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Ethanol Is the Solution to Transportation Problems

Posted on Monday, July 31, 2023
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by Outside Contributor
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114 Comments
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As we approach the heart of summer, families around the country are planning travel vacations. With gas prices approaching $5 per gallon in some places, Americans are looking for anything to decrease the pain at the pump.

The Biden administration says electric vehicles are a solution to decarbonizing the transportation sector while also making driving more affordable. However, its “electric vehicle revolution” operates in an alternate reality where billions of dollars of government spending create domestic supply chain problems overnight. Most EVs are made outside the United States, so many that less than 15 percent of EVs on the market qualify for federal tax breaks.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last year that his state will ban gas-powered cars by 2035. He lives in a fantasy world. These efforts are political theater meant to score political points with environmentalists who have decided that a single solution to our complex transportation needs is the only path forward.

President Biden claims to be seeking an American solution to a problem it is unclear exists. In truth, we already have a readily available solution: American-made ethanol. Not only does ethanol lower prices at the pump but it also decreases emissions. If the president’s stated goal is to pursue cleaner transportation alternatives, then ethanol should be at the top of the list of solutions. 

I have visited Iowa several times while running for president. In every town and city across the state, people tell me how important ethanol is in powering their farms, supporting small businesses and providing economic opportunities in their communities. In fact, research shows the widespread use of ethanol would generate $36.3 billion in additional income for American households, save drivers nearly $21 billion at the pump per year, and support 188,000 jobs.

Democrats would respond that boosting jobs and supporting the economy is not as important as saving the environment. However, the Department of Energy highlights that ethanol creates about 50 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.

Democrats also conveniently ignore the severe environmental and humanitarian nightmares that support the electric vehicle supply chain. Studies show that producing electric vehicles emits more greenhouse gases than fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. Many have warned that the minerals needed for electric vehicle batteries are made under “modern-day slavery” conditions. 

Build back better? Not so much. 

If the goal is cleaner transportation solutions, let’s be honest and let’s ensure that biofuels, like ethanol, aren’t discounted in this pursuit.

But if we are truly serious about addressing climate issues, we should first focus on getting China to play by the rules. Despite efforts by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China remains the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and shows no signs of reform. Right now, the Biden administration’s effort to push electric vehicles is like drinking with a paper straw; it might make you feel better but is doing nothing to change the situation.

Until we live in a utopia where China listens to us and the average electric vehicle doesn’t cost more than triple the average down payment on a house, we must think practically about the best way to fuel our nation. And that, for starters, should focus heavily on making higher ethanol blends available to all Americans and ensuring that American biofuels factor heavily in our transportation mix.

Reprinted with permission from the DC Journal by Larry Elder.

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PaulE
PaulE
10 months ago

The article reads like an ad for the ethanol lobby. If American wants truly lower energy costs, then return to the Trump policy of drill baby drill and stop vilifying the domestic oil and natural gas industry.

Alex
Alex
10 months ago

When we switched from 100% gas to 10% ethanol, it appeared that we got about 8% lower fuel mileage. I call it an expensive and environmentally damaging boondoggle.

FedUp
FedUp
10 months ago

Obviously the author is not intelligent enough, honest enough, or old enough (not sure which) to discuss what happened 20 years ago (or so) when there WAS a big push to convert to ethanol. Gas prices didn’t get cheaper, mileage got worse, cars had to be re-engineered to run on ethanol, and the food costs related to any crop used to make ethanol went through the roof. And the impacts were not just here. Since excess crops were transferred to make fuel, exports dropped which had a major impact on poorer nations depending on our food exports. It was just another solution “fad” that proved to be a bust in about 2 years. Those that don’t know te past are doomed to repeat it.
I’ve changed my mind, the author is an idiot.

