later Americans would be consuming less gasoline, not more.  Instead of requiring a set, or even growing, percentage of ethanol be used, the law called for an increasing amount of gallons — which has created unforeseen complications.  Since the law was passed, due to increased fuel efficiency and a generally sluggish economy (meaning fewer people are driving to and from work every day) we've been using less gasoline, not more.  Requiring more and more ethanol in less and less gasoline is not what the original law intended.

5 environmentalist ideas that have spectacularly backfired.  [#3]  Ethanol:  Perhaps no environmentalist policy has backfired as vividly and completely as ethanol additives in gasoline.  Initially touted by environmentalists as a way to clean up tailpipe emissions, ethanol mandates have become a labyrinth of red tape strung up by an unholy alliance of food companies like Archer Daniels Midland and Midwestern politicians trying to buy votes from corn farmers.  The overall process of producing corn ethanol is actually worse for the environment than gasoline.  Cellulosic ethanol, another corn-based fuel additive that was presented as a cleaner alternative to ethanol, has also been found to be dirtier than gasoline.

EPA Just Declared War On Millions of Car Owners.  The EPA's proposal to increase the amount of ethanol that must be blended into gasoline is a trifecta of regulatory abuse.  It will do nothing for the environment, it will do nothing for energy security, and it could wreck millions of car engines.  The decision stems from a misbegotten 2007 energy bill signed by President Bush that requires ever-increasing amounts of ethanol to be included in gasoline.  Not an increasing percentage, but an actual amount.  The EPA's proposal would require refineries to blend in almost 19 billion gallons of ethanol and other "biofuels" by 2017, which is 700,000 gallons more than they do now.

EPA seeks to boost ethanol in fuel supply.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to increase the amount of ethanol and other biofuels in the nation's fuel supply.  But the volumes proposed Wednesday under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) still fall under targets written into the 2007 law that created the program.  That ended up angering both the ethanol industry, which wants more of its product to be mandated, and the oil industry, which wants the program rolled back.

Study Says Ethanol Harms Corn Counties.  Opponents of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate, which requires a certain amount of biofuels to be mixed with gasoline annually, often decry the requirement's impact on prices and car engines, but a new study from researchers at Strata Policy (SP) and the Institute of Political Economy (IPE) at Utah State University suggests RFS also harms the very farmers the ethanol mandate was designed to help.  RFS was created by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  The ethanol mandate was touted by RFS supporters as a way to boost profits for farmers in corn-producing regions of the United States.  According to the study by SP and IPE, the result has been just the opposite.  The researchers say American taxpayers have spent $58 billion for direct ethanol subsidies alone since 1980, in addition to the costs added to the economy by the mandate.

Ted Cruz has a thoughtful conversation with an Iowa ethanol farmer.  It might be a bit of a stretch to say that Cruz completely won the man over, or converted him into a supporter — much is made of the gentleman's wish that Cruz find the votes he needs among Iowa farmers, but that might have just been polite best wishes, or even a dash of cynical humor.  Still, Cruz acquitted himself well during the encounter, spending some five minutes in patient, thoughtful conversation with someone who came to give him hell.  Cruz made informed arguments, demonstrated a clear mastery of his subject, turned a hostile encounter cordial, and kept the political balloon juice to a minimum.

Running on Empty.  Legally mandating that a certain percentage of fuel used be ethanol is a bad idea for several reasons:  First, mandating ethanol means more land must be plowed to grow corn for fuel.  The Department of Energy estimates that if corn ethanol replaced gasoline completely, we'd need to turn all cropland to corn — plus 20 percent more land on top of that.  Second, requiring ethanol fuel raises the price of corn — bad news for consumers who must pay more for food.  Third, although ethanol's supporters claim burning corn is "better for the environment," that's not true.  Once you add the emissions from growing, shipping and processing the corn, ethanol creates more pollution than oil.  Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force now oppose its use.  Finally, because corn is grown in America, promoters said ethanol would make us more energy independent.  Even if the "independence" argument were valid, fracking accomplishes much more.  (Anyway, it isn't a valid argument.  Trade with Mexico and Canada is just fine.  We don't need total independence.)

Ted Cruz v. King Corn — one righteous fight.  Ted Cruz has dared to provoke the ire of one of the most ruthless, vengeful political forces on the planet.  And it's not Donald Trump.  The Texas senator has crossed the ethanol industry in Iowa, which is a little like getting on the wrong side of the Catholic Church in Vatican City.  Cruz's core theme is fighting the "Washington cartel," which would be a lot easier if its tentacles didn't extend all the way into the state crucial to Cruz's presidential hopes.

Trump, Cruz, Clinton, Carson, Paul, Christie and the ethanol boondoggle.  Cars run on fuel.  Politicians run on votes, and they'll do almost anything to get them.  That includes supporting mandates that force us to use ethanol, a fuel made from corn that Iowa farmers grow.  They support ethanol because Iowa is the first state to vote on presidential candidates.  Candidates want to look strong at the start of the race, so every four years they become enthusiastic ethanol supporters.  Even those who claim they believe in markets pander to Iowa's special interests.  Donald Trump, who doesn't seem to have a consistent political philosophy aside from bashing critics and foreigners, now has joined the ethanol-praising club.

Cruz Right, Trump Wrong on Ethanol.  It has been said that if we were getting so-called "alternative" energy from potatoes instead of corn, the first primary/caucus would be held in Idaho instead of Iowa.  As it is, ethanol from corn in the first state where votes are actually cast in a presidential election has led to endless political pandering in support of a fuel that consumes more energy than it provides, is difficult to transport, reduces car mileage, can damage auto enegines, and damages the environment.  Presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas, chose not to pander Thursday night [1/28/2016] in the Iowa debate, drawing the obvious conclusion that if ethanol were so cost-effective and beneficial, its use would not have to be mandated.

A Soft Civil War.  One wag whose name I've unfortunately forgotten indicated Iowa should get the first primary in the nation or ethanol subsidies, but not both.  The point is well taken.  With the exception of only Cruz to my knowledge, candidates desiring an early win and momentum promise to keep the subsidies going.

Ethanol is the Anchor Baby of our Economic System.  Energy is the lifeblood of a free economy.  Much like immigration stands at the nexus of our culture, security and fiscal solvency, energy stands at the nexus of the bread and butter economic issues — jobs, income, and cost of living.  Rather than allowing Americans to use our freedom to purchase the best form of fuel, the Washington cartel ethanol lobbyists have violated our sovereignty as individual consumers and used the boot of government to mandate that we only purchase fuel blended with their ineffective product.

Do Emotions Trump Facts?  With the Iowa caucuses coming up, it is easy to understand why Iowa governor Terry Branstad is slamming Trump's chief rival, Senator Ted Cruz, who has opposed massive government subsidies to ethanol, which have dumped tons of taxpayer money on Iowa for growing corn.  Iowa's Senator Charles Grassley has come right out and said that is why he opposes Senator Cruz.  Former Senator Bob Dole, an establishment Republican if ever there was one, has joined the attacks on Ted Cruz, on grounds that Senator Cruz is disliked by other politicians.

Levin Explains Trump's Crony-Capitalist Iowa Ethanol PanderConservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin explained why Donald Trump, the supposed anti-establishment candidate, is siding with the establishment on the ethanol mandate.  It has everything to do with trying to pander for votes.  [Audio clip.]

Crony Iowa Governor Hates Ted Cruz Because His Family Makes Big Money Off Ethanol.  The Governor of Iowa wants Ted Cruz defeated.  He says Iowans would be hurt by Ted Cruz were he to get elected.  Why?  Cruz opposes the ethanol renewable fuel standard and wants to phase it out.  It turns out that Branstad's son is paid by the ethanol lobby and has been trailing candidates demanding they support ethanol.

What has Donald Trump Done for Sarah Palin?  Meaning, what has Trump done to promote the values that Palin's supporters have been advocating for the past eight years? [...] The former Alaskan governor also promised Trump would stand up to "special interests" if he becomes president.  Well, wouldn't now be a wonderful time for Trump to start?  There is only one special interest in Iowa, where Trump and Palin rallied together last night:  ethanol.  Instead of pledging to put an end to the federal subsidies and the mandates controlling that industry, Trump has blasted his rival Ted Cruz for having the audacity to do just that.  Trump isn't going to stop the influence of special interests; he is the special interest.

Trump calls for higher ethanol mandate.  Donald Trump said Tuesday [1/19/2015] that federal regulators should increase the amount of ethanol blended into the nation's gasoline supply.  Speaking at an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Trump, a real estate mogul and the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ought to follow the ethanol volumes Congress set in 2007.

A Profile In Courage In Iowa: Cruz Won't Bow To Ethanol Lobby.  Ted Cruz is leading the Republican polls in the Hawkeye State despite his opposition to the federal mandate requiring gasoline to be blended with 10% ethanol.  He considers the mandate to be a form of corporate welfare — which it is.  The Agriculture Department program that requires the blending is known as E10.  The industry is now lobbying for a 15% mandate, or E15.  At that level, ethanol could seriously damage car engines while raising costs at the gas pump.  Recent studies have also questioned whether there's any environmental benefit to ethanol, and even many green groups oppose forcing people to put corn in their tank.

How Congress Messed Up Ethanol.  The year was 2007.  America was importing more than half its oil.  President George W. Bush jumped aboard the bandwagon, saying that America was "addicted to oil" and promised to make fuel from switchgrass.  Congress responded with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was mainly aimed at increasing the use of biofuels.  At the time, U.S. consumption of biofuels — almost all ethanol — was 4.7 billion gallons.  The law mandated that this consumption should rise gradually to 36 billion gallons by 2022.  Moreover, over 21 billion gallons were to come from non-cornstarch products — sugar, biodiesel or cellulose, fuels that barely existed at the time.  This was indeed an ambitious goal.  The amount of corn ethanol was limited by the 10 percent "blend wall," whereby refiners and automakers argue that if ethanol exceeds 10 percent of the gasoline mix it begins to damage engines by eroding aluminum parts in the fuel chain.  Back in 2007 when ethanol production was less than 1 percent of gasoline consumption this, didn't seem to make much difference.  But as farmers converted their land to corn production and output rose, it began to be a problem.

Limbaugh, Levin weigh in on Trump's flawed ethanol stance.  Last week I brought up the sticky question of how King Corn was investing big dollars in going after Ted Cruz over his rejection of government subsidies for ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard and the fact that Donald Trump had taken a very different position on the subject.  In fact, he not only seemed to come out in favor of ethanol subsidies, but used that as a line of attack against Ted Cruz.  (One of the only candidates to consistently be on the right, conservative side of this question.)  Well, I wasn't the only one to notice this.

EPA boosts amount of ethanol in gasoline supply.  The Obama administration is boosting the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels in the U.S. gasoline supply despite sustained opposition by an unusual alliance of oil companies, environmentalists and some GOP presidential candidates.  The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday [11/30/2015] issued a final rule designed to increase production of ethanol to be blended with gasoline through 2016, a decision that could reverberate in Iowa's crucial presidential caucuses.

Obama's EPA ignores congressional mandate for ethanol in gasoline.  The Obama administration backed off its so-called ethanol mandate Monday, dealing a blow to President Obama's promise of a green energy revolution just as he and other world leaders opened a new round of historic climate change talks in Paris.  The Environmental Protection Agency's latest round of ethanol mandates — known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and initiated during President George W. Bush's time in office — came under fire from all sides, with proponents of ethanol blending saying the rules fall far short of what the nation needs to continue cutting greenhouse gas emissions and from critics who say the entire system is flawed and must be scrapped.

Last Call for Ethanol.  A federal program, once launched, is impossible to kill.  It doesn't matter if the scheme wastes money.  It doesn't matter if the program doesn't work.  It doesn't even matter if the program does the very opposite of what it is supposed to do.  Every government program enters the world with an army of fairy godmothers prepared to fend off any effort to cut the cord.  Hence, the staying power of ethanol.

Ethanol leaks into Mississippi River after train derailment.  Five tanker cars of a BNSF Railway freight train that derailed Saturday [11/7/2015] in western Wisconsin were leaking ethanol into the Mississippi River, the railroad said.

Ethanol Study Concludes the EPA's Biofuel Standard Created 'More Problems Than Solutions'.  On the 10-year anniversary of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, a team of researchers released a study that concludes the policy created "more problems than solutions."  The report issued last week — "10-Year Review of the Renewable Fuels Standard" — by Drs. Daniel De La Torre Ugarte and Burton English at the University of Tennessee's Institute of Agriculture takes a look at the environmental, economic and industry effects of the RFS.

Green energy company fights for life after getting billions from feds.  Abengoa, a renewable energy multinational company headquartered in Spain, has been a favorite of the Obama administration in getting federal tax money for clean energy projects.  Since 2009, Abengoa and its subsidiaries, according to estimates, have received $2.9 billion in grants and loan guarantees through the Department of Energy to undertake solar projects in California and Arizona — as well as the construction of a cellulosic ethanol plant in Kansas.

Ethanol And Motorcycles.  Pardon the bureaucrat speak, but on May 29 the Environmental Protection Agency:  "announced proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017.  The proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious yet responsible growth over multiple years, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry."  That's how your government speaks to you; Like they are Foghorn Leghorn and your name is "Boy."

Corn Ethanol Is Worse Than Keystone.  For years, environmental activists have opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that development of Canada's oil sands will be "game over for the climate."  But if those same activists are sincere about climate change, why aren't they getting arrested outside the White House to protest the use of corn ethanol?  That's a pertinent question, given a new analysis from the Environmental Working Group, which finds that corn ethanol produces more carbon dioxide than Keystone XL would — presuming, of course, that the pipeline ever gets built.  Making the issue even more relevant, last Friday, the EPA outlined new requirements for the minimum amounts of ethanol that retailers must blend into their gasoline.

Ben Carson: Let's slash Big Oil to pay for ethanol.  Well this is certainly disappointing. [...] Newly announced presidential contender Ben Carson was out talking to the Cornhuskers and the inevitable subjects of ethanol, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and subsidies for King Corn came up.  The answer from the esteemed neurosurgeon was dismaying even compared to some of the other pandering we've seen previously.

The Editor says...
Doctor Carson is apparently far smarter and nicer than almost any other politician, but he's not going to be the President of the United States due to political inexperience.  But even so, this pandering to the ethanol lobby would a deal breaker for any Republican candidate.

Corn, Scorn and Policy Porn.  Imagine a government energy program that is such a disaster that the Environmental Working Group and the American Petroleum Institute both oppose it.  The anti-poverty group ActionAid USA wants to get rid of it, as does the pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wants to end it.  So does Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.  They're both sponsors of the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015.  Feinstein pans the ethanol mandate as "both unwise and unworkable."

GOP presidential hopefuls split over federal biofuels mandate.  Free market conservatism collided with farm-state jockeying this weekend in Iowa, where several GOP presidential hopefuls said they support the federal fuel mandate that has boosted Iowa's all-important corn market — arguably at the expense of consumers' wallets and engines.  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Lindsey Graham all told a Saturday [2/7/2015] gathering in Des Moines that they support the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, that has required corn-based ethanol to be blended into almost every gallon of gasoline sold in the U.S.

If Walker can't stand up to Iowans, how can he stand up to the Islamic State?  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., was speaking to Iowa farmers over the weekend and, as the Washington Examiner's Rebecca Berg reported, he shifted his position on ending the mandate that requires gasoline to be blended with ethanol.  Though he previously indicated opposition to the mandate, now visiting Iowa as a likely presidential candidate, Walker said, "It's something I'm willing to go forward on, continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard."  The fact that he later floated the possibility of phasing it out didn't help the damage that was done to his reputation.  The ethanol mandate has little rationale beyond being a big government regulatory handout to corn farmers, many of whom happen to reside in a state with the first presidential nominating contest.

Ethanol: The GOP-Supported Rip-Off.  Can someone explain why the "party of limited government" continues, with a straight face, to support ethanol?  Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says about the heavily subsided product, "Everything about ethanol is good, good, good."

How biofuels contribute to the food crisis.  Each year, the world demands more grain, and this year the world's farms will not produce it.  World food prices have surged above the food crisis levels of 2008. [...] Demand for biofuels is almost doubling the challenge of producing more food.  Since 2004, for every additional ton of grain needed to feed a growing world population, rising government requirements for ethanol from grain have demanded a matching ton.  Brazil's reliance on sugar ethanol and Europe's on biodiesel have comparably increased growth rates in the demand for sugar and driven up demand for vegetable oil.

Biofuel emissions "worse than fossil fuels" — report.  Biofuels, widely seen as the green way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, may in some cases be worse for the climate than fossil fuels, a report says.  Not only will they cost motorists more than ordinary petrol and diesel and increase fuel consumption:  they will also make food more expensive. [...] Rob Bailey, the author of the report, entitled The Trouble with Biofuels, says:  "Current biofuels are at best an expensive way of reducing emissions.  "At worst they produce more emissions than the fossil fuels they replace and contribute to high and unstable food prices.  Policymaking needs to catch up with the evidence base."

Corn Ethanol Is Of No Use.  OK, can we please stop pretending biofuel made from corn is helping the planet and the environment?  The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released two of its Working Group reports at the end of last month (WGI and WGIII), and their short discussion of biofuels has ignited a fierce debate as to whether they're of any environmental benefit at all.

Ethanol policy reform — the rare place where environmentalists and energy advocates agree.  For the past two years, the EPA has failed to meet the statutory deadline under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring the agency to tell refiners how much ethanol to blend into the nation's motor fuels.  In November 2013, the EPA did make an attempt to announce the proposed 2014 blend levels — which by then were already months past the legally mandated deadline.  The EPA surprised and pleased the RFS opponents when it utilized its authority to adjust the mandate and took market conditions into consideration.  The EPA set the proposed 2014 standard to a level lower than 2013's, even though the law requires increasing amounts.  Ethanol producers, who were expecting the usual uptick, loudly opposed the reduction.  They made so much noise, the EPA agreed to reconsider.  To date, the 2014 standards have not yet been announced.

Time to Shuck the Big Corn Giveaway.  By most reasonable measures, America's corn farmers have had a fantastic year.  Their 14-billion-bushel harvest represents the largest yearly haul of any crop by any single country in world history.  Corn farmers are the last people who should need your tax money, but that's exactly what they're getting.

Methanol — the Fuel in Waiting.  It's the fuel that would make the best and most convenient substitute for gasoline in automobiles and small trucks. It has about two-thirds the energy value of gasoline, but its high octane rating pushes this up above 70 percent.  It is a liquid at room temperature and therefore would fit into our current gasoline infrastructure — as opposed to compressed natural gas or electric vehicles, which require a whole new delivery system.  It is also much less cumbersome than corn ethanol, which now requires nearly half the annual corn crop produced in the U.S. to provide only 3 percent of our energy needs.  Methanol made from natural gas would now sell for about $1 less per gallon than gasoline.  Methanol can also be made from food waste, municipal garbage and just about any other organic source.

Study Links Ethanol to Higher Air Pollution.  Ethanol may be increasing air pollution in Brazil, scientists report in a peer-reviewed study.  The study may have public policy implications in the United States, where federal law requires the transportation fuel mix to contain approximately 10 percent ethanol.  Sugar cane-based ethanol, which is heavily subsidized by the Brazilian government, powers many of the cars in Brazil.  However, a recent study of Sao Paulo air conditions found ethanol-powered vehicles may be linked to the city's smog problem.  When higher ethanol prices induced drivers to switch from ethanol to gasoline, the city's smog levels declined, scientists found.

Ethanol is all about politics, not the environment.
An ethanol surprise in Iowa?  [Scroll down]  The real story is that desperate Democrats are doing everything in their power in Iowa and other states to keep the U.S. Senate under their control.  With active cronyism between ethanol industry representatives and the White House, an October Surprise to keep Iowa in the blue column is rumored.  This surprise would be an increase in the amount of ethanol required to be blended into gasoline this year.  And it could be just the ticket to get Iowa ethanol producers and corn farmers, who are harvesting a record-breaking crop, solidly behind the Democratic candidate.

The clean fuels' program is a hidden tax on gas.  Many politicians on the West Coast have fallen in love with untested policies and programs they say will help solve global warming.  Many of these policies are mind-bogglingly complicated.  What, after all, is a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), or clean fuels program?  And how exactly do programs like "cap and trade" work?  And, perhaps most importantly, how do these policies impact you, the consumer?  Here's the dirty little secret the politicians don't want to talk about:  All of these policies are going to make it more costly to produce gasoline and diesel.

EPA faces '14 accusations on ethanol.  Groups like the American Petroleum Institute (API) always want the mandate to be lowered to increase the amount of crude oil in the supply, while some green groups also want to abolish the mandate, but for other reasons.  The Environmental Working Group, for instance, argues that the Renewable Fuel Standard encourages farmers to cut down more trees so they have more fields to grow corn — a process that may actual use more energy and emit more greenhouse gases than traditional fuels.  But the National Corn Growers Association and other pro-ethanol groups want the mandate to be raised.  Ethanol and other biofuels remain substantially more expensive than gasoline despite the promises of renewable fuels advocates.  Ethanol delivers fewer miles per dollar while being more damaging to fuel systems and auto parts than gasoline.  Nevertheless, the federal government and many state governments heavily subsidize ethanol and other biofuels and require consumers to purchase billions of gallons of these expensive products.

Study Links Ethanol to Higher Air Pollution.  Sugar cane-based ethanol, which is heavily subsidized by the Brazilian government, powers many of the cars in Brazil.  However, a recent study of Sao Paulo air conditions found ethanol-powered vehicles may be linked to the city's smog problem.  When higher ethanol prices induced drivers to switch from ethanol to gasoline, the city's smog levels declined, scientists found.  Approximately 40 percent of automobiles in Sao Paolo run on either gasoline or government-subsidized ethanol.  When the percentage of those flexible-fuel vehicles using solely gasoline rose from 14 percent to 76 percent, ozone pollution dropped by 20 percent, the researchers reported.

Ethanol from Corn Residue Increases CO2 Emissions.  Cellulosic ethanol made from corn residue emits more carbon dioxide than gasoline, according to a newly published, federally funded peer-reviewed study.  The findings are a severe blow to the biofuel industry, as fuels must reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent relative to conventional gasoline to qualify as a renewable fuel for federal subsidy programs.

Water shortages leading right back to corn and ethanol.  The central plains have seen some relief this spring with bands of heavy rains moving through, but the 2014 season has been the exception rather than the norm.  The 2012-2013 drought season saw more and more people having trouble accessing potable ground water, or even sufficient moisture for agriculture.  It's long been known that this problem is exacerbated by expanding corn production, driven by a need to feed the government mandated ethanol market.  But a recent study from an unusual source sheds some new light on this situation.

Climate Change Induced Corn-mageddon?  According to NOAA's own data, long-term drought has all but disappeared in the U.S. corn belt, and it is only getting wetter and wetter over time.  And yes, that trend towards massively anti-drought conditions in the corn belt is also massively statistically significant.  We find the exact same highly statistically significant trends towards far less drought in the corn belt since the late 1800s when we look at the 48-month, 36-month, 24-month, annual, May-October, or summertime PDSI.  It is absurd to suggest that droughts in the American corn belt are becoming more frequent or severe due to climate change.  The exact opposite is taking place.

Ethanol Nonsense.  2004 was a record year for U.S. production of both corn and soybeans.  If the entire record corn crop was converted to ethanol and the entire soybean crop was converted to biodiesel fuel, these two alternative fuels would equal only 12 days of U.S. petroleum consumption!

The Plight of the Monarch Butterflies.  The milkweed plant likes dry and sunny places the like of which you used to find along hedge rows, farm fields, countryside road ways, meadows and hills with poor soil.  The "corn for fuel," i.e. the "bio-ethanol" mandate of the U.S. has changed all that.  It's not just bad for the monarchs, it's bad all around, even for your car engine.  In order to grow the large additional quantities of corn required to add (after conversion to ethanol) to common gasoline, farmers started to plow under the very last scrap of land not previously used for agricultural production.  With that, the milkweed and the monarchs are doomed.

A World Turning Against Biofuels.  The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has suddenly reversed its support for biofuels.  The panel now admits growing crops for fuel "poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity."

Solving the Midwest Ethanol Problem.  The roots of the ethanol industry's current problems go back to 1978, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the maximum legal limit of ethanol in motor gasoline at 10 percent ethanol.  Three decades later the RFS deemed that increasing amounts of ethanol had to be blended into the gasoline supply, but because US gasoline consumption has been falling, the 10 percent limit of ethanol in the gasoline supply was reached.  As the gasoline pool was approaching that limit — commonly referred to as the "blend wall" — the ethanol lobby requested that the EPA allow 15 percent ethanol blends.

A Post-Mortem of Big Corn's December Defeat.  Last November, America's ethanol policy got a mite smarter.  The EPA walked back on some of the mandates it had in place for fuel refiners to blend in supposedly "green" ethanol, part of the country's Renewable Fuel Standard.  Since then, the ethanol lobby, affectionately (or not) called "Big Corn," has been railing against the decision as one coerced by the far more insidious-sounding "Big Oil" lobby.  But as Reuters reports in an in-depth look back on the process, this was more complicated than just a tug of war between two special interest giants.

New Study: Ethanol is Bad for Health and Environment.  A new study appearing in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology April 18 finds ethanol a health hazard that would likely increase the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations.  Ethanol is touted as a "green" alternative to gasoline, but the author of the study, Mark Jacobson, says, "It's not green in terms of air pollution." Jacobson is a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford University, who studied atmospheric conditions in 2020 if all vehicles ran on ethanol.

Evidence Piles UP Against Ethanol.  Ever since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, ethanol has been touted as a substitute for gasoline that would reduce our dependence on imports of foreign oil.  But ethanol was found to be a net energy loser.  It requires more energy to produce than you can get from burning the ethanol.  Two studies by panels of the U.S. Dept. of Energy in 1980 and 1981 came to this conclusion.  Those studies were reviewed by 26 independent scientific experts, who unanimously agreed with their findings.  Many other studies since produced the same result.

Ozone Levels Drop 20 Percent With Switch From Ethanol To Gasoline.  A Northwestern University study by an economist and a chemist reports that when fuel prices drove residents of São Paulo, Brazil, to mostly switch from ethanol to gasoline in their flexible-fuel vehicles, local ozone levels dropped 20 percent.  At the same time, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide concentrations tended to go up.  The four-year study is the first real-world trial looking at the effects of human behavior at the pump on urban air pollution.  This empirical analysis of atmospheric pollutants, traffic congestion, consumer choice of fuel and meteorological conditions provides an important tool for studying other large cities, such as Chicago, New York, London and Beijing.  Previous studies mainly have consisted of computer simulations of atmospheric chemical reactions based on tailpipe emissions studies.

