The Bio-fuels Boondoggle

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If something’s desirable it ought not to be necessary to force people to buy it.biofuel 3

Chipotle, for instance, doesn’t need to spend millions in de facto bribes (“campaign contributions”) to wheedle Congress into passing burrito subsidies. Nor are you forced to eat at Chipotle if burritos and bowls are not your thing. The market has voted – freely, without being prodded or pushed – that Chipotle is a good place to eat and so people go there willingly, part with their money gladly.

Why doesn’t the same standard apply  to “renewable” fuels, specifically – ethanol and biodiesel? If, as we’re told, they are viable alternatives to gasoline, why must people be forced to subsidize them?

Required to buy them?

It’s a question that ought to be asked more often – which might result in crony capitalist hog-troughers  (this time dressed in “green” livery) shoving their hands in our pockets less often.    

But that’s probably just why it’s not asked.corn con 2

You probably know all about the oceans of money ($6 billion annually; see here) diverted from taxpayers to a handful of massive agribusiness cartels – not mom and pop family farms –  to “encourage” the production of ethanol (corn alcohol) which is then mixed in with the supply of what used to be gasoline – but which is now 10 percent ethanol (E10).

The agribusiness cartels get rich. In return, American drivers get adulterated fuel that has less energy content per gallon, is corrosive to the fuel systems of older cars and power equipment such as lawn mowers – and causes newer cars to be less fuel-efficient than they’d be if they were fed pure gasoline.

The diversion of cropland to the production of ethanol feedstock has also made food more expensive.

Corn that might have fed cattle – which would then feed us – instead goes to feed the ethanol stills.

Beef costs more to produce – and costs more to ship. 

Now it’s time for another cashing-in. ethanol cartoon   

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and several others in Congress are pressing for a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to require that bio-diesel (which is the diesel equivalent of ethanol) be produced in much greater quantity and (as with ethanol) shunted into the fuel supply in ever-upticking percentages. (See here for the PDF.)

The italics are important.

This is not a request or a suggestion. It is the regulatory gorilla of the federal government – EPA – laying down another edict with the binding force of law that will require the production of more bio-diesel. Which American taxpayers – and motorists – will then be compelled to pay for. 

And to use. 

First, their tax dollars will be directed into the apparently bottomless pockets of the bio-diesel “industry” (in quotes because an industry that can’t manage without government “help” is really just an arm of the government, with the same control over your wallet as the IRS). Then, they’ll enjoy the “benefits” of reduced mileage and mechanical issues in their diesel-powered vehicles, caused by using sub-par fuel. Finally – as is the case with ethanol – they’ll pay more for food. Because more cropland will be diverted to the production of feedstock for bio-diesel.   biodiesel pic

Like the ethanol “industry,” we are dealing with a make-work project. The contrived manufacturer of something that hasn’t got a viable natural market, an insufficient customer base. Just the force of government (and corruption) of government behind it.    


* The lion’s share (about 50 percent) of bio-diesel production involves soybeans – a food crop. The diversion of millions of acres of cropland to non-food-production means less land devoted to food production – which inevitably means, higher prices for food. 

* Bio-diesel, like ethanol, is not energy efficient. A gallon of it won’t take you as far as a gallon of  “straight” petroleum-based diesel. Therefore, more bio-diesel must be produced (and consumed) to provide the same motive power.

* It takes energy to make bio-diesel, just as it takes energy to produce ethanol. It doesn’t just well up, magically, out of the earth. How much energy “input” is necessary to produce bio-diesel vs. refine petroleum-based diesel? If the economics of bio-diesel are so favorable, then why is government force necessary?biodiesel 2

* Bio-diesel, like ethanol, is hygroscopic – it attracts moisture. This wreaks havoc with fuel systems – especially diesel fuel systems. Hard or no starting, internal corrosion and injector problems are among the many problems associated with bio-diesel.

* A problem not much discussed outside of engineering circles is that even slight bio-diesel adulteration of the fuel supply is incompatible with common rail direct injected (CDI) diesel engines. Which just happens to be almost all currently-in-production passenger car diesel engines.

There are major warranty – and emissions – issues with the use of the bio-diesel fuel, especially in higher concentrations, in modern diesel passenger car engines.

* Currently, “B5” and “B2” diesels ( 5 percent and 2 percent bio-diesel, respectively) constitute more than 95 percent of all currently available diesel fuel being sold at service stations.

