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Anything But Oil

The 2009 EIA Energy Conference is history, and I will write a summary as soon as can. One of the things I commented on today is that I am concerned about the path we are headed down on our domestic oil and gas industry – and if things don’t go according to plan it will mean more dependence on OPEC. A great line by Paul Sankey today (he had many) was that the policy imperative seems to be “Anything but oil.”

I really do understand the desire to move away from oil. A portion of my career has been devoted to developing replacements for petroleum. But as I said today, I am also a realist. Let’s suppose for a second that the following happens. Policies are put into place that hasten the downfall of our domestic oil and gas industry. Marginal wells become uneconomic and are shut in. According to Morgan Downey in Oil 101 there are 500,000 producing oil wells in the U.S., 80% of which produce 10 bpd or less. Yet those 10 bpd wells account for 20% of U.S. production. What happens if we put these marginal producers out of business?

Some of you will say “That would be great. That’s what we need to combat climate change.” OK, I respect that opinion. However, there is now a shortfall in production to deal with. We either reduce demand or we have to find something renewable to fill the void. Right now, I don’t see anything that can fill even a 10% shortfall in U.S. production in the next few years. So that means either higher prices or some incentives (paid for by higher taxes) will be needed to reduce demand (and I don’t think that’s a bad thing) or we will become even more dependent upon OPEC – the outcome that I think is most likely in this scenario.

Robert Bryce* – author of Gusher of Lies which was the other book I mentioned today – just wrote a provocative essay that touches upon this theme of declaring war on our domestic oil and gas industry. He notes that while it is seemingly a great idea to have Treasury Secretaries from Wall Street, being from the energy industry almost immediately disqualifies a person from being energy secretary:

Let Exxon Run the Energy Dept.

This is stunning. At the same time that the Treasury Department has begun looking like a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs and the other Wall Street mega-firms that are too big to fail, the top leadership at the Department of Energy remains a bastion of anything-but-Big Oil. “It’s the mythology of the Beltway,” one Houston energy analyst told me recently. “You are hopelessly compromised if you are anywhere close to the oil industry.”

Bryce runs through the history of our Energy Secretaries:

A Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Chu has experience in energy-related issues, including his job as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, but he’s never been in the energy business.

Jimmy Carter named James Schlesinger—an apparatchik with no history in the energy sector—as the nation’s first Energy secretary.

Ronald Reagan claimed he was going to dismantle the Department of Energy. His pick for Energy secretary was James B. Edwards, a man who understood drilling—he was a dentist.

Bill Clinton’s choices for the top Energy spot were: Hazel O’Leary, a lawyer; Federico Pena, another lawyer; and finally Bill Richardson, a politico and diplomat.

George W. Bush’s choices to head the Department of Energy included Spencer Abraham, a lawyer who’d just lost his seat in the U.S. Senate, and Samuel Bodman, an engineer whose professional career was in investments and chemical production.

I understand that there are many who still think if we can only run Exxon out of town, we will live happily ever after in a low-carbon, renewable world. I would just warn against the law of unintended consequences, as it is quite possible that Chu’s pleas to OPEC to keep production flowing will take on a more urgent tone if we pursue the extinction of our domestic oil and gas industry.

* Incidentally, if you guessed based on his views on energy, you would probably incorrectly guess Bryce’s political leanings. And if you want to be disabused of the notion that he is involved in the oil industry, read the book he wrote called Cronies: Oil, The Bushes, And The Rise Of Texas, America’s Superstate.

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April 9, 2009 - Posted by | EIA, Morgan Downey, oil production, Paul Sankey, Robert Bryce

157 Comments

  1. The green fanatics have adopted the Fox News motto "fair & balanced reporting" and for the same purpose – the ends justify the means.

    Their agenda or nothing seems the desire. They could care less about dependence on foreign oil.

    Only the elimination of oil is acceptable to the new true believers.

    As you point out it can't happen and won't happen but with the wrong policies a true mess can be made.

    Comment by Russ | April 9, 2009

  2. I don’t want to see marginal producers go out of business either. But, if they did, wouldn’t that resource most likely be developed by a larger, surviving company?

    Comment by 57 | April 9, 2009

  3. Robert Bryce is a Texas journalist. If your are interested in what a Texas journalist thinks about Texas politics, which I am not, you might like the gossip.

    Comment by Kit P | April 9, 2009

  4. If your are interested in what a Texas journalist thinks about Texas politics, which I am not, you might like the gossip.

    Kit, there is no rule that says if you have nothing to say, you must still comment.

    Having said that, his article is specifically addressing the double standards regarding the position of Energy Secretary and Treasury Secretary.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 9, 2009

  5. If your are interested in what a Texas journalist thinks about Texas politics, which I am not, you might like the gossip.

    Kit, there is no rule that says if you have nothing to say, you must still comment.

    Having said that, his article is specifically addressing the double standards regarding the position of Energy Secretary and Treasury Secretary.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 9, 2009

  6. But, if they did, wouldn’t that resource most likely be developed by a larger, surviving company?

    Large producers don’t bother with 10 bpd wells. If they go out of business, the well will be shut in and that’s that.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 9, 2009

  7. But, if they did, wouldn’t that resource most likely be developed by a larger, surviving company?

    Large producers don’t bother with 10 bpd wells. If they go out of business, the well will be shut in and that’s that.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 9, 2009

  8. @RR

    You have to realize that in Kit’s mind a contest for Greatest President Ever would be a tough call between Lincoln and Bush II. Since Robert Bryce criticized Bush II, Kit doesn’t care for his opinion on anything.

    Comment by Dave | April 9, 2009

  9. The greens hate big oil, but gripe about not spending enough on alternatives. Alternatives can’t survive without some kind of government subsidy. Yet when a big oil company tries to take advanatage of a subsidy, big oil haters cry foul.

    It is like when big oil ventured out into the deepwater Gulf of Mexico in the late 1990s. The Clinton administration’s Department of Interior practically begged companies to divert some of their spending to the deepwater with promises of lower royalties and taxes. It was a grim time for the industry with $15 oil and massive layoffs. But companies took the risk. Politicians rewarded success by threatening to take away the tax breaks and punish those who took the government’s offer.

    My concern is that Obama and the Dems are taking us down the road of a banana republic like Venezuela where the rules are constantly shifting, the succesful are punished and the foolish get bailed out or taken over.

    Comment by KingofKaty | April 9, 2009

  10. The greens hate big oil, but gripe about not spending enough on alternatives. Alternatives can’t survive without some kind of government subsidy. Yet when a big oil company tries to take advanatage of a subsidy, big oil haters cry foul.

    It is like when big oil ventured out into the deepwater Gulf of Mexico in the late 1990s. The Clinton administration’s Department of Interior practically begged companies to divert some of their spending to the deepwater with promises of lower royalties and taxes. It was a grim time for the industry with $15 oil and massive layoffs. But companies took the risk. Politicians rewarded success by threatening to take away the tax breaks and punish those who took the government’s offer.

    My concern is that Obama and the Dems are taking us down the road of a banana republic like Venezuela where the rules are constantly shifting, the succesful are punished and the foolish get bailed out or taken over.

    Comment by KingofKaty | April 9, 2009

  11. “…Right now, I don’t see anything that can fill even a 10% shortfall in U.S. production in the next few years….”

    A ten percent improvement in US gas mileage would mean that the average American drives a car that gets 26.4 mpg instead of 24. We now have several car models that get over 40 mpg with more coming this summer. The new low cost Insight is selling three times faster than expected in Japan.

    “…So that means either higher prices or some incentives (paid for by higher taxes)…”

    When we talk about incentives to consumers, we need to talk about more than coercive measures via financial penalty. When you look at the psychology behind consumer choice you find many reasons why we buy a car.

    You can move a herd with whips or simply open the coral gates to the pasture. Thought I’d throw a Texas analogy out there…and not to say our politicians have any idea what they are doing.

    http://www.biodiversivist.com

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 9, 2009

  12. “…Right now, I don’t see anything that can fill even a 10% shortfall in U.S. production in the next few years….”

    A ten percent improvement in US gas mileage would mean that the average American drives a car that gets 26.4 mpg instead of 24. We now have several car models that get over 40 mpg with more coming this summer. The new low cost Insight is selling three times faster than expected in Japan.

    “…So that means either higher prices or some incentives (paid for by higher taxes)…”

    When we talk about incentives to consumers, we need to talk about more than coercive measures via financial penalty. When you look at the psychology behind consumer choice you find many reasons why we buy a car.

    You can move a herd with whips or simply open the coral gates to the pasture. Thought I’d throw a Texas analogy out there…and not to say our politicians have any idea what they are doing.

    http://www.biodiversivist.com

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 9, 2009

  13. Improving fleet milage by 10% would only cut oil consumption by about 5%. Assuming the number of drivers didn’t grow.

    Comment by Maury | April 9, 2009

  14. Improving fleet milage by 10% would only cut oil consumption by about 5%. Assuming the number of drivers didn’t grow.

    Comment by Maury | April 9, 2009

  15. I like the idea of a low carbon fuel standard to push us towards lower carbon fuels in a technology-neutral manner. If the oil and gas regulations were also structured towards lower carbon we would see a greater emphasis on lower carbon fossil fuels such as CO2 enhanced oil recovery and natural gas instead of high carbon oil sands and oil shales. The Permian Basin has been doing EOR for decades, albeit with co2 from natural deposits. But a number of sites are using anthropogenic co2 from natural gas reprocessing plants and coal gasification plants to do EOR. Right now medium sized oil companies like Denbury are clamoring for more CO2 to do EOR in the Gulf. With a low carbon fuel policy and climate legislation we are likely to see greater interest in co2 EOR.

    Comment by Peter Taglia | April 9, 2009

  16. I like the idea of a low carbon fuel standard to push us towards lower carbon fuels in a technology-neutral manner. If the oil and gas regulations were also structured towards lower carbon we would see a greater emphasis on lower carbon fossil fuels such as CO2 enhanced oil recovery and natural gas instead of high carbon oil sands and oil shales. The Permian Basin has been doing EOR for decades, albeit with co2 from natural deposits. But a number of sites are using anthropogenic co2 from natural gas reprocessing plants and coal gasification plants to do EOR. Right now medium sized oil companies like Denbury are clamoring for more CO2 to do EOR in the Gulf. With a low carbon fuel policy and climate legislation we are likely to see greater interest in co2 EOR.

    Comment by Peter Taglia | April 9, 2009

  17. Per comments upthread: the US is not currently in a position to effect broad-based changes in mileage efficiency, because you need robust new car sales to transmit that change. My work suggests that we have entered a period of at least 5 years that will see new auto sales remain far below the peak of this decade. So while changing CAFE standards is good, and should be done, I don’t think we extract much from that change between now and 2015.

    Overall, the policy from Team Obama now looks like quackery. It’s a push to get off oil–but with no concurrent Big Plan to build out public transport. It’s broken policy and it will suffer a predictable fate.