The Ethanol Disaster.  America's ethanol requirement destroys the environment, damages car engines, increases gas prices, and contributes to the starvation of the global poor.  It's an unmitigated disaster on nearly every level.  Start with the environment.  After all, when the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which since 2005 has set forth a minimum annual volume of renewable fuels nationwide, was first set, one of the primary arguments for mandating ethanol use was that it was a greener, more environmentally friendly source of fuel that released fewer greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.  This turns out to be complete hogwash.  Researchers have known for years that, when the entire production process is taken into account, most supposedly green biofuels actually emit more greenhouse gasses than traditional fuels.

Fuels made from corn actually worse than gasoline, study says.  According to a new study, commissioned by the federal government, says that biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are actually worse than gasoline — when it comes to global warming in the short term.

Partners in Ethanol Crime.  Ethanol is losing political steam on the left and right, but the fuel retains a powerful patron in the Environmental Protection Agency. On Wednesday the EPA retroactively reduced the 2013 gasoline-blending mandate for cellulosic ethanol to 810,185 gallons from six million. If that sounds like a big cut, 810,185 gallons is precisely every last drop the industry managed to produce. The 2014 mandate is nonetheless pegged at a preposterous 17 million gallons. An even better measure of the EPA's tie-up with the ethanol lobby is the protracted delay of rules meant to keep criminals out of the alternative fuels markets. Ethanol has always been a scam on taxpayers but the mandate has proved to be an invitation for mass fraud.

It's Final — Corn Ethanol Is Of No Use.  Can we please stop pretending biofuel made from corn is helping the planet and the environment?  The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released two of its Working Group reports at the end of last month, and their short discussion of biofuels has ignited a fierce debate as to whether they're of any environmental benefit at all.

Automakers continue to quietly void warranties if you use E-15 gas.  It seems to be a growing trend that motorists are shopping around for gas stations which offer ethanol free gas, even if they have to pay a bit more per gallon to get it.  Distributors are noticing, and more and more stations are featuring this option.

Get the feds out of our gas tanks.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed reducing the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be mixed into the nation's fuel supply.  Fuel blenders would be required to use 15.21 billion gallons of biofuel in 2014, down from 16.55 billion gallons last year.  That's a good sign that the EPA finally recognizes the federal mandate for ethanol is creating economic distortions.  But the mandate should be cut much more significantly, with the ultimate goal that it be eliminated.

EPA admits the ethanol mandate has become unrealistic.  A top Environmental Protection Agency official admitted in front of Congress that the federal ethanol blending mandate has put undue requirements on oil companies.  "We're recognizing that the blend wall has been reached," Christopher Grundler, head of the EPA's transportation and air office, told senators in a hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  "Reaching the blend wall clearly presents constraints to using higher ethanol quantities because of the infrastructure and other market limitations," Grundler said.

U.S. Senators introduce bill to eliminate corn ethanol mandate.  A group of 10 U.S. Senators introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday [12/12/2013] to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate, arguing that current law raises the cost of food and animal feed and damages the environment.

Price of Chicken Reaches All-Time High in U.S..  The price for fresh whole chickens hit its all-time high in the United States in October, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  In January 1980, when BLS started tracking the price of this commodity, fresh whole chickens cost $0.69 per pound.  By this October 2003, fresh whole chickens cost $1.54 per pound.

The Editor says...
What is the primary ingredient in chicken feed?  Corn.

Ethanol takes policy blow from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Once touted as a climate-friendly renewable alternative to foreign oil, the corn-based liquid ethanol has been exposed as an environmental and economic mistake.  Lured by federal subsidies, Midwestern farmers have devoted millions of acres to corn that might otherwise have been devoted to soil conservation or feed-grain production.

Ethanol Is Net Energy Loser.  In his State of the Union speech, President Bush called for increasing ethanol as a way of reducing petroleum consumption and dependence on foreign oil.  It will do just the opposite.  Many studies over the years have concluded that it takes more energy for growing the corn (for farm machinery, pesticides, fertilizers) and distilling the alcohol than you can get from burning the ethanol that is produced.

In a first, EPA cuts ethanol standard.  In a move likely to anger corn farmers and their congressional representatives, the Obama administration Friday [11/15/2013] proposed the first-ever cut in the amount of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels that must be mixed into the nation's gasoline, with the Environmental Protection Agency concluding that the mandate set by Congress just six years ago is proving difficult and perhaps impossible for gas producers to meet.  The move could spark a fight from corn growers and those who have argued the ethanol mix was key to reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil suppliers.

EPA proposes reducing biofuel mandate.  The Obama administration on Friday [11/15/2013] proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply for the first time, acknowledging that the biofuel law championed by both parties in 2007 is not working as well as expected.

AP: Obama admin's corn-ethanol policies are pretty terrible for the environment.  As promised, the Associated Press has recently fallen out of favor with Big Ethanol (tragedy strikes!) over their big report released today that finally, earnestly picks up on what opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard and other biofuels subsidies have been insisting for ages now:  That corn ethanol is not the helpful climate-change panacea that its advocates are incessantly, deliberately misrepresenting it as, and in fact, on net evaluation, the government's wildly political biofuels push has brought about more long-term environmental harm than good.

Prairies Vanish in the US Push For Green Energy.  A policy intended to reduce global warming is encouraging a farming practice that actually could worsen it.

The secret, dirty cost of Obama's green power push.  [T]he ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

Millions of Acres of Conservation Land Destroyed Due to Ethanol.  Congress passed a law requiring oil companies to blend billions of gallons of ethanol into gasoline in 2007.  Last year farmers planted 15 million more acres of corn in 2012 than it had before the mandate.  In 2010, fuel became the number one use of corn in America.

Federal Ethanol Policy: Bad for the Planet, Good for Lobbyists.  The federal government's push for greater ethanol production, carried out in the name of saving the planet, has done great harm to the environment. [...] [W]hen EPA models indicated that the ethanol mandate would not make fuel green enough to satisfy the law, the agency was pressured into rigging the input assumptions to produce the desired results.  By assuming a huge increase in crop yields (and thus fewer new acres plowed) but a very small increase in corn prices, the EPA was able to claim that ethanol-blended gasoline would produce 21 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than standard gasoline, beating the law's emissions-reduction target by just one percentage point.  Those rigged assumptions turned out to be dead wrong.

Industry Takes Aim at AP Ethanol Investigation.  A new Associated Press investigation, which found that ethanol hasn't lived up to some of the government's clean-energy promises, is drawing a fierce response from the ethanol industry.

AAA urges EPA to reduce vehicle ethanol mandates.  AAA, the motor club that represents 53 million drivers, on Monday urged the Environmental Protection Agency to lower the amount of ethanol required to be blended into gasoline for 2014.  The group said more realistic targets in the Renewable Fuels Standard — approved by Congress in 2007 — "would protect drivers by preventing a possible surge in gas prices or the increased use of potentially damaging E15 gasoline."  "It is just not possible to blend the amount of ethanol required by current law given recent declines in fuel consumption, and it is time for public policy to acknowledge this reality," said Bob Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA.

Big Ethanol's response to EPA's possible RFS-rollback: Panic..  In what would be a pretty historical retreat, leaked draft documents last week revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency might actually considering reducing their ethanol-blending requirements for the country's refiners through the Renewable Fuel Standard as the industry has grown increasingly vocal about the inherent problems of hitting the "blend wall."

Liberal Dem: EPA biofuel program 'a flop'.  The federal requirement for gas refiners to mix biofuel in with conventional gasoline is a "flop," according to Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and should be eliminated.  Welch said that the renewable fuel standard, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), drives up the cost of corn, which ends up raising prices for dairy farmers in his state as well as other livestock producers.  Plus, he said, the amount of energy required to produce the biofuel ends up hurting the environment.  "It's been a flop, and the amount of energy that goes into producing a gallon of ethanol is a lot.  Twenty-eight gallons of water to produce a gallon of gas, 170 gallons, I guess, to produce a gallon of ethanol," he said.

The Renewable Fuel Standard Is Another Taxpayer-Funded Bailout.  The Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) mandates an ever-increasing floor of ethanol be mixed with gasoline.  The bill, which was expanded under President Obama, ensures a baseline level of demand for ethanol, distorting the market and sending the price of corn substantially higher.  That's because gasoline refiners have to purchase ethanol, regardless of the price.  So, corn prices tripled, which has factored its way into the prices of other agriculture products.

Wall Street Messes Up the EPA's Sandbox.  [Scroll down]  America's gasoline consumption has declined over the last six years.  Improvements in gas mileage — mostly impelled by a higher plateau for gas prices — have helped.  This year we are projected to consume only 134 billion gallons, down 6 percent from 2007.  But the ethanol mandate has remained at 13.8 billion gallons.  Consuming that much will push us over the 10 percent "blend wall" where ethanol begins to harm car engines.  Car manufacturers will not honor warrantees on cars that are fueled with more than 10 percent ethanol.  Consequently, refiners are stuck with a mandate for buying more ethanol than they use.  But never fear — the EPA had already created a mechanism for greasing the market.

The Ethanol Debacle.  The government mandated blend of ethanol in every gallon of gasoline is a full-fledged disaster and neither Congress, nor the Environmental Protection Agency shows any indication of either repealing or abandoning it.

Put a Corn Cob in Your Tank.  A strong candidate for the most expensive policy blunder of recent years would have to be the mandate to blend corn ethanol and other biofuels into the nation's gasoline supply.  This month even the Environmental Protection Agency essentially acknowledged that the program is increasingly unworkable and costly to consumers.  The EPA just won't do much to fix it.

High Gasoline Prices and RINs.  By now, most people realize that putting corn, a food, into the gas tank is immoral.  It's also a terrible economic policy that steals money from consumers — money that could be used to pay every day expenses or be used for investment.  The law requires refineries to blend cellulosic ethanol into gasoline, or pay a penalty.  But cellulosic ethanol doesn't exist so penalties are paid that refiners must recover from their customers — you and me.

Ethanol industry has EPA as ally in battle against big oil.  The 2005 Republican-passed energy bill created the RFS, known as the "ethanol mandate," and the 2007 Democrat-passed energy bill expanded it.  Under the law, oil refiners must purchase a set quantity of ethanol every year.  Thanks largely to cars' improving fuel efficiency, gasoline consumption has fallen steadily over the past few years, so refiners aren't selling enough gasoline to blend with the ethanol.  Under the complicated structure of the ethanol mandate, this will drive up costs for refiners, and thus drive up the price of gasoline.

Imaginary optimism.  Only in Washington would it take eight months to come up with a production quota for an imaginary product.  The Environmental Protection Agency, which is all too real, announced this week the latest renewable-fuel standards, which were due in January.  Now the oil companies must produce 6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, down from last year's target of 11 million.  That's still 6 million gallons too many, because cellulosic ethanol exists only in the fertile imagination of green fanatics.

Washington's Latest Special Favor.  [Scroll down]  This matters because for refineries to stuff ballooning amounts of ethanol into a static gas pool, they must blend it at levels of more than 10%.  Since the nation's auto makers have declared they will void the warranties of cars using gas with more than 10% ethanol, refineries face lawsuits.  Most have instead turned to buying federal renewable "credits" to make up for the ethanol they don't blend.  As demand for these credits skyrockets, so has the price — jumping from a few pennies a gallon last year to close to $1 a gallon today.  Oil refiner Valero has said the credits could raise its cost by a stunning $750 million this year, a hit that will be passed on to consumers.

Court Rules Indiana Ethanol Plants Exceeded Pollution Limits.  Federal pollution laws limit chemical process plants to 100 tons of air pollutants each year.  The ethanol plants in question, owned by Poet Biorefining, emitted substantially more than 100 tons of pollution each year.  Indiana Department of Environmental Management (DEM) officials reclassified the ethanol plants to avoid the definition of a chemical process plant, allowing the ethanol plants to emit more than double the air pollutants applicable to chemical process plants.

Ethanol is Insane, and Politicians Outside the Beltway Are Finally Fighting It.  The fact that most ethanol is made from corn means that an increase in the ethanol content of gas could create, or exacerbate, a variety of problems, like higher food prices and elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. [...] But while federal support for ethanol appears to be as unstoppable as it is misguided, some individual states have shown the kind of backbone that could lead us toward a smarter energy policy.

Ethanol Harms the Economy and the Environment.  Praised as a policy that would reduce dependence on oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refineries to blend ethanol into gasoline, has been fraught with unintended consequences [...]

Ethanol Use Creates a Spike in Global Food Prices.  At the turn of the 21st century, biofuels appeared to be a solution to mounting concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, skyrocketing fuel prices and dependence on foreign energy.  When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act in 2005 with a renewable fuel standard provision mandating that producers add ethanol to gasoline, it is unlikely that lawmakers thought the act would increase hunger and social unrest in the world's poorest countries.  However, unintended consequences frequently accompany even the most well-intentioned policies [...]

Supreme Court could consider suit to block sales of high-ethanol gas blend.  The higher ethanol blend is currently sold in just fewer than two dozen stations in the Midwest, but could spread to other regions as the Obama administration considers whether to require more ethanol in gasoline.

Ethanol Use Creates a Spike in Global Food Prices.  When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act (EP Act) in 2005 with a renewable fuel standard (RFS) provision mandating that producers add ethanol to gasoline, it is unlikely that lawmakers thought the act would increase hunger and social unrest in the world's poorest countries.  However, unintended consequences frequently accompany even the most well-intentioned policies [...]

Story Ideas for a Press Turning Against Obama.  An astonishing 45 percent of our corn crop now goes into gas tanks to replace 4 percent of our oil.  This massive diversion of crops has driven up food prices around the world, causing food riots in 2008 and toppling the government of Haiti.  The UN Food and Agriculture Organization regularly calls biofuels "a crime against humanity."

Is it time to end ethanol vehicle fuel mandates?  Last week, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other lawmakers introduced legislation in the House of Representatives calling for major changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The RFS is the reason why most US automobile fuel contains ten percent ethanol.

Cost-saving measure to upgrade ethanol to butanol — a better alternative to gasoline.  Scientists have reported a discovery that could speed an emerging effort to replace ethanol in gasoline with a substantially better fuel additive called butanol, which some experts regard as "the gasoline of the future."

Study: E15 Causes Engine Damage to Automobiles.  The Coordinating Research Council (CRC), a nonprofit organization that directs engineering and environmental studies on the interaction between automotive equipment and petroleum products, found the 15 percent ethanol blend, known as E15, damaged engine valves and other engine parts in many popular automobiles and light trucks.

Don't blame 'Big Oil' for high gas prices. Blame 'Big Corn.'.  [E]thanol and the Renewable Fuel Standards are terrible public policy — they are contributing to increased incentives to export US fuel and finished petroleum products, which is reflected in higher prices at the pump for American consumers.

The high price of 'Frankenol'.  Originally conceived to breathe life into the fledgling U.S. ethanol industry and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, continued tinkering with the renewable fuel standard (RFS) has turned the program into a nightmare.  The RFS requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into the nation's fuel pool annually.  Last year, they were responsible for blending a minimum of 13.2 billion gallons.  This year, the figure stands at 13.8 billion gallons.  By 2022, the RFS mandate will require 36 billion gallons.

Valero Says Ethanol Blending Costs To Double or Triple This Year.  Valero Energy Corp. said it will have to spend two or even three times as much as it did last year to comply with the federal ethanol-blending requirement due to the high prices of credits it needs to buy under the law.

Think ethanol is environmentally friendly? Think again.  Driven in large part by government biofuel mandates on oil refineries, U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres of grassland into corn and soybean fields between 2006 and 2011, according to a newly published study by scientists at South Dakota State University.  In corn-belt states like Iowa and South Dakota, about 5 percent of pastureland is being converted into cropland every year.  This pasture destruction not only will almost surely lead to higher beef and milk prices, but to serious environmental harm.

The ethanol bubble.  When the price of a commodity rises to stratospheric heights for no apparent reason, it's likely hysterical speculation.  Only the government could come up with a bubble in a commodity that's merely speculative.  This week, the going price for a "renewable identification number" hit a high of $1.10, which is up 3,500 percent from the 3 cents it would have fetched just a few months ago.  Renewable identification numbers are ethanol production credits created by the Environmental Protection Agency to help companies meet federal quotas for the production of a fuel that doesn't actually exist.

Ethanol regs push us into "the blend wall".  Filed under the "we hate when we turn out to be right" category, domestic energy producers are facing some tough choices in the coming months thanks for a one — two punch of ethanol and government regulations.  A combination of the drought this summer wiping out a fair portion of the corn crop and an unfunded mandate scheme by the federal government have resulted in there not being enough affordable ethanol for producers to blend into E-10 fuel.

Don't Like Rising Food Prices? End the Ethanol Mandate.  Congress allowed direct ethanol subsidies to end in 2011, but the renewables standard remains, and it is the bigger factor by far.  Even if we just partially relaxed the renewables standard, corn prices could drop by as much as 20 percent.  The idea that ethanol is a "cleaner" fuel has proven false, and it's use does not reduce carbon dioxide emissions — but then it has become clear that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not causing global warming, so there is no reason for the mandate in any case.  Carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase, but there has been no warming of the climate in 16 years.  Another of those governmental "bright ideas" that didn't prove out.

EPA's fuel folly.  [Scroll down]  In 2010, the first year of the mandate, EPA projected that 5 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels would be available.  In fact, there were none.  In 2011, EPA increased the mandate to 6.5 million gallons.  Again, the actual amount available was zero.  Undeterred, in 2012, EPA increased the required amount to 8.5 million gallons.  The actual available amount was 25,000 gallons.  Since it is impossible to comply with the mandate to use this phantom fuel, EPA is effectively taxing the industry.  This tax is passed to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.  EPA's overestimates are part of an intentional strategy.

Another Made Up Mandate on Energy that Doesn't Exist.  The dream to "achieve" is cellulosic biofuel or ethanol — which has an admirable goal of producing a renewable transportation fuel without impacting the world's food supply.  Different from corn- or sugar-based ethanol — which is technologically achievable (with questionable benefits) — cellulosic ethanol is made from wood chips, switchgrass, and agricultural waste, such as corn cobs.  The problem is the dream doesn't match reality.

Adding Ethanol To Our Fuel Will Cause Cars To Break Down.  Laws, regulations and public policies always have unintended consequences.  Sometimes they create shortages, even of food.  Other times they bring on housing bubbles.  And then, on occasion, they wreck our cars.

Study: New E15 gas can ruin auto engines.  The fuel industry's American Petroleum Institute tested the 15 percent ethanol gas approved in 2010 and found it gums up fuel systems, prompts "check engine" lights to come on, and messes with fuel gauge readings.  "Failure of these components could result in breakdowns that leave consumers stranded on busy roads and highways," said the industry report.  Worse:  API said the fuel problems — not found in E5 or E10 blends — aren't always covered by auto warranties.

Zero Dark Ethanol.  Ethanol is one of the only products in history that Congress subsidizes and mandates at the same time.  That sounds pretty generous.

Obama's Green Ethanol Bureaucrats Starve The Poor.  At what point does environmental zeal descend into inhumane policy?  Try the ethanol mandate, which is now creating a wave of state-sponsored hunger in poor countries like Guatemala as food is diverted to fuel.

Court rejects EPA biofuel mandate.  Cellulosic biofuel is ethanol fermented from products other than corn, which is the major source of biofuel production in the United States.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the mandate for 2012, which would have held oil refiners accountable for purchasing 8.65 million of gallons of the biofuel even though none is commercially available for sale, was based on flawed projections.

Judge rules EPA can't mandate use of nonexistent biofuels.  The court sided with the country's chief oil and gas lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, in striking down the 2012 EPA mandate that would have forced refineries to purchase more than $8 million in credits for 8.65 million of gallons of the cellulosic biofuel.  However, none of the biofuel is commercially available.

New EPA Mandated Ethanol Fuel Harms Vehicles.  The EPA's latest biofuel initiative may cause substantial damage to vehicles, but why let the effects of bad policy get in the way of implementing unnecessary, burdensome policy?  The EPA recently approved E15, a gasoline blend containing up to fifteen percent ethanol.  According to AAA, less than five percent of cars on the road are approved by automakers to use E15.  The AAA surveyed motorists and found that ninety-five percent hadn't heard of the new fuel.  Not only are consumers unaware of E15, but research indicates the newly approved biofuel may have damaging longterm affects on unapproved vehicles.

Iowa corn yield, production fell 20% last year.  Iowa farmers on Friday got the tally for the damage done to their 2012 corn crop by the heat wave and drought:  a 20 percent drop in yield and production.  Iowa's average yield of 137 bushels per acre for 2012, down from 172 bushels in 2011, was the lowest since 1996.

Obama's Green Ethanol Bureaucrats Starve The Poor.  At what point does environmental zeal descend into inhumane policy?  Try the ethanol mandate, which is now creating a wave of state-sponsored hunger in poor countries like Guatemala as food is diverted to fuel.

Higher corn prices hit stores, chicken farms.  The push for more ethanol made from corn exacerbates supply troubles.

DoE doubling down on feeding "green" ambitions and hiking third-world food prices.  The Obama administration has roundly refused to scale back on its relentless buoying up of the biofuels industry, despite the clamorous criticism of almost everybody except the ethanol lobby; once the supposedly 'environmental' zealots of our bloated federal bureaucracy and their cronyish friends have decided on a policy, that's just all there is to it, and no, we really do not [care] about the real-world unintended consequences.

AAA asks EPA to stop sales of high-ethanol fuel.  AAA urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to halt sales of gasoline with higher ethanol concentrations Friday [12/7/2012], contending the fuel blend causes engine damage not covered under most auto warranties.  EPA says that cars made in the model year 2001 and later can handle E15, the fuel blend made up of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent petroleum.  But automakers say EPA is only considering the fuel's impact on emissions control systems while disregarding the impact on the rest of the vehicle.

EPA's engine destroying gas may be coming soon.  Nine gas stations in the nation now have pumps with E15 gasoline.  E15 is a blend of regular gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol.  The pumps are recognized by their black and orange labels.  And that label is not something you want to ignore.

Ethanol Mandate Turns King Corn Into A Pauper.  In another sign of U.S. decline in the Obama era, the U.S.' share of corn exports has shriveled in the global marketplace.  Our biggest buyer, Japan, has cut its imports of U.S. corn from 2.702 million metric tons last year to 1.968 million metric tons this year.  Similar figures are seen with our other top customers in Taiwan and China.

End of Ethanol.  Once heralded as the key to kicking America's foreign oil addiction by Republicans and Democrats alike, ethanol's political fortunes have faded and the industry's future is unclear amid a growing chorus of critics.

Ethanol is Eating Up U.S. Corn Exports.  Foreign nations that previously relied on the U.S. for corn are growing more of their own or buying from other producing countries, says Philip Abbott, a Purdue University economist.  He predicted the trend will continue even if market conditions improve and U.S. corn production increases.

EPA refuses to waive ethanol mandate.  The Environmental Protection Agency is rejecting requests from states and meat industry groups to waive regulations that require the blending of ethanol into gasoline.  EPA rejected petitions from nearly a dozen states, including Texas, Virginia, and Maryland, for waivers of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  "[T]he agency has not found evidence to support a finding of severe 'economic harm' that would warrant granting a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard," EPA said Friday [11/16/2012].

New ethanol blend could damage vehicles and void warranties, AAA warns.  The AAA says the Environmental Protection Agency and gasoline retailers should halt the sale of E15, a new ethanol blend that could damage millions of vehicles and void car warranties.  AAA, which issued its warning today, says just 12 million of more than 240 million cars, trucks and SUVs now in use have manufacturers' approval for E15.  Flex-fuel vehicles, 2012 and newer General Motors vehicles, 2013 Fords and 2001 and later model Porsches are the exceptions, according to AAA, the nation's largest motorist group, with 53.5 million members.

EPA should consider American drivers, not special interests.  Reducing dependence on foreign oil is an important goal.  However, the EPA should not allow new fuels without assurances that it won't mean shorter engine life and more trips to the pump.  As Americans are trying to do more with less, Congress should ensure that the EPA considers the needs of American drivers who rely on their cars every day, not certain special interest lobbies.

Corn Ethanol Will Not Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  California regulators, trying to assess the true environmental cost of corn ethanol, are poised to declare that the biofuel cannot help the state reduce global warming.  As they see it, corn is no better — and might be worse — than petroleum when total greenhouse gas emissions are considered.

The EPA hearts Big Ethanol.  I'm not even going to get started on the vast — vast, I say — number of federal policies whose justification for existence is that they help protect small family farmers and/or the environment, when in fact, they accomplish precisely the opposite.  For now, I'll just pick the one — the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a certain amount of fuel be blended with ethanol (which is generally made from corn) every year.

Obama's EPA Continues Handouts for Rich Ethanol Farmers on the Backs of Consumers.  The single most regressive market-distorting policy to ever emanate from Washington is the absurd tendentious treatment of ethanol.  Over the past decade, ethanol has been the poster child for the worst aspects of big-government crony capitalism.  The ethanol industry has used the fist of government to mandate that fuel blenders use their product, to subsidize their production with refundable tax credits, and to impose tariffs on more efficient sugar-based ethanol from Brazil.

The EPA vs. State Economies.  On Friday [11/16/2012], the Environmental Protection Agency rejected petitions from the governors of Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and North Carolina to suspend the biofuel-blending requirements established by the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) program.  This program requires refiners to blend increasing quantities of biofuel — mostly corn ethanol — into the nation's motor-fuel supply.  The 2012 target is to blend 13.2 billion gallons of biofuel into our gasoline, a quantity that ratchets up to 13.8 billion gallons in 2013.

New Study: Ethanol costs one million jobs.  If President Obama still cares about more U.S. jobs and high food costs he can now immediately gain on both.  An economist in Indianapolis just calculated that the U.S. is losing a million jobs this year — along with $30 billion in economic growth — because we shifted too much of our corn into ethanol.

California Ends Ethanol Subsidies.  Ethanol no longer qualifies for financial benefits under California's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, in the wake of legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).  Assembly Bill 523, authored by Assemblyman David Valadao (R-Hanford), eliminates all future state funding for the production of ethanol derived from corn.

It Is Time to Stop Putting Food in Our Cars.  The ethanol mandate continues to do more harm than good — inflicting environmental damage, raising food prices, and distorting energy markets.

Ethanol Mandates Plague Developing Countries With Rising Food Prices.  The expanding use of ethanol in U.S. oil production, prompted by government mandates that require the use of biofuel in gasoline, is escalating the price of corn while plaguing poor countries with rising food prices.  Critics worldwide are now questioning the federal government's ethanol mandates, as the use of American-produced corn for biofuel has added more than $6.5 billion to the food import bills of developing countries, particularly in North Africa and Central America.

EPA may slash use of ethanol in gasoline as corn crop wilts.  The EPA may shift corn away from ethanol use to reduce demand on drought-impacted farms.  Only months ago, the EPA was pressing hard to expand the use of ethanol in the nation's gasoline supply, but in the wake of this summer's fierce drought, the agency may soon reverse course and actually trim back because of shortages of corn used to produce the renewable fuel.

Cash-strapped farmers feed candy to cows.  Cattle farmers struggling with record corn prices are feeding their cows candy instead. [...] While corn goes for about $315 a ton, ice-cream sprinkles can be had for as little as $160 a ton.