If the EPA mandates higher concentrations, it could prove to be as big a debacle for diesel-powered cars as ethanol has been for gas-engined cars. biofuel 3

But Grassley, et al, seem unconcerned. After all, they won’t be affected (Congress being exempted from the laws it applies to the rest of us, like Obamacare, for instance). And so they’re forging ahead with their plans to use the EPA to force-feed the American driving public ever-increasing percentages of this doped-up fuel. They will claim – have been cleaning – that so-called “renewables” are good for America.

They are certainly good for the agribusiness cartels.  

But if they’re so good for America, why is it necessary to literally shove a funnel in the mouths of the driving public and force them to use the stuff? The fact that this is necessary tells a damning truth about the desirability of “renewable” fuels. 

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    • What a creepy bot. Normally it’s script sets up an account as “Clean Fuels community” and then says: “This is a great article. I think you’ll really like our Clean Fuels Shillfest…”

      Wonder how it knows to call itself David here?

  1. Bio-diesel actually had potential IF it could be made from algae and/or hemp oil. Greenhouses set up specifically for algae production were entirely feasible, but the tech to efficiently separate the vegetable oil from the starches and protein in the algae never materialized. Bio-diesel is absolutely great if you can find a regular source for waste cooking oil and don’t mind setting up the equipment to make it. Burns cleaner that petrol diesel and seems to be easier on the engine.

    The Model T was originally sold as a flex fuel vehicle that could be converted over to ethanol specifically because farmers could grown their own crop to ferment into fuel for their own use. Alcohol prohibition arrived just after this. Wonder if there”s a connection.

    Basically, bio-fuels are like most other alternate energy technologies – great deployed on the micro level, but awful on the macro.

  2. The reason for the ethanol being added to gasoline is to take more crops from feeding people to making fuel for vehicles. The people behind this, the wackos and the farmers are morally bankrupt. As they would like to see people die from starvation to feed fuel to a vehicle that causes vehicle problems. It is part of the anti people agenda and the anti auto agendas favored by all politicians and multinational companies. If you think that someone is being altruistic for enacting laws like this, you can be considered to be insane.

  3. There’s really no need for ethanol anymore – with oxygen sensors (any consumer vehicle built in the last 25 years) adding ethanol or any other oxygenator to gasoline is no longer necessary.

    Plus, there was never any good reason to make it from corn – blenders should have been allowed to purchase it on the world market, e.g. from Brazil or another country selling cheap ethanol from sugarcane.

  4. The representative Iowa ethanol plant makes 50 million in pure profit due entirely to government mandates. Virtually no one would purchase ethanol willingly without the mandate. Certainly not at current prices that generate such an enormous crony corporate profit.

    Ethanol is a double whammy of fascist assholism. Not only is the public forced to do something against its will for the “common good” of its federal overlords. The public is also forced to render an obscene undeserved profit to the government contractors who make the ethanol.

    Despite Thunderous Opposition, EPA INCREASES The Ethanol Mandate, issuing standards two years late that mandate 17.40 billion gallons of biofuels — cellulosic, biomass-based and advanced fuels — be blended into U.S. fuel supplies.

    2014 Really Was an Amazing Year for Ethanol Production Profits

  5. Trust me the Farmers here in Idaho are getting all the candy too for complying
    for daddy.The most ardent ,so called conservatives are all to
    willing to take the subsidies.Low Gov-Co cattle loans,Gov-Co Pivot irrigation loans,
    Windmill Mafia energy money and on and on.While Pedro,Juan, and Jose
    bust a move for minimum wage and single wide piece of shit single wide.

    But farmer Brown will tale you hard he works.
    And how he can’t get any white kids to work for him.”Just Lazy”

    But its Funny though,you don’t see there own kids working for
    Like Pedro does or even at all.

    Great article as usual Eric.

    • Close enough for sure. Rich boys got no use working for peanuts and dad doesn’t want them to. Those boys get the good jobs, qualifications be damned. I live it.

    • If a station is outside an EPA zone it can sell fuel without ethanol or other biofuel. The federal mandates are written on the refinery level I believe. That’s why it’s ‘up to 10% ethanol’. The refineries can choose the percentage to meet the federal target. A few gallons of zero percent here and there don’t matter much.

      • As I have noted before, most of the few ‘stations’ in MD selling unpolluted gasoline are actually marinas.

  6. Iowa is the start of the political circus known as election season. Even now, politicians and media wonks are looking at the tea leaves in the state to generate a lot bits and bytes about how Iowans “feel” about their government. Nothing makes someone like you like a handout and guaranteed market for your product.

