Corn Ethanol, good news or boondogle?

28 Jun

I started reading what I thought might be an interesting study published by the US Ag Department in 1995, the title of which is Estimating the Net Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol.  Unfortunately, I got stuck on the Summary with the statement “Each gallon of ethanol produced domestically displaces 7 gallons of imported oil.”  I could only find one result on a Google search for “How much oil does it take to make one gallon of gas?” and admittedly I prefer not to use a Wiki response, but what can I say.  According to wiki.answer.com, it takes 2 gallons of oil to produce one gallon of gas. 

So, it appears that one gallon of ethanol replaces 3.5 gallons of gasoline.  This makes ethanol 350% more effecient that gasoline, right?  And yet, the same study concludes (and disagrees with Pimental’s 1991 study) that one gallon of ethanol has 125% of the btu’s that gas has. 

I don’t get it.  Is the study contradicting itself? 

Interestingly, there is a link prominent in the study to Governor’s Ethanol Coalition Homepage that appears 15 times, once after each section of the study.  What is the Governor’s Ethanol Coalistion?  “In September 1991, Nebraska’s governor asked other governors interested in creating a group devoted to the promotion and increased use of ethanol to join him in Lincoln, Nebraska. From that meeting, the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition emerged.”  The 2008 Coalition Chair is Rod Blagojevich, D-Illinios Governer since 2002.  Here is his record on Energy Independence and Security.

So, what are we to make of this?  Another boondogle and the expense of the tax-payer, in my humble opinion.

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3 Responses to “Corn Ethanol, good news or boondogle?”

  1. Check the fat content of food, the calorie count and the sugar content.

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  3. Joe Lovshe June 29, 2008 at 4:19 am #

    As someone who has worked in the biofuels industry you don’t have to be a Phd. to understand that a finite supply (food crop) cannot hope to satisfy an infinite demand (fuel) without creating extreme havoc in the market place. If the adage “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” we will soon see the crimiliziation of the use of food for fuel.

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