The Law Of Unintended Consequences Hits Biofuels

This should be a shock to nobody but the Greens.

Ever since the beginning of the ethanol mandate it was obvious to anybody with eyes to see that the whole thing was a boondoggle and a huge waste for everybody except ADM.  What the Greens failed to understand is that if you prop up corn prices by buying, distilling and burning massive amounts of corn whisky in cars, two things are going to happen.  One the price is going to go up, making things like cow feed and other uses of corn more expensive  and 2. farmer are going to, without restraints, plant ever larger amounts of corn, which will 1. push out other crops like wheat and 2. require more land use to plant even more corn.  Which is why you can now go from Eastern Colorado to Western NY and essentially see nothing but corn.  Millions of acres of corn, across the country, grown to burn.  Somehow this was supposed to be environmentally friendly?

There’s something insane about using food crops for fuel.  Especially since growing the food crops and getting the product takes more fuel than you get back as heating value energy in vehicles.

Should We Use Food Crops For Food, Not Fuel?

The fact is that grain alcohol has a low heating value and lower flame temperatures than most of the other carbon fuels.  It’s not really a good fuel.  In fact, the only reason it’s used at all is it’s green stamp of renewability.  Is a fuel renewable though if, as more than likely, the system to grow, harvest, process and transport the fuel would collapse if energy could not be drawn from other sources.  Of course the other energy uses are typically invisible to the average Green who only sees the E10 sign at the gas pump and feels better about it.  I tend to look at that E10 symbol differently.  I see 100 car train loaded with corn in covered hoppers the same size as houses, pulled by locomotives, trains that go to huge grain elevators to be transferred to barges that stop at refining plants that distill the corn. Then I see yet more trains of huge tank cars, rolling across the country to oil refineries with the ethanol ration because you can’t ship ethanol in a pipeline.  All that to get my 10 gallons of gas diluted and make my car have higher gas usage due to the decrease in gas mileage.  When you see that E10 symbol, think of trains like these.

And of course some of the other unintended consequences, like a lot more burning cars on the road thanks to ethanol’s other bad habits


  1. JP Kalishek · August 7, 2016

    as a farmer who I knew who sells his corn to the fuel folks said “My corn used to feed the world. Now we flip them the finger and burn it in our SUVs.” Yes, he could still get a high price selling it as food, but he gets slightly more as well as a tax break selling it as fuel. He farms to make money. His only consolation was the byproduct was used as cattle feed, but he agreed corn to fuel is pig ignorant.


  2. Pingback: Greens Reconsider Biofuel Mandate | THE ONE, THE ONLY, IOWADAWG BLOG!
  3. ChrisP · August 7, 2016

    “All that to get my 10 gallons of gas diluted and make my car have higher gas mileage. ”
    You actually get lower mileage. Quite a bit lower, as ethanol has much less energy/gal than gasoline…


    • Jeff Hoffert · August 9, 2016

      I don’t know if he edited the article but the quote I see on 8/8/16 is “All that to get my 10 gallons of gas diluted and make my car have higher gas usage due to the decrease in gas mileage.”


      • jccarlton · August 9, 2016

        I edited after I saw the comment. That’s what I get for finishing this at 2:00 am.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. On the North River · August 7, 2016

    Is this ever a stick up my a**.
    I’ve blogged about this off and on,

    “I wondered how, exchanging just 10% of the volume with another “fuel” could result in better than 25% drop in fuel economy? My Honda mechanic explained that the mixing of the ethanol varies, it is never precise, and that throws the engines computer off. If you have ever had the car’s battery replaced, afterwards the vehicles gas mileage would drop until the cars computer established a new engine performance baseline. Fuel with ethanol (I call it Clinton Piss) confuses the computer and degrades performance.”

    Worse, since ethanol is mixed “at the pump’ and not at the refinery on even with the gasoline in the delivery tanker, each pump varies enough in the precise percentage of ethanol delivered each time you get fuel (this is why always refueling at the same station and the same pump is recommended). The engine fuel control system never gets the same fuel mix to work with.

    On a trip south I refueled with ‘pure gas’ and saw my MPG calculations soar back to the pre-ethanol level.
    Is it proven that that sh*t burns?


  5. Mark Anderson · August 9, 2016

    Consider too the land. Vast tracts of land that could be cultivated for food** or simply be left to revert to woodland. All this when the energy we need could simply come from a hole in the ground. **Less than 10% of corn is used for human consumption.