Biofuels and the food that's going up in smoke.  The growing use of energy from crops has driven up food prices and hunger, spurred enormous corporate land grabs in poor countries, and probably made global warming worse.  Now, however, there is the first sign of a rethink.

Ethanol Is a Threat to National Security.  As a way to save the planet, not many policies are worse than government-backed ethanol.  It's bad for the economy, bad for the environment, doesn't reduce greenhouse gases, and has led to rapidly rising food prices.  Now a recent report links ethanol mandates to civil unrest, social upheaval, and even war.  As the report shows, rising food prices have been a significant contributor to global unrest, particularly in the Middle East.  High food prices have long been associated with riots and civil unrest.

Ethanol Mandate Waiver: Decks Stacked Against Petitioners.  The Governors of Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and North Carolina have petitioned EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to waive the mandatory ethanol blending requirements established by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The petitioners hope thereby to lower and stabilize corn prices, which recently hit record highs as the worst drought in 50 years destroyed one-sixth of the U.S. corn crop.  Corn is the principal feedstock used in ethanol production.

With E15, the ethanol industry wins, but American consumers lose.  Technology has advanced over the years to provide consumers today with high-tech automobiles that run smoothly, efficiently and are easy to maintain.  Americans feel confident when they pull into a gas station that the fuel they're putting into their cars, and using in their outdoor power equipment, is safe and reliable.  But, this is about to change, if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its way.

Bacon, pork shortage 'now unavoidable,' industry group says.  Might want to get your fill of ham this year, because "a world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable," according to an industry trade group.  Blame the drought conditions that blazed through the corn and soybean crop this year.

Misbegotten Ethanol Policy.  This year's drought should highlight the importance of ending the corn-ethanol program.  The USDA originally forecast a record crop of 14.8 billion bushels for 2012.  They have been cutting the forecast since the effects of the drought have become apparent.  Now a prestigious consulting firm, Muse Stancil & Company, forecasts a corn crop of only 10 billion bushels in 2012.  A recent USDA forecast is for 10.8 billion bushels.  There is concern in China over potential food shortages.  The August 30 edition of the China Daily newspaper ran a full-page spread on grains, their rising prices and fear of shortages.

Global bacon, pork shortage 'now unavoidable' in 2013.  Bacon lovers are advised to start bulk buying the breakfast favorite or switch to an alternative, as 'a world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable,' warns an industry trade group.  Annual production for Europe's main pig producers fell across the board between 2011 and 2012, a trend that 'is being mirrored around the world', warns Britain's National Pig Association.

Wait — maybe we haven't reached "peak bacon".
There Will Be No Bacon Shortage.  How a British trade association press release sent the Internet into a senseless panic.

The government that can require you to buy medical insurance can also require you to buy gasoline you don't necessarily need.
EPA Mandates Motorists Buy At Least 4 Gallons of Gas at Ethanol-15 Pumps.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that all consumers in the United States must purchase at least 4 gallons of gasoline when they go to the gas station, if they are getting fuel from a pump that also offers a new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend.

What if you ride a motorcycle, or just need a gallon for your lawnmower?
EPA Institutes Minimum Gas Purchase Requirement For Some Stations.  Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) has a post on the Hill's Congress Blog highlighting a bizarre new regulation from the EPA requiring some gas stations to sell at least four gallons of gasoline at a time.  It affects those that pump both E10 and E15 (gas with 10 percent or 15 percent ethanol) through the same hose.  Since E15 is pretty terrible for small engines and old cars (Sensenbrenner says it's "like metal in a microwave for a small engine"), the theory is that when customers whose engines cannot handle it are buying gas, the four-gallon minimum would dilute any residual E15 enough to keep it from damaging small engines.

The Editor says...
If E15 is that harmful, why isn't it sold from its own pump, like diesel fuel?

Levin: If You Think The 'Broccoli Mandate' Can't Happen, Just Try To Buy Gas Under EPA's New Rule.  Citing the EPA's new gas purchase mandate, Mark Levin mocked skeptics who say the threat of a broccoli mandate is ridiculous.  On last night's [9/17/2012] radio show, Levin compared a four gallon new minimum-purchase rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Obamacare health insurance purchase mandate and warnings that a broccoli-purchase mandate could be next.

Big Bad Corn.  [Corn] was first subsidized in the late '70s as a fossil fuel alternative, but it's turned out to be inefficient source of fuel.  Not only that, ethanol from corn actually increases the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a higher rate than gasoline.  Yet, the U.S. pays $10 to $30 billion [each year] in farm subsidies to raise even more of it, with no clear benefit to consumers.

Calls to lower ethanol quota rise as U.S. corn crop withers.  To avert a possible food crisis from a lack of corn, groups are urging changes to the U.S. renewable fuel standard or at least a temporary waiver of the ethanol quota.

This is a radio talk show rumor, but I suspect it's entirely true.
One Bushel Of Corn Per 10 Acres/Alert From Listener.  My wife saw on the farm show the other morning here in Kentucky that the farmers here in KY are only getting one bushel of corn per 10 acres.  It all turns to dust.

Ethanol makes the top ten list.  It's now obvious that corn ethanol is too expensive to burn, and burning it is driving world food prices too high.  The tragedy is that corn ethanol isn't even needed!  We've had no global warming trend in the past 15 years, even though CO2 levels in the atmosphere keep rising.  The UN is now reduced to pleading with the U.S. to suspend its ethanol mandate — to prevent food price poverty for the world's poor.

EPA denies challenge to biofuels rule.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered a blow to the petroleum industry Monday [8/20/2012] by denying a petition that would have exempted refiners from part of a biofuel blending mandate, according to documents obtained by The Hill.  EPA shot down the American Petroleum Institute's (API) challenge of the renewable fuel standard (RFS), according to Monday court filings with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  EPA determined that enough advanced biofuels — generally understood to be made from non-food products — existed to meet that portion of the RFS for 2012.

Drought Recharges Ethanol Debate.  Last Friday's [8/10/2012] biannual report from the Agriculture Department has re-ignited debate on the wisdom of using ethanol in gasoline to reduce emissions.  Because of the drought, corn yield per acre this year will be the lowest since 1995, while the actual production of corn will be the lowest since 2006.  A congressional mandate to turn corn into ethanol in order to reduce emissions requires converting nearly 40 percent of that harvest into 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol.  That leaves precious little to feed cattle and people, driving up the price.  Since January the price of corn has jumped 22 percent, most of the increase since June.

How Ethanol Causes Joblessness.  Our indefatigable friend Bob Dinneen — the ethanol lobby's old reliable — is back with a nearby letter, and as always we're more than happy to give him his say.  But just as the Renewable Fuels Association president never lets any claim about his industry slip by unchallenged, a word or two is in order about his line that ethanol lowers gas prices.  Not least because Mr. Dinneen's trade group is running an ad campaign across the Midwest asserting that the ethanol mandate reduced the price of a gallon of fuel by 89 cents in 2010 and $1.09 in 2011.

The United States has plenty of oil, but a shortage of corn.
The EPA is starving people.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave us a regulation called the "Renewable Fuel Standard," that mandates that about 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol must be blended in our gasoline this year to create the fuel with either 10 percent or 15 percent ethanol at the pumps.  By 2022, this mandate is raised to 36 billion gallons.  The WSJ points out to us that, "These quotas are fulfilled almost entirely by corn ethanol.  Four of every 10 bushels in 2011 went into the stuff."  So 40 percent of our corn harvest is used for fuel instead of food and because of the increase on corn demand, the price of food goes up.  But that's not all we pay for.  Renewable fuel producers in this country get a 45-cent-per-gallon federal subsidy and have a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff imposed on foreign imports.

To protect ethanol, Obama seeks to inflate meat prices.  Campaigning in Missouri Valley, Iowa, yesterday [8/13/2012], President Obama announced yet another government spending program — this time designed to inflate meat prices in Midwest swing states.  "Today the Department of Agriculture announced that it will buy up to $100 million worth of pork products, $50 million worth of chicken, and $20 million worth of lamb and farm-raised catfish," Obama explained to reporters in front of a drought-stricken cornfield.  "Prices are low, farmers and ranchers need help, so it makes sense," Obama explained.  "It makes sense for farmers who get to sell more of their product, and it makes sense for taxpayers who will save money because we're getting food we would have bought anyway at a better price."  None of this makes sense.  In fact, Obama's move only harms American consumers while protecting a corrupt federal program.

The Editor says...
Having never worked in a profit-making business, Barack Obama does not understand how businesses work.

Even Ethanol Waiver Won't Crack Corn.  This close to an election, a U.N. demand for a change in U.S. domestic policy could end up simply entrenching it.  But even if the government listens to Friday's [8/10/2012] call to suspend the ethanol mandate, corn prices may not drop that much.

Ethanol vs. the World.  In 2007 and 2008, food prices spiked, resulting in much higher U.S. grocery bills and far more hunger in the poorest countries as the global supply chain buckled.  The world may now be on the cusp of a 2012 reprise amid the drought in the Midwest farm belt, the worst in 50 years.  Luckily, there are plenty of simple, modest things Washington can do to alleviate and even prevent another crisis.

200,000 Lives Annually Found to be at Risk From Ethanol-Fueled Malnutrition.
As Corn Production Shrivels, EPA Stalls on Ethanol/Hunger Issue.  Today, the U.S. Agriculture Department released its much-anticipated crop data report, revealing sharply reduced corn supplies due to continuing drought conditions.  Corn yields are now estimated to come in at the lowest level in over 15 years, and the corn crop size will be the lowest in five years.  Coupled with the UN's warning yesterday about surging food prices and the risks of a global food crisis, this indicates that the impact of ethanol fuel programs on world food supplies is worse than ever.  These food-to-fuel programs use government mandates and subsidies to divert corn and other grains from being used as food, pushing them into ethanol production instead.

Get Dense.  The power density of ethanol is so low that in 2011, to produce a quantity of motor fuel whose energy equivalent was just 0.6 percent of global oil consumption, the American corn-ethanol sector had to convert a mind-boggling 4.9 billion bushels of grain into ethanol.  That's more corn than the combined outputs of the European Union, Mexico, Argentina, and India.  It represents 40 percent of all the corn grown in the United States — about 15 percent of global corn production and 5 percent of all the grain grown in the world.

Corn for Food, Not Fuel.  By suspending renewable-fuel standards that were unwise from the start, the Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain, where market forces and common sense dictate it should go.  The drought has now parched about 60 percent of the contiguous 48 states.  As a result, global food prices are rising steeply.

The Ethanol Mandate: Drought Only Compounds Inherent Catastrophic Consequences.  Ethanol already consumes more corn than agriculture does.  Still, the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which forces refiners to sell larger amounts of corn ethanol and other biofuels each year, continues... regardless of weather, supply demand, or cost influences.  These "volumetric targets" increase from 4.0 billion gallons in 2006, to 36 billion gallons in 2022.  While the amount of corn ethanol qualifying as "renewable" will max out at 15 billion gallons in 2015, it already consumes about 40 percent of annual U.S. corn crops.

The Ethanol Mandate Is Worse Than The Drought.  The farm economy has withered along with the crops, and the American consumer, once again, will pay for it with higher food prices.  One of the hardest-hit commodities, corn, plays a critical role in our food chain.

Food crisis fears mount as drought sees corn price hit record high.  Fears of a potential repeat of the 2008 food crisis mounted, after a US government report showed that US crops were being savaged by an intense drought.  Corn prices hit a new record high today on confirmation that the US crop would probably slump by 13pc to a 6-year low.  The last time prices spiked 4 years ago food riots occured in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico and many other countries.

US biofuel production should be suspended, UN says.  The United Nations (UN) food agency has called on the United States to suspend its production of biofuel ethanol.  Under US law, 40% of the corn harvest must be used to make biofuel, a quota which the UN says could contribute to a food crisis around the world.  A drought and heatwave across the US has destroyed much of the country's corn crop, driving up prices.

The ethanol mandate is raising food prices and hurting the poor.  In 2007 and 2008, food prices spiked, resulting in much higher U.S. grocery bills and far more hunger in the poorest countries as the global supply chain buckled.  The world may now be on the cusp of a 2012 reprise amid the drought in the Midwest farm belt, the worst in 50 years.  Luckily, there are plenty of simple, modest things Washington can do to alleviate and even prevent another crisis.  The problem is that these fixes are opposed by a minor industry that adds little if any value to the economy, even counting its prodigious Beltway operations.

Renewable Fools Standard.  The drought should mean an end to the ethanol subsidy — the last thing the EPA and Obama will ever surrender. [...] Since 2005, the ethanol mandate has driven the average price of corn from about $2 per bushel to almost $8 per bushel, according to a January 23, 2012 CRS report.  But all of the supposed benefits of the mandate have not appeared.  According to that same report, our dependence on foreign oil hasn't been reduced at all, and there is no evidence that the ethanol mandate has driven energy prices down.

Even in good weather, ethanol is a waste of corn.  And now the weather isn't good.
Corn prices hit record as crops shrivel.  Almost 90% of the United States' corn crops are in drought ravaged areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and nearly 40% are situated in the hardest hit spots.  Corn prices have soared more than 50% during the past six weeks as the crops continue to shrivel in relentless dry heat throughout the Midwest.

Even in a drought, some politicians won't let go of the pork.
Johanns, Nelson defend ethanol.  It's hard to find any green grass on either side of the fence, and Mike Johanns is for doing whatever it takes to get drought relief to ranchers in Nebraska and other states.  But the state's Republican senator made it clear in a conference call last week that he's not for pulling back on the federal ethanol mandate to conserve corn for livestock use.

A Drought Of U.S. Leadership.  As drought destroys the U.S. corn crop and drives prices skyward, the U.S. now buys corn from Brazil and faces the end of its prized role as the world's top food supplier.  It's time to scrap the ethanol mandate.

The Ethanol Chickens Come Home to Roost.  After a year full of victories for big government legislation in Congress, the forces of statism seemed to have met their Waterloo with the farm/food stamp bill.  The more people learned of the profligate food stamp spending and the market distorting, risk-inducing agriculture programs contained in the bill, the more they spoke out against this monstrosity.  Speaker Boehner has refused to bring the bill to the floor so far.  Seeing their political stock rapidly diminish, the bipartisan coalition of government-run agriculture took a page out of Rahm Emanuel's playbook and decided not to let the crisis of the summer drought go to waste.  They are using evocative imagery of dead crops and the fear of higher food prices to shove this $957 billion behemoth through Congress.

End the Ethanol Madness.  Economists are warning that the current drought in the Corn Belt is going to result in higher food prices.  That increase will hit consumers hard, reducing discretionary spending and further weakening an already fragile economy.  With every scorching day that passes, the catastrophe mounts.  But, as usual, the president is AWOL.  There's not been one word from Obama about how to address a food crisis that everyone knows is coming. [...] But there is one thing the president can do to alleviate the effects of the drought:  suspend the nation's ill-conceived ethanol program.  That program now burns up 40% of the U.S. corn crop.  If he had exercised leadership, Obama could already have taken action to suspend ethanol mandates.

A Hungry World Population? Oh Well, Let Them Eat Ethanol!  Here come the corn riots.  Climate change policies — much more than the vagaries of climate — are now beginning to create the instabilities that cooler heads have been warning about for years. [...] Which brings us to ethanol.  It comes from corn.  The amount to be produced is a mandate, not a choice.  It's 13.2 billion gallons this year.  Last year we burnt up 40% of our crop.  This year, given the expected yield reductions, we could easily destroy over half of our corn.

New Ethanol-Blend Fuel Approved by EPA Can Damage Car Engines, Group Warns.  A new blend of gasoline comprising 15 percent ethanol, approved by the Environmental Protection Agency last month and now available in Kansas, could damage automobile engines, the Kansas Petroleum Council is warning.

Kansas Gas Station is the First to Offer E15 Ethanol-blend Fuel.  Acting on the Obama administration's inexorable push for alternative fuel, a gas station in Lawrence, Kansas, has become the first in the nation to offer E15 fuel, a blend containing 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.  In addition to the Zarco 66 station in Lawrence, a second retail station in Ottawa, Kansas, is also preparing to offer the more-concentrated hybrid fuel sometime in the near future.

U.S. Corn-Crop Forecast Cut as Drought Dims Supply Outlook.  The U.S. cut its corn-harvest estimate 12 percent and said inventories next year will be smaller than forecast in June as the worst Midwest drought since 1988 erodes prospects for a record crop.  Farmers will harvest 12.97 billion bushels (329.45 million metric tons), down from a June prediction of 14.79 billion, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report.  Analysts expected 13.534 billion, based on the average of 14 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Ethanol producers feeling pinched.  One of the engines of the Midwest's agricultural economy has started to sputter.  Production of ethanol, the corn-based fuel additive, is slowing as manufacturers struggle with record low profit margins.  Last month, Valero Energy Corp., one of the largest U.S. ethanol producers, temporarily closed two of its 10 plants.

EPA Fines Refineries for Not Using Substance That Does Not Exist.  One of the countless requirements the Environmental Protection Agency hobbles the economy by inflicting is the use of cellulosic ethanol by the millions of gallons when refining oil.  This flaky green rule, no doubt imposed to ease the imaginary plight of man-eating polar bears, is particularly onerous because cellulosic ethanol is a theoretical substance that does not exist.

EPA fines oil refiners for failing to use nonexistent biofuel.  Do you fill your car's tank with gasoline that is part cellulosic ethanol, an environment-friendly distillate of wood chips, corn cobs, and switch grass?  Let me answer for you:  No, you don't.  You couldn't if you wanted to.  Petroleum products blended with cellulosic ethanol aren't commercially available, because the technology for mass-producing cellulosic ethanol hasn't been perfected.  None of which has stopped the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing hefty yearly fines on oil refiners.

EPA blasted for requiring oil refiners to add type of fuel that's merely hypothetical.  Federal regulations can be maddening, but none more so than a current one that demands oil refiners use millions of gallons of a substance, cellulosic ethanol, that does not exist.  "As ludicrous as that sounds, it's fact," says Charles Drevna, who represents refiners.  "If it weren't so frustrating and infuriating, it would be comical."

Obama: Candidate of the 1 Percent.  [Scroll down]  The same goes incidentally for corn ethanol mandates, which have little to do with energy independence or environmental protection and everything to do with the enrichment of elements of the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent.  Subsidies for corn ethanol hit working Americans hard and working Mexicans, for whom the tortilla is a basic food, even harder.  There is nothing socially responsible about mandating or subsidizing the use of hungry people's food as a biofuel to enrich deep-pocketed special interests.

Corn Ethanol and a Non-Warming Earth.  The earth has failed to warm at all for 15 years now, and American farmers are afraid of losing the "renewable fuel" mandate for corn ethanol — which has given them record crop prices and incomes since 2007.  So, they're proposing a new entitlement designed to ensure that they'll never lose money again.  Their proposed new federal farm bill would guarantee that farmers' incomes don't decline — and if future farm prices rise even more, the Feds' guarantee would ratchet up too.

Obama EPA Rushes to Impose New Ethanol Mandate.  Oral arguments began last week on another controversial Obama Administration policy.  It's not Obamacare in the Supreme Court, but the outcome will affect a major sector of the economy: energy.  In particular, the fuel most Americans use daily.

The folly of E15 anti-hydrocarbon policies.  The Obama Administration's anti-hydrocarbon ideology and "renewable" energy mythology continues to subsidize crony capitalists and the politicians they help keep in office — on the backs of American taxpayers, ratepayers and motorists.  The latest chapter in the sorry ethanol saga is a perfect example, biofuels.  Bowing to pressure from ADM, Cargill, Growth Energy and other Big Ethanol lobbyists, Lisa Jackson's Environmental Protection Agency has decided to allow ethanol manufacturers to register as suppliers of E15 gasoline.  E15 contains 15% ethanol, rather than currently mandated 10% blends.

Alternative Energy Industry Raking in Iowa Subsidies.  The alternative energy industry has found a reliable benefactor in the form of the Iowa legislature, which between 2003 and 2010 gave most of the state's economic development subsidies to biofuels firms.

Unelected EPA Bureaucrats Approve E15 Ethanol.  Last week, "an unelected group of people" over at the Environmental Protection Agency revised our national energy policy, approving a new gasoline blend with up to 15% ethanol, known as E15, which may be available in pumps this summer.  Currently, most gasoline sold in the U.S. is E10, containing a maximum of 10% ethanol.

The Gas Price Kerfuffle: Obama's Achilles Heel?  [Scroll down]  Another factor raising the cost of transportation is the congressional mandate for adding ethanol, which has not yet been canceled.  It is doubtful even whether modern cars with electronic fuel injection need an additive like ethanol, which also reduces car mileage (since it has only 61% of the energy content of gasoline) — thereby adds a hidden cost to posted price at the pump — does not cut CO2 emissions, and has sharply raised food prices globally.  As much as 40% of the U.S. corn crop now goes into ethanol production — and the Obama White House wants to raise the mandate from 10% to 15%!

The ethanol threat to classic cars and bikes.  The main, or perhaps only, benefit of ethanol (or methanol, its close cousin) was its resistance to "knock", which means that an engine can have a higher compression ratio and produce more power. ... Yet ethanol is also a powerful solvent that, without a suitable additive, attacks many fuel system components including zinc and galvanised materials, brass, copper, aluminium, seals and hoses, cork, polyurethane and epoxy resins.  In other words, almost everything used in a vehicle made more than about 20 years ago.  It's also hydrophilic, and water causes all sorts of additional problems.

Oil and Gasoline Prices.  [Scroll down]  Ethanol has only 61% of the energy of gasoline, so it gets very poor mileage.  Removing the mandate which forces ethanol to be mixed with gasoline at the pump would result in cheaper gasoline, which would travel farther and cost less per mile of travel.  Ethanol production in 2010 was less than 10% of foreign oil imports and can never replace foreign oil imports.  Using ethanol emits more carbon dioxide into the air than using gasoline.  It's the ethanol, stupid.  Ethanol is increasing gasoline prices.

Perry Targeted for Opposing Ethanol Subsidies, Mandates.  The ethanol industry is targeting Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry for arguing government should not subsidize ethanol production or mandate a market share for ethanol.  Despite the attacks, Perry is holding firm in arguing government should not be picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace.

Ethanol subsidies: Down but not out.  The VEETC added $5-6 billion annually to the federal deficit and the tariff propped up domestic ethanol prices by blocking competition from Brazilian sugarcane ethanol.  The demise of the VEETC and tariff is the ethanol lobby's first loss of corporate welfare benefits in more than 30 years.

I Finally Understand Democrats.  In order to believe that Democrats have the answer today, you would have to believe:
  •   That ice ages and the warming periods in between were not caused by man's influence on the earth but a half degree rise in average temperatures over 30 years is.
  •   That using the equivalent of two gallons of fossil fuel to produce one gallon of ethanol makes sense because it is "renewable."
  •   That in spite of the fact that one third of the world is hungry it makes more sense to use food for fuel than drilling for a fuel source that nobody can eat.

Obama Administration Says No to Oil, Yes to Biofuels.  Two days after President Barack Obama blocked construction of a major oil pipeline, his administration is touting its efforts to expand domestic production of renewable energy.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday [1/20/2012] that his agency has approved a $25-million conditional loan guarantee to build a 55,000-square-foot biorefinery plant in Iowa.  The Fiberight facility will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into "advanced biofuels," the news release said.

A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn't Exist.  When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law.  But there was none to be had.  Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist.

EPA Fines Companies Because They Didn't Use A Fuel That Doesn't Exist.  The Orwellian nightmare of running a business in the shadow of the Obama Administration is nicely captured in this story from the New York Times, which explains why motor fuel companies are about to be fined $6.8 million for failure to use a biofuel that does not exist.

Uncle Sam and ethanol.  For decades, the motor fuel brewed from corn has enjoyed an uninterrupted run of corporate welfare.  That's finally being curbed.  But don't think Congress has entirely put economic and fiscal realities in front of political calculations.  The ethanol industry still has plenty of influence and plenty of government-directed advantages in the market.

The Hype Surrounding Renewable Energy.  [Scroll down]  If all current U.S. corn were to be dedicated to ethanol (180-proof grain alcohol) it would displace, at most, about 14% of the gasoline we presently consume.  An attempt to produce enough ethanol to replace gasoline altogether would require that about 71% of all U.S. farmland be dedicated to energy crops.  Each additional acre of corn used to produce ethanol is one less that is available for other crops such as soybeans and wheat, which have seen price increases of more than 240% over the past five years.  This, in turn, produces a ripple effect that raises costs of meat, milk, eggs, and other foods.  About 35% of the estimated 4.6 billion bushels of all U.S. corn grown this year was consumed by the ethanol industry, producing nearly 14 billion gallons of alcohol.

Georgia ethanol plant sold, at taxpayers' loss.  The failed Range Fuels wood-to-ethanol factory in southeastern Georgia that sucked up $65 million in federal and state tax dollars was sold Tuesday [1/3/2012] for pennies on the dollar to another bio-fuel maker with equally grand plans to transform the alternative energy world.

Congress Shucks Ethanol Subsidies, Not Mandates.  Congress let the corn-based fuel's tax credits expire when it adjourned, but continuing mandates for its use means pump prices will go even higher and the money saved will be spent elsewhere.

Overcharged.  There may not have been a party in Times Square to celebrate, but two of the most wasteful subsidies ever to clutter the Internal Revenue Code went out with the old year.  Congress declined to renew either the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for corn-based ethanol or the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, so both expired Dec. 31.  Taxpayers will no longer have shell out roughly $6 billion per year for a program that badly distorted the global grain market, artificially raised the cost of agricultural land and did almost nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Ethanol is a threat to Florida.  The "Big Corn" industry has funded countless studies and lobbyists supporting ethanol mandates.  Their studies, however, do not account for all of the energy needed to grow, harvest and refine ethanol.  An independent Cornell University analysis proves that when all fossil fuel inputs are counted, ethanol generates a 50 percent energy loss.  It takes 1.5 gallons of gasoline to produce a single gallon of ethanol.  Ethanol will increase — not decrease — our reliance on foreign oil.

Congress ends corn ethanol subsidy.  The United States has ended a 30-year tax subsidy for corn-based ethanol that cost taxpayers $6 billion annually, and ended a tariff on imported Brazilian ethanol.  Congress adjourned for the year on Friday [12/30/2011], failing to extend the tax break that's drawn a wide variety of critics on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.  Critics also have included environmentalists, frozen food producers, ranchers and others.

Gingrich repeats his support for ethanol fuel subsidies.  Looking for votes in Iowa, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich touted his support for ethanol on Thursday and said it would be part of his all-American energy plan.  Gingrich said he voted for gasohol as a congressman during the Reagan administration.  He said his later support for ethanol subsidies was key to getting the program implemented.