Andre Bixby
Andre Bixby
10 months ago

Who wrote this? Why is the author not credited? While ethanol could possibly be an assist, it isn’t the fix all. And what makes ethanol? Is it the corn product that is used to feed livestock? Feed people? So, if it’s to be used to fuel the country, what does that do to the prices of those things that it can’t be used for because it’s bought up by the transportation industry? I’ve also been to Iowa, where in the small town I grew up in, you could only get ethanol mixtures of gas. My car ran like crap on that stuff. So, if we use ethanol for our fuel products, what’s it going to do to our car engines that were not built for this type of fuel long term? How much will it cost the consumer to either “rebuild” the vehicles fuel system or replace the vehicle? Tend to agree with PaulE. And my father always told me to beware of people that claim to be able to fix things but didn’t want credit. I confess, I don’t read every Amac article, but don’t remember any not crediting the author.” (by Outside Contributor) just doesn’t get it.

granky
granky
10 months ago

Hey AMAC, you are loosing credibility with articles like this one, not many ethanol fans here. We need to open up the pipelines and resume drilling.

Rick
Rick
10 months ago

This thesis is utterly bogus. The energy input to produce fuel from ethanol is larger than the energy output. Check out the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Then there is the moral problem of burning food for fuel instead of feeding people. This is particularly troublesome as we watch the global powers that be attempt to hobble agriculture by limiting fertilizer, culling dairy herds in Ireland, and shutting down farmland in Holland, which is one of the biggest producers of food in the entire world.
Whoever this author is, hiding behind the anonymity of “Outside Contributor”, should be ashamed of himself.

Myrna
Myrna
10 months ago

Higher ethanol blends cost more.
Shouldn’t farmland be used to produce food?
Then other resources (oil & gas) provide fuel..

Loves Dogs
Loves Dogs
10 months ago

Ethanol is the solution if you REMOVE it from the gas. Ethanol in the gas is actually the problem. It lowers the miles/gallon and it does not burn as clean as pure gas. The plants that produce Ethanol are actually deadly to bees and are contributing to the die off of the bee population. Ethanol can fix all of our problems if we stop using it.

Bubba
Bubba
10 months ago

Fertilizer used to grow corn is made from oil. Corn used to make ethanol is corn not being available to feed livestock or people. One increases dependency on oil and the other makes food more expensive. Ethanol also damages older cars and lawn equipment as it’s corrosive.

Charles Williamson
Charles Williamson
10 months ago

The line that says, “I have visited Iowa several times while running for president” sorta narrows down the field as to who the “contributor” is. Ethanol is as bogus as climate change. If it wasn’t for us taxpayers pumping subsides into the ethanol producers, it all of a sudden would not be so cheap.

HONDO
HONDO
10 months ago

It requires more fuel to plant harvest and process corn into alcohol than what it yields. That has been a freshman engineering project to prove that, since the 1970’s.

Del Varner
Del Varner
10 months ago

Howls of derisive laughter.

exoticdoc2
exoticdoc2
10 months ago

Poor choice. Ethanol is not as efficient as gas and producing it would put a strain on food supplies. Just a bad idea.

Steve M.
Steve M.
10 months ago

Ethanol is NOT the answer. It has 20% to 25% less energy than gasoline and does not cost that much less; (perhaps 10%), a loss of at least 10%. Add the additional cost of corn for food and animal feed because of its need in ethanol production. Check your grocery prices now. Simply allowing domestic oil production will solve the problem. Pollution from cars and trucks have been reduced to a very small fraction from only a few years ago. and is equal to, or better than, that of ethanol. Additionally, ethanol is very destructive to many of the materials used in car and truck engines and fuel systems. The added costs of special materials will drive vehicle prices way up. The production of ethanol is in itself a very expensive process, using fossil fuels with the need for much fertilizer derived from oil. Apparently, the author clearly knows very little of this subject. .

Darrel J
Darrel J
10 months ago

If all CO2 was eliminated from the atmosphere, all life would cease to exist. Plant life is dependent on Co2 to grow. Plant life takes in Co2 and emits the oxygen necessary for all non-plant life to survive. I subscribe to AMAC and am disappointed AMAC would publish this trash without doing scientific research. Any Bio-chemist or university with an agricultural school will verify what I have submitted here.