    And remember, modern farming is more about keeping up on the loan payments, not actually producing wealth. Borrow to buy (sterile) seed. Borrow to buy equipment. Take out another mortgage on the land. Kiss up to the politicians to keep crop insurance cheap. And farmers wonder why their kids don’t want to go into the family business. Better for the kids to go into banking and actually make money from farming instead.

    Finding a market in transportation fuel is a way to make a plentiful product scarce. Just like “renewable” electricity, it raises prices by making an extremely inexpensive, reliable, and plentiful product less so. But politicians will continue to tell us they aren’t scientists, economists or whatever other field they meddle in, while continuing to meddle away.

    • Well, seed is certainly not “sterile”, the very reason you must sign an agreement to let the seed company have back every bit of seed you produce. They clean it, use some pre-emergent chemicals on it and sell it back to you for $300/sack in the case of cotton.

      For a hundred + years cottonseed was made into animal feed. No more though…..and if anyone is using it in animal feed it will be part of the seed company.

      • Iowa is home to the worst sort of Sovietesque sheeple losers. They are the exact polar opposite of Texans.

        With no identity of their own whatsoever, they are eager lumpen proles waiting to be told who they are and what to think by any bigger city or more powerful state whatsoever.

        Whatever the latest zeitgeist reigns in Chicago, New York, or California, you can be sure the Iowans are eagerly attempting to ingest the latest swill of pseudo social science purveyance and to make the latest socialist utopia iterations a cornbred overfed reality.

        I seriously loathe everything about Iowa. It is the anvil of America, just waiting for the latest social justice nationalization hammer to come around and bend and shape their malleable nothingness into whatever tool of oppression the Federalist Heroes might need to further their use of mundanes as a means to their dystopian greater good ends.

        • Now, now, Tor. My daughter was born in Iowa, and she moved back there a couple of years ago when she married an organic farmer. But I agree, there are a lot of sheeple there, just not quite all.

          • The best of the organic farmers when I was there were those that were JAS certified to produce for the Japanese.

            I’m sure there are plenty of industrious and productive people in Iowa, they’re just a little too gullible and state-submissive is all I’m asserting.

            Plenty of capable workers sure, but philosophically, Iowa is completely bankrupt.

            They should probably just shut it all down and petition to become the southern portion of a greater Minnesota or the western portion of a greater Illinois.

            Total U.S. Exports (Origin of Movement) from Iowa

            I spent 8 weeks there in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and also countless other times in various bars and get togethers.

            The women were first rate and ready to mingle. Second only to Oregonians for good time gals who were good to go.

            But except for the nearly senior citizen, any discernible form of men were nearly entirely non-existent. Even the most isolated under-50 rural farmer was some manner of metrosexual or other.

            A truly bizarre absence of ego and self-sovereignty. Maybe it is all the farm chemicals they’re slathered in.

            I should qualify this to say the oldtimers were mostly fine, but anyone 50 or under that is now living in Iowa is most likely a heartland clover of some kind, I’m fairly certain.

            It kinda makes my skin creep to think about the wormy little Upton Sinclairians.

            They don’t want to nationalize anything outright, yet they all seem eager for Venezuelan-style capital confiscation by a thousand different regulations and mandates.

            The soul of an Iowan is the soul of a boondoggler. He doesn’t want to compete with other states.

            The Iowan egalitarian wanna be wants some world body or national body or other to finally put an end to competition and inequality and to just hand him his fair share of the pie in a bright new socialist egalitarian paradise.

            From what I’ve seen of them, the Iowegians are giggling like schoolgirls eagerly anticipating the 1000s of new points of light of new hope and greater change after which his fat fuck farm children will finally not be left behind the other kids after the 2016 election shitstorm that’s due to make landfall any day now.

        • I had an old college buddy from Ohio and that was even worse. They were PROUD of being yankees. And their accent somehow makes their voices really weird, high-pitched and nasally.

          • At least they say ‘pop,’ not ‘soooooda.’
            Course your ‘unfermented drinks’ (if you ever so indulge) are all ‘coke.’

            • True.

              Full disclosure: I most likely hate every state not just Iowa.

              Utah newspapers seem to have highly libertarian comments in them.

              I just spent some time in Texas, and it does seem to have its shit together better than anywhere else. But if I moved there, I’m sure I’d find all kinds of faults with it in no time.

              Sad to say, but Americunts seem to be the biggest assholes on the planet by a rather wide margin.