Chris Horner Testifies on the Folly of Green Energy Policy.  [Scroll down]  We do not know for sure that Solyndra will put an end to politicians' profligate pouring of debt-financed wealth down this drain.  But, in the event this proves out, the half billion Solyndra cost us will also prove to have been worth it.  In the meantime, CEI supports educating Americans on the 'green jobs' and 'clean energy economy' theories, one talking point at a time.  Our elected policymakers must begin showing more restraint before embarking on a vast compounding of the dilemma that ethanol supports have created, from which, politically, we apparently have found no way out.

The Cellulosic Ethanol Debacle.  Years before the Obama Administration dumped $70 billion into solar and wind energy and battery operated cars, and long before anyone heard of Solyndra, President Bush launched his own version of a green energy revolution.  The future he saw was biofuels.  In addition to showering billions of dollars on corn ethanol, Mr. Bush assured the nation that by 2012 cars and trucks could be powered by cellulosic fuels from switch grass and other plant life.  To launch this wonder-fuel industry, the feds under Mr. Bush and President Obama have pumped at least $1.5 billion of grants and loan subsidies to fledgling producers.  Mr. Bush signed an energy bill in 2007 that established a tax credit of $1.01 per gallon produced.

All Brazil's cars to use ethanol.  Two thirds of all cars in Brazil are fuelled with ethanol, said the chief executive of Petrobras, José Sergio Gabrielli, speaking last week at the World's 20th Petroleum Conference, in Doha, Qatar.  Gabrielli, head of the third-biggest Brazilian oil producer, said the company is increasing its ethanol production and predicts all cars in Brazil will soon be running on ethanol, while also exploring new oil fields.

Methanol Wins.  [Scroll down]  First, I ran the car on 100 percent methanol.  This required replacing the fuel-pump seal made of Viton, which is not methanol compatible, with one made of Buna-N, which is.  The new part cost 41 cents, retail.  In order to take proper advantage of methanol's very high octane rating (about 109), I advanced the timing appropriately.  This dramatically improved the motor efficiency and allowed the ordinarily sedate sedan to perform with a significantly more sporty spirit.  As measured on the dyno, horsepower increased 10 percent.  With these modifications complete, I took my Cobalt out for a road test.  The result:  24.6 miles per gallon.

UN Official Questions Biofuel Commitment.  The warmist fraud continues to unravel, with the impracticality of the biofuels program impressing even an important United Nations official.  He is making a point that skeptics have reiterated for years now, but for the UN, any recognition of reality is to be applauded, no matter how tardy.

Livestock farmers say ethanol eats too much corn.  Livestock farmers are demanding a change in the nation's ethanol policy, claiming current rules could lead to spikes in meat prices and even shortages at supermarkets if corn growers have a bad year.

Avoiding the Corn Con.  Because of problems that could not be hidden with Not Quite Gas — especially physical problems in older (pre-computer) cars, outdoor power equipment (two-stroke equipment such as chainsaws, especially) and marine engines as well as problems arising from water build-up in tanks and lines (ethanol absorbs water from atmospheric humidity, etc.) and a much shorter shelf life, which is an obvious concern for owners of antique vehicles, as well as boats and power equipment that may sit for weeks/months at a time — it is once again legal to sell real gas. ... Turns out, there are almost 4,500 ethanol-free filling stations around the U.S. and Canada.

Ethanol-free gas stations in the U.S. and Canada.  The definitive list of stations that sell ethanol-free gasoline in the U.S. and Canada.

Bachmann Says She Opposes Ethanol Subsidies at Iowa Forum.  Michele Bachmann said she opposes federal subsidies for ethanol.  Speaking at a presidential forum Tuesday [11/1/2011] in Pella, Iowa, she took some of the nuance out of previous statements in which she has tread a careful line between supporting farmers and opposing government handouts.

More corn now going to ethanol than animal feed.  Twice as much U.S. corn goes to feeding animals as it does to directly feeding people, but there's another use for all that cheap grain:  making ethanol.  It turns out that a lot of corn is used to make the biofuel.  In 2010, for the first time, farmers actually used more corn for ethanol than they did for animal feed.

Corn-fueled politics.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to shove more ethanol into your gas tank.  Obama administration bureaucrats have signed off on a crony-capitalist scheme to boost the corn content of gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent.  This serves absolutely no purpose beyond enriching farm-state agribusiness giants.  In fact, it may even result in the voiding of millions of new-car warranties.

Lawmakers seek to cut ethanol mandates.  The biofuel usage mandates that underpin the ethanol industry could be rolled back sharply under legislation introduced in the House today [10/5/2011]. ... "With the increased use of food and feed stocks diverted for ethanol, the higher cost for these crops is passed on to livestock and food producers," Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who is cosponsoring the bill with Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif.  "In turn, consumers see that increased price reflected in the price of food on the grocery store shelves."

Achieving $2 Gas.  Methanol has only about half the energy per gallon as gasoline, but is 105 octane, which means it can be burned more efficiently.  Taken together, these two factors make methanol's current spot price of $1.38 per gallon roughly competitive with $2 gasoline. ... Methanol can be made and sold profitably today for $1.38 per gallon.  At a 60 percent markup, its manufacture would be super-profitable, and massive amounts of capital would rush in to expand production.

Faulty Ethanol Math.  In a press release this week, Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board claimed, "if all the fuel sold in Nebraska in the past five years was E85, Nebraskans would have saved $2.6 billion."  Mr. Sneller might want to check his math.

The Ethanol Industry and Competition.  The ethanol industry benefits from the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires approximately 10 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into our gasoline each year.  They benefit from a tax credit received by the gasoline blenders for each gallon of ethanol blended into our fuel supply.  They also benefit from a tariff on foreign ethanol.  And now, in the name of competition they have asked for continued support to pay for infrastructure to encourage the sale of ethanol in gasoline stations.

The ethanol era is over.  For more than two decades, ethanol has been the third rail of Iowa presidential politics.  John McCain famously skipped the Iowa caucus in 2000 because of his anti-ethanol position.  Times have changed.  These days, support for ethanol is not the touchstone in Iowa politics it once was.  In this summer's Ames straw poll, a remarkable 84 percent of voters backed candidates who are either questioning or openly critical of current ethanol policy.

Good times return for ethanol, but how long will they last?  Ethanol plants are doing well as corn prices rise because oil and gasoline prices are up.

Stunted corn crop could lead to higher food prices.  Corn is the single-biggest driver of food prices, says Bob Bresnahan, CEO of agriculture consulting firm Trilateral.  It's used in everything from animal feed to cereal.  U.S. corn prices have surged about 70% since August 2010 to more than $7 a bushel because of rising demand in emerging markets such as China and a Russian ban on wheat exports after a drought last year.  Wheat and corn are used interchangeably as feed for cows and poultry.

Obama the biofool.  Leftists see the military more as a playground for kooky ideas than as the primary responsibility of the federal government.  Consider the scheme President Obama announced Tuesday that will have the armed forces devote a great deal of time, money and energy to switch to so-called advanced biofuels.  Underneath the trendy "green" label, however, is a classic example of pork-barrel politics.

Renewable energy running scared.  The ethanol, wind and solar industries are running scared from a House proposal to reduce federal subsidies for renewable energy by 25 percent for fiscal 2012.  A surefire sign of the trouble with big government is that you run out of other people's money.

The Greens Just Love Us to Death.  The vote to end the $6 billion in subsidies to ethanol producers reminded me how much Greens love us all. Surely only love could inspire taking corn and turning it into moonshine, and then mixing it with gasoline. The result caused food riots in far off nations while raising the cost of a gallon of gas every time we fill up at the pump. The ethanol mandates actually reduced the mileage a gallon will provide.

Not that it really matters what they think...
Car manufacturers overwhelmingly oppose new EPA-approved E15 fuel.  The automobile industry has responded to a rule authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allows E15 fuel — 85 percent gasoline, 15 percent ethanol — to be sold at gas stations across the country.  In short:  the response is anything but supportive.  Car manufacturers like Ford, BMW, Toyota and Honda, expressed disapproval of the E15 mixture intended to help ween [sic] the industry off foreign oil.

The EPA's Ethanol Boondoggle.  Congress may have finally recognized the absurdity of subsidizing the ethanol industry, but, unfortunately for America, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its own agenda.  In January, the EPA issued a waiver that allowed E15 (gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend) to be sold for vehicles with model years 2001 and later.  This decision was made at the behest of the ethanol industry, but it will come at the expense of American drivers.

EPA approves E15 fuel label despite engine risk.  The government has settled on a label for gas stations selling a blend of gasoline and ethanol called E15, which contains more ethanol — grain alcohol — than the E10 blend that's replaced pure gasoline at most stations.  The Environmental Protection Agency previously approved E15 — 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol — for use in vehicles back to 2001 models.  The approved label is part of the EPA's final rule spelling out about how E15 can be sold and what standards it must meet.

The New York Times finally realizes this is a problem.
The Great Corn Con.  Feeling the need for an example of government policy run amok?  Look no further than the box of cornflakes on your kitchen shelf. ... Thanks to Washington, 4 of every 10 ears of corn grown in America — the source of 40 percent of the world's production — are shunted into ethanol, a gasoline substitute that imperceptibly nicks our energy problem.  Larded onto that are $11 billion a year of government subsidies to the corn complex.

Next-wave ethanol falls short in EPA's new 2012 fuel standards.  The Environmental Protection Agency proposed federal renewable fuel standards for 2012 on Tuesday [6/21/2011] that acknowledge the next generation of ethanol hasn't taken off nearly as quickly as Congress hoped several years ago.  The agency on Tuesday floated draft standards to comply with a 2007 law that mandates escalating annual increases in the amount of renewable fuels blended into the nation's fuel mix, reaching 36 billion gallons in 2022.

The Senate Vote on Ethanol.  A stubborn Washington has taken a long time to finally come to its senses and kill ethanol subsides.  Once heralded as a great "green" initiative, studies soon proved that diverting huge amounts of American farmland to the production of expensive corn-based ethanol actually increased green house gases.  America's best scientists warned stubborn senators that the nation's ethanol policy was not achieving the desired results, even as it consumed massive amounts of taxpayer money.

Retire the kernel, release the gas.  Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have finally begun to feel queasy from their nearly-decade-long corn-alcohol bender.  The Senate's first step toward swearing off ethanol came in the form of a 73-27 vote last week on an amendment that would kill the 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol tax credit.  Now that they've started to recover their senses, legislators shouldn't repeat their past mistakes by overindulging in natural gas.

An Ethanol Miracle.  Yesterday [6/15/2011], the Senate voted to end ethanol's purchase on the federal Treasury.  The 73-27 vote on an amendment sponsored by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein — 33 Republicans, 38 Democrats and both independents in favor — was the kind of supermajority that usually waves through new subsidies for the fuel made from blending corn and tax dollars.

Ethanol Suffers Rare Loss in Senate.  A broad bipartisan majority of the Senate voted Thursday [6/16/2011] to end more than three decades of federal subsidies for ethanol, signaling that other long-sacrosanct programs could be at risk as Democrats and Republicans negotiate a sweeping deficit-reduction deal.

The Hidden Cost of Ethanol Subsidies.  By mandating 40% of our corn crop be dedicated to ethanol, we've created domestic shortages that may turn the U.S. into a net importer of corn and destroy our dominance in one more area of the world economy.

The Washington Cornhuskers.  A bipartisan group of 73 Senators votes to end both the ethanol tax credit and the tariff on imported ethanol.  Maybe we can finally cut the federal deficit and stop putting food in our gas tanks.

The bitter harvest of ethanol.  Food and energy prices are going to increase dramatically in the next 18 months; a serious setback for any president, regardless of how well their message is spun by the MSM.  The re-election prospects of Barack Obama have become much more problematic due to the recent wet and cold weather in the Midwest and the Northern Plains states.  Voters vote their pocketbooks, especially when they are making choices between rising food costs or new clothes for their growing kids.

Ethanol: A Tale of Two Candidates.  In a moment of candor after his political career had ended, former vice president Al Gore averred that his support of ethanol was in part driven by "a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."  Gore, it should be noted, cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate when he was vice president in 1994 to pass the first statute to mandate the use of ethanol as an additive to certain reformulated gasoline blends.

In Iowa, Romney backs ethanol subsidies.  Likely GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday [5/27/2011] voiced his support for ethanol subsidies during his first visit of the year to Iowa.  Asked about his position on federal ethanol subsidies following a talk at the Greater Des Moines Partnership's Presidential Forum Speaker Series, Romney said that ethanol is an important part of the nation's energy supply.

The Ethanol Mandate to Nowhere.  [Scroll down]  Virtually the only feedstock with any commercial viability right now is the lowly corn cob, ironic since cellulosic ethanol was supposed to be the path away from corn ethanol.  Consider, in Tennessee, the state legislature in 2007 invested $70 million in a cellulosic ethanol plant designed to produce 5 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass.  That plant now produces only 250,000 gallons.  And it is using corn cobs as feed stock until at least 2011, even though the state is paying farmers $5 million a year to grow switch grass.  Moreover, as it turns out, using the "waste components of farming" as the New York Times put it, has its own problems.

Corn-based Ethanol: The Real Cost.  First, the net energy ratio of corn-based ethanol (useful energy divided by the energy required to produce a unit of ethanol) is at best 1.25 but in practice a lot worse.  Some have calculated a ratio less than one, meaning that it takes more energy to produce ethanol from corn than the energy content of the fuel.  Because of very large government subsidies the growth in corn-based ethanol has been nothing short of meteoric.  From 2000 to 2010, ethanol production in the United States from the fermentation of corn, increased from 1.6 to 13.2 billion gallons per year.  In 2011 this is expected to grow to almost 14 billion gallons.  Congressional mandates have decreed that by 2022, biofuels blended into the US gasoline pool will increase to 35 billion gallons per year.

Gas Prices Are High Because the Liberals Want It that Way.  [Scroll down]  Increasing domestic exploration, drilling, and production is the simple solution to what we are paying at the pump.  Yet our president has repeatedly misled us by alleging that there is no "silver bullet" for lowering gas prices.  What the Obama administration and his liberal machine have been doing is just the opposite — and it is beginning to look intentional.  President Obama follows the liberal playbook about energy independence — code for wind and solar energy which won't fuel our automobiles, jets, ships, or the war machines he has sent into Libya.  He misleads the American people about ethanol leading to energy independence.  It can't and won't.  Ethanol is not economically competitive.  Corn ethanol costs an average of $2.53 to produce — several times the 56 cents it costs to produce a gallon of gasoline.  Instead, ethanol simply raises the price of gasoline we pay at the pump.

Ethanol mess with your car's engine? You may be on your own.  The ethanol industry is getting a rare run for its money in Washington in recent weeks as a number of lawmakers try to repeal the many tax breaks the fuel additive has received for years.  This has traditional critics of the industry stepping up their game, including the Environmental Working Group.  The nonpartisan nonprofit has issued reports critical of ethanol in the past, and is weighing in this week with one that looks at concerns about the impact of ethanol on engine maintenance.

Diesel From Soybeans Sparks $560 Million Investment by ADM, Cargill.  Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest grain processor, and Cargill Inc. are spearheading a push to invest about $560 million in new biofuel refineries in Brazil, a country that already has twice the capacity it needs.  The U.S. agribusinesses have joined Brazilian companies that are expanding facilities in a bet the government will double to 10 percent the amount of biofuel that must be blended into petroleum-based diesel, driving up demand overnight.

Feinstein, GOP senator fight subsidies for ethanol.  Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn have joined forces with Tea Party activists in an attempt to kill $6 billion a year in ethanol subsidies, taking on the corn lobby and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

Time To Kill Ethanol Subsidies.  If Washington is truly serious about cutting the nation's mounting debt, there's one way to show it:  Eliminate the ridiculously expensive and wasteful ethanol subsidy.

Don't be EMO on Earth Day.  Green activism is often a threat to the very environment that activists are trying to save.  The immediate action of calling for biofuel, for example, does not achieve the long-term goal of cutting carbon emissions.  Subsidies for ethanol are currently so large that one-sixth of the world's corn crop is turned into fuel for American cars.  This increases food prices, which hurts the poor and entices other countries to burn native forests to make way for agriculture.

Feed people, not machines.  [Scroll down]  40 percent of all corn produced will be used for fuel?  As US and global corn prices rise, millions of consumers will be forced to pay skyrocketing prices for meat, dairy and poultry since corn feeds our cattle and chickens.  This "green energy" plan, to use food crops as an alternative to drilling for domestic oil, illustrates the monumental stupidity of the ethanol programs.  Unfortunately both political parties have extensive constitute bases that reap huge profits from the taxpayer subsidies involved in agriculture and ethanol.

US corn reserves expected to fall to 15-year low.  Rising demand for corn from ethanol producers is pushing U.S. reserves to the lowest point in 15 years, a trend that could lead to higher grain and food prices this year.

Defund Ethanol.  It's easy to lampoon federal spending on turtle tunnels, bridges to nowhere or cowboy poetry readings.  It is harder to deal with subsidies and tax credits for things that do real damage to our collective bottom line.  Case in point:  the tax credit for and mandated use of ethanol, the corn-based additive to gasoline that was supposed to save the earth and gasoline and pave the way to energy independence.  It has achieved neither, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is trying to end this mother of all corporate welfare programs.

Beef prices soar.  If you're already shocked by how much your favorite cut of beef costs at the supermarket, brace yourself because prices will keep going up.  Surging commodity prices already have consumers paying more for groceries such as eggs, milk, cereal and meat.  The price of beef in particular has shot through the roof.

The Editor says...
Somehow the writer of this article managed to avoid mentioning ethanol, which I suspect is the primary cause for the increase in the price of beef and many other foods.

Rising Food Prices Fueling Global Problems.  Corn affects most food products in stores.  It is used to feed cattle, hogs, and chickens that fill the meat aisles.  It also sweetens most soft drinks and many other foods.

EPA Pushes Ethanol on American Consumers.  As if our current ethanol requirements are not enough, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has upped the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent for vehicles of model year 2001 and newer.  Some American consumers are astute enough to recognize that their mileage per gallon of gasoline declined with the 10 percent blend currently in use, thereby increasing the frequency of fill-ups.  Now that trend will be increased if EPA has its way.  Ethanol is 34 percent less efficient than gasoline, does little to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions, is heavily subsidized, and has been accused of increasing food prices both directly and indirectly through livestock feed costs.

Coburn spars with Norquist over tax breaks for ethanol.  Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) ripped conservative activist Grover Norquist on Tuesday [3/29/2011] for defending tax breaks that benefit special interest groups.  In a letter to Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Coburn said a tax break for ethanol producers ultimately raised the tax burden for average taxpayers and should be done away with.

Mexican gangs target corn crops.  Organized crime gangs equipped with automatic weapons and tractor trailers are branching out into raids on huge grain silos, in a sign of growing lawlessness in parts of Mexico's north.  Attacks on warehouses and cargo trucks have multiplied into a near-weekly affair in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, where one of the worst cold snaps in decades wiped out corn and vegetable plots last month, pushing up prices of the remaining harvest and making it more attractive to thieves.

The Energy Myth That Won't Die.  Ethanol remains a case study in poor choices and the negative effects of government intervention in markets.  The problems with alcohol-based "renewable" fuels are well-documented. ... Since their ethanol program was conceived and implemented, Brazil has begun to aggressively develop newly-discovered offshore petroleum reserves.  Petroleum development would be unnecessary if the Brazilian ethanol experiment had been successful.  Environmentalists should note that the new Brazilian petroleum operations lie offshore some of the world's most pristine beaches.  The Brazilian experience with sugar-based ethanol has proven that alcohol fuels can't compete effectively in markets fixed to favor them, much less in open markets.

Conservatives for corporate welfare?  [Scroll down]  Ethanol distorts and manipulates the economy by increasing the price of food and energy.  While I'm pleased groups like Americans for Tax Reform, who previously opposed the elimination of the subsidy are now neutral, their neutrality is supporting a de facto tax increase on every American consumer.  For instance, the Congressional Budget Office has said the "cost to taxpayers of displacing a gallon of gasoline with a quantity of ethanol that provides the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline is $1.78."  How's that for efficiency?

Solving US Energy Problems:  [Scroll down]  Taxpayers subsidize ethanol, starting with a $0.45 per gallon tax credit, amounting to $6 Billion annually.  Taxpayer funded grants and studies make ethanol much more expensive to taxpayers.  Using ethanol in a vehicle emits more total carbon dioxide into the air than using gasoline.  Last year, an additional 4 million tons of carbon dioxide went into the air because ethanol was used instead of gasoline.  Last year, ethanol production was only 5% of total US oil demand.  It is impossible for ethanol to ever replace imported oil. ... A gallon of ethanol contains only 61% of the energy of a gallon of gasoline.  No wonder it gets such poor mileage.

Scrap the Ethanol Subsidy.  Ethanol was touted as the green fuel of the future which would decrease America's reliance on foreign oil.  While our oil consumption keeps rising, government barriers to oil exploration and extraction are preventing domestic oil production from keeping pace.  We currently meet 51 percent of our oil demand by buying oil from abroad at a cost of about $300 billion every year.  Our foreign oil dependence is responsible for a major portion of the U.S. trade deficit and reminds us of all the jobs and economic prosperity we fail to create at home.  Yet ethanol subsidies have had no discernible impact on increasing America's energy security.

U.S. Ethanol Subsidies: A Bad Policy That Refuses to Die.  U.S corn farmers and ethanol distillers are among those celebrating passage of last week's tax bill.  A little-noticed provision of the law extends ethanol tax credits ($.45 per gallon, plus a bonus for small producers) and tariffs on ethanol imports ($.54 per gallon), previously set to expire at the end of 2010.  Should the rest of us also celebrate?  I think not.

Fearing EPA's Carbon Tax.  Farmers, along with the rest of us, could get hit with a triple jolt of regulatory shock if the Environment Protection Agency goes forward with its announced controls on carbon emissions.  Consumers are already paying heavily for the federal mandate that puts a huge chunk of our corn crop, as ethanol, into our gas tanks instead of into our meat, milk, and eggs.  While food costs soar, along with fuel costs, it is a waste of good corn as it contributes almost zero to our energy independence.

The energy emperor's ethanol wardrobe looks mighty bare.  Anyone looking at the ethanol subsidy program should be reminded of the childhood story of the emperor's new clothes.  While those who support the program put forth various reasons for their support — that ethanol will reduce greenhouse gases or curb our reliance on foreign oil — in reality, it is merely a wealth transfer program from the general taxpayer to corn producers.

Ethanol loses Big Oil, big advocates and maybe big subsidies.  If you're wondering why your grocery bill is so high, one place to look is your car.  It's probably running on gasoline blended with corn-based ethanol.  Demand for the corn-based biofuel, because of government mandates and federal subsidies to the ethanol industry, has contributed to a tripling of the price of corn over the past decade, to about $7.00 per bushel.

'Absolute madness' of biofuels.  Last month, Peter Brabeck, the chairman of the Swiss food giant Nestle, declared that using food crops to make biofuels was "absolute madness."  The epicenter of that madness is the U.S. corn-ethanol sector.  This year, it will consume 40 percent of all U.S. corn -- that's about 15 percent of global corn production or 5 percent of all global grain -- in order to produce a volume of motor fuel with the energy equivalent of about 0.6 percent of global oil needs.

Ethanol industry buys a top seed and three key politicians.  Food prices here in America and around the world are rising quickly in great part due to the growing demands for corn to make ethanol in order to satisfy government mandates for its use.  Besides higher food prices, however, this form of government bureaucrats picking winners and losers in the energy market is having another unexpected consequence — boosting genetically modified food.

Ethanol Output in U.S. Declines 0.9%, Energy Department Says.  U.S. ethanol production fell 0.9 percent to 900,000 barrels a day last week, according to the Energy Department.  Stockpiles swelled 3.6 percent to 19.6 million barrels, the highest level since July 16, the department reported today [2/9/2011] in Washington.  Production of conventional gasoline blended with ethanol fell 0.6 percent to 4.66 million barrels a day.  Refiners receive a 45-cent tax credit for every gallon of ethanol blended into the motor fuel.

US corn reserves hit lowest level in 15 years.  U.S. reserves of corn have hit their lowest level in more than 15 years, reflecting tighter supplies that will lead to higher food prices in 2011.

Peak Corn? Federal ethanol mandate drives corn supply-to-use ratio to 50-year low.  If you haven't read today's issue of The Daily Herd, and you haven't combed through the USDA's latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, you might not have noticed what's going on with our supply of corn.

Green-energy plant sucks up subsidies, then goes bust.  To turn wood chips into ethanol fuel, George W. Bush's Department of Energy in February 2007 announced a $76 million grant to Range Fuels for a cutting-edge refinery.  A few months later, the refinery opened in the piney woods of Treutlen County, Ga., as the taxpayers of Georgia piled on another $6 million.  In 2008, the ethanol plant was the first beneficiary of the Biorefinery Assistance Program, pocketing a loan for $80 million guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayers.  Last month, the refinery closed down, having failed to squeeze even a drop of ethanol out of its pine chips.

Will Ethanol Break the Muslim World After All?  Remember when Americans were lining up with cans of gasoline during the OPEC oil boycott?  Arab Muslims are now in the same boat, except with bread, rather than oil. ... We don't need to invade a country and then occupy it for years at the cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives.  As it turns out, we can topple regimes even faster with ethanol subsidies.

Why cattle markets are having a cow.  [Scroll down]  Raising cattle is also more land intensive than farming chicken or pigs.  Cattle producers thus find their decisions complicated by factors like surging land prices — and by America's insane embrace of corn-based ethanol as a motor fuel.  The government's ethanol subsidy has taken millions of acres out of feed production and put it into inefficient biofuel production, right at a time when global food demand was lifting off.  The "ethanol juggernaut" is part of what's behind the near tripling of corn prices since 2006, [economist Derrell] Peel says.

Bernanke and ethanol sink Egypt.  In addition to Egypt, the people have taken to the streets to varying degrees in Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, and Yemen.  Local food riots have even broken out in rural China and other Asian locales.  While the mainstream media focuses on the political aspects of this turmoil, they are overlooking the impact of rising inflation, driven mainly by record food prices. ... To be fair, not all of the food inflation can be blamed on the Fed.  A good part of this problem can also be placed at the doorstep of bipartisan U.S. policies to subsidize ethanol.

Senate panel to put ethanol under the microscope.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's agenda this year includes new scrutiny of ethanol.  A spokesperson for committee Democrats said a hearing is in the offing but hasn't been scheduled yet.  Whenever it occurs, the session will highlight the ongoing Capitol Hill battle over the renewable fuel.

America and the Middle East Food Riots.  The January 2011 [wheat] futures price is $335.00 per metric ton, last year at this time it was $157.00 per metric ton an increase of 113%.  Not all of this increase is due to the inflationary impact of the dollar, but when global yields are down due to weather factors this foolish US monetary policy has made matters needlessly worse.  The second factor in the overall global food situation is the American decision to, in essence, burn food in its cars, a policy championed by the environmentalists since the 1990's.  In 2010 the United States produced 13.1 Billion bushels of corn, of that amount 4.2 billion bushels went into ethanol (33% of total production).