CLIFFORD F GERACI
CLIFFORD F GERACI
10 months ago

But is it really a good idea to use our food source to supply our energy needs??? China has already bought up a large portion of our food production here in America and is stock piling grains in China. That should be a “red flag” not to compromise more of our food source for energy. Climate has been warming for the past 20,000 years, and we need to learn how to deal with it, at the same time protecting ourselves from more imminent dangers.

Michael Stevens
Michael Stevens
10 months ago

We do have ethanol in our fuel in Oregon. I have to purchase ‘clear’ premium fuel for all my smaller yard tools at $7.49 a gallon. A lot of engines are not designed for this stuff and one season will ruin a carburetor. Also, ethanol only has about 66% of the potential energy of gasoline, so in essence we’re being forced to buy more of the stuff to get the same amount of work done! That’s government screwing around with the marketplace again.

Jasper
Jasper
10 months ago

Who wrote is lie? He says he is running for president! Please tell us who it is so we can be sure NOT TO VOTE for this moron! We currently have our gasoline diluted with 10% ethanol. Supposedly the ethanol cuts the emissions from our tailpipe. But repeated experimentation and search is unable to verify that claim. In addition the 10% ethanol cuts our mpg by 10%. Example – you own a car that gets 20 mpg on 100% gasoline. You are forced to buy gas diluted by 10% ethanol so now you only get 18 mpg. Thus it now takes 1.1 gallon of diluted gasoline to go the same distance you could go with 100% gasoline. Any 6th grade math student can tell you the 10% diluted ethanol gasoline is going to put the same amount of emissions in the air as the 100% gasoline because either way you are still burning 1 gallon of pure gasoline to go 20 miles!
This is all just a big scam to artificially keep the price of corn and sugar cane higher. Ethanol is of NO BENEFIT to the folks who drive internal powered engines nor is it of any BENEFIT to the environment.

james
james
10 months ago

Ethanol is an alcohol which has less energy density than gasoline which becomes a cost penalty for its use. It is also harmful to internal combustion engines, which is also a negative economic factor in its use. It is also highly subsidized with taxpayer dollars and takes prime agricultural land and tax dollars from constructive use -justification based on greenhouse effects has no scientific basis and resembles a myth. Outside of that I am all for it.

Steve
Steve
10 months ago

Good comments below. The basic problem is that this whole article is based on a supposed “climate change” disaster, which is nothing but a left-wing scam with no sound scientific basis. Ethanol is a dinosaur in the clean fuel spectrum. It takes about 1 gallon of fossil fuel to make 1.1 gallons of ethanol, and then you get 10% or so less mileage! And you are raising the cost of food in the process! In the famous words of Otto – “Idiots!” One of the long-term answers is biofuels, where biological wastes are turned directly into fuel. Torrefraction is an example, but other processes could be developed and refined if some effort was put into it. Meanwhile, we have ample supplies of oil and natural gas in America to provide cheap abundant energy if the leftists would get their heads out of the sand and wake up.

William Hodge
William Hodge
10 months ago

HorsePOOP! Deny all that prop up ethanol, tax breaks and subsidies then you have a product that is much more costly to make than it is to sell. WHY do we waste our tax dollars when we have cheap fossil fuels to last us centuries? We must force our politicians to remove their heads from their arses and really serve the people instead of screwing us at every turn.

Drue
Drue
10 months ago

Joe Biden lies, plagiarizes, is a thinly disguised pedophile and if the truth be known, was sleeping with Jill while she was still married to a family friend. He is a dyed in the wool piece of excrement.

Dave
Dave
10 months ago

Larry Elder must be propped up by the Ethanol Industry. His views and opinions about ethanol are antithetical to every fact-based article on the subject I’ve ever read.
Ethanol costs MORE to produce than it can be sold for without taxpayer-funded price supports. It ruins fuel delivery systems in 2-cycle engines, AND it diverts valuable corn from the food chain.
Given this position on ethanol, it’s little wonder his Kalifornia kampaign crapped out. I’m scratching Larry OFF my list for any future political positions.
Solid loser here Larry.

