Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Down with demon ethanol

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State Senator Dale Schultz wants us all to drink the ethanol again:

Now Schultz is at it again. He’s proposing a requirement that “10 percent of motor fuels sold in Wisconsin come from renewable sources like ethanol and biodiesel,” according to his press release. By 2012 the requirement would be 15 percent. Schultz argues the requirement would motivate “retailers to offer options like soy-based biodiesel and E85, and it still allows consumers non-renewable options.”

However, his release does not say what happens when consumers choose not to make 10 percent of their fuel purchases ethanol and “soy-based biodiesel.” When consumers choose, and if given the chance they will, to skip the biodiesel and ethanol, suddenly their choices will vanish in order for sellers to make the 10 percent quota.

It’s not like consumers are clamoring for ethanol now. They’re afraid of the damage ethanol does to engines, the lower fuel efficiency and the extra air pollution.

Unfortunately, this time Schultz may get his way. Two of the opponents of last year’s proposed ethanol mandate are no longer in the state Senate, Republicans Cathy Stepp of Racine and Tom Reynolds of West Allis. Stepp was succeeded by Democrat John Lehman and Reynolds lost to Democrat Jim Sullivan.

Of course, the situation isn’t quite as “win-win” as Senator Schultz claims. Because of a grain shortage, a report indicates we may see food riots in developing countries:

In 2008, U.S. ethanol production will consume 139 million metric tons of corn, roughly half the nation’s corn crop, the report notes. If that estimate is even close to being correct, the resulting strain on supplies of the ubiquitous crop could have dire consequences.

“What we are beginning to see is the unfolding of an epic competition between 800 million people who own automobiles and want to maintain their mobility, and the 2 billion poorest people in the world, many of whom are spending more than half of their income on food already,” Brown said at a news conference.

Brown, whose background includes agricultural economics, was once described in The Washington Post as “one of the world’s most influential thinkers.” He has won praise from U.S. presidents, and the Library of Congress has asked for his personal papers, saying “they have already strongly affected thinking about problems of world population and resources.”

Brown has proposed a moratorium on the construction of ethanol plants until demand for the biofuel and grain supplies are in balance.

At the current rate of plant expansion, it would not take much to push world grain markets into chaos, according to Brown.

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