Sunday, January 21, 2007

Subsidized Ethanol in Delaware?

The News Journal reports that legislation is pending in the General Assembly to subsidize the sale of an ethanol/gasoline blend called E85 in Delaware. (No such legislation has yet been introduced.) The story is written by Luladey B. Tadesse, who shows evidence of having done some homework. The article goes beyond the current popularity of alternate energy to consider the question of whether subsidizing the sale of ethanol in Delaware is actually a good idea:
"I would be very reluctant as either a taxpayer or investor to do anything to expand ethanol production beyond the plants that are already under construction," said Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. "My counsel, if I were being asked by legislatures for advice, would be to hold off for a bit and see how this situation settles out."
One of the limiting factors to consider when it comes to ethanol is the supply of corn. This is particularly true for Delaware. Ethanol plants are clustered in the Midwest, where most of the nation's corn is grown. Getting ethanol to the pumps in Delaware may not be worth the cost:
But getting the ethanol-gas blend to those stations may be difficult and expensive. The corn needed to produce ethanol is in high demand. Without a local ethanol refinery, Delaware stations would rely on a distribution network that ships in the fuel from the Midwest, adding to the cost. And with a local refinery, the high price of Delaware corn, which mostly goes to the poultry industry for feed, would likely leave E85 prices higher than those for gasoline.
But what if ethanol plants were built on the east coast?
As it is, the state doesn't produce enough corn to supply feed to the state's $844 million poultry industry, the backbone of agriculture on the Delmarva.
"We certainly support biofuels, and we don't oppose ethanol plants per se, but there is a lot of concern and we are wondering whether it makes sense to build one on the shore," said Julie DeYoung, spokeswoman for Perdue.
Each year, Perdue has to bring in 20 million bushels of corn from the Midwest by rail to meet its needs on the Eastern Shore.
If the limiting factor for the use of ethanol is the supply of corn, then a subsidy in Delaware won't make much sense.
Image: The News Journal


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The present production of ethanol from grain sugar diverts grain from the food supply. The production of ethanol from cellulose uses an otherwise discarded renewable resource. There are extra steps to convert the cellulose to suitable sugars but this is partially offset by the low cost of the raw material. Cellulose sources can be the stems, vines, and stalks of such crops as soy beans, wheat and other grasses, and corn stalks. This also provides the farmer with two sources of income from one crop.

6:25 PM, January 21, 2007  
Anonymous Citizen Earth Watch@ Blogspot said...

American tax payers have heavily subsidized ethanol for more than 30 years with ZERO benefit to consumers. America doesn't have enough farm acreage to grow any more than a fraction of our fuel, which means blenders will be forced to IMPORT even more ethanol than we currently do. (China will be the most likely source, as they are 3rd in production, behind Brazil and the U.S.) Cellulosic ethanol is only being pushed as a way to justify the corn ethanol subsidies. It is not even available, it cost more than corn ethanol and what corporate ag giants call "agricultural waste", people who practice "Sustainable" agriculture call "Mulch, Compost and Animal Feed" and we don't want it wasted in some fuel tank. (community composting should be available in ALL areas) Further, the main resource consumed by ALL ethanol production is water. Even a small distillery consumes nearly 1 MILLION gallons of water every single day from here to eternity. Larger operations take much more. We have paid Detroit long enough to produce vehicles no one wants, let's force them to raise mileage and produce more electric-hybrids for a meaningful change. We should also use all these ethanol subsidies to invest in truly clean energy such as wind and solar because they will provide long term solutions. The technology is there and would be flourishing if it received even a portion of the money ethanol currently wastes. If we are truly serious about cleaning up our planet, we must demand something more than the "same-old-same-old."

7:53 PM, January 21, 2007  

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