The History of U.S. Alternative Energy Development Programs:
A Study of Government Failure.  Underlying government alternative energy programs, including the current ethanol program, is an implication of market failure.  Presumably, a government program is needed because the market is undersupplying innovation in energy technology, causing the country to lose out on attainable gains to social welfare.  Thus, the implication is that only through government intervention can the market failure be corrected and the social benefits of alternative energy technologies be realized.

Obama Policies Fuel Global Food Crisis Through Ethanol Mandates.  Food prices are soaring all over the world.  The global food chain is reportedly stretched to the limit, fueled by the fact "that more than a third of the corn produced in the U.S is now used to make ethanol."  As a result of such "bio-fuels" subsidies, one of the world's largest food producers predicts a "global food crisis."  Unfortunately, the Obama administration has long pushed ethanol subsidies, even though such subsidies have a history of spawning famines and food riots overseas.  For example, the costly climate-change legislation backed by the administration contained massive ethanol subsidies.

What hath the greenies wrought?  The economic landscape is littered with solar ventures going belly up, following the path of ethanol plants of a few years ago that started declaring bankruptcy as overexpansion fueled by government mandates and subsidies took its eventual toll.  But bureaucrats and politicians have a short memory, farm states are important in Presidential elections, and Iowa is the Mecca for aspiring Presidential candidates who must pledge fealty to the corn farmers.  Some citizens are apparently more important than others.

When corn becomes pork.  Partisanship and ideology may divide Washington politicians, but pork and money for the folks back home can really bring them together. ... Take Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King and that state's Democratic senator, Tom Harkin.  They disagree on immigration, healthcare, taxes, national security and spending, but there is one issue that brings them together.  They both support subsidies, tariffs and regulatory mandates to promote the use of ethanol produced from Iowa corn.

McCain: 'Ethanol is a joke'.  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sees an easy target in the drive to cut spending while leaving no "sacred cow" untouched.  "Ethanol is a joke," he said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," saying that programs promoting the corn-derived fuel are wasting money.  "And it's a multibillion dollar spending — all ag subsidies, sugar subsidies, all these things, they have to be examined," he said.

EPA Approves More Ethanol in Fuel for Cars.  The Environmental Protection Agency has approved higher levels of corn-based ethanol to fuel all cars manufactured in the last decade.

Food chain not stretched to limit — yet.  The cable network MSNBC is warning that the world food chain "has been stretched to the limit" by rising world demand and a series of crop failures in several countries.  The TV network's warning is premature.  The U.S., in fact, could ease the current global food price spike with one administrative action — limiting the amount of U.S. corn that gets turned into corn ethanol.

Corn pops again.  Corn is popping again, thanks to the latest report of dwindling grain supplies.  Corn futures rose 3% Wednesday [1/12/2011] after the U.S. Agriculture Department predicted corn stocks would fall to their lowest level since 1996.  The report is the latest sign of stretched food supplies at a time when developing country economic growth is fueling seemingly insatiable demand for agricultural goods.

Ethanol subsidies against the ropes.  Ethanol has as many different subsidies as it has negative side effects, and today we get word about two of those subsidies that are currently on life support.  First there's the 45-cent-per-gallon credit for gas stations that buy ethanol to blend with their gasoline.  That credit, in the face of expiration, was extended last month by Congress, but only for a year.

Ethanol costs rise:  What's in the price pipeline?  Ethanol, the alternative fuel made from corn, may be a victim of its own success.  Or rather, motorists who buy ethanol may be the victims.  For the first time since the push to use more ethanol in American vehicles began five or six years ago, ethanol costs more than gasoline.  E-85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, has recently been priced higher than regular gasoline at some area stations.

Ethanol — Revolt Against King Corn Has Just Begun.  The corn lobby defeated bipartisan efforts this year to remove two of ethanol's political privileges, the 45¢ per gallon blender's tax credit and the 54¢ per gallon protective tariff against imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol.  However, roughly 60 organizations from across the political spectrum joined forces to challenge King Corn, and many are resolved to work together to carry on the fight next year.

Automakers Sue EPA Over E15 Fuel Blend.  A coalition of automakers is suing President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hoping to overturn that agency's decision to allow the sale of E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol added to gasoline, for cars and light trucks manufactured since 2007.  The Engine Products Group (EPG) filed suit on Monday [12/20/2010] with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Ethanol Kickback: Corn-Fed Hypocrisy.  As with the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase, the majority leader of the Senate seeks to buy votes for a bill, this time the tax-cut compromise with support for ethanol credits for the rich.

Action on Ethanol Will Tell Us if Congress Is Serious about Deficit Reduction.  The government this year has spent $6 billion to subsidize the blending of ethanol into gasoline — that works out to about 45 cents a gallon — and also slaps a 54-cents a gallon tax on ethanol produced outside the country, where producers usually use sugar or other crops to make ethanol less expensively and more efficiently.  That tax on foreign-produced ethanol helps enable our domestic producers to continue producing ethanol as inefficiently as they like.

More ethanol on roads, but trouble in garages?  It seems like a great idea:  Increase the amount of renewable ethanol from grain at the gas station and decrease America's reliance on foreign oil.  But a push to add another 50 percent to the ethanol content of some automobile fuel has opened a barrel of worms.  Automakers say they don't know how it will affect their cars; power-equipment and boat manufacturers are predicting calamitous mis-fueling; and gas station owners are looking at a slew of legal and logistical impediments.

Ethanol and Budget Cuts: More Deeds, Less Words.  Folks familiar with Iowan Senator Charles Grassley are aware of his characterization as a deficit hawk, tough on waste, fraud and abuse, and yet, he's the last hold-out on ethanol subsidies, an enormous source of government waste.  Even Al Gore has faced the inconvenient truth that ethanol "is not a good policy."  Corn-based ethanol is expensive and has dubious environmental benefits.  Moreover, huge subsidies for corn-based ethanol drive up the cost of food as large amounts of U.S. farm production is diverted to make expensive fuel.

Will Congress Dethrone King Corn?  In Washington, D.C., Corn is King.  Corn farmers receive all manner of farm subsidies:  deficiency payments, direct payments, crop insurance premium subsidies, price support payments, counter-cyclical program support, and market loss assistance.  Total price tag?  More than $75.8 billion from 1995 to 2009, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Ethanol: Let Protectionism Expire.  After more than three decades, the U.S. ethanol blenders' tax credit and the ethanol-import tariff that was put in place to offset it are set to expire at the end of the year.  The way things are looking, we may finally be rid of these indefensible and parochial market distortions.  The ethanol tax credit alone costs taxpayers over $6 billion per year.

You Can Stop Paying for Al Gore's Mistake.  In Greece earlier this month, Al Gore made a startling admission:  "First-generation ethanol, I think, was a mistake."  Unfortunately, Americans have Gore to thank for ethanol subsidies. ... In sum, Gore demonstrated that politicians are lousy at figuring out which alternative fuels make the most sense.  Now even enviros like Friends of the Earth have come to believe that "large-scale agro-fuels" are "ecologically unsustainable and inefficient."  That's a polite way of saying that producers need to burn through a boatload of fossil fuels to make ethanol.

Ethanol Subsidies:  $10 A Gallon And $14 Million Per Job Created.  Here's the bottom line for the ethanol tax credits additive to the White House-GOP tax compromise:
  •   $6 billion in subsidies for 2011.
  •   $10 per extra gallon of ethanol.
  •   $14 million per extra job.
  •   $1.2 billion to attract one extra Senate vote.

Battle brewing over corn ethanol subsidies.  Ethanol subsidies, a decades-old source of revenue for corn farmers, are up for renewal on December 31.  Yet what has been a relatively easy "yes" vote in the past, is now facing some major opposition.

Gore swears off ethanol Kool-Aid.  Frantically focused special interest groups have a habit of defeating their own goals, and hurting their own self-interest, from an excessive pursuit of it. ... Environmentalist groups are another classic case of this.  They have routinely pushed programs that allegedly benefit the environment but, in reality, don't.  For example, they helped stop nuclear power 30 years ago, which surely exacerbated the very problem — global warming — that so concerns them now.  A number of prominent Greens now realize their error.

Ethanol's Policy Privileges: Heading for History's Dustbin?  Congress has a golden opportunity to put the general welfare of consumers and taxpayers ahead of the corporate welfare of the ethanol lobby.

Al Gore's Green Blasphemy.  Back in 1994, vice-president of the United States Al Gore cast the tie-breaking vote that started us on the long road of taking American farms out of food production and converting them to fuel production.  While conservatives and libertarians argued at the time that subsidizing ethanol production made no economic or environmental sense, Gore and his green allies were certain that bio-fuels would solve all the nation's woes.  Sixteen years later, Mr. Gore has apparently seen the light, admitting that America's rush to embrace corn ethanol has been something of a mistake.

Cars, Cattle and Ethanol.  Why are emissions from cattle eating grain classed as bad whereas emissions from cars burning grain ethanol are good? ... Over the life of a car or a cow, they both produce the same carbon emissions.

Ethanol subsidies set to expire at year's end.  The end of the year is upon us and all eyes (and ears) are waiting to see what the Congress will do about the tax picture.  But there is another item on the end-of-year horizon that is just as important a test for Congress.  It is flying under the radar, so there is not as much discussion about it, but it can be just as telling as the tax cut extension issue.

Oil, grocery groups sue EPA over ethanol decision.  The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Petroleum Institute and other groups filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA's decision to allow more corn-based ethanol in gasoline.  Lobbying organizations representing companies that include Tyson Foods Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. are part of the lawsuit filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Ethanol subsidies pose early test for the GOP.  Republicans talk about ending wasteful government intervention.  Congressional Democrats say they want to protect the environment.  And Barack Obama claims he's looking for bipartisan cooperation and reform.  All of these goals would be served by rolling back ethanol subsidies.

Ear (Of Corn) Marks.  The Bush tax cuts aren't the only thing that expires at the end of the year.  Also set to expire is the mother of all corporate welfare:  ethanol subsidies to Big Agriculture coupled with tariffs protecting domestic ethanol production that benefit farm-state senators and congressmen but few others.  Ethanol is the perfect tax-spend-and-elect mechanism.  Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland, the nation's second-largest ethanol producer, has operations in 119 congressional districts.  The first presidential contest is in the corn state of Iowa.  We have said that if the road to the White House ran through Idaho, we might be making biofuels from potatoes.

The Biofuels Scam.  Ethanol is highly corrosive.  It absorbs water from the air like a sponge.  It cannot be transported in pipelines, necessitating delivery by (diesel) tanker trucks.  If used in aircraft, water in the fuel can cause engine failure at the colder high altitudes.  If left in your lawn mower or chainsaw over the winter, it causes serious rust problems.  It lowers your car's mileage, negating any benefits from "reducing our dependence on foreign oil."  It causes rust in your fuel lines and engine.  It burns too hot in catalytic converters, causing premature failure.

Should Ethanol Subsidies Be Gone (With the Wind)?  [Scroll down]  According to The Detroit News, "Outside the ethanol industry, support for its extension is essentially nonexistent.  Environmental organizations, the meat and grocery industry, and anti-poverty groups have all come out against the ethanol subsidies.  And despite the industry's claims of bipartisan support for ethanol legislation, few members of Congress outside of the Farm Belt are in favor of continued taxpayer support."

Global Food Crisis Aggravated by Biofuels and Global Warming Legislation.  A global food crisis is "forecast as prices reach record highs."  "Rising food prices and shortages could cause instability in many countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their highest levels in two years."  "Global wheat and maize prices recently jumped nearly 30% in a few weeks while meat prices are at 20-year highs."  "Meanwhile, the price of tomatoes in Egypt, garlic in China and bread in Pakistan are at near-record levels."  Drought is one factor in the price spikes.  Biofuels and ethanol subsidies and mandates are another major factor.

Time to End the Ethanol Rip-Off.  Psst!  Want to avoid $25-to-$30 billion in new deficit spending over the next five years?  You do?  Okay, then email, fax or call your congressman and tell him you want to let the 45 cents-per-gallon Volumetric Ethanol Tax Credit (VEETC) expire on December 31, 2010.  In the same way you want Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts that are due to expire the same day, letting the VEETC expire will end a subsidy to ethanol producers.

More Ethanol to Be Allowed in Cars.  The Obama administration plans to allow higher levels of ethanol for gasoline used by newer cars, a step that would benefit corn growers but which has been strongly opposed by auto makers, livestock ranchers, oil refiners and some public-health advocates.  As early as Wednesday [10/13/2010], the Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce it will allow ethanol levels in gasoline blends to be as high as 15% for vehicles made since 2007, up from 10% currently, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Exxon attacks EPA ethanol decision.  ExxonMobil Corp. isn't happy with the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision this week to allow increased levels of ethanol in gasoline for newer cars.  Refiners have long opposed policies that mandate or encourage increased blending of ethanol into gasoline.

EPA's ethanol decision sparks controversy.  On the face of it, having a federal agency get behind renewable fuel seems like it should elicit cheers from environmentalists, and from pretty much anyone who is leery of our dependence on foreign oil.  Not quite.  Here's what happened:  The EPA issued a partial waiver Wednesday [10/13/2010] allowing the amount of ethanol in automotive fuel to rise to 15%, from 10%, but for use only in cars no older than the 2007 model year.  That was happy news for corn states and the ethanol industry.

'Shocking' corn prices:  the other rising gold market.  While gold bullion reaches record prices, golden corn demands its share of attention.  Food prices have skyrocketed worldwide, and will soon hit consumers at grocery stores and restaurants.

Obama's Job-Killing Regulations.  Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued partial guidance to increase ethanol content in gasoline to 15%, even though ethanol's supposed benefits have been solidly debunked.  Studies by the EPA have shown that ethanol increases carbon emissions, drives up costs of corn and food products, hinders engine efficiency, and does little to make our nation more energy independent.  In short, the EPA's ethanol policy is a ploy, designed to prop up a failed industry, with yet another multi-billion dollar bailout from taxpayers.

Getting Hosed at the Pump.  By the end of November 2010, the U.S. Energy Department is expected to complete tests to determine whether increasing the ethanol blend in gasoline would have a detrimental effect on automobile engines and emissions systems.  Most gasoline sold in America now contains up to ten percent ethanol, a renewable product made from plant materials, primarily corn.  The inclusion of a prescribed total volume of ethanol in the national supply of motor fuel is mandated by the federal government's Renewable Fuels Standard program.

After 30 years of federal subsidies, ethanol can go it alone.  Corn-based ethanol has been America's leading bio-fuel for more than 30 years and has blossomed into a thriving business.  American farms and refineries now generate half of all ethanol produced around the globe.  Despite being a mature and profitable industry, corn ethanol producers are lobbying hard to extend perks they have enjoyed for three decades.

Corny Capitalism.  Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued another one of those announcements read exclusively by government bureaucrats and green policy wonks.  The EPA decided to delay a decision to increase the concentration of ethanol legal in gasoline from 10% to 15%.  So-called E15 fuel would have to wait for approval until November.  It was a little-read regulatory decision that barely made a splash in the media.

South Dakota Flex-Fuel Vehicles Test Lower Ethanol Blend.  The state of South Dakota's flexible fuel vehicles have switched to a lower ethanol blend after preliminary tests indicated that E-85 wasn't saving any money.

Ethanol in your tank.  Unless you have a penchant for reading gasoline station signs, you probably haven't noticed that you've been pumping ethanol into your gas tank.  For several months now, signs have been posted at pumps saying the gasoline contains up to 10 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel made from various plant materials, mainly corn.

The Ethanol Tax Credit — It's Worse Than You Think.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently issued a report on how the corn-ethanol tax credit costs $1.78 to reduce one gallon of gasoline consumption and $754 to reduce one ton of greenhouse gases.  The Wall Street Journal immediately noted that "to put that [latter] number in perspective, the budget gnomes estimate that the price for a ton of carbon under the cap-and-tax program that the House passed last summer would be about $26 in 2019".

Survival of the Fattest.  The best refutation of the theory of the survival of the fittest is probably the corn ethanol lobby, whose annual $6 billion in federal subsidies have managed to outlive both its record of failure and all evidence and argument.  So while we doubt another devastating study will result in any natural selection, recent findings from the Congressional Budget Office deserve more attention all the same.

Faulty Ethanol Math.  In a press release this week, Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board claimed, "if all the fuel sold in Nebraska in the past five years was E85, Nebraskans would have saved $2.6 billion."  Mr. Sneller might want to check his math.  The pump price of E85 doesn't account for the decreased energy content of ethanol when compared with gasoline.  According to the AAA, the real price of E85 when adjusted for MPG/Btu was $2.846 — 20.7 cents more than the price of regular gasoline.

Funding electrics is a battery-dead idea.  Just as the electric vehicle is being hailed as America's cure for oil "addiction," the same was said not too long ago about biofuels.  But mandating the production and use of corn-based ethanol jacked up food prices, depleted scarce groundwater resources and cost consumers more to fill up their cars.  Despite generous federal and state subsidies, many ethanol producers have gone out of business.

Ethanol industry scrambles to keep incentives.  The once-popular ethanol industry is scrambling to hold onto billions of dollars in government subsidies, fighting an increasing public skepticism of the corn-based fuel and wariness from lawmakers who may divert the money to other priorities.

A Few Questions for President Obama.  [Scroll down]  Every seven million gallons of corn-based ethanol requires billions in subsidies, cropland equivalent to Indiana, millions of gallons of water and millions of tons of fertilizer, to make fuel that costs more but gets less mileage than gasoline.  Can someone explain how this is eco-friendly and sustainable?  When this house of cards inevitably collapses, as it has in Spain, will its congressional and administration creators be held responsible and accountable, under the same standards they are applying to BP?

Prepare to get burned by high price of meat.  U.S. meat prices might rise to record levels this summer after farmers reduced hog and cattle herds to the smallest sizes in decades, the result of surging feed costs linked to demands for more ethanol.

The biofuel hoax is causing a world food crisis.  Ethanol (vodka minus H2O) and biodiesel (a.k.a. cooking oil) are made from food or inedible crops which displace normal agricultural activity.  Biofuel crops include corn, soybeans, rapeseed (canola oil), sugarcane, and palm trees (palm oil), as well as experimental second generation crops such as switchgrass, jatropha, giant reed, and algae.  The majority of the world's corn is grown in the United States, and an ever increasing percentage of that crop is ending up in gas tanks instead of stomachs.  The corn required to fill the 18.5 gallon fuel tank of a Toyota Camry with ethanol could feed one human being for 270 days.

Stop 'Big Corn'.  The Environmental Protection Agency wants to dump more corn into your fuel tank this summer, and it's going to cost more than you think.  The agency is expected to approve a request from 52 ethanol producers known collectively as "Growth Energy" to boost existing requirements that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol to 15 percent.  The change means billions more in government subsidies for companies in the business of growing corn and converting it into ethanol.  For the rest of us, it means significantly higher gasoline and food prices.

EPA to wait until fall to decide on ehtanol [sic] increase.  The Environmental Protection Agency says it will wait until this fall to decide whether U.S. car engines can handle higher concentrations of ethanol in gasoline.

Energy Regulation in the States.  [Scroll down to page 22]  Besides ethanol's checkered environmental record, or perhaps directly because of it, ethanol producers are struggling financially.  Even though federal law creates a guaranteed market for billions of gallons of ethanol, many ethanol plants have recently closed.  As Rice University energy policy analyst Amy Myers Jaffe told the New York Times, "The ethanol industry is on its back despite the billions of dollars they have gotten in taxpayer assistance, and a guaranteed market."  Ethanol production was economic when oil prices were over $100 a barrel, but when the oil price fell, ethanol production became only marginally economic.

The Threat of E15.  A few days ago the auto industry urged the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to delay raising the allowable ethanol blend in gasoline from the current 10% to 15% — citing tests which indicate that more ethanol will damage many car engines.  EPA signaled last year that it would probably bend to pressure from the ethanol industry and permit the higher blend rates.  Ethanol producers like ADM [Archer Daniels Midland] have been campaigning to reinforce the ethanol mandate by forcing oil companies (and the motoring public) to consume more ethanol.

Biofuels should not be subsidized.  [Scroll down to page 16]  In 2007, 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol and 450 million gallons of biodiesel were produced in the U.S., about 5 percent of total U.S. oil consumption.  Most ethanol made in the U.S. comes from corn.  Its production consumed 3.3 billion bushels of corn in 2007, nearly 25 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop (13.3 billion bushels).  Ethanol has been promoted as a fuel additive to reduce emissions, increase octane, and extend the gasoline supply.  E10 (a 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline blend) is widely available.  E85 is an alternative fuel (an 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline blend) available mainly in corn-producing states; vehicles must be factory equipped or modified to use this fuel.

To reduce carbon emissions, feds plan to destroy everyone's engine with ethanol.  The New York Times reports that the automotive industry is resisting government plans to increase the amount of ethanol with which oil companies can pollute their gasoline.  The government wants to raise the maximum ethanol-gasoline blend from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Drivers Given Ethanol Instead Of Gas.  Drivers who thought they were filling up with premium gasoline at a Rockland County Costco might have actually been pumping ethanol fuel [E85] into their cars.  The Office of Consumer Protection says it has only received about 16 complaints so far but expects the number to jump as media coverage of the incident spreads.

Green Washington Wants Less-efficient Fuel.  On April 1, the Obama administration's EPA issued final rules forcing automakers to increase their vehicles' fuel economy by 40 percent in five years.  The next day, the very same EPA favorably reviewed an ethanol fuel mandate that would force autos to get up to 5 percent worse fuel economy.  You can't make this stuff up.

Unintended Consequences of Ethanol:  Since ethanol has lower energy content per gallon more fuel is required to travel the same distance, which will mean drivers will have to fill their gas tanks more frequently.  In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) has begun assessing the use of ethanol blends and their effects on vehicle performance.  In their recent report, the DOE tested 13 different vehicles with ethanol blends up to 20% and, on average, fuel economy of the vehicles decreased by over 7 percent.

Battling 'Climate Change' Creates Famine.  [Scroll down]  Overall, the amount of United States cropland used to grow basic food commodities, that is crops other than corn and soybeans, has decreased by over 22 million acres since 1999.  Do some of the corn and soybeans produced enter the food chain?  Sure they do.  But the reason that more and more American farmers are switching to growing these crops has nothing to do with feeding the world, it's all about making more money, courtesy of the American taxpayer who ultimately pays the bill for the bio-fuel incentive programs that make growing energy crops more profitable than providing nutrition to the globe.

More Ethanol Equals More CO2 Emissions.  As I showed in the prior article, based on the thermal energy content of gasoline and of ethanol, E10 has about 3.32 percent less energy per gallon than 100 percent gasoline.  It would not be unreasonable then to expect a miles per gallon drop of 3.32 percent with E10 vs. with E0. ... From my experience, and that of many others, the mileage loss with E10 is well over 3.32 percent.  I have measured a mileage decrease of 7.8 percent.  Let's see what that does to the carbon dioxide emission comparison.

Ethanol Causes More Ozone than Gas.  Delivering a damaging blow to environmentalists' support for laws requiring ethanol to be added to gasoline, a new study from researchers at Stanford University finds ethanol combustion likely causes more surface-level ozone, a key pollutant monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, than does gasoline.

Green fuels cause more harm than fossil fuels, according to report.  Using fossil fuel in vehicles is better for the environment than so-called green fuels made from crops, according to a government study seen by The Times.  The findings show that the Department for Transport's target for raising the level of biofuel in all fuel sold in Britain will result in millions of acres of forest being logged or burnt down and converted to plantations.

Ethanol:  Washington's unmeetable mandate.  One of Barack Obama's favorite lines of attack on John McCain last election was to criticize McCain for regularly voting against "renewable energy."  If you check the 23 votes Obama's campaign cited for this criticism you'll see that largely, Obama was attacking McCain for opposing ethanol subsidies and mandates.  Indeed, Obama wanted to require all new cars made in the U.S. to run flex-fuel — another mandate forcing ethanol on U.S. consumers.

Senior Republican on Ag Committee Sees Unintended Consequences of Ethanol.  Since ethanol has lower energy content per gallon, more fuel is required to travel the same distance, which will mean drivers will have to fill their gas tanks more frequently.  In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) has begun assessing the use of ethanol blends and their effects on vehicle performance.  In their recent report, the DOE tested 13 different vehicles with ethanol blends up to 20% and, on average, fuel economy of the vehicles decreased by over 7 percent.

Faulty Ethanol Math.  In a press release this week, Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board claimed, "if all the fuel sold in Nebraska in the past five years was E85, Nebraskans would have saved $2.6 billion."  Mr. Sneller might want to check his math.

Job losses follow Southern farmers' switch from cotton to corn.  U.S. cotton production peaked in 2005 and has been sliding since as farmers switch from growing fiber to food.  The reasons are many:  Corn prices have been strong, and it's more profitable because it takes less labor to produce.  Corn's lower production costs also make it a less risky investment than cotton.

Be Careful What You Wish For...  Promotion of technologies based on theory rather than practice has been a hallmark of the green movement.  Every indication seems to be that their foolish promotion of ethanol has been written out of their history, rather than being treated as a cautionary tale to learn from.

EPA ruling boosts ethanol after fierce lobbying effort for corn-based fuels.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handed a victory to ethanol producers Wednesday [2/3/2010] by issuing final regulations that conclude corn-based fuels will meet greenhouse gas standards imposed under a 2007 energy law.

Plan for 1,800-mile ethanol pipeline unveiled.  Plans were disclosed Wednesday [1/13/2010] for an 1,800-mile long pipeline, running across Indiana and north of Indianapolis, to carry ethanol made in the Midwest to new markets for the fuel in the eastern United States.

Rice University analysis questions U.S. ethanol subsidies.  Federal taxpayers forked over $1.95 a gallon in ethanol subsidies in 2008 on top of the retail gasoline price, a new white paper from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy found.  The 118-page analysis from the Houston-based institute says the United States needs to rethink its policy of promoting ethanol.

Sins of Emission.  President Obama observed in Florida on Tuesday [10/27/2009] that his "clean energy economy" will require "mobilization" on the order of fighting World War II, building the interstate highway system and going to the moon.  Of course, the only "mobilization" going on at the moment is on behalf of ethanol, whose many political dispensations the biofuels lobby is finding new ways to preserve even as the evidence of its destructiveness piles up.

A Lesson in Biofuels from Tennessee.  In 2007, to great fanfare and amid ever-greater expectations, a large-scale demonstration project was initiated to turn switchgrass into biofuel.  For an investment of $70 million, the taxpayers of the state of Tennessee were promised a lucrative new industry that would benefit farmers while creating thousands of other "green jobs." ... In fact, according to published reports, it would seem that it is not producing any fuel at all.  The 250,000 gallons of ethanol that it is producing have been distilled from corn cobs — a process akin to one already quite common, if not notorious, in the state of Tennessee.