              At least the ones you see in all the media, or the ones you run into who open their mouths to speak in an unthinking. superficial, and offhanded manner, that is.
              – –

              Multinational Corporations on Fast Track to Rule America and the World with TPP, TTIP

  7. Live here in the middle of ethanol/corn country (Iowa) and have used it for over 30 years with no problems. What’s mostly available is the E10 or 10% but you can buy E85 or 85% if you want and if your car is built for it. Generally speaking E10 runs a 5 to 10 cents a gallon cheaper than regular and E85 is sometimes a dollar lower per gallon. Those price differences are directly related to the subsidies. I’ve never experienced related engine problems or noticeable power/mileage loss on the E10 but I’ve driven E85 cars and you definitely will experience a mpg drop with E85 even if the car is built for it (E85 Chevy Impalas that usually got 28-30 mpg on E10 dropped to 24-25 mpg on the E85). As for mandates and subsidies I’m not sure who to believe anymore. Yes the ethanol industry is getting both but when I look at the oil industry and all the hidden subsidies they receive E.G. what we spend in the middle east trying to maintain stability for the large multi-nationals pumping oil from the ground there, it may be a wash. Not sure if I’ve ever seen a study done on how much military spending is related either directly or indirectly to the price of gas or for any of the other indirect subsidies the oil industry receives. I agree though that there should be no subsidies for any industry, either direct or indirect by the government. Unfortunately I don’t think any of us will ever see the day when all this is put to rest.

    • Here in Oz we have 91, 95 and 98 octane fuels. The 91 and few 98 octane fuels are unadulterated. The 95 and rest of 98 octane are 5 and 10% ethanol respectively.

      I used the 5% ethanol without any problems for years, but in every engine I tried 98 octane, ethanol or not, I lose 10% fuel economy.

      Ethanol does have a lower energy density, but contrary to popular belief by boy-racers worldwide, the higher the octane, the slower the fuel burns and the higher compression you need to make it useful.

      • ” …contrary to popular belief by boy-racers worldwide, the higher the octane, the slower the fuel burns and the higher compression you need to make it useful.”


        Mileage using E10 is noticeably less in my old Pontiac, which has 8.2:1 CR.

        Many new (gas engined) cars have extremely high CR. Over 10.0:1 is now very common and some are over 11.0:1

        That’s great, if you want to buy a new car.

        But it sucks, if you don’t – and want your older car to run as it should.

        • eric, I made sure our new mower wasn’t “California Compliant”. Everyone has learned what lean and Tx. heat does to air cooled engines. Soon we won’t be able to buy air-cooled engines and the price of mowers will be significantly higher.

          Now they are recommending, for best engine life, to use StaBil in the gasoline. I’m not sure how that would help except to keep long term storage gasoline as new.

          I have decided to hedge my bet by using the middle grade gasoline to lower the cylinder temp. I did buy some Amsoil “Offroad & Racing” Octane Boost. I have no way of knowing how much that helps temperature wise. Now I’m considering using something like Marvel Mystery Oil for upper cylinder lubrication.

          It’s tough to know how to best take care of your air-cooled engine with the crud they call fuel.

          BTW, I did confirm something I long-suspected to be true since it seemed as I had experienced it before. I hauled off our aluminum mine, about 20 sacks of crushed aluminum cans that have built up over the years in one area of the barn. I found two cans of gasoline, both in galvanized steel cans and the gas in each smelled fine, looked fine and ran fine. It was 3 years old. That same gas in a plastic container would be doing well to be good in six months. I still have a 6 gallon plastic “jerry can” I use but I use it right away…….with StaBil.

      • be sure to check the octane measurement method. There is ‘research’ and ‘motor’. The USA currently uses (R+M)/2, other countries use one or the other. that’s the only way to compare octanes across boarders, to understand what method is being used.

  8. Another not so “green” thing about ethanol, and I imagine bio-diesel as well, is that it cannot flow through pipelines. It gums them up, just like your lawn mower or boat engine. So it must move by rail or truck, which is less efficient and more dangerous.

    People also forget that higher food prices are impacted worldwide, not just the USA. So not only middle class consumers in the USA hit with much higher prices, the whole world is, and it hurts the poorest of the world the hardest.

    If private small companies were trying to raise prices on their own in this manner, the press would crucify them and someone would probably get prosecuted and jailed. But since its politicians and their big business cronies we get sounds of crickets.

  9. There was a rumor here at my refinery that EPA attempted to force us to use ethanol in out diesel fuel blend. Our chemists and chem engineers told them, flat out, no. Because adding an alcohol to a compression engine fuel is a great way to make the damned thing explode.

    EPA currently fines my refinery, my location, about $10,000 per day for not adding cellulostic ethanol to our gasoline blend, as well. We did a cost analysis a few years back, and found that it is cheaper to pay the fine than make the additive, there being no way to mass produce the chemical outside a lab…

    These people are irrational.

