Wednesday, March 02, 2005

is ethanol a rathole?

From the Chester Sun Times:
Expanding on his commitment to Illinois’ emerging biofuel industry, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced nearly $1 million in Opportunity Returns funding for upgrades at the National Corn-To-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus.
Everybody wants ethanol to emerge as alternative to fossil fuels. Environmentalists, farmers, agri-business and people that want to reduce reliance on foreign oil (especially from the Middle East) all want ethanol to work.

But just wanting something for Christmas doesn't mean that Santa's gonna bring it.

This is from page 51 of an analysis of ethanol by Tadeusz W. Patchek (pdf) at University of California Berkeley (2003).
So What Have We Achieved?

We have
* Burned more fossil fuels than the energy content of the ethanol from corn
* Degraded and eroded the soil on millions of acres
* Polluted surface and groundwater with nitrates, herbicides, pesticides and ethanol waste
* Polluted air with CO, NOx, SO2, VOC, etc.
* Wasted $ billions of taxpayers’ money
* Devised a terrible solution to air quality problems
The feds are still giving matching money ($2 million to match $1 million by the state), but at some point we need to be realistic and acknowledge ethanol is not going to solve the world's energy problems.


Blogger DownLeft said...

Blagojevich has a lot of blunders but this isn't one of them. If you check out the credentials of the author of the slide show you linked you'll find that his research is funded by the oil and petroleum industries. Funny how people funded by those industries always condemn ethanol.

"UC Oil Consortium, Directed by Prof. Tad W. Patzek

Mission: Conduct cooperative research with Industrial Partners, and provide laboratory and training services for the global oil&gas and related industries."

I'm sure the oil and gas industries felt this anti-ethanol slide show was a very cooperative service considering the threat it presents to their bottom line.

One source of funding for this consortium is "Industrial gifts of $60-120K per year per company." I might have more faith in a study that wasn't paid for by people who have a financial interest in beating ethanol.

Also, when the federal government stops spending billions of dollars per year to subsidize the oil and gas industry then I'll start worrying about the chump change that gets spent on ethanol.

11:26 PM  

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