UC scientist says ethanol uses more energy than it makes.  Ethanol, touted as an alternative fuel of the future, may eat up far more energy during its creation than it winds up giving back, according to research by a UC Berkeley scientist that raises questions about the nation's move toward its widespread use.

Ethanol policy threatens to starve the world.  Drought.  War.  Poverty.  These are leading causes of hunger, according to the United Nations.  Soon we may add another.  Ethanol.  Across the globe, people are discovering it's a new contributor to world hunger.  Led by the United States, governments are paying companies billions to make ethanol from corn and other crops.  The result:  these crops are diverted from the food supply, creating artificial shortages and higher prices.

Why Ethanol Doesn't Reduce Oil Imports.  Even our biggest source of alternative fuel is taking very little bite out of our petroleum consumption.  Much more effective has been high prices and recession.  In fact, I believe it unlikely that any combination of biofuels will ever replace even 50% (net) of our present petroleum consumption.

Ethanol Hobbles Baltimore Police Fleet.  Baltimore officials are blaming an unusually high amount of ethanol in gasoline for breakdowns in the city's police fleet last weekend.  According to The Baltimore Sun, over 200 police cars experienced engine problems after fueling up at a city-run pump, and more than 70 had to be "sidelined."

Carmakers fight hike in ethanol at pump.  A push by corn-producing states and alternative fuel proponents to increase federal rules boosting the amount of ethanol mixed into gasoline is being fought by automakers because it would be costly and could damage engines.  By Dec. 1, the Environmental Protection Agency must decide whether to approve a request to increase the amount of ethanol that can be mixed with most gasoline sold at pumps to as much as 15 percent.

Ethanol's Grocery Bill.  The Obama Administration is pushing a big expansion in ethanol, including a mandate to increase the share of the corn-based fuel required in gasoline to 15% from 10%.  Apparently no one in the Administration has read a pair of new studies, one from its own EPA, that expose ethanol as a bad deal for consumers with little environmental benefit.

Ethanol proposal may derail climate bill.  Ethanol has long been an energy third rail in Congress, with lawmakers — particularly those from the Midwest and other states with large agricultural industries — clamoring to support the biofuel both to transition away from foreign energy and to support rural economies.  But in recent years, environmentalists, livestock producers and grocery manufacturers have raised concerns about the fuel, claiming that it threatens to exacerbate global warming and that it raises food prices.

Ethanol is bad for the economy, consumers and the environment.  The economic impact of ethanol subsidies is negative.  One report by the U.S. Agriculture department determined that every dollar spent subsidizing ethanol costs consumers more than four dollars.

The Ethanol Bubble Pops in Iowa.  In September, ethanol giant VeraSun Energy opened a refinery on the outskirts of this eastern Iowa community.  Among the largest biofuels facilities in the country, the Dyersville plant could process 39 million bushels of corn and produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually. VeraSun boasted the plant could run 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the demand for home-grown energy.  But the only thing happening 24-7 at the Dyersville plant these days is nothing at all.  Its doors are shut and corn deliveries are turned away.

Reality Pricks Corn Ethanol's Bubble.  The vision of vast golden fields of corn supplying the fuel for our cars, once the dream of environmentalists and farmers, is disappearing, its allure dimmed by science and reality.  Corn-based ethanol was seen as such an ideal solution for our transportation fuel that Congress leaped to write it into law.  In a swoon over ethanol in 2007, Congress mandated a fivefold increase in biofuels — 42 percent of it from corn — in 15 years.

Corn Ethanol Will Not Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  California regulators, trying to assess the true environmental cost of corn ethanol, are poised to declare that the biofuel cannot help the state reduce global warming.  As they see it, corn is no better —and might be worse —than petroleum when total greenhouse gas emissions are considered.  Such a declaration, to be considered later this week by the California Air Resources Board, would be a considerable blow to the corn-ethanol industry in the United States.

Seven Myths About Alternative Energy:  [#2]  "Renewable Fuels Are the Cure for Our Addiction to Oil."  Unfortunately not.  "Renewable fuels" sound great in theory, and agricultural lobbyists have persuaded European countries and the United States to enact remarkably ambitious biofuels mandates to promote farm-grown alternatives to gasoline.  But so far in the real world, the cures — mostly ethanol derived from corn in the United States or biodiesel derived from palm oil, soybeans, and rapeseed in Europe — have been significantly worse than the disease.

Why The Ethanol Import Tariff Should Be Repealed:  The question is whether the 54 cents per gallon tariff the United States places on imported ethanol should be eliminated when:  (a) U.S. farm acreage is being diverted from the production of food crops to energy crops and record high corn prices are impacting the agriculture, food and beverage industries;  (b) American families and businesses are paying record high prices for fuel;  (c) U.S. oil companies are using ethanol merely as a blending component in gasoline rather than a true alternative transportation fuel; ...

Owner of Nebraska ethanol plant files bankruptcy.  In its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the owner of the Cambridge ethanol plant lists $80 million in assets and $66 million in liabilities.  Mid-America Agri Products closed the 44 million-gallon plant in January, citing unfavorable economic conditions in the ethanol industry.

Wesley Clark:  Ethanol's field general.  If ever there were an industry in need of a general, it's the ethanol industry.  Already under siege from food companies blaming biofuels for rising grocery prices, ethanol companies are now seeing their profit margins crushed by falling prices for their product.  Compounding the problem, many environmentalists — who five minutes ago seemed to be in ethanol's corner — have turned against the corn-based fuel.

Senior Republican on Ag Committee Sees Unintended Consequences of Ethanol.  Today Congressman Bob Goodlatte was joined by many other Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Barack Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson urging them not to approve the current request submitted to EPA to increase the ethanol blend in gasoline.  Raising the ethanol blend above 10% could result in serious economic consequences that could negatively affect already struggling American consumers.

Environmentalist Economic Strangulation.  The super-green Obama administration plans to replace fossil fuels with alternative fuels.  The last time we went down this road, President Carter managed to blow several billion dollars on failed attempts to produce economically viable synthetic fuels (remember "Synfuels?") and foisted the ongoing ethanol boondoggle on us.  Corn-based ethanol, even 30 years later, still requires massive government subsidies, is useless for achieving energy independence.  It consumes nearly as much, and perhaps more, energy to produce it than it yields in our fuel tanks.  It is also the least environmentally friendly fuel we use, increasing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause smog, using up precious water supplies, and requiring the tilling of millions of acres of wildlife habitat.

American Corn Growers Association.  With its all-American name, the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) brings to mind visions of Heartland cornfields and a simple farm life straight out of Grant Wood's "American Gothic."  But in reality, ACGA represents a farming style more Cuban than American.  Founded in 1987, ACGA masquerades as a representative of the United States's many traditional corn growers.  But the ACGA is really an organization that promotes a radically anti-business view of agriculture.  ACGA's president Keith Dittrich summarized the group's views well in September 1999, when he said, "The fact is that an unregulated free market does not work for — nor does it exist — in agriculture ... The only beneficiaries are the greedy multinational corporations."

The Great Ethanol Scam.  More than one major transportation-based industry in America besides Detroit is on the ropes.  For the fourth time in our history the ethanol industry has come undone and is quickly failing nationally.  Of course it's one thing when Detroit collapsed with the economy; after all, that is a truly free-market enterprise and the economy hasn't been good.  But the fact that the ethanol industry is going bankrupt, when the only reason we use this additive is a massive government mandate, is outrageous at best.

Ethanol Industry's 15% Solution Raises Concerns.  The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to make an important and far-reaching decision this year that will affect more than 500 million gasoline engines powering everything from large pickups to family cars to lawn mowers:  whether to grant the ethanol industry's request to raise the maximum amount of ethanol that can be added to gasoline.

The Editor says...
Like so many things the EPA does, this has practically nothing to do with environmental protection — it is all about subsidizing the ethanol fad for as long as possible and giving the EPA something to do.

The Federal Government's Ethanol Bill Is $4 Billion.  From what we're reading in a report released by the Congressional Budget Office, ethanol can't become profitable on its own, it barely reduces our use of foreign oil, its benefit to the environment is questionable and its cost to the government is massive — $4 billion to be precise.

Adding fuel to the fire?  The Environmental Protection Agency, at the urging of some segments of the agricultural industry, is considering a proposal to allow an increase of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent, from the current 10 percent maximum allowed nationwide. ... While ethanol appears to cause no harm in cars, there have been reports of issues when it is used in marine engines.  Martin Peters, spokesman for Yamaha Marine, the world's largest outboard manufacturer, said the change could be troublesome for boaters.

Will California Shuck Corn Ethanol?  With 20-20 hindsight, the California EPA, by dropping ethanol for now as a cure-all for climate change, is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.  "Ethanol is a good fuel, but how it is produced is problematic," Dimitri Stanich, public information officer for the California EPA, said in an interview with World Net Daily.  "The corn ethanol industry has to figure out another way to process corn into ethanol that is not so corn-intensive."  California could build more nuclear power plants, but never mind.  Ethanol is in fact not a good fuel.

Ethanol Bailout?  The heavily subsidized ethanol industry is the latest to seek a federal bailout.  If there is any industry that deserves to go bankrupt, it's this one.  Time has come to stop putting food in our gas tanks.

Ethanol Will Curb Farm Income Until Economy Rebounds, Economist Says.  Ethanol helped drive two years of record profits for grain farmers, but also will hold income down during a looming recession that has already sliced crop prices in half, a University of Illinois economist says.

Ethanol's Backers Get Gassed.  A fortune was spent on ethanol development last year when gas prices were in the stratosphere.  Now a lesson has been learned:  Worshiping the false god of ethanol carries a high price.

King Corn cows Washington.  President Obama has said science on his watch will not be "distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda."  But when it comes to the political agenda of agribusiness, his own Cabinet, and his party, are letting science down to prop up corn-based ethanol.

Ethanol policies fuel food-price rise.  Federal ethanol-fuel policies forced consumers to pay an extra 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent in increased food prices in 2008, and the government itself could end up paying nearly $1 billion more this year for food stamps because of ethanol use, according to a new government report.  The report by the Congressional Budget Office helps answer questions raised by Congress last year as food prices shot up, and some lawmakers questioned the effects of government policies, such as the ethanol mandate.

Report:  Ethanol raises cost of nutrition programs.  Food stamps and child nutrition programs are expected to cost up to $900 million more this year because of increased ethanol use.  Higher use of the corn-based fuel additive accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of the rise in food prices between April 2007 and April 2008, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Obama's energy policy will increase dependence on foreign oil.  Ethanol subsidies began in 1979.  Ethanol has had 30 years of taxpayer-assisted experience.  Ethanol is the only "feasible" alternative renewable biofuel in the competition.  All other biofuels lack the production potential that ethanol has.  According to the latest data from the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production is currently averaging 0.60 million barrels per day.  At the subsidy of 51¢ per gallon, this amount of ethanol production costs taxpayers over $4 Billion in 2008.  The ethanol future looks much worse.  The "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" required maximum ethanol production of 2.35 million barrels per day by 2022.  But, this amount of ethanol production will require the entire corn crop in the US, every kernel of corn.

Everyone Hates Ethanol.  Congress and the ethanol lobby argue that if some outcome would be politically nice, it should be mandated (details to follow).  Then a new round of market interventions is necessary to fix the economic harm resulting from the previous requirements, while creating more damage in the process.  Ethanol is one of the most shameless energy rackets going, in a field with no shortage of competitors.

USDA:  2008 Food Inflation Worst in 18 years.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in December, its third consecutive monthly decline, after sliding 1.7 percent in November.  The so-called core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, was unchanged.  "For all of 2008, consumer prices grew just 0.1 percent while the core rate rose 1.8 percent, the Labor Department reported."

Ethanol's Federal Subsidy Grab Leaves Little For Solar, Wind and Geothermal Energy.  As Congress and the incoming Obama administration plan the nation's next major investments in green energy, they need to take a hard, clear-eyed look at Department of Energy data documenting corn-based ethanol's stranglehold on federal renewable energy tax credits and subsidies.

Corn-Fed Nation.  "All flesh is grass" says Scripture.  Much of the too-ample flesh of Americans (three of five are overweight; one in five is obese) comes from corn, which is a grass.  A quarter of the 45,000 items in the average supermarket contain processed corn.  Fossil fuels are involved in the planting, fertilizing, harvesting, transporting and processing of the corn.  America's food industry uses about as much petroleum as America's automobiles do.  During World War II, when meat, dairy products and sugar were scarce, heart disease plummeted.  It rebounded when rationing ended.

Ethanol, Just Recently a Savior, Is Struggling.  Barely a year after Congress enacted an energy law meant to foster a huge national enterprise capable of converting plants and agricultural wastes into automotive fuel, the goals lawmakers set for the ethanol industry are in serious jeopardy.  As recently as last summer, plants that make ethanol from corn were sprouting across the Midwest.  But now, with motorists driving less in the economic downturn, the industry is burdened with excess capacity, and plants are shutting down virtually every week.

Higher Ethanol blend to make your chainsaw go crazy?  Picture a chainsaw calmly idling.  But then its blade suddenly starts spinning on its own, as if someone had goosed the throttle.  The power equipment industry warns that such a scenario could happen if the federal government agrees to increase the percentage of ethanol mixed into gasoline.

Big Corn and the Ethanol Hoax:  Ethanol contains water that distillation cannot remove.  As such, it can cause major damage to automobile engines not specifically designed to burn ethanol.  The water content of ethanol also risks pipeline corrosion and thus must be shipped by truck, rail car or barge.  These shipping methods are far more expensive than pipelines.  Ethanol is 20 to 30 percent less efficient than gasoline, making it more expensive per highway mile.  It takes 450 pounds of corn to produce the ethanol to fill one SUV tank.  That's enough corn to feed one person for a year.

Producers want more ethanol in gas.  Despite being pinched by the economic downturn, ethanol producers are expanding so rapidly that they are pressing the government to overturn its 25-year-old rule that limits to 10 percent the amount of the corn-based additive that can be put into a tank of gasoline.

Biodiesel tax break backfires.  Federal subsidies to the U.S. biodiesel industry were supposed to help wean the nation from foreign oil, and a new law in 2009 will bolster the effort, but the money has fueled a controversial side business.  Domestic producers of the renewable fuel have been selling huge quantities of biodiesel in Europe and in other foreign markets, where prices are often better, and then receiving a $1-per-gallon tax credit from Uncle Sam.

Dreams From My Farmer.  In 2008, ethanol's ravages started to make headlines — this "green fuel" was contributing to record-high food prices and causing food riots in the developing world.  It was exhausting water supplies, driving up gasoline prices, and exacerbating smog.  Environmentalists, who almost universally oppose ethanol, even complained that its production process is driving up emissions from coal. … More importantly, ethanol makes no substantive contribution to American energy independence.

Sweet ethanol deal for big NSW Labor donor.  The Rees Labor Government is set to approve a $400 million expansion of an ethanol plant put forward by a company that is the biggest donor to the NSW ALP.  As a result of the controversial expansion at its flour processing plant near Nowra on the NSW south coast, the Manildra Group will be the beneficiary of revenue lost to taxpayers nationally of $120 million a year.

Texas Is Fed Up With Corn Ethanol.  At what price will corn be so expensive that the federal government will decide that it is time to stop driving up the price of food? … As we can see now, the diversion of our corn supply from grocery stores to gasoline pumps has caused the price of corn to spiral out of control.  Corn prices were once driven by market forces.  Today they are artificially driven up by a government mandate.

Obama Under Pressure Over Role of Ethanol in Energy Policy.  Environmentalists agree with President-elect Barack Obama on many points, but his policy on ethanol isn't one of them.  In the ongoing debate over the future of the country's energy policy, biofuels occupy a unique and precarious position:  reviled in some quarters, championed in others.  Ethanol producers have enjoyed meteoric rises in the amount of ethanol they can make and sell, but they also have been accused of harming the environment, prompting food riots abroad, and throwing away government money on unsustainable endeavors.

Platform Committee:  No Ethanol Mandates.  The last sentence in the economy section of the working draft of the Republican platform states, "The U.S. government should end mandates for ethanol and let the free market work."

E.P.A. Won't Ease Ethanol Requirements in Gas.  The Environmental Protection Agency rejected on Thursday [8/7/2008] a request to cut the quota for the use of ethanol in cars, concluding, for the time being, that the goal of reducing the nation's reliance on oil trumps any effect on food prices from making fuel from corn.  The E.P.A. administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said that the mandate was "strengthening our nation's energy security and supporting American farming communities," and that it was not causing "severe harm to the economy or the environment."

Ethanol Insanity.  Increased corn consumption by the ethanol distilleries is showing up as price hikes in American supermarkets.  In mid-July, Consumer Price Index data showed that over the previous three months, food prices increased at an annualized 8 percent.  The price of cereals and bakery products has increased by 10.4 percent over the past year.  And the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimated that the price of eggs could jump by 10 percent this year.  All of this feeds inflation, showing its biggest annual increase since 1991.

The Immorality of Ethanol.  Boosters claim ethanol production doesn't raise food prices, but the numbers tell a different story.  The ethanol apologists refuse to face the facts.  Soaring demand from the ethanol sector has helped push prices for all grains dramatically higher.  Over the past two years, corn prices have more than doubled and soybeans have nearly tripled. ... With the ethanol scam, Congress has created a food-eating Frankenstein.  The only question now is:  can it be killed?

Green Ink: Ethanol Woes and Closing Arguments.  Crude oil futures slipped to $66 on Monday [11/3/2008] amid signs economic woes are spreading, Bloomberg reports:  "Demand growth in the emerging markets seems to be slowing down massively," says one analyst.  Tough times for the ethanol industry, with the bankruptcy announcement late Friday [10/31/2008] by VeraSun, one of the biggest U.S. ethanol producers, in the WSJ.

The Folly of Food as Fuel:  Ethanol is an ineffective means of reducing reliance on imported oil.  While domestic production of ethanol doubled between 2003 and 2007, imports of oil and refined gasoline increased.  A deficit in refining capacity and an approaching surfeit of ethanol production capacity will not increase the security of our gasoline supply or stability of gasoline prices.  But what happens to a grain-based fuel supply during the next major drought?  Ethanol has two-thirds the energy value of petroleum-based fuels.  A vehicle requires three gallons of ethanol for the mileage of two gallons of gasoline.  Would today's consumers choose fuel 30% more expensive than gasoline?

Economic Damage From Ethanol Mandate Will Continue.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson's denial of Gov. Rick Perry's request for a 50 percent waiver of the federal ethanol mandate came and went without much fanfare.  But the economic damage from this market distorting policy will continue to increase.

Gateway files Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Gateway Ethanol has filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Kansas.  The City of Pratt is one of several entities listed as creditors in the case.  Locally, Ninnescah Electric and SC Telcom are also listed as creditors.

Molson Coors ethanol fueling DNC.  Molson Coors may be a small player in the ethanol world, but at the Democratic National Convention, it may as well be ExxonMobil.  All of the estimated 40,000 gallons of ethanol being used in DNC alternative fuel vehicles is coming from the brewer's unique ethanol distillery.

No Excuses For Not Drilling.  [Scroll down slowly]  Why act so rashly in support of ethanol subsidies?  Why, for more votes, of course.  Engineers knew years ago that it takes more energy to make ethanol than what we get out of it.  While people are starving in the world, it is immoral, unethical and obscene to make fuel to sustain our precious standard of living with food that the world so desperately needs.

Which costs more, ethanol or gasoline?  With oil topping $135 a barrel, ethanol must be cheaper than gasoline, right?  Not if you adjust for the fact that ethanol has about 30% less energy content than gasoline by volume.

Seeding the food crisis:  As if a housing crisis, rising energy costs and a soft labor market weren't enough to cause economic anxiety for the average American, now consumers are feeling the pinch of rapidly escalating food costs.  The United States has long prided itself in being the breadbasket of the world, and Americans have traditionally paid a smaller share of their income on food than citizens of other developed countries.  But the days of cheap milk, bread, beef and poultry may well be over — and Uncle Sam is partly to blame.

Let Them Eat Ethanol?  They don't have enough to eat.  Five people are dead in Port Au Prince, Haiti after a week of food riots.  Unions in Burkina Faso have called a general strike to protest the high cost of grain.  Food riots have rocked Egypt, Cameroon, Indonesia, Ethiopia and other nations.  In Manila, police with M-16s have supervised the sale and distribution of subsidized grain.  Hoarders have been threatened with life imprisonment.  In Thailand and Pakistan, troops are guarding fields and warehouses.  In Egypt, the army has been called out to bake bread.  Even in the United States, a run on rice has caused big-box retailers Sam's Club and Costco to limit the amount of rice consumers can purchase per visit….

Governor Rick Perry's request to waive the federal ethanol mandate.  "It takes 21 pounds of corn to produce one gallon of ethanol.  One person could be fed for an entire year from the corn that we're instead cooking for a single pickup tank of E-85.  "This year, the United States will convert 30 to 35 percent of its corn harvest into ethanol.  Federal mandates and subsidies for ethanol production are generating a supply that will be far beyond what the United States is able to use.

Uprising Against the Ethanol Mandate.  Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily waive regulations requiring the oil industry to blend ever-increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline.  A decision is expected in the next few weeks.  Mr. Perry says the billions of bushels of corn being used to produce all that mandated ethanol would be better suited as livestock feed than as fuel.

Food Crisis Starts Eclipsing Climate Change Worries.  With prices for rice, wheat, and corn soaring, food-related unrest has broken out in places such as Haiti, Indonesia, and Afghanistan.  Several countries have blocked the export of grain.  There is even talk that governments could fall if they cannot bring food costs down.  One factor being blamed for the price hikes is the use of government subsidies to promote the use of corn for ethanol production.  An estimated 30% of America's corn crop now goes to fuel, not food.

Children of the Corn:  [Scroll down]  Suppose, though, that ethanol is harmless to Third World food supply:  It still costs us plenty.  The federal government has mandated that we use 9 billion gallons of it this year and 15 billion gallons by 2022.  This forces people to use an inferior fuel, one costlier to make, to ship, to run a car a mile on.  Besides the up-ratcheting mandate, taxpayers must fund several tax credits, the big one being about 51 cents a gallon to companies that mix the stuff into gasoline.  This cost about $2.5 billion in 2006.

Which costs more, ethanol or gasoline?  With oil topping $135 a barrel, ethanol must be cheaper than gasoline, right?  Not if you adjust for the fact that ethanol has about 30% less energy content than gasoline by volume.  The American Automobile Association monitors daily average national prices for gasoline and E-85, motor fuel blended with 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.  When the ethanol fuel-economy penalty is taken into account, E-85 cost $4.704 a gallon….

Does federal ethanol policy subsidize oil consumption?  Far more corn grown in this country is now going toward fuel production, not food consumption, causing food prices to escalate around the world. … What is left out of the debate is a significant contradiction in current biofuel policy:  tax credits subsidize petroleum-based gasoline consumption when used in conjunction with mandates.

Cellulosic ethanol — unintended consequences?  Greens were once keen on corn-ethanol and bio-diesel, but now many condemn these so-called first-generation biofuels for contributing to deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Will their love affair with cellulosic ethanol similarly grow cold?

Palm oil prices climbing faster than petroleum prices.  Plans to invest billions of dollars in biodiesel refineries across Southeast Asia have been put on hold as the prices of key raw ingredients — particularly palm oil — have shot up amid surging food demand in China and India.

Eat Your Fill of Beef Before Ethanol Prices it Out of Your Budget.  The Daily Livestock Report published by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday [5/20/2008] noted troubling evidence of cattle herd liquidation.  The report's author's, livestock economists Steve Meyer and Len Steiner noted an increased pace of cattle slaughter this year amid steadily climbing feed costs.

Perry sees harm of ethanol.  Gov. Rick Perry stepped up his call Tuesday [6/24/2008] for a reduction in federal ethanol requirements, saying they are putting "artificial upward pressure on corn prices," choking the life out of the state's $75 billion livestock industry and increasing food prices for U.S. families.

Mechanics see ethanol damaging small engines.  Although the Web is rife with complaints from car owners who say ethanol damaged their engines, ethanol producers and automakers say it's safe to use in cars.  But smaller engines — the two-cycle utility engines in lawnmowers, chain saws and outboard boat motors — are another story.  Benjamin Mallisham, owner of a lawnmower repair shop in Tuscaloosa, Ala., said at least 40 percent of the lawnmower engines he repairs these days have been damaged by ethanol.

Minnesota rides ethanol roller coaster.  The recent flooding in Iowa is just the latest in a series of forces shoving ethanol's main ingredient — corn — to record high prices that have squeezed if not erased industry profits.  It's quashed the ethanol boom of two years ago and left the industry in shambles, with operators postponing building of plants, and even delaying indefinitely the start-up of plants that have recently been completed.

Still no ethanol production in Hawaii.  More than two years after the state began requiring gasoline to be blended with ethanol, Hawaii has yet to see local production of the fuel. … Ethanol proponents in Hawaii had projected local production would begin by 2006, but so far no facilities have even broken ground.

Corn on the Mob:  Indonesia is a land in turmoil, home to massive volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes.  On Monday, January 14, it experienced a brand new type of disturbance, the world's first food riot caused by another nation pandering to the global warming mob.  Indonesians took to the streets, demanding that their government to do something about the price of soybeans, a dietary staple.  All over the world, food prices are on the rise.

Will We Suffer Global Famine, Again?  Do today's soaring food prices and Third World food riots mean we're headed for global famine?  Not any time soon — if we suspend the biofuels mandates quickly.  Unfortunately, if we keep burning corn, wheat, and palm oil in our vehicles, there's no limit to the hunger, malnutrition, wildlife extinction and political disruption we can cause.  The problem is simple:  Food demand is inelastic.  People need about the same number of calories whether they're expensive or cheap.  But the demand for biofuels is almost without limit.

Amber Waves Of Pain:  Senate Republicans want to freeze ethanol mandates that don't cut the price of fuel or help the environment.  Even farm-state Democrats worry about the unintended consequences of putting corn in our cars.

Inconvenient truth:  people will go hungry.  Heavy government subsidies for ethanol have steadily increased in the United States, diverting corn crops into the production of fuel rather than being used as a food source for humans and animals — from cattle to chickens.  Consequently the cost of food products related to corn has skyrocketed.

The fallout from our ethanol blunder:  Congress mandated the addition of ethanol to gasoline and provided large subsidies to encourage this.  This was supposed to reduce carbon emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil.  It has not only failed in its primary objectives, but is contributing to the threat of massive starvation around the world.

Dems 'Oil' Wet About Gas Prices.  Have you noticed that ever since the Democrats took control of Congress, oil and gas prices have been going through the roof?  The Dems won control of the House and Senate last year in part on the notion that sinking billions of taxpayer dollars into corn-based ethanol would combat global warming; itself a dubious superstition that some scientists say is part of the Earth's natural environmental changes over many eons.

The Biofuels Backlash:  Imagine our great, pleasant surprise to see that the world is suddenly awakening to the folly of subsidized biofuels.  All it took was a mere global "food crisis."  Last week chief economist Joseph Glauber of the USDA, which has been among Big Ethanol's best friends in Washington, blamed biofuels for increasing prices on corn and soybeans.