    Comment by www.gregor.us | April 9, 2009

  18. Per comments upthread: the US is not currently in a position to effect broad-based changes in mileage efficiency, because you need robust new car sales to transmit that change. My work suggests that we have entered a period of at least 5 years that will see new auto sales remain far below the peak of this decade. So while changing CAFE standards is good, and should be done, I don’t think we extract much from that change between now and 2015.

    Overall, the policy from Team Obama now looks like quackery. It’s a push to get off oil–but with no concurrent Big Plan to build out public transport. It’s broken policy and it will suffer a predictable fate.

    Comment by www.gregor.us | April 9, 2009

  19. I attended the conference and it seems to me that the same message was sent loud and clear by the opening remarks of professor Nordhaus on the macroeconomics of energy- “Our concern should be with the world market and domestic consumption- not trade deficit”. In other words- oil is cheaper to buy (from OPEC) than to produce domestically. So, great we turn to renewables that are not commercially available to suplant what we are already producing today. The idea is bold and exciting, but if we can not reproduce the 20% that is currently being made through renewables, we know (historically) OPEC will not increase its production to meet our demands, and we are getting ready to legislate/make policy against current marginal producers; does this mean that this administration is trying to break the american public of its enormous 27 bbl/yr per capita addiction?

    Comment by Diario Diego | April 9, 2009

  20. I attended the conference and it seems to me that the same message was sent loud and clear by the opening remarks of professor Nordhaus on the macroeconomics of energy- “Our concern should be with the world market and domestic consumption- not trade deficit”. In other words- oil is cheaper to buy (from OPEC) than to produce domestically. So, great we turn to renewables that are not commercially available to suplant what we are already producing today. The idea is bold and exciting, but if we can not reproduce the 20% that is currently being made through renewables, we know (historically) OPEC will not increase its production to meet our demands, and we are getting ready to legislate/make policy against current marginal producers; does this mean that this administration is trying to break the american public of its enormous 27 bbl/yr per capita addiction?

    Comment by Diario Diego | April 9, 2009

  21. My concern is that Obama and the Dems are taking us down the road of a banana republic like Venezuela where the rules are constantly shifting, the succesful are punished and the foolish get bailed out or taken over.
    Accurate, King, except your fear of Dems. Who started this bailout bonanza? Wasn’t it Mr. Free Market himself/Kit’s hero/Robert Bryce’s dog/King George II?

    In the last election, the candidate of free market capitalism fell out pretty early. Ironically he’s a Texan too…

    Comment by Optimist | April 9, 2009

  22. RB wrote,

    “Maybe—just maybe—we should have a few people in government who really understand how the energy business works.”

    RR wrote,

    “Having said that, his article is specifically addressing the double standards regarding the position of Energy Secretary and Treasury Secretary.”

    Neither RB nor RR understands the mission of DOE. The mission of DOE is primarily to manage the US nuclear weapons program and the associated legacy cleanup associated. DOE does some energy R&D too. DOE does not produce energy. DOE does not regulate energy production or distribution. That is done by EPA, NRC, FERC, OSHA, and a host of other agencies.

    Putting some one like John Rowe in charge of DOE would be a waste of talent.

    What is the job of RB as a journalist? Journalists like to fan the flames of unrequited love. No matter how unrealistic, people want the world to be a certain way. It is a circular argument. Journalists generate unrealistic expectation, then journalists shout ‘ain’t it awful’ hoping to sell more book and newspapers.

    RR, spend more time telling us what John Rowe has to say instead of the useless drivel of the media. Yes it is awful that the public does not like big energy, get over it. The Public hates politicians and journalist even more.

    Comment by Kit P | April 9, 2009

  23. RB wrote,

    “Maybe—just maybe—we should have a few people in government who really understand how the energy business works.”

    RR wrote,

    “Having said that, his article is specifically addressing the double standards regarding the position of Energy Secretary and Treasury Secretary.”

    Neither RB nor RR understands the mission of DOE. The mission of DOE is primarily to manage the US nuclear weapons program and the associated legacy cleanup associated. DOE does some energy R&D too. DOE does not produce energy. DOE does not regulate energy production or distribution. That is done by EPA, NRC, FERC, OSHA, and a host of other agencies.

    Putting some one like John Rowe in charge of DOE would be a waste of talent.

    What is the job of RB as a journalist? Journalists like to fan the flames of unrequited love. No matter how unrealistic, people want the world to be a certain way. It is a circular argument. Journalists generate unrealistic expectation, then journalists shout ‘ain’t it awful’ hoping to sell more book and newspapers.

    RR, spend more time telling us what John Rowe has to say instead of the useless drivel of the media. Yes it is awful that the public does not like big energy, get over it. The Public hates politicians and journalist even more.

    Comment by Kit P | April 9, 2009

  24. Until we get some “visibility” on future global oil production/prices it’s all just one big “guesstimate.”

    We should start getting a little better idea where we’re at in a year, or so.

    Comment by rufus | April 9, 2009

  25. Just because someone is a journalist doesn’t mean their writing is uninformed or unintelligent. Granted, it very well could be uninformed or unintelligent, but let’s critique the information and not the writer.

    Bo

    Comment by Anonymous | April 9, 2009

  26. People (including cleantech investors) don’t seem to understand the scale differences involved between current and near term (5 years) renewables and the oil industry.

    The oil industry in 2006 utilitized 10M metric tons of H2 – just as an input to their processes. That amount of energy dwarfs the total renewable. My hunch is that in the next ten years H2 *new* production capacity from oil refineries and the Canadian oil sands that comes online will far outweigh the entire renewables and biofuels industry.

    Comment by westside | April 9, 2009

  27. People (including cleantech investors) don’t seem to understand the scale differences involved between current and near term (5 years) renewables and the oil industry.

    The oil industry in 2006 utilitized 10M metric tons of H2 – just as an input to their processes. That amount of energy dwarfs the total renewable. My hunch is that in the next ten years H2 *new* production capacity from oil refineries and the Canadian oil sands that comes online will far outweigh the entire renewables and biofuels industry.

    Comment by westside | April 9, 2009

  28. 10M metric tons? Whas’at? 22 billion pounds?

    We’re, currently, using about 10 Billion Gallons of ethanol. About 600 Billion Pounds?

    Comment by rufus | April 9, 2009

  29. 10M metric tons? Whas’at? 22 billion pounds?

    We’re, currently, using about 10 Billion Gallons of ethanol. About 600 Billion Pounds?

    Comment by rufus | April 9, 2009

  30. “Let Exxon Run the Energy Dept.”

    Excellent idea. Or at least Rex Tillerson. These anti-oil idiots have no clue what would happen to this country if big oil just shut the doors. They would wake up to a completely different world…one in which nobody could survive.

    Comment by Anonymous | April 9, 2009

  31. Neither RB nor RR understands the mission of DOE.

    I already pointed out that if you have nothing to say, there isn’t any need to say anything. But here I will add that if you don’t know what you are talking about, there is also no requirement that you demonstrate it.

    I have spent most of the week with the DOE. But prior to that, I have interacted with the DOE for a number of years. While their historical roots are nuclear (weapons and power) and that is still a big part of their mission, they have a great number of functions. One of these of course is providing energy statistics, which is what the EIA does. Another is pushing/influencing the direction of energy policy in this country through awards, grants, loans, etc. If the agency is headed by people without decent experience in the energy industry, it should not be surprising that we chase a lot of dead ends.

    RR, spend more time telling us what John Rowe has to say instead of the useless drivel of the media.

    I took some notes and am going to post highlights. He didn’t make the highlights. I sat up front during his speech, but what I remember most about it was that he spoke verrrry slowly. I finally jumped up to go grab a cup of coffee and bumped into Steven Chu out in the hallway.

    Yes it is awful that the public does not like big energy, get over it.

    I choose not to get over it. I choose to try to influence people and change minds.

    The Public hates politicians and journalist even more.

    Actually one of the speakers cited a survey that said politicians rank above oil companies in public opinion polls.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 9, 2009

  32. Bo

    Critique away!

    To be sure I not say either RR or RB are not stupid. I said what they had to say was not very interesting. Provocative yes, interesting no! I think RB has risen to the level typical of journalist. RR has achieved the same level except I have higher expectation for an engineer in the energy industry. If RR is going to write essays he should put more meat in them.

    For example, instead of just listing the name and background of secretary of energy, how effective were they at carrying out policy.

    Bill Clinton’s Hazel O’Leary was an anti nuke & coal while being pro renewable energy. Clinton was an anti nuke & coal and talked like he was pro renewable energy.

    Bush choices carried out his policies of increasing our energy supply. Coal plants under construction, 36+ nuke plants in the pipeline (one under construction), and renewable energy capacity growing at a record rate.

    To get effective polices in place, government has to listen industry. All we know so far is that BO is throwing money at renewable energy without a plan. Might work!

    Comment by Kit P | April 9, 2009

  33. Bo

    Critique away!

    To be sure I not say either RR or RB are not stupid. I said what they had to say was not very interesting. Provocative yes, interesting no! I think RB has risen to the level typical of journalist. RR has achieved the same level except I have higher expectation for an engineer in the energy industry. If RR is going to write essays he should put more meat in them.

    For example, instead of just listing the name and background of secretary of energy, how effective were they at carrying out policy.

    Bill Clinton’s Hazel O’Leary was an anti nuke & coal while being pro renewable energy. Clinton was an anti nuke & coal and talked like he was pro renewable energy.

    Bush choices carried out his policies of increasing our energy supply. Coal plants under construction, 36+ nuke plants in the pipeline (one under construction), and renewable energy capacity growing at a record rate.

    To get effective polices in place, government has to listen industry. All we know so far is that BO is throwing money at renewable energy without a plan. Might work!

    Comment by Kit P | April 9, 2009

  34. If RR is going to write essays he should put more meat in them.

    Kit, we are all waiting breathlessly for you to start your own blog and show us all how it is done. Meanwhile, you are welcome to continue to come here and complain, day after day, about how you don’t get much value from coming here.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 9, 2009

  35. If RR is going to write essays he should put more meat in them.

    Kit, we are all waiting breathlessly for you to start your own blog and show us all how it is done. Meanwhile, you are welcome to continue to come here and complain, day after day, about how you don’t get much value from coming here.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 9, 2009

  36. 36+ nuke plants in the pipeline (one under construction)

    Potentially means nothing, it is the doing part that counts.

    Comment by Anonymous | April 10, 2009

  37. Optimist – So far I haven’t heard of Republicans proposing special taxes on offshore leases granted 10 years ago or switching inventory accounting methods to punish a single industry.

    My fear is that we are on the verge of a headlong rush into forms of energy that make no sense without massive federal subsidies, which will turn energy companies into nothing more than political panhandlers dependent on government handouts.

    Comment by KingofKaty | April 10, 2009

  38. Optimist – So far I haven’t heard of Republicans proposing special taxes on offshore leases granted 10 years ago or switching inventory accounting methods to punish a single industry.