    • “These people are irrational.” Being that willingly they work for TPTB, that is fit for the Department of Redundancy Department.

    • Yeps..

      It’s that supremely annoying, expensive, progressive, wine-quaffing green-left that are so irrational that they’re happy to destroy the very society they live in – then unhappy because it hasn’t turned out like the unicorn farts they wet-dreamed about.

    • Texas Chris, where does the fuel from your refinery end up? I’ve been all over Tx. and can’t find a non-ethanol fuel to save my life.

      There is a website that shows the price of fuel and where you can find pure gasoline. I look for those places and see one near me. Hhmm. says I, they didn’t used to be pure gas and they certainly aren’t now since I had stopped the day before at that exact station and it was all 10% ethanol.

      So, can I bring a tanker and buy a load from them? I have no doubt I could sell it to one customer.

      • Oh, we add ethanol. Corn ethanol. Just not cellulostic. Totally different animal.

        On a side note, you can get E-free gas in a little town called Buna, TX. Only place I’ve found, and they proudly advertise the fact.

  10. From what I have read, straight biodiesel is only bad in the beginning because it cleans all the petrol diesel gunk out of the fuel system, and will clog your filter. It does have less energy, but I was thinking of making it myself to avoid high fuel prices. Moisture attraction is an issue if your truck sits a lot. I have an old indirect injection Detroit diesel engine though, so I don’t have any concerns about exhaust particles as there are no filters. None the less, it should not be forced on anyone. The real problem for older engines is the ultra low sulfur requirement, since it is a lubricant. I usually get around this by adding in the little bit of clean motor oil on the bottom of the jugs after an oil change. The couple ounces of motor oil helps lubricate the injection pump. As far as ethanol goes, here in cook county around Chicago, there are no pure gas stations as they have been banned because of the Chicago machine. Rockford is about as close as you can get pure gas.

    • There may be stations in the Midwest, near the soy crop, that sell straight biodiesel. The ones I have noticed on the East Coast seem to be a blend. And that is probably as bad, maybe worse, than ‘gasohol.’

  11. If they were serious about ‘sustainable’ biodiesel (and ethanol) they would [re]legalize hemp, a crop that produces both oil and biomass, and grows on marginal soils not suitable for corn and soy.
    Many of the original states required farmers to grow a certain amount of hemp back in those days.

    • That’s a nasty little story all its own. Billionaires seeking to protect their hegemony in a huge market using drug laws to stop production of a non-drug crop that had been required of farmers to grow on pain of imprisonment and fines during the recent WWll debacle. Same old story, follow the money….

      • It was actually during the 1930s that cannabis (Dutch for canvas) was outlawed. Rockefeller and Hearst hired doctors to testify to Congress that its use would cause people to be violent. Then, just a few years later during the (so-called) “Good War,” non-coms were telling the officers that they could not allow the enlisted men to smoke ‘Mary Jane’ because they would not fight.

    • Hemp was used to make all those ropes that water-going conveyances once needed, therefore the mandate for making farmers use valuable land to grow an unprofitable crop. Grows fast even in lousy conditions and makes lots of useable fiber but farmers did not waste their efforts to clear and cultivate crappy parcels, especially for growing an invasive weed. Think kudzo. If I remember correctly, hemp is related to but is not marijuana.

      • Not just ropes (lines, to the swabbies) but sails too.
        It’s true that hemp is not quite the same as marijuana. But MJ is the excuse the billionaires used to outlaw hemp.

        • PtB, hemp has something like .02 down to .05% THC. It is very high in CBD’s, the very chemical that will cause the other varieties of hemp(cannabis sativa and cannabis indica)to be rendered null and void as to getting a “high”. CBD’s in fact, are showing great promise in many areas of health, a killer of cancer cells being one of its best attributes.

          Much of the marijuana now grown is grown for health purposes and as such, is bred for little THC and much CDB. It’s what is known as another of the things that are “analgesics”, they naturally kill inflammation, the cause of virtually every malady in mammals.

          Marijuana can safely treat many types of disease. It will be a old day in hell before Big Pharm will admit it, even though they are producing synthetic THC and CBD’s as fast as they can, it just doesn’t have all the properties of MJ nor is it cheap. You can produce synthetic THC in your garden and therein is the rub.

          What the DEA has against it is MONEY. There are only about 400 agents that work in that agency and they all have their own part of the globe staked out to make vast amounts of money. Without the illegal cannabis trade they’d have to deal with a much smaller footprint of crime(and money)and be exposed to sellers of much more powerful drugs with much higher profits and greatly more badass people to deal with.

