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Gas is a Gas


Mar 10, 2016
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Corn is good for you. Oil and gas are not good for you because when you burn them, it’s bad for the earth. So, we should burn corn instead. Indeed, the United States government is so sure of this, that they have been mandating the use of food for the gas tanks of our vehicles since 2005.

It turns out that the whole notion that burning biofuels is less harmful than burning oil might just be a load of cow manure.

“Despite their purported advantages, biofuels — created from crops such as corn or soybeans — cause more emissions of climate change-causing carbon dioxide than gasoline, according to the study from U-M Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco.”

“DeCicco's research challenges a premise at the foundation of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard: an assumption that biofuels are inherently carbon-neutral; that is, that the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere when biofuel is burned and an engine releases its exhaust is offset by the amount of carbon the corn or soybeans removed from the atmosphere during its growth cycle.”

Right off the bat, this seems like a reasonable premise challenge. After all, cow farts have been blamed for contributing to global warming. Surely we can all agree that cows are biofueled.

Biofuels worse for climate change than gas, U-M study says

The government forces farmers to sell some of their crops to make fuel. The amount of corn taken from supper tables to be put into engines instead has increased three fold since the fuel mandate began in 2005. You have to wonder. How many hungry children could be fed with over 13 billion bushels of corn?

It gets worse. How much food is being wasted because people won’t buy the biofuel mixtures in the first place. Why don’t the biofuels sell well? Many people simply don’t want to use the fuels, they don’t have special engines that can run on them, or don’t live in a region that stays warm all the time and want to avoid the fouling that happens to an engine running on watery biofuels in cold weather.

Truly, if biofuels are so great, why does the government have to force them on us?

“The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated the first requirement that renewable fuels be mixed into America’s gasoline supply, and the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act increased the quotas of the original mandate. By 2022, there must be 15 billion gallons (and no more) of corn-based ethanol and 21 billion gallons of non-corn biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply. In essence, the RFS mandates a market for corn farmers and biofuel producers, gives preferential treatment to the production of corn and soybeans, and artificially eliminates the risk and competition necessary for a healthy and growing economy.”

When government decrees what the market ought to be, things get more gunked up than an engine running on biofuels.

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had to cut the quota for cellulosic biofuel production in 2012 from 500 million gallons to 8.65 million gallons (1.73 percent of the original target) and recently had to withdraw the 2012 quotas because there is not enough cellulosic biofuel available on the market to meet the mandate.[2] Until 2012, no cellulosic ethanol had been produced because it was not commercially viable. In 2012, only 20,000 gallons had been produced—far short of the 8.65 million gallon revised target. Consequently, refiners had to pay millions of dollars in waiver credits or surcharges to comply with the EPA’s minimum volume requirements. Refiners pass those costs on to the consumer, further inflicting economic pain caused by the RFS. In January 2013, a Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA’s target was an “unreasonable exercise of agency discretion” and vacated the cellulosic ethanol requirement required by the RFS.[3]”

The Ethanol Mandate: Don’t Mend It, End It

Of course, we’re not really talking about the market. We’re talking about pretending biofuels will save the planet. Alas, the government hasn’t been successful at compelling enough of us to drive in cars that smell like French fries to meet their own made up quota.

OK. We want to reduce CO2 emissions. According to the UM study, biofuels not only don’t reduce CO2 but actually increase it. So biofuels are not the answer. What now? Well, the best way to reduce CO2 is to allow trees to do it, naturally. What should the government demand now? Order farmers to plant more trees and less food, of course!

We’d still have hungry children though.

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