    My fear is that we are on the verge of a headlong rush into forms of energy that make no sense without massive federal subsidies, which will turn energy companies into nothing more than political panhandlers dependent on government handouts.

    Comment by KingofKaty | April 10, 2009

  39. Re: buyers for stripper wells…

    I’ve been involved in such things.

    True, larger companies wouldn’t be interested, unless some of the wells were located near their properties, or they saw upside reserve potential that the current operator doesn’t recognize. However, for the most part, a larger company wouldn’t even bother to go to the dataroom for stuff like this.

    At the end of the day, the only market is likely to be equally small but somewhat more successful companies with nearby operations, who know that particular reservoir. As a consequence, lot of wells would go unsold and would have to be plugged and abandoned. Unless prices increase sharply, the reserves would probably be lost, because it just won’t pay to recomplete the well and reinstall the facilities for 10 bopd, if oil prices only go up marginally at some later date.

    Comment by armchair261 | April 10, 2009

  40. I’m at least a little hopeful that a scientist in the DOE will be able to think a little more critically than a career politician. Maybe he’ll treat the energy problem in a more methodical, scientific way, and be able to see through the silly anti-industry legends that are rife in this country.

    Comment by armchair261 | April 10, 2009

  41. “Improving fleet milage by 10% would only cut oil consumption by about 5%. Assuming the number of drivers didn’t grow.”

    Not according to this chart.

    One thing I know with certainty. The future will not look like any of our predictions.

    Will Detroit give way to small shops retrofitting cars to semi-manual hybrids if inexpensive batteries become available?

    Will car costs and prices drop as a result of smaller cars becoming popular, allowing people to upgrade faster than anticipated?

    CAFE standards are too little too late. The million Priuses on the road had nothing to do with it and if rapid change is going to take place it will be the result of new, affordable batteries and a fad similar to the long lived SUV (renamed station wagons) fad that will make everyone want to own a hybrid or electric.

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  42. There are about umpteen zillion different makes, and models of car/trucks sold in the U.S. (not to mention the World.) Some people will buy hybrids/phevs/evs, etc. And, that’s good.

    Some won’t.

    And, that’s okay. Many of those will buy liquid-fueled, high-mileage cars. And, that’s good, also.

    A sizeable amount of the liquid fuel will be ethanol/biodiesel. More “Good.”

    Oil May be “Peaking.” Not Good. But, it may Not be peaking. Maybe. But, it probably will be soon. We really don’t know. At least, most of us don’t.

    We “know” one thing: Batteries, and Biofuels will look a lot better if gasoline is $5.00/gal than they look at $2.00/gal. “Right Now,” we’re just guessing.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  43. “A sizeable amount of the liquid fuel will be ethanol/biodiesel. More Good.”

    To date, food-based biofuels are an economical and environmental disaster. Government subsidization and mandates should be ended. The latest science says they are just making global warming worse from N2O release, not to mention the destruction of carbon sinks, screwing with food supply and biodiversity.

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  44. Only 70% of oil used in the US is for transportation, according to this chart
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pecss_diagram.html

    Only 81% of US transportation energy is for vehicles that can travel on the highway.
    http://home.comcast.net/~russ676/Graphics/img21.gif

    So 81% x 70% = 57% of of US petroleum use is for cars and trucks.
    So a 10% improvement in US gas mileage would cut oil consumption by only 5.7%, which is essentially what Maury said.

    Comment by Clee | April 10, 2009

  45. Only 70% of oil used in the US is for transportation, according to this chart
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pecss_diagram.html

    Only 81% of US transportation energy is for vehicles that can travel on the highway.
    http://home.comcast.net/~russ676/Graphics/img21.gif

    So 81% x 70% = 57% of of US petroleum use is for cars and trucks.
    So a 10% improvement in US gas mileage would cut oil consumption by only 5.7%, which is essentially what Maury said.

    Comment by Clee | April 10, 2009

  46. N2O is measured in the atmosphere by parts per Billion. About 660, IIRC. In the last 150 years of intensive agriculture, and industrialization we’ve managed to increase it about 17% (approx. 100 ppb.)

    You’re, also, not taking into account of the fact that most farmers are now farming No Till/Low Till, and that greater productivity is taking farmland OUT of production. , and that they are using Less nitrogen fertilizer, Not more.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  47. Clee,

    I was not suggesting that a 10% improvement in gas mileage would result in a 10% reduction in oil use.

    Maury said about 5%. It’s closer to 6% ; )

    6%, by the way, is more than we saved using roughly a third of our corn crop for ethanol.

    Prices for liquid fuels have nowhere to go but up. One way of looking at a no drill policy is that we are putting money in the bank. James Hansen is convinced that humanity will use all oil. It is just too valuable to leave in the ground. The rate of consumption matters. Preparing the way for higher oil prices is important. Efficiency is the way to do that.

    Sudden price shocks are what wreak havoc on economies. Gradual changes give time to adapt. If a small percentage of your expenditures are on oil, a big price increase has a smaller impact. Think Hummer driver verses Prius driver when gas prices double.

    Rufus,

    “You’re, also, not taking into account of the fact …”

    You are saying that crops being grown today and in the future will not release enough N2O to make them net GHG emitters when used as biofuels. We would have to enforce use of mitigating methods across the globe not to mention measure the results to verify the methods are working. Add to that the need to verify they don’t displace carbon sinks and we are golden ; )

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  48. Clee,

    I was not suggesting that a 10% improvement in gas mileage would result in a 10% reduction in oil use.

    Maury said about 5%. It’s closer to 6% ; )

    6%, by the way, is more than we saved using roughly a third of our corn crop for ethanol.

    Prices for liquid fuels have nowhere to go but up. One way of looking at a no drill policy is that we are putting money in the bank. James Hansen is convinced that humanity will use all oil. It is just too valuable to leave in the ground. The rate of consumption matters. Preparing the way for higher oil prices is important. Efficiency is the way to do that.

    Sudden price shocks are what wreak havoc on economies. Gradual changes give time to adapt. If a small percentage of your expenditures are on oil, a big price increase has a smaller impact. Think Hummer driver verses Prius driver when gas prices double.

    Rufus,

    “You’re, also, not taking into account of the fact …”

    You are saying that crops being grown today and in the future will not release enough N2O to make them net GHG emitters when used as biofuels. We would have to enforce use of mitigating methods across the globe not to mention measure the results to verify the methods are working. Add to that the need to verify they don’t displace carbon sinks and we are golden ; )

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  49. You’re not going to get much, Russ. Like I said, in 100 years all we’ve managed to add is about 100 Parts per Billion. And, that was before the days of 160 bu/acre roundup-ready corn, catalytic converters, and low till/no till cultivation.

    We’re producing about 10 Billion gal/yr from corn, now. We’ll cut off at 15 Billion. Any ethanol beyond that will have to be of the “cellulosic” variety. Many of the “cellulosic” sources, eg. switchgrass, actually sequester Carbon.

    Beware of quasi-scientific studies full of “could be’s,” “may be’s,” “possibly’s” put out by “environmental” organizations funded in large part by fossil fuel companies (Nature Conservancy, etc.)

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  50. You’re not going to get much, Russ. Like I said, in 100 years all we’ve managed to add is about 100 Parts per Billion. And, that was before the days of 160 bu/acre roundup-ready corn, catalytic converters, and low till/no till cultivation.

    We’re producing about 10 Billion gal/yr from corn, now. We’ll cut off at 15 Billion. Any ethanol beyond that will have to be of the “cellulosic” variety. Many of the “cellulosic” sources, eg. switchgrass, actually sequester Carbon.

    Beware of quasi-scientific studies full of “could be’s,” “may be’s,” “possibly’s” put out by “environmental” organizations funded in large part by fossil fuel companies (Nature Conservancy, etc.)

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  51. Rufus

    Why are they cutting off corn at that threshold if it does not affect food prices?

    Cellulosic ethanol is, and is likely to always be, just five years away from economic viability, which falls under your could be, may be, scenario you warn about. And the idea that every scientist out there studying this issue is in the pocket of big oil is absurd. Who are you guys going to blame when big oil finally owns all biofuel production?

    It isn’t just corn. The Crutzen study also found canola-based biodiesel to be up to 70% worse than diesel.

    Biodiversivist

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  52. Russ, we used about 9 Billion Gallons of Ethanol last year. That requires a touch over 3.2 billion bushels of corn. However, we get back approx 40% of that in feeding DDGS. As a result, we impacted the corn supply by about 2.0 billion bushels. That would mean we used 2/12.4, or 16% of our corn.

    We exported all that anyone wanted to buy (current price, approx $0.07/lb) and carried over a record 1.4 Billion bushels.

    As far as why 15%? It’s a nice round number that, more or less, coincides with 10% of our gasoline usage, I suppose. I guess it seemed like a reasonable number to the nation’s politicians. (I would have gone for 20%, but, that’s just me.:)

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  53. Russ, we used about 9 Billion Gallons of Ethanol last year. That requires a touch over 3.2 billion bushels of corn. However, we get back approx 40% of that in feeding DDGS. As a result, we impacted the corn supply by about 2.0 billion bushels. That would mean we used 2/12.4, or 16% of our corn.

    We exported all that anyone wanted to buy (current price, approx $0.07/lb) and carried over a record 1.4 Billion bushels.

    As far as why 15%? It’s a nice round number that, more or less, coincides with 10% of our gasoline usage, I suppose. I guess it seemed like a reasonable number to the nation’s politicians. (I would have gone for 20%, but, that’s just me.:)

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  54. Strike 1: Kit, there is no rule that says if you have nothing to say, you must still comment.

    Strike 2: I already pointed out that if you have nothing to say, there isn’t any need to say anything. But here I will add that if you don’t know what you are talking about, there is also no requirement that you demonstrate it.

    Strike 3: Kit, we are all waiting breathlessly for you to start your own blog and show us all how it is done. Meanwhile, you are welcome to continue to come here and complain, day after day, about how you don’t get much value from coming here.

    Kit, I do believe you just struck out.

    Sad thing is: Kit is probably a reasonably well-informed engineer, and could probably add much to the discussion, if he’d just stop insulting others and kept his focus on the topics at hand.

    Kit, do you recall what Buzz Lightyear said to Woody at the gas station?

    Comment by Optimist | April 10, 2009

  55. Strike 1: Kit, there is no rule that says if you have nothing to say, you must still comment.

    Strike 2: I already pointed out that if you have nothing to say, there isn’t any need to say anything. But here I will add that if you don’t know what you are talking about, there is also no requirement that you demonstrate it.

    Strike 3: Kit, we are all waiting breathlessly for you to start your own blog and show us all how it is done. Meanwhile, you are welcome to continue to come here and complain, day after day, about how you don’t get much value from coming here.

    Kit, I do believe you just struck out.

    Sad thing is: Kit is probably a reasonably well-informed engineer, and could probably add much to the discussion, if he’d just stop insulting others and kept his focus on the topics at hand.