          I just had a thought. Pulp Fiction and the diner robbery. “Just reach in that bag and get out my wallet”. “Uh, oh ok, which one is it?” “It’s the one that says Bad Motherfucker”. Then Pumpkin pulls out a wallet that has branded on it Bad Motherfucker.

          I’ve considered getting one that says Cranky Old Fart…..but I don’t use one. I carry a DL, a credit card, a fuel card and cash. I have a wallet in my kit with that butt-killing stuff in it. I hate getting in a truck that’s been driven by the same driver for years and the seat has that spot where his wallet was. Let’s see, he was a right side carrier and it must have been a tri-fold from the way the seat feels.

        • DuPont, the patent holder for manufacture of Freon. Freon was conveniently banned as the patent life was due to expire. Follow the money.

          • I recall about 10 years ago at the HVAC supply they had a sign that said the price of a pound of Freon 12 was .$69 and the tax was $19+ if you were willing to buy it. I bought a bunch of 12 at Sam’s before it became illegal to sell it to the general public. It lasted me for many years since I’d reclaim it and use it again.

            Yep, Warp, duPont and Hearst were both wanting it banned so tying it to MJ was the perfect lie in getting it banned. The first survey Anslinger did showed MJ wasn’t a big deal and its danger was fairly much non-existent. Then he was ordered to do another survey with greatly different results……which he did. At least Reefer Madness was a great hoot.

            • 8 – Not just duPont and Hearst – J D Rockefeller was in on it too, cause Henry was using hemp oil instead of Texas Tea to make plastic.
              Actually this thread was the 1st I’d heard of duPont’s involvement, but it makes perfect sense – to the fascists.

  12. How bad Is the mpg hit? I took a trip this weekend, almost all expressway. I would usually get over 40 mpg – I generally get 39 in my ‘normal’ commute. I got 34. And I remember seeing a biodiesel notice on the pump when I filled up before I took off.

    • This is the first I’ve ever heard that Biodiesel is less fuel efficient than petro. I run BD on long trips in the Cherokee and get 30-32 on the highway. Exactly the same as petro.

      As far as BD causing corrosion, only if it’s homebrew and the mixer doesn’t wash his acid (or his lye/NaSH) out of the final product. Major producers don’t have that problem.

      BD is very hard on the fuel filters and injectors, though. It gets gloopy at low temp, and the newer, tighter tolerance engines can’t handle it.

    • I consistantly got 42 to 45 mpg with my 2006 VW Jetta diesel burning 50% biodiesel. I used to make it myself from french fry grease and also had a source for commercially made from corn oil that was extracted at an ethanol plant. The company that processed the corn oil was extracting some protein for humans and then turning their “waste” into biodiesel. There’s so much Eric doesn’t know about ethanol and biodiesel and when I read his articles begin to wonder if anything he writes is worth reading. I have a 1995 Ford Aspire that has had 30% ethanol in it since 2002 and I can get over 40 MPG if I don’t make all short trips. Also, never modified anything on the car. All the hupla about E15 is a joke since I’ve proved it wrong in several pre 2001 vehicles. I think Eric is a BIG MOUTHPIECE for BIG OIL.

      • Surely you jest. I unknowingly (the station hadn’t posted its pumps as having ethanol) ran E10 in my ’85 Dodge van for some months and nearly retired the truck because of fuel feed problems. It wasn’t until I accidentally found out about the gas that I pinned the problem down. Pulled the tank, had a radiator shop clean it out, presto! problem solved. The ethanol had loosened everything up in the tank.

        That same gas crippled my snowblower by disintegrating the fuel line, clogging the carburetor up with little black bits of line. All these problems with ethanol, and for what? Break-even energy in/energy out ratios, higher food prices, and grossly enlarged amounts of fertilizer necessary to keep corn happy, which gets into the water. What a perfect government boondoggle.

        • Ross, 7 and 8 dollar corn was the excuse used to raise grocery prices. Corn is about $3.50 a bushel right now. Have they lowered the food prices 50% yet. In reality, $150 a barrel crude oil was the reason groceries went up. Americans are generally a very misinformed people.

          • Hi Martin,

            It’s a fact that a large portion of the nation’s available crop acreage is devoted to ethanol (and bio-diesel) which necessarily means less of those foodstuffs (and feed) for human and animal use. I have chickens and the 100 pound bags of corn scratch I buy now cost appx. 30 percent more than they did just a few years ago. Certainly, inflation is a factor. But to discount the effect of reduced supply (to fuel ethanol stills) is not logical, as I see it.

