Thursday, December 07, 2006

Corn for Fuel

I've spent the morning doing research on ethanol because I plan on plowing through the snowstorm to attend the "Fuel for Thought" presentation this evening by the Cuyahoga Area League of Women Voters.

I have no idea what side of the fence the speakers are on. With any luck, there will be one 'pro' and one 'con' so we can have a lively discussion.

Here is what I found in my research.

The net energy gain from ethanol production from corn is a bit over what it takes to produce it. (Estimates from 1.3 to 1.67 units produced for every unit expended. The higher energy gain includes large on-site barns full of beef cattle to consume the distillers mash.)

Organic beef cattle raised in a humane manner on grass and legumes (not grain) contain more essential nutrients in the meat products than do feedlot beef cattle. Wellness Foods

The price of corn is going up.

The small net reduction of greenhouse gasses realized through ethanol replacement of fossil fuels will be eliminated (or worse) by the destruction of intact ecosystems for bio-fuel production.

The USDA is considering allowing land set aside for erosion control and water-quality improvement to be released to ethanol production.

The whole ethanol industry is based on the excesses of fuel needed to run non-fuel-efficient vehicles such as SUVs.

"Prodigious amounts" of natural gas will be used in the bio-fuel plants.

******** My conclusions & opinions ********

• Cattle raised in beef lots are less nutritious (than free range) and are not living enjoyable lives. Feeding captive animals the mash from ethanol production is cruel.
• Farmland would be better utilized in feeding the hungry. Even further, it is unethical to use farmland to support fuel gluttony.
• The converting of protected (CRP) land to farmland for bio-fuels will increase greenhouse gasses and is a serious case of shortsightedness.
• Natural gas prices for home-heating and industry will go up, so everything will cost more, all at the expense of fuel gluttony.
• Ethanol plants should, after the first batch of fuel is produced, be mandated to run totally on their own products. If they can't make it, they aren't worth it. Of course they wouldn't be worth it. No business can run on that slim a margin.

The answer?
Conservation, fuel efficiency, and renewable energy sources that are more sensible and ethical.

4 Comments:

Blogger SimplyTim said...

Kristen,

Interesting. I've heard that the only way that the process can really work is with government subsidies. Hardly a solution in either the short term or the long term. Follow the money.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Yeah, thanks for pointing that out. None of that, either, for something that makes no sense. We do have to look to the future by taxing the oil products, all of them, including (or banning throw-away) plastics, to fund research and development of energy efficient technology, real (rather than make-work) alternatives, and education so people realize what is really going on.

Currently it IS all about the money.

Thanks for your comment.

10:05 AM  
Blogger K-Oh said...

Sad how our government-- especially THIS government-- never promotes conservation. Never, not even in its mildest, most convenient forms.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Seo Link Master said...

increase miles per gallon, fuel saver, increase gas mileage

8:09 AM  

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