RobinMD
RobinMD
10 months ago

Does anyone know how much energy it takes to convert corn and other plant matter into ethanol? Is ethanol (energy) used in the conversion process as opposed to fossil fuels? Just curious . . .

Greg Snyder
Greg Snyder
10 months ago

I like Larry but he shouldn’t venture into areas where he is not necessarily knowledgeable. Ethanol does not contain the BTU value of gasoline so much more of it must be burned to create the same energy and producing the corn for ethanol requires a lot of petroleum. I grew up on an Iowa farm and my younger brother still operates it. Most of the equipment is powered by diesel fuel or gasoline and it does require electricity to turn the corn into ethanol. While I am at it I might as well burst another misconception bubble which is extracting the ethanol from corn destroys it, it doesn’t. Brewers grain, the grain left after extracting the sugar, is used to make animal feed so that the corn used serves double duty.

Greg
Greg
10 months ago

The contributor is Larry Elder. He is credited at the end of the article. I really didn’t have much of an opinion about L Elder before this article, but I do now. I wouldn’t vote for any person espousing this mularkey. The government is increasingly hammering auto manufacturers to produce vehicles with better mileage numbers and ethanol absolutely diminishes mpg. Engines will need to be re-engineered for higher ethanol content. Just because you see lots of corn in Iowa doesn’t mean it needs to be made into gasoline. Quit trying to save the world by making it worse Larry. Ramp up domestic oil production and let automotive engineers develop more powerful, more efficient and better performing automobiles just as they have for the last 30 years or so. You can get stock 800 HP performance autos now that meet California’s stringent emission requirements. Let them solve the problem and keep the government out of it.

Evan
Evan
10 months ago

Yeah. Sounds a little off to me. The only real value of ethanol (which requires a great deal of diesel and other fossil fuels to manufacture), was in replacing lead as the octane booster added to prevent detonation or “knock”. Since the entire rationale of reducing fossil fuel use is suspect, and the savings in CO2 emissions from using ethanol is minimal anyway I give this author a “fail” for not researching his subject.

WRS
WRS
10 months ago

Ethanol is a deal made in Washington by greeedy politicians. Both ethanol and SNAP benefits are included in farm legisation. As a result, the congresstitutes from the Northeast and left coast use it to to get all the SNAP benefits they can and in turn deplorables in flyover country get to grow corn and distill ethanol. It is a no-brainer that these matters should be in separate bills. Then again, that would be an honest approach, something unheard of by our legislators.

Chad
Chad
10 months ago

Ethanol is just another gimmick from the green movement. If not for the taxpayer subsidies the industry would have collapsed years ago. Don’t be fooled by the hype do a deep dive on your own, it’s not worth it!

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
10 months ago

I read in the past that ethanol burns dirtier and less efficiently than gas from petroleum. Can you cite studies to the contrary. This article reads like PR from corn farmers.
What about converting gas powered cars to natural gas. Some truck fleets and bus fleets did so years ago and supposedly reduced CO2 emissions greatly. Wouldn’t that be a more practical solution for a nation rich in natural gas?

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
10 months ago

I disagree: if you make corn aka ethanol a huge moneymaker, farmers will only grow corn, not food. And just as it takes tons of minerals dedicated to electric vehicle, how many millions of gallons per day of ethanol would it take to replace oil? Its not realistic anymore than making fuel out of algae from the sea! It simply cannot meet demand!

KimG
KimG
10 months ago

The problem with all biofuels and corn is one of the worst is that creating ethanol from corn requires about 10 times more energy than the ethanol produces. Although it has some CO2 advantage it apparently created othe greenhouse gases.

A Voter
A Voter
10 months ago

Build Back Better when translated from Newspeak to plain English means Build Back Bloat.