            Also, transport (and energy costs, generally) costs have increased – and part of the reason for that is the lower efficiency of the “renewable” fuels.

            But, again, the moral issue at hand is whether it’s right – or wrong – to “encourage” or “help” any for-profit enterprise using coercion to take from one person or group and “give” to another.

            My position is that it’s wrong. Because no one has a right to force someone else to “help” them, financially or otherwise.

            We can debate the utilitarian aspects until the cows come home and get nowhere, because we each have a different idea as to what’s worth supporting.

            But if we stick to discussing whether it’s morally right to use violence or its threat to force others to support “x” or “y,” then we’ll have an altogether discussion – and one well worth having, in my opinion.

          • Raising food prices just because grain prices go up is like raising gasoline (and diesel) prices just because crude goes up – it never seems to work in the other direction.
            But although food prices may have increased more than justified by the grain prices, I agree w/Eric that they are a factor.

            • PtB, I will speak to corn: It is pretty cheap and has been for some time now, this past year. Probably soy is down also. I’m not sure of all the reasons but that 10% ethanol affecting the price of both is certainly tied to the demand for fuel. US refineries dropped a total of 1 M bpd(barrels per day)over a year ago, I think for the entire year last year.

              Even the price of livestock feed has dropped from last year, and the year before.

              Had a 20+ year drought in Tx. and several other states not decimated the beef supply so radically. Cargill, the owner of that huge processing plant in the panhandle, shut its doors Feb. 1 2013. We’re gonna need a great deal more of el nino before we recover in the beef industry. We have had two years of fairly good rains, enough so that some people have returned to actually eating beef they have raised, something not a lot of people could justify with the high price of beef, the lack of cattle and the economy that’s been badly tanking for more than a decade, been tanking badly since ’99 at least.

              BTW, WTI prices are $45.17 with Brent prices around $49.52. Wow, you say, less than half price gasoline from a year ago?? Well, nobody ever said it was a level playing board. For more on that:

              You’re certainly not the only one to notice that gasoline never goes down as much as crude although big oil would like you to Not notice.

              I gave $5.269/gallon in ’08 for diesel, a $200 fill up, Phillip. And why was that? Politics… in the Shrub told big oil to gouge like they never had before since their run was about to be over for high fuel prices and a likely Dem. prez coming in. They did up till Oct. thinking the general public’s memory isn’t over a month long but people may have voted with their pocket book that election. And when fuel prices dropped they were only a $1 higher than previously. People may have caught on that those wonderful wars the neocons are always clamoring for cost them money too….and make the neocons big bucks.

              The flip side of the ethanol coin is the blenders, oil companies, get more than $.50/gal for that service at the refinery. So big oil gets its cut of the ethanol boondoggle too. Ah, what a wicked web…….

      • Hi Martin,

        My chief issue with ethanol and bio-diesel is the mandates. Forcing people to subsidize the production and use of these “renewable” fuels.

        The other issues would be irrelevant absent the mandates.

        How do you feel about “Big Corn”?

        PS: I and others here have had the opposite experience with regard to the effects of ethanol. The key thing, I suspect, is the age of the vehicle. Your car (1995 model) was built to handle alcohol in fuel up to about 10 percent. But older cars (like my ’76 Pontiac) were not designed to handle alcohol in any significant concentration. The alcohol is corrosive to the o-rings, diaphragms and gaskets in carburetors, especially. Jet orifices become occluded with goo. I assure you I m not making this up, much less being a shill for “Big Oil.”

        Also, it is indisputable that, all else being equal, a given engine will need to burn more E10 (or E15) to travel the same distance vs. gasoline because E10 (etc.) contains less energy per gallon than pure gasoline. In older cars with carburetors, the E10 effectively leans-out the fuel mixture, causing the engine to run hotter, too.

        On bio-diesel: The new diesels have elaborate downstream emissions gear (particulate traps, urea injection) which your ’06 doesn’t have. The new, “smogged” diesel vehicles cannot use bio-diesel above certain concentrations (or even at all) for emissions (and warranty) reasons. Read the manual of a current/2015 MY diesel-powered passenger and you’ll see what I mean.