Biofuel backlash:  High prices, pollution worries hit consumers.  In the last year, the promise of renewable fuels has lost a lot of its luster.  Prices of biodiesel have almost doubled to about $6 per gallon, and many experts blame biofuel production for driving up food prices worldwide.  Prominent scientists have questioned whether growing crops for biofuels produces more greenhouse gases than it prevents.

Wreaking Havoc on Global Economies.  Policies designed to deal with global warming or climate change, such as the biofuels debacle, are wreaking havoc with global economies and poor peoples' lives.  Sadly, none of these policies were necessary.  They all emanate from the incorrect idea that global warming and climate change are due to CO2.

Doubts grow over ethanol.  Sharply rising food prices may force Congress to reconsider the fivefold increase in ethanol production it mandated just four months ago, some lawmakers say.  Few members appear willing to call for the outright repeal of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which requires that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be produced by 2022.  Of that, 15 billon gallons would come from corn.  But the new concerns represent a significant turn for a policy issue that was embraced by both congressional Democrats and President Bush as a way to boost rural economies and domestic energy security.

Siphoning Off Corn to Fuel Our Cars.  Across the country, ethanol plants are swallowing more and more of the nation's corn crop.  This year, about a quarter of U.S. corn will go to feeding ethanol plants instead of poultry or livestock.

Ethanol Fuel from Corn Faulted as 'Unsustainable Subsidized Food Burning'.  As many as three distillation steps are needed to separate the 8 percent ethanol from the 92 percent water.  Additional treatment and energy are required to produce the 99.8 percent pure ethanol for mixing with gasoline.  Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion to ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make 1 gallon of ethanol.  One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTU.

Opposing viewpoint:
Ethanol as cause of food crisis 'flat-out wrong'.  Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer yesterday [5/9/2008] said U.N. and other international aid officials are "flat-out wrong" to call U.S. ethanol production from corn a major factor in world food shortages and riots.  Mr. Schafer, a longtime proponent of biofuels, vehemently disputed efforts by the leaders of the World Bank and the U.N. World Food Program to blame ethanol for rising world food prices.  He said his department calculates that competition between food and biofuels accounts only for up to 3 percent of food price increases.  "Only a very small portion of this problem is ethanol driven," Mr. Schafer said in an interview with The Washington Times.  Global food prices have risen 45 percent since mid-2007.

Ethanol and Biodiesel:  The Great Water Wasters.  Jan F. Kreider from University of Colorado and engeneer Peter S. Curtiss have found that the production of one gallon of corn based ethanol requires 170 gallons of water from growing it to converting it into ethanol and cellulosic ethanol requires 146 gallons of water.  Much worse is soybean based biodiesel, which requires 900 gallons of water per gallon of biodiesel.  In comparison, one gallon of regular gasoline requires only 5 gallons of water.  Actually, the most water efficient fuel has been shown to be natural gas.

How many gallons of water does it take to make one gallon of ethanol?
    3.5 to 6.0

Feeling blue over trying to be green:  Two papers, in the journal Science, rocked the biofuels world by claiming that plant-based fuels cause more greenhouse-gas emissions than dirty, evil old oil.  The reason is that it takes land to grow fuel.  That inevitably leads to the destruction of forests and grasslands, the studies say.

Farmers' choice about corn key to consumers.  As spring planting nears, farmers are making a choice that could affect what Americans pay for everything from car fuel to chicken wings.  If they choose to plant as much corn as possible, prices that have soared to record highs above $5 a bushel could stabilize.  But if many farmers rotate their plantings to other crops such as soybeans, or the season is disrupted by bad weather or drought, the price of this key ingredient could soar even further.

Cool, wet spring dampening corn crop hopes.  In a year of rising food prices and high fuel costs that are creating pressure to produce more ethanol, the country could really use a perfect corn crop.  So far, it isn't happening.  And depending on the right mix of sun, heat, rain and cool, it could drive prices up even further.

Just to be fair...
Two dissenting opinions

The Hunger:  The Post article asserts that corn prices have "been climbing for months on the back of booming government-subsidized ethanol programs."  This has quickly become the conventional wisdom.  But while free market types (like me) are skeptical about both subsidies and tariffs, there is actually no evidence that these market manipulations have been a major factor behind rising prices for corn or other grains.

The Bum Rap on Biofuels:  Now I'd like to break my silence and weigh in.  I realize that some readers will dismiss everything I'm about to say because I have a financial interest in biofuels.  I'm hoping that at least some readers will consider the possibility that — precisely because I have a financial interest in biofuels — I keep an eye on this issue and may, perhaps, actually know what I'm talking about.

Ethanol is a waste of energy.  No need for debate.  No need to heed the market.  No need to explore viability or consequences.  Executive orders will do the trick.  It seems elected officials need only insert dreamy words like "green" or "renewable" into a sentence and the electorate swoons.

Ethanol's Failed Promise:  It is now abundantly clear that food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage.  First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy — most of which comes from coal.  Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.

Ethanol betraying its promises.  It is now beyond dispute that congressional mandates on ethanol use are having a number of deleterious effects, soaring food prices chief among them.  So given that, plus recent findings that greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol and biofuels may actually be greater than those created by conventional gasoline, a natural question arises:  Which presidential candidate will first call for a change in U.S. ethanol policy?

The Editor says...
Here's a better question:  Why can't the current president admit his mistake and scuttle the ethanol subsidies?

Undoing America's Ethanol Mistake.  The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said, "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."  When Congress passed legislation to greatly expand America's commitment to biofuels, it intended to create energy independence and protect the environment.  But the results have been quite different.  America remains equally dependent on foreign sources of energy, and new evidence suggests that ethanol is causing great harm to the environment.

Environmental Activist Failures Highlight Earth Day.  The Earth Day propaganda machine will be in full swing today with alarmist stories of humans destroying the environment.  By virtually every measure — including air quality, water quality, forest health, etc. — environmental health in the U.S. continues to improve each year.  Just as strikingly, science has demonstrated that the environmental activist groups' so-called "solutions" to environmental problems often serve only to worsen the environment.

Food Riots Made in the USA.  In order to understand the steep rise in world food prices that set off food riots in Haiti last week and toppled the government, you need to travel to Iowa.  Right now, we're trying to run our cars on corn ethanol instead of gasoline.  As a result, we suddenly find ourselves taking food out of the mouths of children in developing nations.  That may sound harsh, but it also happens to be true.

Ethanol And Hunger:  In America, the federal government pushes the production of ethanol from corn with a rich mix of tax incentives and protectionism.  Refiners get a 51-cent tax credit for every gallon of ethanol they produce and are shielded from cheaper imported ethanol with a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff.  The result, totally by design, is that a huge swath of the U.S. corn crop that would otherwise go to food for people and animals is diverted to ethanol.

Rush to biofuels leaves a world of emptier plates.  In early 2007, two University of Minnesota economists forecast that biofuels would sharply increase food prices by 2020, leading to a steep rise in the number of empty bellies in the world.  How wrong they were.  Soaring rates of hunger didn't take a generation.  It took a year.

Hungry Like the Ethanol Wolf.  The federal government can do something right now to provide relief to Americans facing higher food prices:  Repeal the ethanol mandate.  The diversion of one-third of the American corn crop into ethanol production is a direct result of the 2005 law that required gasoline makers to buy 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol — a mandate that the 2007 energy bill President Bush signed in December increases to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

Biofuels Meltdown.  Last week two studies published in Science announced what anyone might have suspected all along. … The two studies may finally puncture the myth that anything is to be gained from burning crops for fuel.  From the very beginning, there was never any indication that turning corn into ethanol was improving our energy independence.  As that effort faltered, the myth arose that at least it was reducing carbon emissions.  Now it has been shown to do neither.

Ethanol:  How the promise dwindled.  The cash crunch at Sacramento's Pacific Ethanol Inc. spotlights the swift decline of an industry battered by too much supply, too-expensive corn and too many increases in plant construction costs.  Ethanol -- hailed by some as a "green" fuel that would reduce America's dependence on foreign oil -- is in a major slump here and nationwide.  Across California, profit margins are vanishing, new plants are being canceled and some existing facilities are struggling.

How Al Gore Fostered Famine, Food Riots, and Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions:  Ethanol subsidies have led to hunger and food riots across the world, by diverting critical farmland from food production to fuel production.  While in the Senate, Al Gore, working with fat-cat lobbyists, "saved the ethanol" industry by pushing through big taxpayer subsidies for ethanol.  Artificially-high worldwide production of ethanol now threatens to destroy many forests.

Bio-Foolishness:  Poverty, famine and violence are among the supposed products of global warming in the future.  Yet these calamities are with us today thanks to a key element of "green" policy, biofuels.  This feel-good measure is becoming a real-world disaster.  The prices of wheat and rice this year will have doubled since 2004, according to World Bank projections.  Soybeans, sugar, soybean oil and corn are expected to be 56% to 79% costlier than in 2004.  The bulk of the increases have come in the past year and can be attributed to the West's push to turn these crops into fossil-fuel replacements like ethanol.

No Starvation for Fuel!  "No Blood for Oil" is a spurious rallying cry on the left, but apparently it is acceptable for the poor in the third world to starve so that American Eco-activists can feel self-righteous about driving "flex-fuel" vehicles.

Biofuels under fire at International Energy Forum.  Biofuels, once seen as a key factor in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, are behind the current global food crisis, major oil producers and consumers charged at an energy forum here on Monday [4/21/2008].

Starving The Poor By Pandering To Big Ag.  This is not a negation of the energy crisis and the need for alternative fuels.  Nor is it some silly pooh-poohing of pollution and all its ugly brood.  What I take it to be is an appeal for sanity, for common sense, for adult judgment and choices among difficult potential solutions.

The Case for Ending Ethanol Subsidies:  Using ethanol for energy was supposed to be a win-win situation:  the United States has so much corn, we were told, that it could use some to make gasoline, thereby reducing its GHG emissions and also reducing its dependence on foreign oil.  But in the real world, unintended consequences are all too frequent.  Take the linkage between ethanol and GHG emissions.  Scientists now believe that the production of ethanol actually creates more harmful emissions than it prevents.

Food or biofuel?  Dumb question.  The world is learning that there are consequences to an American determination to develop "alternative" energy.  But Americans feel good about ethanol, right?  So good that ethanol production has been subsidized to the point where corn for energy has become more profitable than corn for food.  Of course, that means less corn being sold for human consumption.  And fields that have long produced other crops, such as wheat, are being converted to producing corn for biofuel use, further restricting food supplies.

W Goes Green?  Apparently, the president is considering how to push forward his "20-in-10" plan to reduce US consumption of foreign oil by 20% in 10 years.  So far that has meant a massive increase in the biofuel requirements, principally ethanol (mostly derived from corn, soy and palm oils).  Where these mandates go, plows and chainsaws follow.  So do deadly food riots and increasing unrest.

Global warming rage lets global hunger grow.  The UN says it takes 232kg of corn to fill a 50-litre car tank with ethanol.  That is enough to feed a child for a year.  Last week, the UN predicted "massacres" unless the biofuel policy is halted.

Ethanol:  More harm than good?  Research by Minnesota scientists is challenging the underpinnings of the biofuel rush.  Ethanol and similar products may do more harm than good because of the changes they bring to the landscape, some scientists say.

Biofuels Are Bad for Feeding People and Combating Climate Change.  Converting corn to ethanol in Iowa not only leads to clearing more of the Amazonian rainforest, researchers report in a pair of new studies in Science, but also would do little to slow global warming — and often make it worse.  "Prior analyses made an accounting error," says one study's lead author, Tim Searchinger, an agricultural expert at Princeton University.  "There is a huge imbalance between the carbon lost by plowing up a hectare [2.47 acres] of forest or grassland from the benefit you get from biofuels."

Advisory Panel to EU Environment Agency:  Suspend the biofuel directive.  Europe's well-meaning rush to biofuels, the scientists concluded, had produced a slew of harmful ripple effects — from deforestation in Southeast Asia to higher prices for grains.  In a recommendation released last weekend, the 20-member panel, made up of some of Europe's most distinguished climate scientists, called the 10 percent target "overambitious" and an "experiment" whose "unintended effects are difficult to predict and difficult to control."

Scientists Ask EU to Drop Biofuel Targets.  As part of a battery of measures officially aimed at addressing climate change, the EU's governments agreed in 2006 that 10 percent of the bloc's transport needs should derive from agricultural crops by 2020.  In a new paper, the European Environment Agency's scientific committee describes the goal as "overambitious" and recommends it should be suspended until a comprehensive study on the pros and cons of biofuels is completed.

Midwest floods send corn prices soaring past $8 a bushel.  Corn prices surged to a record Monday, with some contracts briefly topping $8 a bushel for the first time as traders bet that a major swath of this year's corn crop will be lost to Midwest flooding.

Cattle Farmers Pay Price for Ethanol Boom.  Record-high grain prices have been an economic boon for some Midwest farmers, but they're causing headaches in the cattle and beef-packing industries.  The higher cost of feed grain — which is driven by the growing demand for ethanol — is squeezing many small feedlots.

World Bank Chief:  Biofuels Boosting Food Prices.  Demand for ethanol and other biofuels is a "significant contributor" to soaring food prices around the world, World Bank President Robert Zoellick says.  Droughts, financial market speculators and increased demand for food have also helped create "a perfect storm" that has boosted those prices, he says.

The only factor in food inflation governments can control.  Food prices worldwide have risen dramatically in the past few years, due in part to a similarly dramatic rise in the amount of corn used for ethanol production in the United States.  Now, in an effort to make food less expensive, experts are calling for limits on ethanol production, subsidies for corn, and more incentives for biofuels made from nonfood sources.

Archer Daniels Meltdown.  You may have read about the high energy inputs necessary to squeeze corn and other materials and brew the mash into alcohol for biofuels; that it takes more energy to make the stuff than you end up with; and that the energy it takes to make it is mostly generated by burning petroleum.  And you've probably heard about the way increasing demand for alcohol fuels like E85 is driving up the cost of food.

Obama's Corn Fake:  Barack Obama says he represents change.  He also criticizes John McCain for trying to drill our way to energy independence to add to the profits of Big Oil.  But it's Obama who's playing politics by trying to plant our way to energy independence, buying votes with alternative fuel subsidies that benefit ethanol producers such as Archer Daniels Midland.

Media Revelation:  Ethanol is Causing Inflation.  Finally, the media are connecting the dots and realizing the push for alternative energy is taking a toll on the American economy.  The Labor Department reported on February 20 that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation reading, rose 0.4 percent in January, matching December's rise.  One of the culprits behind the spike — increased food costs because corn is being used for ethanol.

Food Riots Spread in Haiti, and Across the World, Fueled by Ethanol Mandates.  Food riots are occurring across the world as the world's breadbaskets shift from producing food to producing ethanol, making food scarcer and more expensive.  Ethanol subsidies and mandates encourage this, even though ethanol production causes an enormous amount of environmental damage, deforestation, and soil erosion, does not reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, and causes inflation.

Dueling demands for corn.  Ask John Van Pelt his thoughts on ethanol, and he's likely to pull out his adding machine and let the numbers speak for themselves.  Van Pelt, the manager of a cattle feedlot in this town 50 miles south of Amarillo, is now paying $215 a ton for cattle feed — double what he spent just three years ago.  With 20,000 cattle in his yard, that works out to about $25,000 per day, just in feed, and what could become several million dollars in added costs this year.

Skyrocketing corn prices hit ethanol profits.  The continuing surge in the price of corn, which is punishing households with higher food prices, is cutting the profits of American ethanol producers and playing havoc with an industry that was blamed for causing the grain shortage.  The price of a bushel of corn soared above $6 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last week, pushed higher by news that American farmers were planting less corn.

Food Crisis:  The Maze Behind Maize.  I enjoy baking, and "scratch" cornbread is my favorite kitchen oeuvre.  I use stone-ground corn meal, and the product is gluten-free — nix on the cup of wheat flour you'll find in many recipes.  My cornbread hobby isn't the only reason I watch the price of corn.  Gauging Mexican political stability is another.  Corn (maize, as the Mexicans correctly call it) feeds Mexico.  When corn prices rise, Mexico's poor must spend more to buy their staple.

Study warns of health risk from ethanol.  If ethanol ever gains widespread use as a clean alternative fuel to gasoline, people with respiratory illnesses may be in trouble.  A new study out of Stanford says pollution from ethanol could end up creating a worse health hazard than gasoline, especially for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

The Ethanol Fallacy.  The idea is so appealing:  We can reduce our dependence on oil — stop sending U.S. dollars to corrupt petro-dictators, stop spewing megatons of carbon into the atmosphere — by replacing it with clean, home-grown, all-American corn.  It sounds too good to be true.  Sadly, it is. … Our nation could wind up with the worst of both worlds:  an "alternative" energy that is enormously expensive yet barely saves a gallon of oil.

Ethanol Subsidies:  A "Scam" That Causes Starvation.  [Paul] Krugman, a liberal economist and critic of the Bush Administration, has long advocated government regulations and incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  But it is apparent even to him that ethanol subsidies are a destructive waste of money that will not reduce climate change.

Five Myths About Going It Alone on Energy:  The commercial viability of cellulosic ethanol is like the Tooth Fairy:  Many believe in it, but no one ever actually sees it.  After all, even with heavy federal subsidies, it took 13 years before the corn-ethanol sector was able to produce 1 billion gallons of fuel per year.  Two and a half decades elapsed before annual corn-ethanol production reached 5 billion gallons, as it did in 2006.  But now Congress is demanding that the cellulosic-ethanol business magically produce many times that volume of fuel in just 15 years.  It's not going to happen.

Ethanol Mandates Could Drive Up Food Prices, Enviros Say.  Environmental groups are backing away from federal biofuel and ethanol mandates.  While renewable fuel sources may reduce greenhouse gas emissions they also could raise food costs and cause shortages, critics say.  "We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history," Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, said in a statement.  "The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before."

Study:  Biofuels May Disperse More Greenhouse Gases Than Oil.  Corn-derived renewable energy sources create more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, according to a study from an international team of scientists reported in the London Times.

Rapeseed biofuel 'produces more greenhouse gas than oil or petrol'.  Rapeseed and maize biodiesels were calculated to produce up to 70 percent and 50 percent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels.  The concerns were raised over the levels of emissions of nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Scientists found that the use of biofuels released twice as much as nitrous oxide as previously realised.

Studies Say Biofuels May Increase Global Warming.  Biofuels may do more harm than good in the drive against "global warming," according to two new European studies.  Most biofuels cause more environmental damage than ordinary gasoline, according to a paper released this month by a team of scientists led by Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen.

Nitrous Oxide.  [Scroll down] Crutzen et al. (2007) … calculated the amount of N2O that would be released to the atmosphere as a result of using nitrogen fertilizer to grow crops to be converted to biofuels.  As they describe it, "all past studies have severely underestimated the release rates of N2O to the atmosphere, with great potential impact on climate warming," and they found that when the extra N2O emission from biofuel production is properly calculated, "the outcome is that the production of commonly used biofuels, such as biodiesel from rapeseed and bioethanol from corn (maize), can contribute as much or more to global warming by N2O emissions than cooling by fossil fuel savings."

Greenhouse Affect:  The ink is still moist on Capitol Hill's latest energy bill and, as if on cue, a scientific avalanche is demolishing its assumptions.  To wit, trendy climate-change policies like ethanol and other biofuels are actually worse for the environment than fossil fuels.  Then again, Washington's energy neuroses are more political than practical, so it's easy for the Solons and greens to ignore what would usually be called evidence.

Biofuels 'do more harm than good'.  Controversial plans to make cars greener by using fuel made from crops and animal fat will be thrown into doubt this week when MPs are expected to question whether they will do more harm than good.  Biofuels have been hailed as a green alternative to oil by some, but in the US, where there are massive plants converting maize (corn), it has been criticised for making food more expensive and being environmentally unfriendly.

Is Ethanol a Real Solution to Our Energy Woes?  The argument goes something like this — we have a lot of corn and if we turn it into fuel (ethanol), we won't need to import so much foreign oil.  But is this a realistic solution?  Will it significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil?  Does it make sense for government (both state and federal) to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize ethanol?  While ethanol and newer biofuel innovations hold great promise, the answer to these questions is currently, "No."

Environmentalists Voice Ethanol Concerns.  On September 20, Environmental Defense — an environmental activist group whose Web site encourages Americans to give up their gasoline-powered automobiles to curb global warming — issued a study raising concerns about gasoline's most viable competitor:  ethanol.  The group's report … claims the increasingly widespread use of ethanol as an automotive fuel is severely straining Midwestern water supplies.

Ethanol:  Government vs. the Environment.  Not only does ethanol hit taxpayers twice — first through subsidies and then through higher prices for corn and related products such as milk — it also harms the environment.

Ethanol fuels fire concerns.  The nation's drive to use more alternative fuel carries a danger many communities have been slow to recognize:  Ethanol fires are harder to put out than gasoline ones and require a special type of firefighting foam.  Many fire departments around the country don't have the foam, don't have enough of it, or are not well-trained in how to apply it, firefighting experts say.  It is also more expensive than conventional foam.

Missouri Mandates Ethanol in Gasoline.  Although many pumps don't announce it, almost all the gasoline sold in Missouri has contained a blend with 10 percent ethanol for at least the past several months.  A law taking effect Tuesday [1/1/2008] makes Missouri just the third state — behind Minnesota and Hawaii — to implement a wide-ranging ethanol mandate.  Because the corn-based fuel is cheaper than gasoline, most of Missouri's gas stations quietly made the switch months in advance.

A Greatly Expanded Ethanol Mandate.  The new energy bill includes a bevy of new programs aimed at creating a new industry based at ethanol made from sources other than corn, such as forest and field waste, switchgrass, and agricultural waste.  These second-generation biofuels are far from a proven technology.  According to a recent New York Times report, "No fuel of the type in question has been produced commercially in the United States."

Millions In Subsidies For Profitable Corn?  Even dried-out corn is money in the bank for a farmer who sells it to an ethanol plant.  But what really has critics angry is that corn farmers are also still getting automatic subsidy payments from the federal government.  Many get tens of thousands of dollars every year whether they need it or not.  The total cost to taxpayers is $2 billion a year.

Ethanol Loses Ground at U.N. Climate Conference.  Like many experts and economists, conference participants showed little enthusiasm for first-generation biofuels produced from agriculture — primarily from corn-based ethanol.  Biofuels are hitting consumers at the pump, at the grocery store, and even at tax time.  Without a doubt, the extremely high cost of biofuel production outweighs its supposed environmental benefits; biofuel production may actually harm the environment more than it helps.

Ethanol Bust Makes Losers of Bush, Gates, D.E. Shaw.  Ethanol, the centerpiece of President George W. Bush's plan to wean the U.S. from oil, is 2007's worst energy investment.  The corn-based fuel tumbled 57 percent from last year's record of $4.33 a gallon and drove crop prices to a 10-year high.

Ethanol push could threaten water supplies.  When it comes to solving the fossil fuel crisis, it seems like every silver lining comes accompanied by a dark cloud.  As attention turns more and more toward using corn and other products to produce ethanol for fuel, experts warn that increased production of these crops could pose a threat to the nation's water supplies.

Biofuels 'crime against humanity'.  The growth in the production of biofuels has been driven, in part, by the desire to find less environmentally-damaging alternatives to oil.  The United States is also keen to reduce its reliance on oil imported from politically unstable regions.  But the trend has contributed to a sharp rise in food prices as farmers, particularly in the US, switch production from wheat and soya to corn, which is then turned into ethanol.

Forget oil, the new global crisis is food.  At the centre of the imminent food catastrophe is corn — the main staple of the ethanol industry.  The price of corn has risen about 44% over the past 15 months, closing at $4.66 a bushel on the CBOT yesterday — its best finish since June 1996.  This not only impacts the price of food products made using grains, but also the price of meat, with feed prices for livestock also increasing. … Biofuels are expected to eat up about a third of America's grain harvest in 2007.

Rush for biofuels threatens starvation on a global scale.  Professor John Beddington put himself at odds with ministers who have committed Britain to large increases in the use of biofuels over the coming decades.  In his first important public speech since he was appointed, he described the potential impacts of food shortages as the "elephant in the room" and a problem which rivalled that of climate change.  "It's very hard to imagine how we can see the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food," he told a conference on sustainability in London yesterday [3/6/2008].

'Yes, we can grow corn' — but do we want to?  Last May, the field was sown and last week, it was harvested.  "It settled the friendly debate between the farmers that, yes, we can grow corn," said Brian Duggan, a crop physiologist with Oregon State University.  Beyond that, though, Duggan wanted to find out if it made sense for Jefferson County farmers to join the ethanol craze.  What he ultimately discovered was that someday ethanol might be lucrative and cost-efficient enough to cultivate in the farmlands of Central Oregon.  But, he said, that day isn't here yet.

Beware of Anti-Consumer Energy Bills On Tap in Congress.  Ethanol costs more than gasoline and provides fewer miles per gallon, so the mandate has hurt consumers.  Ethanol has also failed to deliver on its promise to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and decrease dependence on oil imports.  At the same time, the competition for corn between fuel and food uses has led to higher corn prices. ... If ethanol is as great as its proponents claim, then there is no need for a federal law forcing Americans to use it.

Farmers in Global Warming Alarmists' Crosshairs.  Will ethanol revenue compensate for the sacrifices that will be demanded of farmers?  The answer is not for long.  Corn is already obsolete as an ethanol feedstock.  According to the Houston-based CLEAN Energy group, Brazilian-grown sugarcane is more than five times more efficient at making ethanol than U.S.-grown corn.  Any serious ethanol market will funnel money to Brazil rather than to U.S. farmers.

Ethanol:  Time to steer away.  Enthusiasm for the corn-based fuel may be good for the political environment, but not for the physical one.  A new paper by The Heritage Foundation's Ben Lieberman road-tests the latest boondoggle from Washington and finds that its earth-friendly claims are seriously overblown.  So, too, is the notion that using more ethanol reduces oil imports and lowers prices at the pump.  Worse, increased ethanol use drives up other consumer costs.

The Many Myths of Ethanol.  When everyone in politics jumps on a bandwagon like ethanol, I start to wonder if there's something wrong with it.  And there is.  Except for that fact that ethanol comes from corn, nothing you're told about it is true.

The Great Corn Con:  The Senate's preposterous new ethanol bill.  Senators congratulated themselves for their environmental foresight.  The president, a biofuels advocate, has enthusiastically endorsed the ethanol surge.  But it's almost certainly a fantasy, since no one in Washington seems to have thought for five minutes about where or how that much ethanol could be produced.