    Kit, do you recall what Buzz Lightyear said to Woody at the gas station?

    Comment by Optimist | April 10, 2009

  56. Rufus,

    When you account for lower gas mileage of ethanol we only replaced about 4-5% of our oil, not 10%. I used official government stats for retail gas and blended ethanol in 2008.

    Good point on distiller’s grains although I think your 40% number is a little exaggerated. I think it’s closer to 30%.

    It takes 56 pounds of corn kernels to produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 11.4 pounds of distiller’s grain., 3 pounds of Glutan meal, and 1.6 pounds of corn oil. So, 56 – 11.4 -3 -1.6 = 40 pounds of corn lost that cannot feed people (or the cows that people eat). In other words, about 70 percent of a bushel of corn is lost to the food chain when you use it to make ethanol.

    That translates into about 24,000 square miles of arable land taken out of production for the human food chain, and probably twice that amount of new cropland was created around the world out of various carbon sinks to fill in that hole (less efficient farmers than American corn farmers).

    My question was rhetorical. There is no doubt corn ethanol is impacting food prices and the more you use, the worse the impact.

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  57. Rufus,

    When you account for lower gas mileage of ethanol we only replaced about 4-5% of our oil, not 10%. I used official government stats for retail gas and blended ethanol in 2008.

    Good point on distiller’s grains although I think your 40% number is a little exaggerated. I think it’s closer to 30%.

    It takes 56 pounds of corn kernels to produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 11.4 pounds of distiller’s grain., 3 pounds of Glutan meal, and 1.6 pounds of corn oil. So, 56 – 11.4 -3 -1.6 = 40 pounds of corn lost that cannot feed people (or the cows that people eat). In other words, about 70 percent of a bushel of corn is lost to the food chain when you use it to make ethanol.

    That translates into about 24,000 square miles of arable land taken out of production for the human food chain, and probably twice that amount of new cropland was created around the world out of various carbon sinks to fill in that hole (less efficient farmers than American corn farmers).

    My question was rhetorical. There is no doubt corn ethanol is impacting food prices and the more you use, the worse the impact.

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  58. Speaking of the green agenda:
    via WSJ
    … the climate bill just offered by House powers Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

    … Right off, the bill mandates that 25% of U.S. electricity come from wind, solar, geothermal or biomass by 2025. Sorry, nuclear doesn’t count.

    Making the wildly optimistic assumption the the politically approved energy sources can account for 5% by 2025, this means that electrical usage has to shrink by a factor of five to meet the Waxman mandate. He’s insane.

    Comment by LarryD | April 10, 2009

  59. Rufus,

    If you replace a gallon of gas with a gallon of ethanol you will get a 30% reduction on that gallon, not 15%. Consumer reports found a 27% loss in an e-85 Tahoe.

    Got a link to back up that distiller’s grain claim? If the feedlot is not collocated with the refinery, you have additional losses, costs.

    “Of course, that does come out to about 550,000 Bbl/day of oil that we’re Not importing.”

    But look at the price paid. Increased global warming, higher food prices.

    About 9.25 billion gallons of ethanol were blended in 2008. 0.51 cents x 9.25 billion = 4.7 billion dollars in subsidies

    140.5 billion gallons of gasoline consumed in 2008

    9.25/140.5 = 6.6% average blend. If an 85% mixture drops mileage 27%, a 6.6 % blend will drop it 2%.

    A 6.6 percent ethanol blend will result in a 2 percent drop in gas mileage. This caused Americans to buy an extra 2% of gas in 2008. Average price of gas in 2008= $3.30.

    Extra money spent on gas = $3.3×140.5 billion x 0.02 =9.3 billion

    If you accept the USDA claim that ethanol accounted for 3% of food price increases for 2008 and that Americans spend about $3.7/day on food in 2008: 3.67/day on food x365 x 300,000,000 Americans x 3 percent = 12 billion extra on food

    4.7+9.3+12=26 billion cost to taxpayers.

    Values input to spreadsheet:

    25-gallon SUV gas tank.
    2300 calories per person
    2.7 gal ethanol per bushel
    56 pounds/bushel corn
    453.59 grams/pound
    Corn has 3.8 calories per gram
    3.80 x 453.59 =1723.6 cal/pound

    Sources:
    http://gas2.org/2008/05/22/usda-says-ethanol-accounts-for-only-3-of-increased-cost-of-food/
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/12/business/main4714157.shtml
    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/m_epooxe_yop_nus_1m.htm
    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist_xls/WGFUPUS2w.xls
    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/mg_tt_usw.htm
    http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB23/
    http://www.technologyreview.com/Biztech/20226/?a=f

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 10, 2009

  60. Above post deleted for incoherent, and incorrect math. I’ll try again in a minute.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  61. Above post deleted for incoherent, and incorrect math. I’ll try again in a minute.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  62. Extra money spent on gas = $3.3×140.5 billion x 0.02 =9.3 billion

    Russ, you must take into consideration the effect that 500,000 Barrels of ethanol/Day had on gasoline prices in general. Merril Lynch, and the U of Ia, in separate studies, determined that the availability of ethanol lowered the price of it’s competitor, gasoline, by between $0.30 and $0.50/gal.

    $0.40 X 140 Billion would be $56 Billion.

    The Food numbers don’t make any sense. Please clarify.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  63. Extra money spent on gas = $3.3×140.5 billion x 0.02 =9.3 billion

    Russ, you must take into consideration the effect that 500,000 Barrels of ethanol/Day had on gasoline prices in general. Merril Lynch, and the U of Ia, in separate studies, determined that the availability of ethanol lowered the price of it’s competitor, gasoline, by between $0.30 and $0.50/gal.

    $0.40 X 140 Billion would be $56 Billion.

    The Food numbers don’t make any sense. Please clarify.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  64. I took that comment down because I screwed up the “acreage” numbers, and ended up losing the whole shebang.

    The University of Nebraska has done a lot of work on “efficiency” of energy gain between corn, and DDGS in cattle. They are the ones that came up with the 33% (actually, 10% with 30% ration.)

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  65. I took that comment down because I screwed up the “acreage” numbers, and ended up losing the whole shebang.

    The University of Nebraska has done a lot of work on “efficiency” of energy gain between corn, and DDGS in cattle. They are the ones that came up with the 33% (actually, 10% with 30% ration.)

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  66. Big honking V-8’s with high displacement, low-compression engines (like the Chevy Tahoe you referenced) don’t do nearly as well as the more modern, V-6’s, and Four-bangers. 20%, or so, is probably closer to the modern average.

    DOE published 1.5% mileage loss with E10.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  67. Big honking V-8’s with high displacement, low-compression engines (like the Chevy Tahoe you referenced) don’t do nearly as well as the more modern, V-6’s, and Four-bangers. 20%, or so, is probably closer to the modern average.

    DOE published 1.5% mileage loss with E10.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  68. Field corn use to sell for about $0.05/lb. Now it sells for $0.07/lb.

    A pound of beef has about 2.6 pounds of corn. So, a pound of beef has increased about $0.05 as a result of the rise in the price of corn. A serving of corn flakes, maybe 1/4 of a penny.

    It’s hard to see more than a quarter a day, or so, for a family as a result of higher corn prices.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  69. Field corn use to sell for about $0.05/lb. Now it sells for $0.07/lb.

    A pound of beef has about 2.6 pounds of corn. So, a pound of beef has increased about $0.05 as a result of the rise in the price of corn. A serving of corn flakes, maybe 1/4 of a penny.

    It’s hard to see more than a quarter a day, or so, for a family as a result of higher corn prices.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  70. Every “reasonable” study of corn ethanol credits it with somewhere between 20%, and 50% reduction in CO2 compared to gasoline.

    Remember, we’re steadily taking land Out of Production, not adding it into production. We’re taking approx. 5 Million Acres out of production this year, alone.

    Comment by rufus | April 10, 2009

  71. “Every “reasonable” study of corn ethanol credits it with somewhere between 20%, and 50% reduction in CO2 compared to gasoline.”

    You are making good points rufus. I particularly agree. Part of being a ‘well-informed engineer’ is keeping up with the latest research. In this case LCA.

    “Kit, do you recall what Buzz Lightyear said ….”

    Well no optimist, I do not. I can recommend this movie as an entertainment product with children.

    To be well informed you have to spend time doing your home work instead of relying on lazy journalists.. “crack” Do you know what that sound is? That is the sound of me pulling a curve ball over the left field fence at the Jake.

    Comment by Kit P | April 10, 2009

  72. “Every “reasonable” study of corn ethanol credits it with somewhere between 20%, and 50% reduction in CO2 compared to gasoline.”

    You are making good points rufus. I particularly agree. Part of being a ‘well-informed engineer’ is keeping up with the latest research. In this case LCA.

    “Kit, do you recall what Buzz Lightyear said ….”

    Well no optimist, I do not. I can recommend this movie as an entertainment product with children.

    To be well informed you have to spend time doing your home work instead of relying on lazy journalists.. “crack” Do you know what that sound is? That is the sound of me pulling a curve ball over the left field fence at the Jake.

    Comment by Kit P | April 10, 2009

  73. Every “reasonable” study of corn ethanol credits it with somewhere between 20%, and 50% reduction in CO2 compared to gasoline.” You are making good points rufus. I particularly agree. Part of being a ‘well-informed engineer’ is keeping up with the latest research. In this case LCA.
    And I guess you define a reasonable study as one that agrees with your preconceived conclusions. Well informed engineer, indeed. Pity the facts don’t feature in any of your replies…

    I can recommend this movie as an entertainment product with children.
    Good. You’re familiar with the scene, then…

    To be well informed you have to spend time doing your home work instead of relying on lazy journalists.. “crack” Do you know what that sound is? That is the sound of me pulling a curve ball over the left field fence at the Jake.
    Keep dreaming, Big Guy!

    Comment by Optimist | April 11, 2009

  74. Every “reasonable” study of corn ethanol credits it with somewhere between 20%, and 50% reduction in CO2 compared to gasoline.” You are making good points rufus. I particularly agree. Part of being a ‘well-informed engineer’ is keeping up with the latest research. In this case LCA.
    And I guess you define a reasonable study as one that agrees with your preconceived conclusions. Well informed engineer, indeed. Pity the facts don’t feature in any of your replies…

    I can recommend this movie as an entertainment product with children.
    Good. You’re familiar with the scene, then…

    To be well informed you have to spend time doing your home work instead of relying on lazy journalists.. “crack” Do you know what that sound is? That is the sound of me pulling a curve ball over the left field fence at the Jake.
    Keep dreaming, Big Guy!

    Comment by Optimist | April 11, 2009

  75. Rufus,

    We are on the Internet. Take advantage of it to provide links to sources to back up claims.

    “…ethanol lowered the price of it’s competitor, gasoline, by… $56 Billion..”

