Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ethanol: Time to steer away

“The jump in ethanol use certainly didn’t come about because of a groundswell of popular demand; it came about, like so many bad ideas, because of a government mandate. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required that 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel (mostly ethanol) be added to the gasoline supply last year. It goes up to 4.7 billion this year and to 7.5 billion in 2012. But ethanol lowers fuel economy—according to the Department of Energy, a gallon of ethanol contains only two-thirds the energy content of a gallon of gasoline. And you’re actually paying more for less performance. It’s difficult... to transport ethanol from its Midwestern home base to far-off markets, and that adds to the price you pay at the pump. Ethanol can’t be sent in an energy-efficient way through pipelines like gasoline can, because it would be contaminated by moisture along the way. Ethanol must be shipped instead by trucks, barges and railroads. And that brings us to ethanol’s environmental impact. After all, shipping by truck, barge or rail uses... well, fossil fuels. So the more ethanol we move, the more fossil fuel we use—which, Al Gore and Company tell us repeatedly, spews the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. In addition, all that extra corn farming means more fertilizer and pesticide use, along with increased irrigation. More diesel fuel will be needed to run the tractors and the harvesters. In the end... ethanol may wind up putting about as much carbon dioxide into the air as it takes out. So, from an environmental perspective, we’ll be paying more to more or less maintain the status quo.” —Rebecca Hagelin
We've been suspicious of ethanol for quite a while. This editorial makes sense, and it is well researched. Check it out!

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