Time To Rethink The Ethanol Thing

On Friday WattsUpWithThat posted an article about biofuels. It seems that the use of biofuels instead of carbon fuels is not as kind to the environment as originally thought.

The article reports:

Statements about biofuels being carbon neutral should be taken with a grain of salt. This is according to researchers at the University of Michigan Energy Institute after completing a retrospective, national-scale evaluation of the environmental effect of substituting petroleum fuels with biofuels in the US. America’s biofuel use to date has in fact led to a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, says lead author John DeCicco in Springer’s journal Climatic Change.

The use of liquid biofuels in the transport sector has expanded over the past decade in response to policies such as the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). These policies are based on the belief that biofuels are inherently carbon neutral, meaning that only production-related greenhouse gas emissions need to be tallied when comparing them to fossil fuels.

This assumption is embedded in the lifecycle analysis modelling approach used to justify and administer such policies. Simply put, because plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, crops grown for biofuels should absorb the carbon dioxide that comes from burning the fuels they produce. Using this approach, it is often found that crop-based biofuels such as corn ethanol and biodiesel offer at least modest net greenhouse gas reductions relative to petroleum fuels.

There is also research showing that ethanol damages engines. As the government attempts to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline, the potential damage to car, boat, motorcycle and other engines should be considered. It would also be wise to consider the fact that biofuels are not carbon neutral.

Meanwhile, Power Line reported today that the reports of the ‘warmest month ever’ that periodically show up in the media are not based on sound science.

Power Line reports:

We are living in a relatively cool era. Temperatures today are lower than they have been something like 90% of the time since the last Ice Age ended 12,000 or so years ago. In fact, “ever” means since approximately the 1880s, when thermometer records became widespread. As it happens, that was also around the time when the Little Ice Age ended, so–happily!–the Earth is a bit warmer now than it was then.

One of the many problems with global warming hysteria is that it is based on the surface temperature record since the 1880s, which is deeply flawed when it is not outright falsified by alarmists who control the historical records. This happens often, as we and others have documented.

The article at Power Line explains why the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is using faulty data in its reports:

Actually, the explanation is political. The IPCC was explicitly established by the U.N. for one purpose only, to “study” the impact of human-emitted CO2 on global temperatures. This was for the purpose of justifying government control over industry worldwide. Anyone who is interested in science rather than left-wing politics relies on the satellite data, which are transparent and have not been “adjusted” by political activists.

The United Nations has forgotten that its original mission was to encourage democracy and world peace. It has morphed into an organization run by a cadre of dictators who would like to extort money from countries who have prospered because of their freedom. The climate change information that is coming from the United Nations is part of that effort.

When The Science Doesn’t Agree With The Politics

Associated Press posted a story today about a recent government study about the use of biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants. The study showed that these biofuels release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with gasoline.

The article reports:

While biofuels are better in the long run, the study says they won’t meet a standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuel.

The conclusions deal a blow to what are known as cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law. About half of the initial market in cellulosics is expected to be derived from corn residue.

Note–the “cellulosic biofuels have received more than a billion dollars in federal support.” That is obscene. America would have a better chance of finding alternative fuels if we allowed private industries to develop them and make a profit from the research.

The article concludes:

Still, corn residue is likely to be a big source early on for cellulosic biofuels, which have struggled to reach commercial scale. Last year, for the fifth time, the EPA proposed reducing the amount required by law. It set a target of 17 million gallons for 2014. The law envisioned 1.75 billion gallons being produced this year.

“The study says it will be very hard to make a biofuel that has a better greenhouse gas impact than gasoline using corn residue,” which puts it in the same boat as corn-based ethanol, said David Tilman, a professor at the University of Minnesota who has done research on biofuels’ emissions from the farm to the tailpipe.

Tilman said it was the best study on the issue he has seen so far.

Alternate fuels are somewhere in our future, but they are not currently ready for prime time. It’s time to get the government out of the energy business, build the Keystone Pipeline and get on with it.

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A Wise Decision By A Court

The Daily Caller is reporting today that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot force refiners to use cellulosic biofuels, which aren’t commercially available.

The article reports:

The court sided with the country’s chief oil and gas lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, in striking down the 2012 EPA mandate that would have forced refineries to purchase more than $8 million in credits for 8.65 million of gallons of the cellulosic biofuel. However, none of the biofuel is commercially available.

The decision applies to the cellulosic biofuel which is currently not commercially available–it does not apply to  EPA regulations regarding other renewable fuels, like ethanol and biodiesel.

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Your Tax Dollars At Work

It is no secret that one of the priorities of the Obama Administration is green energy. The problem with green energy is that we do not yet have the technology to make it cost effective. I suspect we will have that technology within the next thirty years, but we do not have it now. However, that has not stopped the government from using it when it is entirely impractical to do so.

Reuters posted a story today about the U. S. Navy‘s latest foray into the world of green energy.  The “Great Green Fleet,” the first carrier strike group to be powered largely by alternative fuels, is currently headed to the central Pacific in an effort to prove that bio-fuels are as effective as conventional fuels.

There is, however, a problem. The article reports:

Some Republican lawmakers have seized on the fuel’s $26-a-gallon price, compared to $3.60 for conventional fuel. They paint the program as a waste of precious funds at a time when the U.S. government’s budget remains severely strained, the Pentagon is facing cuts and energy companies are finding big quantities of oil and gas in the United States.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the program’s biggest public booster, calls it vital for the military’s energy security.

We need to understand that green energy will become cost effective and practical when the free market is allowed to develop an effective green fuel. Meanwhile, throwing money at solar panel manufactures that go bankrupt and rewarding political cronies who are involved in green energy simply slows down the progress toward practical and inexpensive green energy. If energy independence is so important to the Obama Administration, why did they veto the Keystone Pipeline, close down coal-powered electric plants, and slow down permits for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

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When Government Needs Money It Abandons Common Sense

On Friday Hot Air  reported that in 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined auto fuel producers $6.8 million in penalties for not blending gasoline with cellulosic ethanol, an environment-friendly distillate of wood chips, corn cobs, and switch grass. Why are the oil companies not blending the gasoline with cellulosic ethanol–because it is not yet commercially available! The oil companies are being fined for not using a fuel that does not yet commercially exist. Obviously these fines add to their costs. The oil companies then pass those extra costs on to the consumer. Simply amazing! 

Please follow the link above to Hot Air and read the story. It is another examply of why we need less government and more common sense. The problem is not the oil companies–it’s the government.

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