    I saw that claim when it came out, but was never able to obtain a copy of the actual study. On two occasions last year I was able to obtain the actual calculations and assumptions for two studies commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association and found in both cases that the results had been cooked to give the answer the RFA wanted. I suspect this study you refer to is more of the same. When you can’t find the actual study behind a claim, the study is usually bogus. That’s life on the Internet.

    “…The Food numbers don’t make any sense. Please clarify….”

    Last year the USDA held a press conference where they told the world that corn ethanol accounted for 3% of the increase in the price of American food. I just used that number (true or not) to calculate how many billions of dollars that equates to (about 12 billion). The rest of the data was used to show that a 15% blend of ethanol in a 25 gallon tank used enough corn to feed one of those people for a month:

    http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2009/04/six-things-you-probably-didnt-know.html

    Using a box of corn flakes to make that point is an obvious attempt to deceive by Big Biofuel, and I’ll explain why. A box of corn flakes has, literally, about a handful of corn in it. Increasing the price of that handful of corn will therefore have a negligible impact. On the other hand, any increase in the price of corn for any of the nearly one billion humans who go to bed hungry every night is a disaster because a huge percentage of their income goes for grain to eat.

    Pass on the link to the DOE study on ethanol mileage, not that I trust the DOE or the USDA in matters of biofuel. It was a DOE study that erroneously showed soy biodiesel to be 78% carbon neutral that helped kick off the biofuel craze. Nobody claims it is even close to that today. Here is the link to the consumer report:

    Source

    “Big honking V-8’s with high displacement, low-compression engines (like the Chevy Tahoe you referenced) don’t do nearly as well as the more modern, V-6’s, and Four-bangers. 20%, or so, is probably closer to the modern average.”

    The 2007 Tahoe in the CR study had a standard 10:1 compression ratio like most other gasoline cars of today …“… the compression ratio has risen from 9.5-to-1 to 9.9-to-1”

    “…Every “reasonable” study of corn ethanol credits it with somewhere between 20%, and 50% reduction in CO2 compared to gasoline….”

    Only because they leave out land displacement effects and the latest findings on N2O release. In fact, the last study claiming up to 50% decrease makes it very clear that it does not account for those things. New science displaces old.

    Here is some of that new science

    “…Remember, we’re steadily taking land Out of Production, not adding it into production. We’re taking approx. 5 Million Acres out of production this year, alone….”

    Then why were farmers trying to get out of their conservation reserve contracts last year?

    http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2008/07/15/crp_withdrawal

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 11, 2009

  76. Rufus,

    We are on the Internet. Take advantage of it to provide links to sources to back up claims.

    “…ethanol lowered the price of it’s competitor, gasoline, by… $56 Billion..”

    I saw that claim when it came out, but was never able to obtain a copy of the actual study. On two occasions last year I was able to obtain the actual calculations and assumptions for two studies commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association and found in both cases that the results had been cooked to give the answer the RFA wanted. I suspect this study you refer to is more of the same. When you can’t find the actual study behind a claim, the study is usually bogus. That’s life on the Internet.

    “…The Food numbers don’t make any sense. Please clarify….”

    Last year the USDA held a press conference where they told the world that corn ethanol accounted for 3% of the increase in the price of American food. I just used that number (true or not) to calculate how many billions of dollars that equates to (about 12 billion). The rest of the data was used to show that a 15% blend of ethanol in a 25 gallon tank used enough corn to feed one of those people for a month:

    http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2009/04/six-things-you-probably-didnt-know.html

    Using a box of corn flakes to make that point is an obvious attempt to deceive by Big Biofuel, and I’ll explain why. A box of corn flakes has, literally, about a handful of corn in it. Increasing the price of that handful of corn will therefore have a negligible impact. On the other hand, any increase in the price of corn for any of the nearly one billion humans who go to bed hungry every night is a disaster because a huge percentage of their income goes for grain to eat.

    Pass on the link to the DOE study on ethanol mileage, not that I trust the DOE or the USDA in matters of biofuel. It was a DOE study that erroneously showed soy biodiesel to be 78% carbon neutral that helped kick off the biofuel craze. Nobody claims it is even close to that today. Here is the link to the consumer report:

    Source

    “Big honking V-8’s with high displacement, low-compression engines (like the Chevy Tahoe you referenced) don’t do nearly as well as the more modern, V-6’s, and Four-bangers. 20%, or so, is probably closer to the modern average.”

    The 2007 Tahoe in the CR study had a standard 10:1 compression ratio like most other gasoline cars of today …“… the compression ratio has risen from 9.5-to-1 to 9.9-to-1”

    “…Every “reasonable” study of corn ethanol credits it with somewhere between 20%, and 50% reduction in CO2 compared to gasoline….”

    Only because they leave out land displacement effects and the latest findings on N2O release. In fact, the last study claiming up to 50% decrease makes it very clear that it does not account for those things. New science displaces old.

    Here is some of that new science

    “…Remember, we’re steadily taking land Out of Production, not adding it into production. We’re taking approx. 5 Million Acres out of production this year, alone….”

    Then why were farmers trying to get out of their conservation reserve contracts last year?

    http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2008/07/15/crp_withdrawal

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 11, 2009

  77. IEA puts corn ethanol GHG emission reduction over gasoline at 39%, Growing to 55% by 2015

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  78. IEA puts corn ethanol GHG emission reduction over gasoline at 39%, Growing to 55% by 2015

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  79. “Good. You’re familiar with the scene, then…”

    Again no! What part of no do you need to have explained?

    Comment by Kit P | April 11, 2009

  80. “Good. You’re familiar with the scene, then…”

    Again no! What part of no do you need to have explained?

    Comment by Kit P | April 11, 2009

  81. Russ, the average farmer makes about $26,000.00 On the Farm. about $40,000.00 working off the farm. It costs about $0.06/lb to grow corn. We have about 1.5 Billion Bushels available for purchase at about $0.07/lb. We CAN’T feed the world if they can’t afford seven cents/lb. We just can’t.

    N2O is measured in the atmosphere in parts per Billion. That’s Billion with a B. In a hundred and fifty years of Industrialization, deep plowing (which we’re doing less, and less of,) adding hundreds of millions of diesel trucks, cars, tractors, etc. we have managed to increase N2O in the atmosphere by 17%. There’s a reason why N2O never makes it into the second day’s news cycle.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  82. Then why were farmers trying to get out of their conservation reserve contracts last year?

    There’s, ALWAYS, SOMEBODY trying to get out of a contract, Somewhere.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  83. Then why were farmers trying to get out of their conservation reserve contracts last year?

    There’s, ALWAYS, SOMEBODY trying to get out of a contract, Somewhere.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  84. “This indicates the danger of making policy decision(s) based on historical data without taking into account learning experiences and the potential gains that can be expected as industries develop.”

    I can even relate this to big oil. Along time ago, oil spills were an issue. Simple practices have been put in place to reduce the amount of oil entering the environment. Now EPA wennies are worried about regulating jet skies (pwc) and snowmobiles. I do not think it has anything to do with environment protection but a pathological fear of anyone who has fun with noise ICE.

    Comment by Kit P | April 11, 2009

  85. More Recent stuff on LCA, etc.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  86. More Recent stuff on LCA, etc.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  87. From your link, the old “We don’t know everything, therefore we know nothing” ploy.

    Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is a complex issue that is not fully understood by the scientific community. In its “Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008,” the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force acknowledged that “uncertainties remain in the ability to characterize the spatial and temporal dynamics of hypoxia and the biological, chemical, and physical properties that contribute to it.”

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  88. From your link, the old “We don’t know everything, therefore we know nothing” ploy.

    Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is a complex issue that is not fully understood by the scientific community. In its “Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008,” the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force acknowledged that “uncertainties remain in the ability to characterize the spatial and temporal dynamics of hypoxia and the biological, chemical, and physical properties that contribute to it.”

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  89. Well, we DO know that we’re putting less nitrogen, and phosphorous into the rivers as a result of agriculture. Urban inputs, we’re not so sure about.

    We, also, know that all major rivers have hypoxia zones.

    We know the Indians called the Mississippi “the big muddy river” a long time before the first furrow was plowed in Missouri, or Iowa. It was washing millions of tons of topsoil, along with its phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen nutrients, into the gulf when Minnesota was covered with Ice, I suppose.

    Hypoxia zones are interesting. Yahoo has hundreds of articles on them.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  90. Rufus,

    Corn ethanol is a disaster that would not exist if the presidential primaries did not start in Iowa.

    The link below chronicles some of the details of the train wreck that is ethanol.

    One problem the link does not mention is the ongoing and very real risk of a weather related reduction in corn production.

    Unintended Consequences The Politics of Biofuels

    “Simply said, ethanol production today using U.S. corn contributes to the conversion of grasslands and rainforest to agriculture, causing very large GHG emissions.

    Even if only a small fraction of the emissions calculated in this crude way [through land use change] are added to estimates of direct emissions for corn ethanol, total emissions for corn ethanol are higher than for fossil fuels.”

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  91. Rufus,

    Corn ethanol is a disaster that would not exist if the presidential primaries did not start in Iowa.

    The link below chronicles some of the details of the train wreck that is ethanol.

    One problem the link does not mention is the ongoing and very real risk of a weather related reduction in corn production.

    Unintended Consequences The Politics of Biofuels

    “Simply said, ethanol production today using U.S. corn contributes to the conversion of grasslands and rainforest to agriculture, causing very large GHG emissions.

    Even if only a small fraction of the emissions calculated in this crude way [through land use change] are added to estimates of direct emissions for corn ethanol, total emissions for corn ethanol are higher than for fossil fuels.”

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  92. Rufus,

    Can you provide documentation for your statement

    Well, we DO know that we’re putting less nitrogen, and phosphorous into the rivers as a result of agriculture.???

    Also do you have a cite for your assertion below?

    You’re, also, not taking into account of the fact that most farmers are now farming No Till/Low Till, and that greater productivity is taking farmland OUT of production.

    Make sure your cite does not include land fallowed as part of the CRP.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  93. Rufus,

    Can you provide documentation for your statement

    Well, we DO know that we’re putting less nitrogen, and phosphorous into the rivers as a result of agriculture.???

    Also do you have a cite for your assertion below?

    You’re, also, not taking into account of the fact that most farmers are now farming No Till/Low Till, and that greater productivity is taking farmland OUT of production.

    Make sure your cite does not include land fallowed as part of the CRP.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  94. Optimist said…

    Who started this bailout bonanza? Wasn’t it Mr. Free Market himself/Kit’s hero/Robert Bryce’s dog/King George II?

    The use of the “he did it too” arguments as an excuse for bad behavior generally loses strength shortly after elementary school.

    Stupid policy is stupid policy.

    The (R) or (D)behind the politicians name does not have magical power to turn a stupid policy into a smart one.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  95. Optimist said…

    Who started this bailout bonanza? Wasn’t it Mr. Free Market himself/Kit’s hero/Robert Bryce’s dog/King George II?

    The use of the “he did it too” arguments as an excuse for bad behavior generally loses strength shortly after elementary school.

