The main thing I have against Donald Trump is that he supports the stupid ethanol mandate.
Some mainstream environmentalists are opposing ethanol, supposedly the greenest biofuel?
As it turns out, corn ethanol isn’t all that green.
- Corn ethanol is at best a marginal gain in energy over the energy required to produce it.
- Corn ethanol has less than a 20% greenhouse gas advantage over conventional hydrocarbon fuels. (As the article documents, the EPA had to cook the books with unreasonably high crop yield estimates and unreasonably low corn prices to make the greenhouse numbers work.)
- Nitrogen fertilizer runoff pollutes drinking water supplies to potentially hazardous levels in cities like Des Moines, IA.
- Fertilizer runoff causes an annual dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico due to oxygen-depleting algae blooms; this year’s dead zone covered 6,500 square miles, an area the size of Connecticut.
- High corn prices and ethanol demand have driven the cultivation of marginal crop land — land which is not well-suited to corn production — which means low crop yields and high levels of erosion.
The ethanol programs may have originated for the best of intentions. However, the assumptions underlying those intentions are questionable, at best. The idea that adding ethanol to gasoline will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and dangers of catastrophic climate change is bunk. Many studies have found that ethanol in car and truck fuels actually increases airborne ozone levels. How much fossil fuel do you think they have to burn to convert corn oil into ethanol?
Everyone hates ethanol except the corn growers. People are paying extra to buy gasoline without it. It will ruin the engine in older model cars. Boats, lawn mowers and lawn and garden tractors, and many other gasoline powered equipment will not even run on it.
So why do we still produce ethanol? Very simple; the corn growers are a very large block of voters, so politicians want to keep them happy. There is a way to have your cake and eat it too. The solution is to discontinue ethanol and use all that corn oil to produce bio-diesel fuel.
Ethanol is very expensive to produce. It’s like making corn whiskey. First there is the fermentation process which produces alcohol. Them comes the distilling process, which requires a lot of heat.
Bio-diesel on the other hand is very simple and inexpensive to produce. You simply blend the corn oil with diesel fuel, no fermentation or distilling required. And, unlike ethanol, diesel engines actually run better and cleaner on bio-diesel.
Willy Nelson tried to point this out years ago, but the environmental wackos thought they knew best, so we just keep paying extra to get gas without the engine damaging ethanol.