        • You are right about the new stuff and biodiesel. 2006 was the last of the good VW’s. My 2012 Ford Focus has gotten a very consistent 30 mpg using E85 probably 95 % of the time. The first 50 miles leaving the dealer was the only E10 it’s had—never less than E30 on a trip because I had to blend down to get to the next E85 pump. I saw a guy fueling with E0 87 octane in a car just like mine and asked what the mileage was—he said 38. Around here in Iowa, that makes E85 a bargain. One other thing you need to remember about the mandates, the oil companies own or indirectly control gas stations. Do you think they’d push ethanol without a mandate? While they complain, they are loving E10 because they can make 84 sub-octane and use ethanol, the cheapest octane in the world, to bring it up to 87. I’ll admit, in a perfect world, E30 is the sweet spot. It has been proven in Detroit to have 100 octane characteristics, fewer nano sized particulates coming out the tailpipe, pretty good mpg’s using a smaller, more powerful,higher compression engines. There is an outfit in Minneapolis MN that builds carburetors designed just for E85 in older muscle cars—google it. There are some others too. Beats the heck out of buying that super expensive race fuel in a barrel.

          • I forgot about the subsidy comment. Ethanol doesn’t get any money from the gov’t anymore. The mandate to use it is the only thing that could be considered a subsidy. Here in my town, you can get E10 87 octane and E0 87 that is a blend of 91 and 84 sub-octane. The E0 costs 30 cents a gallon more. I don’t have any gasoline farm tractors but the other day I saw a farmer putting 87 E10 in his 4020 John Deere from the late 1960’s.

            • Hi Martin,

              Given that E10 is effectively ubiquitous – the only fuel available in most areas – I’d say that’s a pretty significant “help” to the ethanol cartel.

              The “renewable fuels tax rebate” amounts to something like $6 billion annually.

              That’s a lot of shekels.

              You’re aware they are pushing for E15, right?

              • Eric, can you explain how the “renewable fuels tax rebate” fits into the picture of ethanol plants today. I’m an investor in three plants and not aware of anything helping ethanol other than the mandate for oil companies to blend a certain amount into the gasoline supply.

                • Hi Martin,

                  You’ve answered your own question!

                  viz: “other than the mandate for oil companies to blend a certain amount into the gasoline supply.”

                  In other words, the oil companies are forced to add ethanol. And we’re effectively forced to buy it.

                  How is this any different than (as an example) a restaurant such as Chipotle being required to serve some food item its customers haven’t expressed interest in? And then forcing the people who go to Chipotle to accept a side of that food item on their plate, like it or not?

                  • Eric, you said this before— The “renewable fuels tax rebate” amounts to something like $6 billion annually. So you agree that ethanol doesn’t get any money or credits—-just a mandate for oil to blend a certain amount. If reality prevailed and we had E85 and E30 at most stations, there’d be so much low octane E0 for all you guys driving old cars. I think the reason my Focus gets a consistent 30 mpg is the 12 to 1 compression ratio. One other thought for you. I have a friend that knows a guy that worked for Exxon in 1973. His job was to sequence oil tankers off shore so as to CREATE the shortage. Oil is ruthless and thus the mandate.

                    • I do not agree, Martin!

                      The money – billions – that “Big Corn” gets it not the result of people freely buying ethanol. It is precisely and only because of the mandate issued by government that ethanol be put into the fuel supply.

                    • There never was a shortage, even one created, in most states. The Gulf of Mexico had tankers stacked up for months at a time due to them not being able to offload. The refineries in Tx. looked for every place they could store fuel to try and make it look as if there was a shortage.

                      It was a big joke in the oil field then since there was never any shortage for oilfield work. I knew guys who hauled fuel and they’d say “Don’t leave your bathroom window open or the tub will be full of fuel when you get back”. There literally wasn’t a container available that wasn’t being used. Even old, leaking tanks at close stations were brimming full.

                      Texas and many other states have supplied the rest of the nation and it was so in ’73. OPEC oil amounted to 3% of imported oil but big oil doesn’t import only into this country. It was nothing less than a scam to rip off the public and govt. was in it up to it’s nose.

      • Martin, The point is not whether ethanol and biodiesel is bad for engines, although you may just have lucked out with the model/specific vehicle you own. The bigger issue is why it is forced down our throats by government edict. If biofuels made economic sense there would be plenty of people producing them for millions of willing consumers. That it is not so tells us that we are seeing someone’s lobbying dollars at work.

  13. The biggest concern with biodiesel is in the exhaust pipe. Burning bio as a fuel produces lots of ash and ash clogs up the outrageously expensive Diesel Particulate Filter. Eliminating ash in the motor oil is partially why diesel-specific oils are now outrageously expensive. But the representatives who represent us yokels aren’t concerned about those of us who never lease and keep the same “clunkers” running for decades. Those folks are primarily interested with securing more campaign donations from deep pockets wanting their hands in our pockets. You know, the ones who enrich themselves when government forces gasoline to be enriched with alcohol.

    It’s for the children.


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