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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ethanol: Corporate Welfare for Farmers

A large part of the political support for ethanol--for mixing requirements, CAFE credits, and outright subsidies--is old fashioned "special interest" pandering, nest feathering, corporate welfare.

One aspect of this farmer protection program is the import tariff on ethanol. Currently, ethanol imports are taxed at a whopping $0.54/gal (per gallon!). The effect of this is to protect the domestic ethanol producers, and to keep ethanol expensive. But it isn't the "family farm" that is being protected--the big winners are the huge producers of ethanol, corn, and seed--companies like Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland.

This doesn't make much sense for the bigger picture. Ethanol derived from corn and soybeans is much less energy efficient than ethanol derived from sugarcane, according to a Wall Street Journal article I just read. Corn has an ethanol energy factor of 1.3 (1.3 BTU's out for every BTU it took to produce), while sugarcane has an efficiency of a whopping 8.

If our priorities are to reduce our use of oil, we should be working on getting the cheapest ethanol possible. I guess we'll find out what the priorities of the New Democrat Congress are soon enough--pork, or oil?

1 comment:

MadHatter said...

Whoa, Hoss!

Back when the Dems controlled EVERYTHING, Alcohol was the fuel of choice: I had a REALLY tired '37 Chevy with a lever on the carb to selct between Alcohol and Ethyl when I was in High School... Careful, Sprout, I could be yer Daddy.

When the 'Revenooers' were chasing the Hillbillies that became NASCAR, it wasn't because the Amercans were a bunch of drunken sots, it WAS because they burned the likker in their cars... "... Look Ma, no GAS STATIONS..." back in the 20's and 30's, and the Oil Companies were not getting their cut of the action. And the Dems whine about George DubbleYah having a connection to Big Oil, eh?

Sugar potatoes and ANY grain stock not only make for a decent fuel, (a little hard to start in cold weather) but a fair sipping stock as well... and the btu to btu trade is about 6.

Drink up, Shriners! and pour a double for my 'Vette...