Is Ethanol / E85 Fuel the Solution?  E85 fuel is not the solution.  It is not even a part of the solution, it is a part of the problem.  Here's why, in a nutshell:  All US vehicles can burn 10% ethanol (E10), but the US does not even produce half as much ethanol as universal E10 would require.  We make about 5 billion gallons of ethanol, but use 140 billion gallons of gas.  E85 and "flex fuel" is a loophole for the automakers to sell guzzlers without having to pay CAFE penalties.  It makes the problem worse.  Ending the loophole probably means ending E85, because there is no other reason for it to exist.

An Ethanol Reality Check.  Ethanol is on a roll, increasingly promoted as a homegrown alternative to oil from the Middle East.  But is ethanol really the fuel of the future, or is it destined to remain a niche product in the Midwest, subsidized by Congress for the benefit of farm-state politicians?

Crawford County ethanol plant still doesn't add up for experts.  According to [James] Dunn, who has been a member of the Penn State faculty since 1977, five factors determine the profitability of an ethanol plant:  the price of gasoline; the price of corn; the price of distiller's grains; whether the distiller's grains produced by the plant, which have a wet shelf life of three days in summer and six days in winter, can be sold wet; and the cost of transportation.  Drying the grain, the group learned, adds a substantial -- perhaps even prohibitive -- expense to the overall production cost of corn ethanol.

Ethanol is a bad idea.  The use of corn-based ethanol will likely result in a far greater negative than the positive that could result. ... The problem lies within the fact that, at this point, corn-based Ethanol is the main source of renewable and alternative fuel.  Increasing or mandating the use of ethanol will drastically increase the demand for corn, which, as a result, will jack up its prices.  It already has.

Bulging Grocery Bills Fed By Global Forces.  Demand for corn from the burgeoning ethanol industry in the United States helped drive corn prices to a peak earlier this year, setting in motion a domino effect of price increases through the food chain as livestock raisers, food makers and retailers tried to recover costs.  Corn prices have come off their high due to expectations for a huge crop this year, but prices remain historically elevated because of inflation across the agriculture market.  A bushel of corn that went for about $2 a couple of years ago costs about $3.50 today.

The end of cheap food.  For as long as most people can remember, food has been getting cheaper and farming has been in decline. … Food today is so cheap that the West is battling gluttony even as it scrapes piles of half-eaten leftovers into the bin.  That is why this year's price rise has been so extraordinary. … But the rise in prices is also the self-inflicted result of America's reckless ethanol subsidies.

Ethanol:  A Tragedy in 3 Acts.  If there were ever a time when the truth in advertising standards should be put back into place, it's now -- during the current (third) attempt to convince the public that the massive use of corn-derived ethanol in our gasoline supply will alleviate our need for foreign oil.  Ultimately, the answer to just one question determines ethanol's actual usefulness as a gasoline extender:  "If the government hadn't mandated this product, would it survive in a free market?"  Doubtful -- but the misinformation superhighway has been rerouted to convince the public its energy salvation is at hand.

Ethanol Hurts the Environment And Is One of America's Biggest Political Boondoggles.  The whole point of corn ethanol is not to solve America's energy crisis, but to generate one of the great political boondoggles of our time.  Corn is already the most subsidized crop in America, raking in a total of $51 billion in federal handouts between 1995 and 2005 — twice as much as wheat subsidies and four times as much as soybeans.  Ethanol itself is propped up by hefty subsidies, including a fifty-one-cent-per-gallon tax allowance for refiners.

The article above appears in Rolling Stone and is replete with profanity.  The quote shown here is enough to get the point of the article, so don't bother reading the whole thing.  The link is provided only to show that I'm not making this up on my own.

Hawaii ethanol law falls short of goals.  Hawaii imported 55.4 million gallons of ethanol in the 12 months since the state began requiring most gasoline sold in the Islands to be blended with the alternative fuel. … However, the mandate — which oil companies contend makes gasoline more expensive — has not made the Aloha State any more energy independent.  Lacking a local ethanol source, oil companies have been importing the grain-based fuel from countries such as El Salvador.

'Green' Energy Source a Major Polluter.  Call it green pollution.  The ethanol industry, which is marketed as environmentally friendly and has been called a "cornerstone of America's energy policy," is dirtying air and water supplies across the heartland, according to a Cybercast News Service investigation.  And industry watchers said pollution is going to get worse.

Ethanol stirring coastal concerns.  The recent passage of the mammoth energy bill could have unintended consequences for the Gulf of Mexico that have nothing to do with oil and gas platforms.  Under the law, production of ethanol is set to increase five-fold to 36 billion gallons a year by 2020.  Some environmentalists are worried that the shift to ethanol — viewed as a home-grown alternative to foreign oil — could enlarge the northern Gulf's "dead zone," an 8,000-square-mile area so devoid of oxygen that fish, shrimp and other sea life cannot survive.

Corn boom could expand 'dead zone' in Gulf.  Because of rising demand for ethanol, American farmers are growing more corn than at any time since World War II.  And sea life in the Gulf of Mexico is paying the price.  The nation's corn crop is fertilized with millions of pounds of nitrogen-based fertilizer.  And when that nitrogen runs off fields in Corn Belt states, it makes its way to the Mississippi River and eventually pours into the Gulf, where it contributes to a growing "dead zone" — a 7,900-square-mile patch so depleted of oxygen that fish, crabs and shrimp suffocate.

Ethanol boom may fuel shortage of tequila.  Mexican farmers are setting ablaze fields of blue agave, the cactus-like plant used to make the fiery spirit tequila, and resowing the land with corn as soaring U.S. ethanol demand pushes up prices.

What's next, a space shuttle fueled by ethanol?
Indy 500's corn-fed cars.  When drivers round the curves on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, they will be propelled by fuel produced not in the Middle East, but Middle America.  The Indianapolis 500 will for the first time feature cars running entirely on ethanol, a clean-burning fuel derived from corn and other crops.

Study show Ethanol-blend Auto Emissions are No Greener than Gasoline.  An unpublished [Canadian] federal report appears to undermine the belief that commercially available ethanol-blended fuel produces cleaner emissions than regular gasoline.

The Ethanol Mandate Should Not Be Expanded.  The new ethanol mandate is perhaps the most disappointing program in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  Since taking effect in 2006, this measure has increased energy and food prices while doing little to reduce oil imports or improve the environment.  Based on this track record, the Administration and Congress should now be debating the repeal of this ill-advised and anti-consumer measure.

Ethanol's Bitter Taste:  The shine is off corn ethanol, and oh, what a comedown it has been.  It was only in January that President Bush was calling for a yet a bijillion more gallons of the wonder-stuff in his State of the Union address, and Iowa's Chuck Grassley was practically doing the Macarena in his seat.  And why shouldn't Mr. Grassley and fellow ethanol handmaidens have boogied?  They'd forced their first mandate through Congress, corn farmers were rolling in dough, billions in taxpayer dollars were spurring dozens of new ethanol plants -- and here was the commander-in-chief calling for yet more yellow dollars.  All in the name of national security, too!

Ethanol to Take Big Bite of Record US Corn Crop.  The surging fuel ethanol industry will gobble up 27 percent of this year's US corn crop, challenging US farmers' ability to satisfy food, feed and fuel demand, the US government said Friday [5/11/2007].

Bush's ethanol dreams make corn a hot commodity.  When Americans fire up their grills for late summer barbecues over the next few weeks, a cloud will be hanging over them in the form of higher prices for steak, chicken and ribs.  The reason can be found in the rapid rise in the cost of corn, which is used not only as food for animals that provide meat, but also as an important basic ingredient used in the production of ethanol in the US.  President George W. Bush unleashed the new popularity of ethanol when he set a goal to lower US dependence on foreign oil.  The price of corn has shot up to nearly double 2005 levels in response to the increased demand.

Ethanol plan not working so far.  One year after the state began requiring motorists to use ethanol-blended gasoline, none of the planned local ethanol plants have broken ground, and questions remain over whether Hawaii can even grow the massive amount of crops needed to satisfy demands for the alternative fuel.

Rural boon or corn-doggle?  Call them Yuma's dot-corn guys.  Like the dot-com entrepreneurs of the 1990s, they're gambling big bucks on the next big thing.  But these farmers and investors are focused on ethanol, an alternative fuel that uses corn as its base. ... The ethanol rush reminds farmer Brett Rutledge of the Internet startups that made millions almost overnight, at least on paper.  But many also went bust.  Rutledge wonders how many ethanol businesses can succeed — and how soon they'll start spitting out cash.  "It's funny," Rutledge says.  "All of their money appears to be on paper."

Congress, White House to Push Ethanol.  Demand for ethanol for cars will attract enough support to lead to passage of a major farm bill next year, despite disagreement on subsidy payments for farmers, a key Democrat and the Republican agriculture secretary agreed Tuesday [12/12/2006].  Popularity of corn-based ethanol has soared because of high oil and gas prices.  But corn prices have risen so high, and surpluses have dropped so low, that lawmakers want to find other crops to make ethanol and keep the industry growing.

The Corn Threat:  The original Bush plan had accommodated the ethanol lobby's request for a three-billion gallon mandate — a provision justified by the "infant industries" argument, though by this time ethanol was a 30-year-old "infant" supported by more than 16 statutes granting it preferences and subsidies.  Through the congressional obstruction period of 2002-04, when Bush's energy plan was held political hostage, the renewable-fuels mandate was expanded to five-billion gallons in a consensus handshake agreement among all parties — ethanol makers, oil refineries, corn growers, and other stakeholders.

The Big Green Fuel Lie:  The ethanol industry has been linked with air and water pollution on an epic scale, along with deforestation in both the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests, as well as the wholesale destruction of Brazil's unique savannah land. ... Many biofuel crops, such as corn, are grown with the help of fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers, pesticides and the petrol for farm equipment.  One estimate is that corn needs 30 percent more energy than the finished fuel it produces.

Ethanol's Growing List of Enemies:  In the past year, corn prices have doubled as demand from ethanol producers has surged.  "This ethanol binge is insane," says [Paul] Hitch, who's president-elect of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA).

The biofuel myths:  [One of the myths is] Biofuels are clean and green.  Because photosynthesis performed by fuel crops removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and can reduce fossil fuel consumption, we are told they are green.  But ... Every ton of palm oil generates 33 tons of carbon dioxide emissions -- 10 times more than petroleum.  Tropical forests cleared for sugar cane ethanol emit 50 percent more greenhouse gases than the production and use of the same amount of gasoline.

Spaghetti is the latest victim of biofuel boom.  The humble plate of spaghetti, Italy's favourite dish, is set to soar in price, becoming the latest victim of the global rush on crops used for the biofuel industry.  The price of a packet of dried pasta in a supermarket will go up by a fifth from September, said Mario Rummo, the president of the Italian pasta-makers' union.

Dethroning 'Big Oil' to crown 'Big Corn'.  It pays to be friendly with the majority party in Congress.  The proof is in the new energy bill that recently passed the House during the Democrats' "100-hour" agenda.  The CLEAN Energy Act of 2007, a contrived political acronym for "Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation," has been portrayed as ending preferences for so-called "Big Oil" — a familiar victim on the left-wing's whipping post.  In truth, what the bill does is raise taxes to subsidize a lesser-known but growing conglomerate:  "Big Corn".

Corn Plunges 5% as U.S. Farmers Plan the Most Acres Since 1944.  Corn prices fell the maximum allowed by the Chicago Board of Trade after a government survey showed U.S. farmers plan to sow more of the grain than analysts expected this spring and the most since 1944.  Soybeans also dropped.  Corn acres will rise 15 percent from last year to 90.454 million, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Forget ethanol; save corn for bourbon.  Grandpa cooked corn into sour mash whiskey in a process nearly identical to the one used today to produce ethanol.  But while the feds chased Old Pap up hills and down hollers to stop him from running off a batch or two of home brew, the government this year will provide more than $7 billion in subsidies to encourage a massive expansion of ethanol production.  I think Jim Beam could do more good with that corn and money than the purveyors of E-85.

Study Shows Ethanol Won't Solve Energy Problems.  Ethanol is far from a cure-all for the nation's energy problems.  It's not as environmentally friendly as some supporters claim and would supply only 12 percent of U.S. motoring fuel … even if every acre of corn were used.

Should Greens Reconsider Ethanol Mandates?  Unfortunately, the American public does not yet understand the massive land requirements of U.S. corn ethanol, nor the unique conditions that have allowed sugar cane ethanol to make a modest energy contribution in Brazil.  The United States might have to clear an additional 50 million acres of forest — or more — to produce economically significant amounts of liquid transport fuels."  So much for tree-hugging.  Environmental activists would have us clear-cut U.S. forestland (which, to layer the irony, is supposed to help sequester carbon dioxide) for the sake of unsettled science and global warming alarmism.

Ethanol Hypocrites.  Only yesterday, we were hearing about the glories of ethanol as a renewable resource superior to oil because of its low carbon emissions.  Fill up with ethanol — help end global warming.  Bill Clinton was big on this, lobbying against offshore oil drilling in California in favor of big-government ethanol programs.  But now that [President] Bush, on a visit to Brazil on Thursday [3/8/2007], is launching a major alliance to develop ethanol, nobody in that camp is applauding.  Instead, we hear how sugar production for ethanol is trashing the otherwise forgotten rain forest and now adds to global warming.

One year later...
Clinton Link In Brazil Ethanol Probe.  A team from Brazil's Labor Ministry found "degrading" living conditions for 133 sugarcane workers employed by an ethanol company whose investors include former President Clinton and other high-profile financial players.  At five sites inspected, workers "complained they were suffering from hunger and cold, and all of the locations were overcrowded and with terrible sanitary conditions," according to a statement issued Friday [3/7/2008] by Jaqueline Carrijo, who led the inspections last month.

Bush Hails Biofuels Pact in Brazil.  At a mega fuel depot for tanker trucks, President Bush heralded a new ethanol agreement with Brazil Friday as way to boost alternative fuels production across the Americas.  Demonstrators upset with Bush's visit here worry that the president and his biofuels buddy, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, really have visions of an OPEC-like cartel on ethanol.

New prospect for US:  a glut of ethanol plants.  Ethanol production could pull so much corn out of the food supply by 2008 that US corn exports could plummet.  The food-fuel competition could push corn prices so high that some ethanol producers in the fledgling industry, which many deem vital to US energy security, would merely break even — or, if corn gets pricey enough, actually lose money.

Demand for ethanol driving up meat prices.  Strong demand for corn to use in ethanol plants is driving up the cost of livestock and will raise prices for beef, pork and chicken, the Agriculture Department said Friday [3/9/2007].  Meat and poultry production will fall as producers face higher feed costs, the department said in its monthly crop report.  Ethanol fuel, which is blended with gasoline, is consuming 20% of last year's corn crop and is expected to gobble up more than 25% of this year's crop.

Ethanol:  The Other Energy Scandal.  If only taxpayers could get some of their money back from a far bigger corporate energy fraud that continues unabated in Washington.

Environmentalism versus the Poor -- Again.  The current pro-ethanol fad in the United States apparently is a factor in making poor Mexicans cut back on corn tortillas, a dietary staple, says a January 27 Washington Post article by Manuel Roig-Franzia.

Tortilla crisis hits the poor as clean fuel drives up corn price.  Tens of thousands of farmers, trade unionists and consumers gathered in Mexico City's central square this week to protest against the rising price of the staple of the Mexican diet since pre-Hispanic times.  "No corn, no country," protesters chanted as they massed for the first big demonstration against [President] Calderón.  Workers on the minimum wage could now spend a third of their earnings on tortillas alone.

Ethanol and its unintended consequences:  Many Democrats and some Republicans applauded President Bush's State of the Union proposal for a 20 percent reduction in gasoline use over the next 10 years, largely through greater reliance on ethanol.  Mr. Bush's idea, however, is adding corn-based fuel to protests in Mexico City.  Existing federal laws that mandate ethanol in U.S. gasoline have diverted trainloads of corn from America's food supply-chain to ethanol factories.  This boosted U.S. corn prices nearly 80 percent in 2006.

Global warming's friendly fire.  Environmental fundamentalism is making the lives of the poor even worse in Mexico after triggering a huge rise in the price of corn — the chief component of the tortilla — thanks to a government-induced increase in the demand for ethanol in the United States.  This constitutes poignant evidence that the drive for carbon reduction can be costly.

Study warns of ethanol's effect on corn prices.  Soaring demand for corn to make ethanol could trigger higher U.S. food prices and riots in low-income countries as grain supplies tighten, according to a report released Thursday [1/4/2007].  The government has vastly underestimated the amount of corn needed to fuel the demand for ethanol, according to the report from Lester Brown, a researcher and president of the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington.  Corn is the main ingredient for ethanol, which is mixed with gasoline to make motor fuel.  A bushel of corn produces about 2.8 gallons of ethanol.

Clinton Shills For Bad Energy Policy.  Bill Clinton's back, now touting tax hikes for ethanol to California voters.  "If Brazil can do it, so can we," he said, claiming an ethanol switch ended Brazil's need for foreign oil.  Once again, he's telling whoppers.

Food-crop biofuels given thumbs down.  Producing biofuels such as ethanol from food crops isn't worth the effort.  That's the conclusion of a new and painstaking study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers should instead concentrate either on producing ethanol from indigestible plant material such as cellulose, or on synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.

Experts say Ethanol's Water Demands are a Concern.  City officials in Champaign and Urbana took notice when they heard that an ethanol plant proposed nearby would use about 2 million gallons of water per day, most likely from the aquifer that also supplies both cities.  "There was concern about impacting a pretty valuable resource," said Matt Wempe, a city planner for Urbana.  "It should raise red flags."

Shell Says Biofuels From Food Crops "Morally Inappropriate".  Royal Dutch Shell, the world's top marketer of biofuels, considers using food crops to make biofuels "morally inappropriate" as long as there are people in the world who are starving, an executive said on Thursday [7/6/2006].

Ethanol Benefits Makers, Legislators Who Support Their Cause.  More than two decades and tens of billions of dollars in subsidies, tax credits and fuel mandates have done little other than to further enrich Archer-Daniels Midland (ADM), the multibillion dollar agri-giant that produces more than 70 percent of the ethanol used in America.  In return, ADM has been a major campaign contributor to key farm state legislators in both political parties.

The Editor says...
Incidentally, the Department of Agriculture awarded $3,797,129,674 in federal contracts in fiscal year 2006, including $184,309,956 to the Archer Daniels Midland Company.*

A Congressional Waste of Energy:  One of the reasons why an energy bill has taken so long to craft is that every special interest imaginable has stuck its oar in.  For instance, both House and Senate versions of the current bill contain measures to mandate the addition of ethanol to gasoline.  Ethanol, largely derived from corn, costs much more than the equivalent amount of gasoline and provides less energy (which explains why Archer Daniels Midland and other ethanol producers need Washington to force its product on the driving public).  Gas prices have been rocketing over the past year and the ethanol provisions can only make matters worse.

Another Gallon of Pork:  Pork comes in all shapes and sizes.  Some of it is made out of corn.  Specifically, ethanol.  This is an environmentally correct fuel source that's not quite all it's cracked up to be.  Either as an energy saver or as a pollution saver.

Who Really Benefits From Ethanol?  Ethanol illustrates the workings of the political process when there is an entrenched, well-organized beneficiary, heterogeneous opponents with less at stake, and technical information that makes it difficult for general voters to assess the issue.  Unless a constituency emerges in whose interest it is to expose ethanol, or unless the costs of the subsidy rise substantially, this agricultural support program will continue.

House, Senate Vote to Double Ethanol Fuel Requirement.  The U.S. Senate on June 5 [2003] approved by a 67-29 vote a measure to double the ethanol requirement in the nation's gasoline.  Senate opposition to the measure came from East and West Coast legislators, who objected to the price hikes expected to result.  Their opposition surprised some observers, who noted the senators are typically willing to ramp up fuel prices by restricting the recovery of oil and other natural resources.  Meanwhile, the Senate continues to debate an energy bill that will provide billions of dollars in subsidies for even more costly energy sources with dubious environmental benefits, such as wind and solar power.

Ethanol mandate sparks Democrats' opposition.  Senate Democrats Feinstein, Clinton, Boxer and Schumer vehemently oppose the mandate.  The foursome offers several telling objections.  [For example] the ethanol mandate amounts to a "new gas tax" that could raise fuel costs 9.6 cents per gallon in California, 7.1 cents per gallon in New York, and 4.0 cents per gallon even in the Midwest states where 98 percent of the nation's ethanol is produced.  [And this] mandate is flagrant corporate welfare, transferring billions of dollars from working families to a handful of big companies.

Wait a minute -- she's changing her mind.
Sen. Clinton pitches ethanol energy plan.  Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday [5/23/2006] called for cutting U.S. dependence on foreign oil in half by nearly 8 million barrels a day by the year 2025 — a goal she said can be met with more ethanol-based fuel and a $50 billion research fund.

Hillary Clinton plugs increased ethanol use.  Sen. Hillary Clinton, who once opposed requiring motorists to use corn-based ethanol in their cars, proposed Tuesday to dramatically boost use of the alcohol fuel.

Naturally the Farm Bureau Supports the Ethanol Mandate.  Ethanol production is important to American agriculture because it uses farm commodities, particularly corn, thus increasing demand for the commodity.  Diesel fuel using soybeans and other farm product conversions are rapidly expanding the potential to increase commodity prices and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

It's Time to End the Ethanol Tax Credit.  If ethanol is as valuable as its proponents say, then the free market should determine its value without the distortion of a subsidy or a tax credit.  And if ethanol is less valuable than other alternatives, a subsidy weights it unfairly.

Ethanol FAQ:  A primer on ethanol as a fuel additive, the origins and purposes of the fuel oxygenation requirement, and a balanced consideration of the benefits and hazards of reformulating gasoline with ethanol.

Ethanol Requirements:  No tanks.  All lawmakers have to do is require that gasoline contain a given percentage of ethanol, and our gas-price problems won't be as bad.  Or so the theory goes.  The problem is, we've been doing this for years, and it's not working so well.  In fact, it's part of the reason gasoline prices are so high.

New Ethanol Plants to Be Fueled by Cow Manure.  The new facilities may have a big impact on the growing debate over the value of ethanol — a liquid fuel distilled from food starches such as corn — as a supplement or alternative to gasoline.  Critics have long argued that traditional ethanol production consumes nearly as much fossil fuel energy as it saves, once all the energy costs of growing and processing corn are factored in.

Colorado Legislature Debates Ethanol Mandate.  Free-market analysts are also split on ethanol, producers of which receive subsidies and tax credits from the federal government.  Some analysts, such as Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr, believe ethanol is a long-term winner with or without favorable government treatment.  Others, like the Cato Institute's Jerry Taylor, feel government is unfairly picking winners and losers in an economic matter best left to free markets.

Ethanol as gas replacement:  Hope or hype?  At the University of California at Berkeley, geoengineering professor Tad Patzek … says the American public has been force-fed the ethanol myth.  "The first thing that is untrue about it is that people think it's going to solve our energy problems," he said.  "It will not.  The second thing that is untrue about it is that people say it's sustainable — it absolutely is not."

Farming for Ethanol Would Have Serious Consequences for Forests, Food Production.  To make ethanol a significant U.S. fuel source will require clearing a tremendous amount of forestland and turning it into farms.  Supplying just 10 percent of our auto fuel with domestically produced ethanol right now would require us to burn up 55 percent of the corn crop currently being produced on 78 million high-yield U.S. acres.  From an economic standpoint, I believe America's current corn land is best employed in supplying corn flakes, tacos, and chicken feed for the world's families.

Taxpayers Should Be Alarmed by Proposals at Hawaii Biofuels Summit.  As a retired scientist I was dismayed by the lack of worthwhile engineering, scientific, or economic data being presented.  Little quantitative data was provided.  For example we consume today nearly 400,000,000 gallons of gasoline per day in the United States.  What fraction of this daily total gasoline used, will all of the biomass fuels being contemplated replace, 2 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent?  How much energy, land, water, fertilizers, and new infrastructure will be needed to do this?  And will it be worth it?  And says who?  One got the impression in the meeting that engineering and economic successes in biofuels were foregone conclusions for the future of this effort.

Ethanol Pollution Surprise:  Factories that convert corn into the gasoline additive ethanol are releasing carbon monoxide, methanol and some carcinogens at levels "many times greater" than they promised, the government says.

Ethanol fuel from corn faulted as 'unsustainable subsidized food burning' in analysis by Cornell scientist.  Neither increases in government subsidies to corn-based ethanol fuel nor hikes in the price of petroleum can overcome what one Cornell University agricultural scientist calls a fundamental input-yield problem:  It takes more energy to make ethanol from grain than the combustion of ethanol produces.  At a time when ethanol-gasoline mixtures (gasohol) are touted as the American answer to fossil fuel shortages by corn producers, food processors and some lawmakers, Cornell's David Pimentel takes a longer range view.

Archer Daniels Midland:  A Case Study In Corporate Welfare.  Thanks to federal protection of the domestic sugar industry, ethanol subsidies, subsidized grain exports, and various other programs, ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period.  At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government.  Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.

Ethanol Background and Public Policy Issues:  Ethanol is expensive relative to gasoline, but it is subject to a federal tax exemption of 5.3 cents per gallon of gasohol (or 53 cents per gallon of pure ethanol).  This exemption brings the cost of pure ethanol, which is about double that of conventional gasoline and other oxygenates, within reach of the cost of competitive substances.  In addition, there are other incentives such as a small ethanol producers tax credit.  It has been argued that the fuel ethanol industry could scarcely survive without these incentives.

The domino effect is coming to the grocery store:
Corn Prices Driving Up Ranchers' Costs.  The demand for ethanol has doubled the price of corn.  But with the third largest corn crop on record, prices should be going down.  "Cattle or horse feed that once had a lot of corn in it, now it's being substituted with oats and barley," said feed store retailer Sandy Olah, "and those prices are going up."  It's the corn prices that are hurting cattle ranchers. ... Corn prices have gone from $2 to $4 per bushel.

The Meat Tax:  Those who want to end global warming and our reliance on foreign oil often propose a massive "carbon tax" to make crude less appealing.  Don't look now, but you're already paying it.  By heavily subsidizing the use of ethanol, a fuel additive less efficient than gasoline and costlier to produce, Congress has, in effect, enacted a tax hike.

Green Myths:  Enviro 'Facts' that Aren't.  Alternative fuels can be as land-hungry as agriculture.  The typical 1,000 megawatt coal or nuclear plant might sit on a few acres.  To generate the same amount of electricity with renewables would require 60,000 acres for a utility-scale wind farm, or about 11,000 acres of photovoltaic cells capturing the sun's light.  Ethanol, too, can't be produced in the massive quantities required to make a significant dent in our gasoline consumption — and its production depends on vast tracts of farmland, too.

Biofuel repertoire expanded.  Ethanol has a number of problems, not least its low energy density, its volatility and its water-absorbing nature.  A potential alternative is 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF) with a 40% higher energy density, a boiling point 20°C higher than ethanol and a dislike for water.  But DMF has proven hard to make economically from crops and their sugars.  Until now that is.

(Ethanol is marketed in small quantites as Everclear.)

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