Steve V
Steve V
10 months ago

Why do we rarely hear about geothermal?
When I purchased my home 5 years ago, my oil heater and central AC were out of date and inefficient. I hate oil heat and gas was not an option because the main stopped 60’ from my house. Connection costs were prohibitive!
My HVAC guy suggested geothermal. I invested $30,600 which sounds like a lot but replacing a 60 year old oil tank, new flue lining, oil heater and central AC unit would have cost me about $18k. I received a $9,000 tax rebate that made my choice easy. I also spent about $2,200 to boost my attic insulation to R-48
Almost 5 years later my electric bill averages about $130/mo. Not bad for an all-electric house.
Why isn’t the government pushing geothermal? Easy. The politicians can’t make any money from it.

Sarah S
Sarah S
10 months ago

So many people say they don’t know who wrote this, but there is a line that says “reprinted with permission from the DC Journal by Larry Elder”.

Samuel
Samuel
10 months ago

… ethanol sucks. Expect lousy performance, lousy fuel consumption, a substantially reduced range. Ethanol produces an invisible flame. If your car catches on fire, you won’t be able to see the flames. Highly corrosive, Ethanol will eat straight through your fuel lines, eat through your fuel tank, and screw up your fuel injection –

Samuel
Samuel
10 months ago

… if you get 32 mpg in your Corolla, with pump unleaded gasoline? The switch to ethanol, you’ll get 15 MPH. You cruising range with be halved. And, you’ll have to re-engineer your entire fuel delivery system, to stainless steel lines. Unless you modify your fuel injection system, to bigger injectors, you won’t be able to accelerate fast enough to enter the freeway, at 65 mph –

Rik
Rik
10 months ago

Yes, tell them that Ethanol IS the solution but first they NEED TO DRINK IT FIRST! . . . Problem solved!

anna hubert
anna hubert
10 months ago

Which transportation problem are we talking about? We do have the highways and by ways,the whole continent is full of oil and car lots are not empty What am I missing?

NeilRK
NeilRK
10 months ago

The flex fuel package is a available ($ 400-700) for most cars to use E85 or E100fuel. I would argue that if I did that I should not be forced to convert to an electric car.

Elaine
Elaine
10 months ago

If we designate our farmland to raise the ethanol crops, where will the food be grown?
It is already an issue that China is buying up our farmland and will have the say to raise or not raise food. What better way to defeat your enemy–starve them. Will not matter that it will be all women, children and men, an enemy in any gender is a threat.
I am curious, where are our legislators (Congress)? Are they so insulated that they do not get the news that the country is being overrun by treasonous people who are battling the internal war? We know the Executive Branch is not concerned so our only hope is that our lawmakers put a stop to this foolishness! If they don’t do their job, it will be too late for the Supreme Court to listen to the lawsuits being filed after the fact and loss of our country.

Marc Rauch
Marc Rauch
10 months ago

Knowing how to change spark plugs, hoses, air filters, mufflers, or windshield wipers doesn’t mean that you automatically know anything about engine fuels.
Knowing how to tune an engine, change oil, install brake pads, or perform a smog test doesn’t mean that you know anything about ethanol as a fuel.
So, regardless of how many automobile associations your nephew belongs to, it doesn’t mean that he knows anything of value about this subject matter.
And if he doesn’t know the history of the use of alcohol fuel, starting with it being the original fuel used in the first internal combustion engine, as well as Nicholas Otto’s and Henry Ford’s first automobiles, and then being sold for several decades in Europe, Asia and Brazil beginning in the early part of the 20th century, then he doesn’t know anything.
I don’t know if I’m the “Marc” that you are referring to, but if I am I didn’t accuse your nephew’s parents as being unmarried. In any event, please pass along my name, the title of my books about alcohol fuels (THE ETHANOL PAPERS and YES, TIN LIZZIE WAS AN ALCOHOLIC), and my hope that he tries to challenge my position on the benefits of ethanol fuel.
One other thing, there are many, many, many automobile mechanics with high credentials who are routinely exposed as being crooks and frauds.

barney
barney
10 months ago

If Ethanol that takes away corn from the food chain is the answer to obesity than fine but it food from the people so no it is not the answer at this time, When they start making it fom lawn grass and seaweed enmasse then I’ll be for it but not when it takes food from the table.