    Stupid policy is stupid policy.

    The (R) or (D)behind the politicians name does not have magical power to turn a stupid policy into a smart one.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 11, 2009

  96. It’s hard to predict the outcome of removing subsidies aka tax breaks.

    It seems like a 20% reduction in US oil production would lead to a huge price increase, which would make a lot of those 10 bpd wells viable. So the equilibrium would be less than a 20% reduction.

    I don’t see why we should be in a rush to use our remaining oil. I favor a gradual phaseout of subsidies. Save the oil for when the prices are high, we’ll be happy we did.

    Comment by mike wiese | April 11, 2009

  97. Then there is the the circular argument and long list argument.

    “Corn ethanol is a disaster ..”

    Based on this blog. I was discussing compost with the compost expert my company hired. I learned to compost form my grandparents who I suspect never read any ‘how to’ guides produced by organizations promoting organic farming. He told me I was wrong about a particular point. To prove his point, he opened the ‘how to’ guides which he had written. When we got back to my desk, I showed him my references. Many of which we done by the local university ag service.
    Rufus and I and others have provided links to LCA on corn ethanol. I do not go very far out of my way to post links unless it is with someone who will bother to read them.

    For the ong list we get things like oil spills, what about Hypoxia, what about lung cancer, what about Brazil?

    Followed by, what Duracomm wrote, “Can you provide documentation for your statement”

    and “Stupid policy is stupid policy.”

    How old are you Duracomm?

    Sometimes good policy is good policy. When I was going to grad school for environmental engineering Bill Clinton was president. I leaned about some good programs to reduce ghg emissions while producing energy we need. By the time Bush was elected, my company was proposing projects to produce energy and protect the environment. Big energy and Bush were continuing good policy under Clinton but now it was bad policy because some folks do not like big energy or Bush.

    So, what about hypoxia? When the biological oxygen demand (BOD) is greater than the dissolved oxygen in the water, bacteria will grow rapidly using up the oxygen if sufficient nutrients are avaliable.

    By harvesting the excess solar energy in biomass to produce electrician or transportation fuels, the root causes of hypoxia can be reduced.

    As rufus has tried to explain, on a farm by farm basis; farmers are doing a great job of of managing their operations to improve air and water quality.

    There are about 300 million in the US driving cars and owning pets. Some of use fertilizer to make out lawns green. To blame hypoxia on recent ethanol production is just ignorant.

    Comment by Kit P | April 11, 2009

  98. Then there is the the circular argument and long list argument.

    “Corn ethanol is a disaster ..”

    Based on this blog. I was discussing compost with the compost expert my company hired. I learned to compost form my grandparents who I suspect never read any ‘how to’ guides produced by organizations promoting organic farming. He told me I was wrong about a particular point. To prove his point, he opened the ‘how to’ guides which he had written. When we got back to my desk, I showed him my references. Many of which we done by the local university ag service.
    Rufus and I and others have provided links to LCA on corn ethanol. I do not go very far out of my way to post links unless it is with someone who will bother to read them.

    For the ong list we get things like oil spills, what about Hypoxia, what about lung cancer, what about Brazil?

    Followed by, what Duracomm wrote, “Can you provide documentation for your statement”

    and “Stupid policy is stupid policy.”

    How old are you Duracomm?

    Sometimes good policy is good policy. When I was going to grad school for environmental engineering Bill Clinton was president. I leaned about some good programs to reduce ghg emissions while producing energy we need. By the time Bush was elected, my company was proposing projects to produce energy and protect the environment. Big energy and Bush were continuing good policy under Clinton but now it was bad policy because some folks do not like big energy or Bush.

    So, what about hypoxia? When the biological oxygen demand (BOD) is greater than the dissolved oxygen in the water, bacteria will grow rapidly using up the oxygen if sufficient nutrients are avaliable.

    By harvesting the excess solar energy in biomass to produce electrician or transportation fuels, the root causes of hypoxia can be reduced.

    As rufus has tried to explain, on a farm by farm basis; farmers are doing a great job of of managing their operations to improve air and water quality.

    There are about 300 million in the US driving cars and owning pets. Some of use fertilizer to make out lawns green. To blame hypoxia on recent ethanol production is just ignorant.

    Comment by Kit P | April 11, 2009

  99. “…To blame hypoxia on recent ethanol production is just ignorant….”

    Ignorance relief:

    http://cip.cornell.edu/biofuels/files/SCOPE09.pdf

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 11, 2009

  100. “…To blame hypoxia on recent ethanol production is just ignorant….”

    Ignorance relief:

    http://cip.cornell.edu/biofuels/files/SCOPE09.pdf

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 11, 2009

  101. I know, Rufus,

    …but like I said, those GHG studies you cite don’t include land displacement and the latest N2O findings.

    With 3 billion more people on the way, feeding the world is going to consume a great deal of the biosphere. The idea that we can also fuel our cars without destroying the last wild grassland and forest carbons sinks is insanity. The Amazon is being rapidly destroyed as it is. Your corn ethanol does not stand a snowball’s chance in hell against cane ethanol in the long run.

    Farming is no way to get rich. That is why we all moved to cities.

    N20 is about 300 times more powerful than CO2 as a GHG. The study that found corn ethanol and canola biodiesel worse than fossil fuels was headed by a Nobel prize winner. Take it up with him.

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 11, 2009

  102. Uh, not exactly, Russ. Nitrous Oxide

    It seems I gave N2O too much credit. Current level is 314 parts per BILLION.

    We have increased it by 44ppb since 1750. If we could somehow increase it by 44ppb, more it would be the equivalent of adding approx. 5 parts per million CO2.

    Cruntzen’s approach was “top-down.” He’s found very little support. Whatever. As you can see from the numbers it really doesn’t matter. N2O is just, quite simply, Not a “Playah.”

    As for land “displacement.” Like I said, “we’re taking land Out of production, not adding it.” The one thing these guys can never seem to do is point to one tree that’s ever been chopped down as a result of someone refining a gallon of ethanol.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  103. Uh, not exactly, Russ. Nitrous Oxide

    It seems I gave N2O too much credit. Current level is 314 parts per BILLION.

    We have increased it by 44ppb since 1750. If we could somehow increase it by 44ppb, more it would be the equivalent of adding approx. 5 parts per million CO2.

    Cruntzen’s approach was “top-down.” He’s found very little support. Whatever. As you can see from the numbers it really doesn’t matter. N2O is just, quite simply, Not a “Playah.”

    As for land “displacement.” Like I said, “we’re taking land Out of production, not adding it.” The one thing these guys can never seem to do is point to one tree that’s ever been chopped down as a result of someone refining a gallon of ethanol.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  104. OK Rufus,

    Why don’t you start by providing the links showing us how long the US has been taking land out agricultural production and how long it will continue to do so. That would be a start.

    Commons sense suggests that if corn displaces soy here, increasing soy prices, that the price signal would stimulate Brazilian soy production, which has been rapidly expanding into the Amazon.

    I don’t envy you arguing with the guy who won the Nobel Prize for his work on ozone.

    Here, read this link about land displacement:

    http://blogs.sciencemag.org/newsblog/2009/02/fill-er-up-with-rainforest.html

    The paper was presented at this year’s meeting of AAAS, those dumb knuckle heads who publish the journal Science.

    “…Unless biofuels are planted in pastures or degraded lands, she said, “we’re going to be burning rainforest in our gas tanks….

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 11, 2009

  105. Russ, google the Cerrado. There are, according to the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, approx. 150 Million Acres of Fertile Land lying fallow, there.

    People cut down the hardwood trees in the “very infertile” Amazon to get the LOGS. They are Very Valuable.

    That having been said, Soybean Prices are about where they’ve been for a long time. And, yes, we took a few acres out of Soybeans this year.

    You can find this on your own very easily. We used to rowcrop about 400 million acres in this country. We, now, rowcrop about 250 Million acres. That’s down about 50 Million acres in the last forty years, or so. About 15 Million Acres in the last 10.

    The main thing is the improved seeds yielding, on average, a 3% annual increase in productivity. Happy googling.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  106. Russ, google the Cerrado. There are, according to the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, approx. 150 Million Acres of Fertile Land lying fallow, there.

    People cut down the hardwood trees in the “very infertile” Amazon to get the LOGS. They are Very Valuable.

    That having been said, Soybean Prices are about where they’ve been for a long time. And, yes, we took a few acres out of Soybeans this year.

    You can find this on your own very easily. We used to rowcrop about 400 million acres in this country. We, now, rowcrop about 250 Million acres. That’s down about 50 Million acres in the last forty years, or so. About 15 Million Acres in the last 10.

    The main thing is the improved seeds yielding, on average, a 3% annual increase in productivity. Happy googling.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  107. Thanks for the link to a paper from the heady scholars at Cornell. Did you bother to read it carefully Russ? While it is nice that the folks in New York are concerned about how others do things. Concern is not evidence.

    “to impaired coastal waters such as the Chesapeake Bay.”

    It is interesting that coastal water ways are impaired in location with significant over population. I am always skeptical of those who focus on something other than local issues.

    And what wisdom do we get from the conclusion, “It is critical that a broad suite of conservation measures, particularly nutrient management, are rigorously implemented on new or more intensively managed corn lands, particularly under continuous corn production (Simpson and Weammert 2007).”

    Well, huh! As rufus and I keep pointing out; that is what is being documented in LCA.

    This paper also discusses a little about CAFO (confined animal feeding operation). Every CAFO I have been on has a zero discharge permit under the CWA. They are required to have a MNP (manure nutriment plan) to document N,P, K.

    I think Russ is sincere about wanting to protect the environment. However, clearly corn ethanol is both an environmental improvement over importing oil from other countries.

    Comment by Kit P | April 11, 2009

  108. Thanks for the link to a paper from the heady scholars at Cornell. Did you bother to read it carefully Russ? While it is nice that the folks in New York are concerned about how others do things. Concern is not evidence.

    “to impaired coastal waters such as the Chesapeake Bay.”

    It is interesting that coastal water ways are impaired in location with significant over population. I am always skeptical of those who focus on something other than local issues.

    And what wisdom do we get from the conclusion, “It is critical that a broad suite of conservation measures, particularly nutrient management, are rigorously implemented on new or more intensively managed corn lands, particularly under continuous corn production (Simpson and Weammert 2007).”

    Well, huh! As rufus and I keep pointing out; that is what is being documented in LCA.

    This paper also discusses a little about CAFO (confined animal feeding operation). Every CAFO I have been on has a zero discharge permit under the CWA. They are required to have a MNP (manure nutriment plan) to document N,P, K.

    I think Russ is sincere about wanting to protect the environment. However, clearly corn ethanol is both an environmental improvement over importing oil from other countries.

    Comment by Kit P | April 11, 2009

  109. I have absolutely no doubt that Russ is a sincere, concerned person. His comments have been polite, thoughtful, and intelligent.

