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Old 11-23-2008, 03:45 PM   #1
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One of the most ambitious projects that we have recently seen in this country has everything to do with energy. Ethanol.

So now after being there and doing that for a couple of years, it seems that the economy or people with good sense have come to somewhat of an impasse with ethanol. It is alleged that if folks have the option to buy 87 Octaine gasoline or E85 people will choose to buy gasoline. Why? Better MPGs, more power and the engine runs better.

From the ethanol consortium perspective it would seem that they are unable to cross the consumer confidence boundary because it would appear that there isn't anyone on the other side that's waiting for them with open arms.

I was recently speaking to a very good friend of mine who has been working the vendor circuit for many years across the country. If you ever met him, you would have known him as "Al The Signman". He has since sold his motorhome and has retired from the road. He will still do mail order from home but I'm sure that part of the business will eventually come to a close as well.

In his travels Al passed many times through the corn belt. He told me that one of his very good friends in that area is the person in change and the prime contractor working in the construction of ethanol plants.

Initially there was an order for 70 something plants. These plants were going to be erected and they were going to produce ethanol from corn. Do you want to guess how many were built from that original order? Only 3. I'm not saying that there are only 3 ethanol plants in the country. I'm only speaking about 1 contractor.

These plants are voracious consumers of corn and they are also able to process it very quickly. Apparently there isn't enough corn to sustain the operations of 70+ plants. The remaining to be constructed plants were canceled he told me.

Everyone I spoke with seems to agree that food used for fuel has jacked up the price of food and gasoline was driven by speculators. Now that gasoline is below $2.00 a gallon it isn't at all profitable in producing corn based ethanol. From what I understand about the subject, it never was profitable to produce corn ethanol. Government subsidies and crop insurance keep these guys growing but there is no real return on investment. I was told that you have some farmers wishing their crops do fail because they get paid more in insurance than if they actually sold a harvest.

The price to produce food is also on the decline (see CBS News Monday Night, 11/24) however the price we are paying for food is not going down at all and is on the rise.

It would seem that using food to make fuel was a very bad idea from the start and now that it has come full circle, it's gonna bite them you know where. I think that if it weren't for the Washington DC ethanol lobby we would not have been ram rodded with this ethanol thing and we could have had good fuel to burn and inexpensive food to eat. One might also want to know how much capital did the automakers have to invest in E85 with what would appear to be no return. Aside from very rural areas in the country E85 is largely absent from the market.

Do you believe that this was all a BIG waste of time, money and energy?
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:45 PM   #2
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One of the most ambitious projects that we have recently seen in this country has everything to do with energy. Ethanol.

So now after being there and doing that for a couple of years, it seems that the economy or people with good sense have come to somewhat of an impasse with ethanol. It is alleged that if folks have the option to buy 87 Octaine gasoline or E85 people will choose to buy gasoline. Why? Better MPGs, more power and the engine runs better.

From the ethanol consortium perspective it would seem that they are unable to cross the consumer confidence boundary because it would appear that there isn't anyone on the other side that's waiting for them with open arms.

I was recently speaking to a very good friend of mine who has been working the vendor circuit for many years across the country. If you ever met him, you would have known him as "Al The Signman". He has since sold his motorhome and has retired from the road. He will still do mail order from home but I'm sure that part of the business will eventually come to a close as well.

In his travels Al passed many times through the corn belt. He told me that one of his very good friends in that area is the person in change and the prime contractor working in the construction of ethanol plants.

Initially there was an order for 70 something plants. These plants were going to be erected and they were going to produce ethanol from corn. Do you want to guess how many were built from that original order? Only 3. I'm not saying that there are only 3 ethanol plants in the country. I'm only speaking about 1 contractor.

These plants are voracious consumers of corn and they are also able to process it very quickly. Apparently there isn't enough corn to sustain the operations of 70+ plants. The remaining to be constructed plants were canceled he told me.

Everyone I spoke with seems to agree that food used for fuel has jacked up the price of food and gasoline was driven by speculators. Now that gasoline is below $2.00 a gallon it isn't at all profitable in producing corn based ethanol. From what I understand about the subject, it never was profitable to produce corn ethanol. Government subsidies and crop insurance keep these guys growing but there is no real return on investment. I was told that you have some farmers wishing their crops do fail because they get paid more in insurance than if they actually sold a harvest.

The price to produce food is also on the decline (see CBS News Monday Night, 11/24) however the price we are paying for food is not going down at all and is on the rise.

It would seem that using food to make fuel was a very bad idea from the start and now that it has come full circle, it's gonna bite them you know where. I think that if it weren't for the Washington DC ethanol lobby we would not have been ram rodded with this ethanol thing and we could have had good fuel to burn and inexpensive food to eat. One might also want to know how much capital did the automakers have to invest in E85 with what would appear to be no return. Aside from very rural areas in the country E85 is largely absent from the market.

