Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Ethanol Scam

Following a speaking engagement in Denver, an audience member forwarded this article on to us. Not only does the piece align with much of what we post here on the CARE Blog, it also introduced us to a new source—one you might be interested in: To the Point.

Additionally, in this posting Dr. Jack Wheeler offers a nice concise summary of the current ethanol situation, some stock advice, and a new word! Read on. We think you’ll want to pass this one on to all your friends. Of course, we believe that about everything we post—otherwise we not bother to share it with you. We liked it. We hope you do too!

A Roman Holiday for Ethanol
The Germans have a word for it: schadenfreude (shay-din-froy-deh). It means someone being happy over someone else being unhappy. The only English equivalent is the term "Roman holiday," referring to the happy excitement Romans got over gladiators' suffering in the Colosseum.

It says a lot about us that we don't even have a word for this terrible and all too-common emotion. Yet all of us have probably experienced it at one time or another, and right now it's hard to resist it regarding folks who are biting the financial dust with ethanol.

Ethanol has always been a ludicrous rip-off. Ethanol combustion is carcinogenic (cancer-producing). It releases known carcinogens into the atmosphere: acetaldehyde, and peroxy-acetyl-nitrate/nitrite/nitrile, three powerful eye and lung irritants.

The argument that ethanol reduces tailpipe emissions is a fraud. With a modern car engine's oxygen sensors and computer-controlled fuel injection, there's no difference in CO (carbon monoxide) coming out your tailpipe with regular gas or ethanol.

Ethanol has only 2/3 the energy of regular gas, so you get 1/3 less energy per gallon, which means it adds 33% to the gas-per-mile cost of driving. But there's also the cost of ethanol transport, which is by truckload or railroad, much higher than by oil pipeline (which ethanol can't use because it can't handle any water contamination like oil can).

But corn farmers and Big Ag outfits like Archer-Daniels Midland wanted to scam taxpayers, so they forced ethanol mandates on us all so the gas in our car has to contain the stuff, and scammed us out of tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies because ethanol can't be produced for a profit without them.

It sure is wonderful to see anyone who benefited from this scam now losing their shirt.

As this recent story, Ethanol Boom Is Running Out of Gas, in the Wall Street Journal details, the glut of ethanol plants has caused a collapse of ethanol prices while the price of the corn from which it is made is rising. Thus many ethanol companies are now "under deathwatch."

So of course, the corn farmer lobby and ethanol producers are screaming for more subsidies from Congress.

They won't get them because a Nobel Prize winner has just pounded in the final nail in ethanol's coffin.

No - not the phony you just thought of, a real Nobel Laureate. Paul Crutzen of Holland is one of the world's premier atmospheric chemists who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995. He is currently a research professor in the Department of Atmospheric Chemistry at the Max Planck Institute in Mainz, Germany.

The most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal in his field is the Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics. Crutzen and his colleagues have just published in it a bombshell that blows up the enviros' case for ethanol, entitled N2O release from agro-biofuel production negates global warming reduction by replacing fossil fuels.

The study focused on N2O or nitrous oxide (the dentists' "laughing gas") as a proxy for overall greenhouse gas emissions as it is 300 times more insulating than carbon dioxide.

The study's summary states:
When the extra N2O emission from biofuel production is calculated in "CO2-equivalent" global warming terms, and compared with the quasi-cooling effect of "saving" emissions of fossil fuel derived CO2, the outcome is that the production of commonly used biofuels, such as bioethanol from corn, can contribute as much or more to global warming by N2O emissions than cooling by fossil fuel savings.

How much more? Corn-based ethanol produced in the US has 50% more of a global warming effect than conventional gasoline.

This is stone-hard real science research by world class scientists. Watch the fireworks when Sen. Jim Inhofe unloads the science that ethanol increases global warming on the floor of the Senate, and puts it up on his blog that gets 100,000 hits a day. Watch how many doors to Senators' offices in the Russell, Hart, and Dirksen Buildings will be closed to ethanol lobbyists.

Goodnight, ethanol subsidies. Time to short ADM stock. Time for a Roman holiday with the corn lobby. Yes, sometimes schadenfreude is hard to resist.

Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler

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