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
10 months ago

Is everyone so stunningly stupid that they are ALL unaware of the problems in the use of ethanol? Processing what is essentially one molecule off from being water from heavily subsidized corn (call it for what it is, “welfare”), results in toxic materials that it seems often end up in groundwater and thus your tap. Nobody mentions the lower MPG one gets using ethanol as a fuel additive either which makes the use a net zero issue other than providing welfare often to large corporations that are daily replacing the small farmer.
If anyone tells you of the virtues of ethanol then ask how supplying all that corn for an unneeded additive to fuel has effected the cost of livestock feed and thus the cost of meat. We have plenty of real gas that lacks the corrosive tendencies of ethanol and the government needs to just get out of the way and let the oil companies drill for, pump it out and refine it here in the USA rather than outsourcing our petroleum needs to foreign countries that increasingly are viewing the United States as the failed empire it so desperately tried to be.
Return farming to the provision of food. MAYBE then we wouldn’t have the shortages we see nor perhaps the grossly inflated costs for food. If one needs a fuel additive, boil down all the politicians and add that noxious ooze into the gas supply.

Marc Rauch
Marc Rauch
10 months ago

All negative comments about ethanol fuel are incorrect. They are either lies, exaggerations, or myths. They were mostly invented by the petroleum oil industry.
Ethanol doesn’t harm engines, it cleans engines. It doesn’t suck water out of the air, but it will absorb water that naturally forms because of condensation. Gasoline can’t do this so people have to resort to using engine additives that can cost as much as 2 or 3 gallons of gasoline. All liquids are corrosive, especially water. However, ethanol is less corrosive and compatible with more types of rubber, plastic, and metal than gasoline and aromatics. BTU values (energy content) are irrelevant when discussing internal combustion engines. Ethanol use does not affect the price of food.
 
If you are disseminating negative information about ethanol you are WRONG! I don’t care who you are, where you went to school, or who you know; there are no negatives to using ethanol fuel. If you are in academia or employed in an industry that comes in contact with ethanol fuel, and you disagree with me, I will be happy to debate you in public at a forum of your choosing. The only thing you have to do is reveal your identity and contact me through The Auto Channel website.  
If you want more information about ethanol fuel read my 600-page book “THE ETHANOL PAPERS.” It’s available to read online for FREE. Just do a google search and follow the links. You don’t even have to register or reveal your identity to do this. I challenge you to find information that is contrary to what I have published in the book, or in any of the hundreds of individual reports I’ve written and published. However, so that you don’t waste your time and mine, if you’re just going to cite something from Runge at Yale, Tim Searchinger, John DeCicco, and various other gasoline-stooges, you should note that I have already replied, and destroyed, these people in my book. 
Thank you and have a nice day.

W. Tomhave
W. Tomhave
10 months ago

I am convinced that if ethanol is the answer to our fuel needs, you are asking the wrong question. We have the resources, petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear, to be energy independent for generations to come. We need to free the economy so that these resources can be used. It’s not all that complicated.

Marc Rauch
Marc Rauch
10 months ago

I congratulate Larry Elder for writing this editorial. Previously, I had only ever heard Larry denigrate ethanol fuel on his old radio show. I’m very happy to hear he has come around.
Marc J. Rauch, Author of THE ETHANOL PAPERS,Co-Publisher of THE AUTO CHANNEL

Gerry Mayers
Gerry Mayers
10 months ago

So they use corn to make ethanol now feed for farming costs more
so its cost more at the supermarket- as well ethanol only has 40% less energy
then regular gas -so you need to buy more ethanol- a complete joke on middle class

Chicago Bill
Chicago Bill
10 months ago

Turning Food into Fuel is immoral. I used to keep fuel and milage logs and recorded a 9% mileage loss in the wintertime when they switched to the 10% Ethanol blend meaning I burned 9% more fuel. Now it is Ethanol all year around. How does that help the environment.

Chas Preston
Chas Preston
10 months ago

The most recent study I’ve seen showed the energy equivalent of two gallons of ethanol are required to produce one gallon of ethanol. Other comments have described the disadvantages of using ethanol in gasoline engines. Sound extremely inefficient to me.

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