Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ethanol Subsidies and Production

Time for more "real" debate on energy alternatives. Our Senator from Iowa, Charles Grassley, has been a huge proponent of ethanol and there is no arguing that it has been a good thing for putting cash in midwest farmers' pockets, but at what cost to our environment again? And is it really doing anything to help ween us off fossil fuels?

True cost economics says no way. We continue to put our soil resources to maximum use sending top soil down stream along with more farm chemicals creating a bigger dead zone in the Gulf, growing a renewable food source for unnecessary energy offsets and all the time subsidizing this with billions of taxpayer dollars.

Really people, time for some efficiency. Drill baby drill is not the answer, nor is ethanol, nor are more nuclear plants, coal plants. Efficiency and conservation are the bridges we need now. Better fuel efficiency, for example. An increase of 1 mpg fuel efficiency offsets all the potential oil which could be extracted from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and then we not only keep the refuge pristine, we keep that oil as a real strategic reserve for a time when it may be truly needed not just to keep us in "cheap" gas and oil.

From the Des Moines Register opinion page article on Grassley's ethanol argument:

Energy Security, by the Environmental Working Group

"In 2010 America burned about 12.8 billion gallons of ethanol. But since a gallon of ethanol yields one-third less energy than gasoline, we reduced gasoline consumption only 8.7 billion gallons. We could achieve the same degree of "security" at no cost to taxpayers by increasing average fuel efficiency by just 1.5 miles per gallon. Simply keeping tires properly inflated would do that. The $5.8 billion a year that taxpayers give oil companies to blend ethanol with gasoline buys no real security gains."

This is an example of the real and bigger discussion which needs to take place around energy issues.

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