The Fourteenth Banker Blog

January 15, 2011

Ethanol

Filed under: Running Commentary — thefourteenthbanker @ 5:20 PM

Does humanity have the ability to be intentional in its evolution?  Consider this.

Forcing consumers to use domestically produced ethanol is one of the single biggest boondoggles ever committed by the corrupt brainless twits in Washington DC. Ethanol prices have soared 30% in the last year as the supplies of corn have plunged. Only a policy created in Washington DC could drive up the prices of gasoline and food, with the added benefits of costing the American taxpayer billions in tax subsidies and killing people in 3rd world countries.

The grand lame duck Congress tax compromise extended a 45-cent incentive to ethanol refiners for each gallon of the fuel blended with gasoline and renewed a 54-cent tariff on Brazilian imports. The extension of these subsidies, besides costing American taxpayers $6 billion per year, has the added benefit of driving up food costs across the globe, causing food riots in Tunisia, and resulting in the starving of poor peasants throughout the world.

What are the economics of Ethanol?

Ronald R. Cooke, author of Oil, Jihad & Destiny,created the chart below to estimate the true cost for a gallon of corn ethanol. Cooke describes a true taxpayer boondoggle:

It costs money to store, transport and blend ethanol with gasoline. Since ethanol absorbs water, and water is corrosive to pipeline components, it must be transported by tanker to the distribution point where it is blended with gasoline for delivery to your gas station. That’s expensive transportation. It costs more to make a gasoline that can be blended with ethanol. Ethanol is lost through vaporization and contamination during this process. Gasoline/ethanol fuel blends that have been contaminated with water degrade the efficiency of combustion. E-85 ethanol is corrosive to the seals and fuel systems of most of our existing engines (including boats, generators, lawn mowers, hand power tools, etc.), and can not be dispensed through existing gas station pumps. And finally, ethanol has about 30 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline. That means the fuel economy of a vehicle running on E-85 will be about 25% less than a comparable vehicle running on gasoline.

Real Cost For A Gallon Of Corn Ethanol

Corn Ethanol Futures Market quote for January 2011 Delivery $2.46
Add cost of transporting, storing and blending corn ethanol $0.28
Added cost of making gasoline that can be blended with corn ethanol $0.09
Add cost of subsidies paid to blender $0.45
Total Direct Costs per Gallon $3.28
Added cost from waste $0.40
Added cost from damage to infrastructure and user’s engine $0.06
Total Indirect Costs per Gallon $0.46
Added cost of lost energy $1.27
Added cost of food (American family of four) $1.79
Total Social Costs $3.06
Total Cost of Corn Ethanol @ 85% Blend $6.80

 

The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year.

So what is going on in the rest of the world? According to this journalist, we are getting to the point where there will not be enough food, period. It is not a matter of surpluses in one place and shortages in another. We are looking at the possibility of shortages, period.

So is our ethanol policy wise? Or is it a result of the power of politics and business?

Do we have the ability to evolve and be intentional to bring about change in these power dynamics and institute sensible policies?

 

 

 

2 Comments »

  1. Great post. I’m glad you touch on these topics at times as they are just as important as anything in the financial world (and very connected). Our policy on ethanol never made sense and it’s good to see people starting to realize that.

    Comment by tarpfunds — January 15, 2011 @ 9:15 PM | Reply

  2. Not only that, it drops your mileage – or it did mine – by at least 2-3 mpg.

    Comment by Sandi — January 18, 2011 @ 3:41 PM | Reply


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