The Ethanol Papers - Paperturn manuscript - Flipbook - Page 269
Follow up from RAYMOND B:
Marc, I have no problem with farmers making money. They are hard working
people and as long as government does not subsidize gasohol to make it competitive with gasoline it is fine with me. That has not been the case. I know you
claim gasohol does not require more energy to manufacture than it releases but
that is what I have read in several articles over many years. I doubt gasohol
would exist in a free market.
With that said and realizing we may agree to disagree, I looked up corn prices
and spoke with the farmer who rents 22 acres of my farm. Corn prices were
pretty stable until 2007 when they rose from $100-110/ton to $280 to 335/ton.
The market for corn here in Maryland is different than the market in the midwest. The farmer told me that 3 years ago corn prices in Maryland hit 6-7 times
usual prices due to the drought in the midwest. Then 2 years ago they were
$5.50 a bushel. When the corn hit its high fertilizer and herbicide and seed
prices were still low so farmers had an exceptionally good years and made
money. Then the seed companies, fertilizer companies and herbicide manufacturers raised their prices in response to the enormously high corn prices 3 years
ago and when corn prices dropped back the prices for these remained high and
Maryland farmer barely broke even raising corn last year.
I discovered ethanol replaces about 1 billion gals of oil a year now. By 2009
ethanol market share in the US gasoline supply reached 8% by volume.
Gasohol is supposed to release slightly less CO2 than pure gasoline but E10
(10% ethanol gasoline mixture now marketed n the USA) really does not make
a big difference with regard to CO2 emissions when you count the oil used to
plant, pick and distill corn into ethanol. decaying plant organic matter emits 60
gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere a year compared to 8 gigatons of carbon emitted from humans burning fossil fuels, so you can see 10% ethanol really is irrelevant in reducing CO2 emissions.
So the issue really boils down is why is the government subsidizing gasool ? it
made sense when we wanted to stop dependence on Arabian oil but now the
USA is producing more oil than Saudi Arabia thanks to fracking. We have an oil
excess and that has driven down gasoline prices and made gasohol even less
competitive. I am sorry but I am just a retired middle class fellow and I can't
afford to pay more for gasohol just because some politicians from Iowa wants
to help the farmers. It makes no sense. It takes money away from my pocket
that I need to pay other bills, and if our government is going to pick winners and
losers to subsidize we are making a serious mistake in a free market.