    He has done some reading, and his questions are reasonable. If all of the ethanol critics out there exhibited Russ’ willingness to question, and listen I would not be the least bit worried about our Country’s energy future.

    I’m going to take a break, now; but it’s been a good discussion. Caio, all.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  110. I have absolutely no doubt that Russ is a sincere, concerned person. His comments have been polite, thoughtful, and intelligent.

    He has done some reading, and his questions are reasonable. If all of the ethanol critics out there exhibited Russ’ willingness to question, and listen I would not be the least bit worried about our Country’s energy future.

    I’m going to take a break, now; but it’s been a good discussion. Caio, all.

    Comment by rufus | April 11, 2009

  111. Case in Point:

    Yeah, I know I said I was going to take a break, but this was just too juicey.

    Chicag, No.1 Cause of HYPOXIA in the Gulf

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  112. Case in Point:

    Yeah, I know I said I was going to take a break, but this was just too juicey.

    Chicag, No.1 Cause of HYPOXIA in the Gulf

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  113. Rufus,

    You keep saying we are taking land out of production.

    And you keep failing to provide documentation.

    When you provide the documentation be sure to not count the land fallowed because we pay farmers to do nothing via the CRP

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 12, 2009

  114. Rufus,

    You keep saying we are taking land out of production.

    And you keep failing to provide documentation.

    When you provide the documentation be sure to not count the land fallowed because we pay farmers to do nothing via the CRP

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 12, 2009

  115. Kit P,

    You said

    “Stupid policy is stupid policy.”

    How old are you Duracomm?

    Old enough to have seen plenty of damage caused by stupid government policy especially in agriculture.

    Not sure how your question relates to the topic at hand.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 12, 2009

  116. Kit P,

    You said

    “Stupid policy is stupid policy.”

    How old are you Duracomm?

    Old enough to have seen plenty of damage caused by stupid government policy especially in agriculture.

    Not sure how your question relates to the topic at hand.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 12, 2009

  117. Here, Down 7.2 Million Acres, This Year

    Happy? It’s the “Intertubes” Learn it.

    Jeez

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  118. “Not sure how your question relates to the topic at hand.”

    That was a rhetorical question Duracomm. This is not. How do you know something is stupid government policy? How you been trained?

    These are the questions that need to be asked.

    -What are the environmental problems?

    -What are the root cause of the problems?

    -What are the things we can do to correct the problems?

    Duracomm sounds to me like he practices what I call root blame. Blame is not based on reading “Incorporating Uncertainty into the Ranking of SPARROW Model Nutrient Yields from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin Watersheds”. Blame is based on not liking big oil, big government, big electric utilities.

    For those who like to observe the world around them, when ever something bad happens there is always someone on the nightly news who knows who to blame.

    In any case, I think producing 10% of our gasoline with corn ethanol is good government policy. I have been checking closely and there is no evidence to suggest that it is not. I have found enough evidence to satisfy my concerns.

    Duracomm posted a link to some academics that have concerns. Okay fine, those who teach have concerns about how those that produce do things.

    People like Duracomm spend all there time looking for things to be concerned about but spend no time finding out if there concerns are addressed. What about this what about that!

    Comment by Kit P | April 12, 2009

  119. “Not sure how your question relates to the topic at hand.”

    That was a rhetorical question Duracomm. This is not. How do you know something is stupid government policy? How you been trained?

    These are the questions that need to be asked.

    -What are the environmental problems?

    -What are the root cause of the problems?

    -What are the things we can do to correct the problems?

    Duracomm sounds to me like he practices what I call root blame. Blame is not based on reading “Incorporating Uncertainty into the Ranking of SPARROW Model Nutrient Yields from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin Watersheds”. Blame is based on not liking big oil, big government, big electric utilities.

    For those who like to observe the world around them, when ever something bad happens there is always someone on the nightly news who knows who to blame.

    In any case, I think producing 10% of our gasoline with corn ethanol is good government policy. I have been checking closely and there is no evidence to suggest that it is not. I have found enough evidence to satisfy my concerns.

    Duracomm posted a link to some academics that have concerns. Okay fine, those who teach have concerns about how those that produce do things.

    People like Duracomm spend all there time looking for things to be concerned about but spend no time finding out if there concerns are addressed. What about this what about that!

    Comment by Kit P | April 12, 2009

  120. The fact that it only works because of mandates should be enough to tip you off that corn ethanol might not be the best idea. After 30 years of subsidies, it is no closer to standing on its own. It is basically a permanent jobs program.

    Comment by Anonymous | April 12, 2009

  121. When folks are making a list of reason to be against something, subsidies and mandates are right up at the top.

    Making electricity with coal would be a lot cheaper if pollution controls were not mandated. How many would pay extra for a car if pollution controls were not mandated.

    Anon sits in Starbucks paying through the nose for fo fo coffee but wants cheap energy with zero environmental impact.

    Comment by Kit P | April 12, 2009

  122. When folks are making a list of reason to be against something, subsidies and mandates are right up at the top.

    Making electricity with coal would be a lot cheaper if pollution controls were not mandated. How many would pay extra for a car if pollution controls were not mandated.

    Anon sits in Starbucks paying through the nose for fo fo coffee but wants cheap energy with zero environmental impact.

    Comment by Kit P | April 12, 2009

  123. Let’s face it, Kit; it’s all about the price of oil. If we really are at Peak Oil, and the price of gasoline continues to rise ethanol is a good idea.

    If the Big Oil Companies are telling the truth, and we’re not anywhere near Peak Oil, and gasoline stays at $2.00, or less, then ethanol is born dead.

    All I know is I’ll be driving my flexfuel car no matter which is correct.

    And, no American kids will be dying to protect my ethanol.

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  124. Kit likes to sit in his Lazy Boy and jump to conclusions about stuff he knows little about.

    Rufus, farmers run their tractors on diesel, so American kids are dying to protect your ethanol. The whole charade is made possible by cheap oil.

    Comment by Anonymous | April 12, 2009

  125. Kit likes to sit in his Lazy Boy and jump to conclusions about stuff he knows little about.

    Rufus, farmers run their tractors on diesel, so American kids are dying to protect your ethanol. The whole charade is made possible by cheap oil.

    Comment by Anonymous | April 12, 2009

  126. They run diesel, Now, for warrantee reasons. They can, easily, run them on biodiesel, or with a little modification, ethanol.

    You don’t understand the True argument, D. This isn’t about replacing cheap oil. It’s about replacing Expensive, or Non-existent oil.

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  127. By the way, the commonly accepted ratio is: One gallon of diesel used to produce 19 gallons of ethanol (my number is, actually, a bit better than this.)

    Therefore, since agriculture only accounts for about 2.5% of total oil usage, it’s very easy to say that ethanol production doesn’t require imported oil.

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  128. By the way, the commonly accepted ratio is: One gallon of diesel used to produce 19 gallons of ethanol (my number is, actually, a bit better than this.)

    Therefore, since agriculture only accounts for about 2.5% of total oil usage, it’s very easy to say that ethanol production doesn’t require imported oil.

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  129. Rufus,

    Your link does not say that Chicago’s waste discharge exceeds the combined agriculture runoff from the other 150 watersheds studied.

    “..You can be number one and still only be 5 percent of the issue,” he says. A lot of this nitrogen and phosphorous comes from farmland across the Midwest…”

    Could you explain the relevancy of your link to the prospective report? So farmers expect to plant less acreage this year. That does not mean they have been planting less every year leading up to this year or that they will plant less in the following year.

    Good luck getting a diesel tractor to run on ethanol.

    Ethanol refinery death watch:

    http://earth2tech.com/2009/04/05/biofuels-deathwatch-pacific-ethanol-nova-biosource-join-the-bandwagon

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 12, 2009

  130. Rufus,

    Your link does not say that Chicago’s waste discharge exceeds the combined agriculture runoff from the other 150 watersheds studied.

    “..You can be number one and still only be 5 percent of the issue,” he says. A lot of this nitrogen and phosphorous comes from farmland across the Midwest…”

    Could you explain the relevancy of your link to the prospective report? So farmers expect to plant less acreage this year. That does not mean they have been planting less every year leading up to this year or that they will plant less in the following year.

    Good luck getting a diesel tractor to run on ethanol.

    Ethanol refinery death watch:

    http://earth2tech.com/2009/04/05/biofuels-deathwatch-pacific-ethanol-nova-biosource-join-the-bandwagon

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 12, 2009

  131. Everyone keeps hyperventilating over the Gulf Hypoxia Zone; and I just wanted to make the point that there’s a lot more to it than growing corn.

    Yes, if you google “land use” you will find that we row-cropped about IIRC 400 Million Acres as recently as WWII. We now rowcrop 235 Million Acres. All the while reducing fertilizer/water use per bushel while greatly increasing yields.

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  132. As for “Diesel” engines running on ethanol:

    Check out “Scania.”

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  133. As for “Diesel” engines running on ethanol:

    Check out “Scania.”

    Comment by rufus | April 12, 2009

  134. “Your link does not say that Chicago’s waste discharge exceeds the combined agriculture runoff from the other 150 watersheds studied.”

    Russ, If you follow the links in rufus news article you will find data that indicates that problem of nutrient loading is from urban areas. I have explained this already. Go back and look for the links to the USGS data. If you still have question, I will try to explain it again.

    I used a similar map in business proposals where biomass renewable energy can be produced while reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. I have one dated September 2000. The point of mentioning the date is that I have been working on these issues for a long time. Lots of work is going into reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

    Comment by Kit P | April 13, 2009

  135. Kit P,

    If you re read my original comment on stupid policy you will find it had nothing to do with ethanol, biofuels, farming, hypoxia or any number of the things you seem to think it did.

    It was specifically addressed to a commenter who seemed to excuse the current administrations bailout extravaganza by pointing out that Bush did it too.

    My point being that if bailouts were stupid policy when Bush was in office they are still stupid policy when Obama is in office. Changing the R to a D does not magically change a stupid policy into a good one, it just makes political hacks take the opposite side of the arguments they made previously.

    Another ongoing example is the deafening silence from the folks who were aghast at Bush’s civil liberty impact wiretapping policy who are currently studiously ignoring the fact that groups like the EFF are saying that the negative civil liberties impacts of Obama’s policies are worse than Bush’s

    My original comment

    The use of the “he did it too” arguments as an excuse for bad behavior generally loses strength shortly after elementary school.

    Stupid policy is stupid policy.

    The (R) or (D)behind the politicians name does not have magical power to turn a stupid policy into a smart one.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 13, 2009

  136. Kit P,

    If you re read my original comment on stupid policy you will find it had nothing to do with ethanol, biofuels, farming, hypoxia or any number of the things you seem to think it did.

    It was specifically addressed to a commenter who seemed to excuse the current administrations bailout extravaganza by pointing out that Bush did it too.

    My point being that if bailouts were stupid policy when Bush was in office they are still stupid policy when Obama is in office. Changing the R to a D does not magically change a stupid policy into a good one, it just makes political hacks take the opposite side of the arguments they made previously.