Do you believe that this was all a BIG waste of time, money and energy?
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Old 11-23-2008, 05:02 PM   #3
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">It would seem that using food to make fuel was a very bad idea from the start and now that it has come full circle, it's gonna bite them you know where. I think that if it weren't for the Washington DC ethanol lobby we would not have been ram rodded with this ethanol thing and we could have had good fuel to burn and inexpensive food to eat. One might also want to know how much capital did the automakers have to invest in E85 with what would appear to be no return. Aside from very rural areas in the country E85 is largely absent from the market. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Very well put Mike. The requirement to include ethanol in part in fuels had some strong lobbbying in congress. Apparently no one ever thought to check how much engergy it takes to produce a gallon of ethanol. With the amount engery realized from the gallon of ethanol almost equal to the equaled to the amount of energy to produce it, it was not such a good idea. When you throw in the fact that gallon for gallon the ethanol is sorely lacking in actual energy produced and the price of bread, beef and associated products of the grain have gone up, we are losing spectacularly in this program. The only people who are happy about this are the farmers, certainly not the housewifes who try to maintain a food budget.

There are other plants that produce more energy more efficiently that cost less to grow and don't drive food costs up...but that is another story.
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Old 11-23-2008, 06:26 PM   #4
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Mike, your post is very well put.

Unfortunately, we've needed an overall energy policy that works, but we don't have one. Ethynol is not a substitute for that energy policy. Like many of our other financial industry failures, it is just another shining example of us going down a dead-end road.

There are many alternatives. We just need to pick a couple of them and "get with the program" or, as Larry says "get 'er done."
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Old 11-23-2008, 07:19 PM   #5
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<span class="ev_code_RED">Archer Daniels Midland</span> has been lobbying for ethanol production since the early eighties, maybe before. It was never a viable source of energy for powering automobiles and trucks, but if you are a large enough company with enough money to fill the right pockets in Washington, sooner or later, you will get what you want. Unfortunately, we received the wrong product in the wrong place. Oh yeah, ADM has made profits of $10.98 billion in 2006, and operates in North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Pacific Rim.
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Old 11-24-2008, 04:43 AM   #6
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Now that everyone is realizing that ethanol is a waste of food and energy, will the politicians who mandated its use see the error of their ways and rescind the law? Yeah, right.....when pigs fly!
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:00 AM   #7
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As long as the Federal Government continues to subsidize Ethanol to the tune of 51 cents per gallon it will be with us. Like with many government programs, common sense does not always apply. I think it was Ben Franklin who said "We have the finest government money can buy"

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Old 11-24-2008, 05:06 AM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by zigzagrv:
Now that everyone is realizing that ethanol is a waste of food and energy, will the politicians who mandated its use see the error of their ways and rescind the law? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Well, let's see....if all that arable land came back into play, grain prices would drop which means that meat and dairy prices should drop as well. Do we really think that the agricultural lobby is going to let THAT happen??

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Old 11-24-2008, 06:39 AM   #9
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Do you believe that this was all a BIG waste of time, money and energy?

Without a doubt it's a major waste of all of the above.

From what I understand it's not cost effective due to the fossil fuel and other energy sources required for processing and transport.

Some time ago I found a website, www.fueleconomylgov and printed out an interesting comparison of fuel mileage on identical flex fuel vehicles, one using gasoline and the other ethanol.

One example was a Ford Ranger 4wd with manual trans and a 3.0L v6. Using gas, mileage was 18mpg city and 21 highway. With ethanol 12mpg city and 16mpg highway.

Insofar as the E85 prices aren't that much lower than gasoline, it's actually more cost effective to use gasoline.

Presently here in Vegas Unleaded regular and E85 are priced the same, at $1.99gal.

Jim
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Old 11-24-2008, 07:05 AM   #10
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http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

Jim, I think this is the website you're referring to.
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Old 11-24-2008, 07:17 AM   #11
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It will be interesting to see how this finally plays out, if it ever does. As an Iowan with a VeraSun plant in our town, I was so optimistic about ethanol & it's future. Now VeraSun is in Chapter 11, without much prospect of getting out of it.

Oh well, we tried...just isn't working out as planned
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:00 AM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">.... Oh well, we tried...just isn't working out as planned </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Thats my thoughts exactly. And we ought to be giving a lot more homegrown ideas a solid try too. Some won't do as well as hoped. Hopefully a lot will.


and i find is curious that in the past couple weeks i have seen a handful of adds on T.V. talking about how wonderful corn syrup is in food ...
... one mother is shown asking another mother if corn syrup is alright for her kids to drink, and we hear how good it is 'in moderation' ..
so the push is back on to turn corn (and corn syrup) into something for the dinner table and not the gas tank
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:35 AM   #13
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The bottom line for me is fuel economy. If I burn straight gasoline I get at least 10 MPG, 10% Ethanol gives me around 8 MPG and 15% around 6 MPG.

If I travel 1,000 on straight gas it takes about 100 gallons however while on 15% Ethanol I will burn around 166 gallons of fuel over 141 of which will be gasoline and 25 being ethanol. 15% ethanol for me wastes an extra 41 gallons of gasoline and 25 gallons of ethanol for every 1,000 miles traveled. How does that limit our dependency on gasoline?

On 10% ethanol it is only 12.5 gallons of gas and 12.5 gallons of ethanol wasted for every 1,000 miles traveled.

The end result is ethanol has wasted much gasoline and food that many people around the world are in dire need of.
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:24 AM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Jim, I think this is the website you're referring to. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

You're right Donovan, finger slipped again--lol

Jim
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