  6. Robert Winkler Burke · August 9, 2016

    First, defund Prog Ed in K-12, university, law-journalism-film schools; replacing the wasteful, necrotic and rube-maker pedagogy with Western Enlightenment.

    You could eliminate the corn subsidy and eventually Prog Ed would see to its return. Ditto for every problem in America. The fix to the tax code? If you made a flat tax, eventually Prog Ed would see the return of our current system. Fix our immigration problem? Prog Ed would eventually see to the return of the same problem. Why fix anything if we don’t fix the Prog Ed program that makes Hydra Drones of Insanity?

    Defund Prog Ed and you fix everything. Keep Prog Ed funded and all fixes will be overrun by Progtardism.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ken in NH · August 9, 2016

    Let’s not also forget that we’re supposed to believe that ethanol, which is more volatile than other components of gasoline, is supposed to reduce air born pollutants. Instead it creates more ozone than gasoline alone would.


  8. TBlakely · August 9, 2016

    Since most greens despise humanity, especially those who don’t share their ‘values’, higher food prices is a feature not a bug.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John the Econ · August 9, 2016

    Picture an America in some parallel universe: The oil industry announces that it is mixing 10% or more of Ethanol into the gasoline supply. Immediately, America’s already most hated industry is attacked from all quarters for attempting to literally “water down” American’s fuel to rip off consumers. Ralph Nader would be filing class action lawsuits on behalf of all consumers for the losses related to reduced fuel economy and damage to internal combustion engines, and Al Gore would go on a rampage about the increased net carbon footprint and other environmental damage because of the resource intensive nature of producing Ethanol. There’d be food riots in the 3rd world, because of the diversion of food crops to produce Ethanol, and vast amounts of rain forest would be cut down for crop land needed to make up the difference.

    Oh wait. The last part actually has happened in our universe too.

    At least the America in that universe retains some degree of sanity. Ours clearly does not. Ethanol is a complete scam. The idea that “ethanol is low carbon” is a flat-out lie, especially considering that it takes a gallon of oil-based products (gasoline, diesel, and fertilizer) to produce a gallon of Ethanol, which actually has lower heat content than the fuel it’s replacing. Getting lower mileage these days? That’s probably why. Never mind the damage that may be happening to your engines. (But now that the US government is also an automaker, they’re okay with the idea that your older car is going to die a premature death – Just consider it another personal sacrifice for keeping the UAW in business)

    Ethanol subsidies are a perfect example of the destructive feedback loops that are created when the government starts subsidizing. Producers receiving the subsidy get comfortable, then dependent on the subsidy. A percentage of the subsidy is then fed back to the politicians to keep the subsidy in place, or to even expand. The last thing any of these people want is for the subsidy to ever end. Meanwhile, more viable alternatives are squeezed out of the market and never happen.

    Even Al Gore now admits that supporting Ethanol was a mistake, and that he did so only because he had to buy much needed votes from the farm states.

    I have every expectation that in 100 years when all transport is fueled by something other than carbon-based energy, that we’ll still be subsidizing Ethanol, just like the city of Detroit still subsidizes a horseshoe changer.


  10. A Clayton · August 9, 2016

    Free enterprise fixes what DC messes up. Advanced Fuel Dynamics (note – my son the gadget kid’s company) is now selling an elegant fix for the ethanol fuel mixture problem. It is a small computerized box that plugs into the fuel system of any car, reads the actual gas/ethanol mix in real time, and adjusts the fuel/air mixture to give the car optimal performance. It also allows sports cars to run high-ethanol fuel at the track and low-ethanol fuel on the street without any expensive tuning.
    Ethanol mixture problems, and the others listed, could be solved by eliminating the ethanol requirement. Until then, there are still some innovators to fix what big government and big business have messed up.


  11. Jim · August 10, 2016

    We have this program because the Greens had to “do something” and they didn’t have the votes to get what they really wanted. Which was a new $5 a gallon tax on gasoline and a $50 surcharge on every airline ticket. So we’re stuck with this. My advice to Congress is to ignore them completely with regards to this program. They’re fanatics, and stupid fanatics at that.

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. Pingback: QotD: The environmental and economic idiocy of the ethanol mandate « Quotulatiousness

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