    Another ongoing example is the deafening silence from the folks who were aghast at Bush’s civil liberty impact wiretapping policy who are currently studiously ignoring the fact that groups like the EFF are saying that the negative civil liberties impacts of Obama’s policies are worse than Bush’s

    My original comment

    The use of the “he did it too” arguments as an excuse for bad behavior generally loses strength shortly after elementary school.

    Stupid policy is stupid policy.

    The (R) or (D)behind the politicians name does not have magical power to turn a stupid policy into a smart one.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 13, 2009

  137. Kit P,

    If it were not for the subsidies and mandates (and the associated economic collateral damage) not many people would either care or complain about ethanol.

    Ethanol’s Growing List of Enemies

    Economists argue that making ethanol from corn wouldn’t make any sense without the government’s help.

    The mix of federal and state subsidies to corn ethanol amounted to a conservative estimate of $5 billion to $7 billion in 2006, says Koplow of Earth Track. A considerable chunk of that money comes from the 51¢ tax refund for each gallon of ethanol refiners blend with gasoline to make fuels that can power flexible-fuel cars.

    At the same time, the government imposes a 54¢-per-gallon tariff on ethanol from Brazil, which is a cheaper and more energy-efficient product made from sugar cane.

    Some economists say American politicians are subordinating smart energy policy for political support in key states like Iowa.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 13, 2009

  138. Rufus,

    You said

    Happy? It’s the “Intertubes” Learn it

    Jeez.

    Kindly spare everyone your indignation.

    If you are going to repeatedly make a specific assertion in support of your position you can expect someone to ask for some documentation. The reasons people ask for the documentation range from

    1. They find your information to be interesting and want to have a better understanding of it

    to

    2. They may think your argument is complete BS and want evidence that they need to change their position.

    That is a common trait of discussions on the intertubes, Learn it.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 13, 2009

  139. Rufus,

    You said

    Happy? It’s the “Intertubes” Learn it

    Jeez.

    Kindly spare everyone your indignation.

    If you are going to repeatedly make a specific assertion in support of your position you can expect someone to ask for some documentation. The reasons people ask for the documentation range from

    1. They find your information to be interesting and want to have a better understanding of it

    to

    2. They may think your argument is complete BS and want evidence that they need to change their position.

    That is a common trait of discussions on the intertubes, Learn it.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 13, 2009

  140. Rufus,

    The report you linked to does not support your earlier comment in italics below

    Remember, we’re steadily taking land Out of Production, not adding it into production. We’re taking approx. 5 Million Acres out of production this year, alone.

    The second sentence in your linked article says

    ——————————–

    USDA doesn’t provide a “total acreage” table in the report,

    so there are a bunch of different numbers floating around, depending on which crops you count.

    ——————————–
    How is someone supposed to use the report you linked to to figure out if land has been taken out of production when that information is not provided in the report.

    Furthermore, it is not a report on acres in production it is a “prospective plantings report”.

    The linked report provides the results of a survey that asks farmers what crops they intend to plant, it is not a census of land in production.

    Additionally this report has had a history of underestimating the acres of corn planted. The link says

    ——————————-
    And he added that corn acreage has had a tendency to increase and soybean acreage to decline from intentions to actual planting. .

    ———————————

    In other words the amount of corn planted generally exceeds the number in the report you linked to.

    Duracomm

    Comment by Anonymous | April 13, 2009

  141. Jeez, D, it gives our total rowcrop production at 235 million acres. Do some work yourself for a change.

    Comment by rufus | April 13, 2009

  142. Jeez, D, it gives our total rowcrop production at 235 million acres. Do some work yourself for a change.

    Comment by rufus | April 13, 2009

  143. Again no! What part of no do you need to have explained?You recommended the product. Are you in the habit of recommending products you are not familiar with? If yes, we need to treat all your recommedations with suspicion.

    If no, you know what I’m talking about, no?

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  144. My fear is that we are on the verge of a headlong rush into forms of energy that make no sense without massive federal subsidies, which will turn energy companies into nothing more than political panhandlers dependent on government handouts.Not to worry: we’ll have wasted so much on bailouts, we won’t have money left for (more) crazy ideas like these…

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  145. The use of the “he did it too” arguments as an excuse for bad behavior generally loses strength shortly after elementary school.I thought it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t justifying anything, but rather commenting on the sad state of affairs when we have two incompetent parties dictating national energy policy. And both working together to block any third party from entering the game.

    The (R) or (D)behind the politicians name does not have magical power to turn a stupid policy into a smart one.Nope. Disconcerting is when you can’t tell from the policy if it is an (R) or a (D) making a certain proposal, because both follow broadly the same game plan…

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  146. The use of the “he did it too” arguments as an excuse for bad behavior generally loses strength shortly after elementary school.I thought it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t justifying anything, but rather commenting on the sad state of affairs when we have two incompetent parties dictating national energy policy. And both working together to block any third party from entering the game.

    The (R) or (D)behind the politicians name does not have magical power to turn a stupid policy into a smart one.Nope. Disconcerting is when you can’t tell from the policy if it is an (R) or a (D) making a certain proposal, because both follow broadly the same game plan…

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  147. Now EPA wennies are worried about regulating jet skies (pwc) and snowmobiles. I do not think it has anything to do with environment protection but a pathological fear of anyone who has fun with noise ICE.Maybe EPA wennies want to protect Yellowstone from excessive noise, and the bison from constant disturbance.

    But no! Can’t be! Kit, the all-knowing engineer have read their minds and knows what they are thinking.

    Wonder who is the crazy character in that story…

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  148. Rufus and I and others have provided links to LCA on corn ethanol.You provided a link, Kit? I must have blinked. Please point it out to me.

    You may be confusing some of your all-knowing statements with facts and data…

    By harvesting the excess solar energy in biomass to produce electrician or transportation fuels, the root causes of hypoxia can be reduced.Amen. We agree on something…

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  149. I am always skeptical of those who focus on something other than local issues.You are?

    Were you skeptical of GWB?

    In any case, I think producing 10% of our gasoline with corn ethanol is good government policy.Even if it means NO decrease in our oil imports? Even if it leads to higher food prices for all? And what makes 10% a magic number?

    I have been checking closely and there is no evidence to suggest that it is not. I have found enough evidence to satisfy my concerns.No evidence?!? You are kidding, right? All but most ignorant would have to concede that troubling questions have been raised.

    At this point there are some totally contradictory numbers out there. You have to completely ignore one set of numbers and completely trust another set, to be making these kinds of sweeping statements.

    I guess it brings us back to the all-knowing engineer…

    Anon sits in Starbucks paying through the nose for fo fo coffee but wants cheap energy with zero environmental impact.Oh no! Quick! Hide from the computer screen, Everybody! Kit is out, reading our minds (again)!

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  150. I am always skeptical of those who focus on something other than local issues.You are?

    Were you skeptical of GWB?

    In any case, I think producing 10% of our gasoline with corn ethanol is good government policy.Even if it means NO decrease in our oil imports? Even if it leads to higher food prices for all? And what makes 10% a magic number?

    I have been checking closely and there is no evidence to suggest that it is not. I have found enough evidence to satisfy my concerns.No evidence?!? You are kidding, right? All but most ignorant would have to concede that troubling questions have been raised.

    At this point there are some totally contradictory numbers out there. You have to completely ignore one set of numbers and completely trust another set, to be making these kinds of sweeping statements.

    I guess it brings us back to the all-knowing engineer…

    Anon sits in Starbucks paying through the nose for fo fo coffee but wants cheap energy with zero environmental impact.Oh no! Quick! Hide from the computer screen, Everybody! Kit is out, reading our minds (again)!

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  151. And, no American kids will be dying to protect my ethanol.Does it count if poor American kids die of hunger because you are filling you gas tank with their food? Hint: you can feed a person for a year on the corn it takes to fill the SUV tank once…

    Food->Fuel is a crime against humanity. Period.

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  152. And, no American kids will be dying to protect my ethanol.Does it count if poor American kids die of hunger because you are filling you gas tank with their food? Hint: you can feed a person for a year on the corn it takes to fill the SUV tank once…

    Food->Fuel is a crime against humanity. Period.

    Comment by Optimist | April 13, 2009

  153. Optimist, the kind of corn used in ethanol sells for $0.07/lb.The cost of a box of corn flakes is up about $0.03 as a result of ethanol. A Quarter-Pounder, about $0.02.

    I mean, come on.

    BTW, the only reason corn was cheaper before is that it was subsidized by the taxpayers. It was being sold below the cost of production.

    But, $0.07 a Pound?

    Comment by rufus | April 14, 2009

  154. Optimist, we have enough fertile land lying fallow to feed a large part of the world. But, we can’t do it if they can’t pay $.07. I mean, it costs about $0.06 to raise it.

    Comment by rufus | April 14, 2009

  155. Optimist, we have enough fertile land lying fallow to feed a large part of the world. But, we can’t do it if they can’t pay $.07. I mean, it costs about $0.06 to raise it.

    Comment by rufus | April 14, 2009

  156. “Were you skeptical of GWB?”

    Yes!

    “Maybe EPA wennies want to …”

    Optimist may not know this but we live in a democracy. The folks at the EPA work for us. I like sailing and cross country skiing. Clearly, there is room for what I like and others like. What I object to is the EPA manipulating data by folks in the big city. That is where most EPA folks live and work.

    “Food->Fuel is a crime against humanity. Period.”

    Genocide is a crime against against humanity. Process animal feed into animal feed and fuel is not not.

    Optimist, does your guilt trip manipulation work very often?

    Comment by Kit P | April 14, 2009

  157. Optimist may not know this but we live in a democracy.Tell you what, Kit, you tell me what you know (and think). I’ll tell you what I know. You have NO idea what I know, or think. Capishe?

    I like sailing and cross country skiing.And the EPA interferes with your activities how?

    What I object to is the EPA manipulating data by folks in the big city.That is a pretty serious charge to level against our employees. You have any proof?

    That is where most EPA folks live and work.Perhaps you are the one forgetting that you live in a democracy, Kit. The majority of Americans live in the city. That means the city folk will get their way, most of the time. So play nice.

    Genocide is a crime against against humanity.No argument there.

    Process animal feed into animal feed and fuel is not not.Perhaps you’re forgetting that people eat corn too, Kit. (You don’t, Farm Boy?)

    …But, we can’t do it if they can’t pay $.07. I mean, it costs about $0.06 to raise it.Well, thank socialist agricultural policy for distorting the prices of farm commodities. Under those conditions, I agree, the prices make no sense.

    So let’s talk about value. Food clearly has a lot more value than fuel. Food not only has to be nutritious, but also safe. On top of that we need a variety of it.

    Fuel, OTOH, is so worthless that we just burn it to release the BTUs in it.

    So when you convert Food->Fuel you are destroying value. Adding value requires that you convert a lower value feedstock (like waste) into fuel.

    Comment by Optimist | April 14, 2009


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