Unmasking The Gas Roots of Contemporary Ethanol Opposition - Round 2
Breaking the ring of Big Oil sponsored deception, link by link
By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Hot on the heels of Economist-Professor Bill Shughart publishing his mendacious editorial ("How The Ethanol Mandate Is Killing The American Prairie"), comes another dishonest anti-ethanol commentary by yet another "economist-professor" of destinktion* armed with his own version of subjective impressions, out of context references, and incorrect analysis of ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Hopefully, you'll recall that my rebuttal to "Billy the Kid" Shughart corrected his statements and unmasked him for his participation in the decades long effort by the Tobacco industry to keep poisoning the public.
This new editorial comes from Gary Wolfram, Professor in Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College. I have already emailed Mr. Wolfram to ask if he was a member of the Tobacco Cash-For-Comments Network or any similar oil industry sponsored group of academics. Although he did respond to other points I made in my email to him, he did not address this specific issue. However, regardless of whether Mr. Wolfram is a card-carrying member of a Cash-For-Comments-Oil Industry-Network, or not, he still performs as if he had a leading role. Moreover, the coincidental timing of his editorial with Bill Shughart's editorial may mean that if they're not connected electronically that they must be using smoke signals.
Mr. Wolfram's editorial is titled "Renewable Fuel Standard Has Failed" It was published in the Detroit Free Press on April 15th.
Just as the headline advertises, Mr. Wolfram attempts to lay out the case that the RFS program has been a failure. Basically, he could have written an editorial titled "Traffic Stop Light Program A Dismal Failure," and filled the article with details about how many people have been killed or injured in traffic light accidents over the past century - and then punctuate the text with gory photos and videos of dead and mutilated bodies to prove the program's failure. Of course, we all know that regardless of the number of traffic light accidents that have occurred, that number is infinitesimally tiny compared to the number of people who safely navigate our public thoroughfares every day, year after year. But you probably get the idea, his story about the RFS is VBS (very bull ----).
Oh wait, just so you don't get the wrong idea, I'm not suggesting that anyone gets killed or injured by using ethanol fuels, not even a teeny tiny number of people, because they don't. But, we do know that hundreds of thousands...millions...of people have been injured and killed because of gasoline.
Let me not trip the light fantastic with analogies any longer, let's get down to business. In every way imaginable the Renewable Fuel Standard has been a success. It has:
1. Given us a non-poisonous alternative to tetraethyl lead and MTBE.
2. Given us a tool to begin to wean our country away from dependence on oil (foreign and
3. Been a significant factor in cleaning the air and water.
4. Given us a fuel that cannot create the kind of environmental and animal disasters that we have
seen from petroleum oil and its derivative fuels.
5. Helped stabilize the farming industry, perhaps our most important domestic industry.
6. Saved consumers on the price per gallon of fuel by helping to force oil prices down and
because the ethanol component in the ethanol-gasoline blends is less expensive than the fuel or
oil-industry aromatics that would have to be used if ethanol was not available.
IS ETHANOL DIRTIER THAN GASOLINE?
Mr. Wolfram and his anti-ethanol cronies say that ethanol is not cleaner burning than gasoline and that ethanol causes more 'greenhouses gases' than gasoline. They say this again and again and again. And they cite one oil industry sponsored study after another as proof. Well, there's one sure way to prove how much cleaner ethanol is than gasoline, watch these two videos:
If you don't believe these videos, and you think the results were accomplished by a Las Vegas magician, try the experiment yourself in your kitchen, basement or backyard - or better yet, in your neighbor's kitchen/basement/backyard.
Then just for fun, read this very recent study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that says ethanol produces 43% less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline:
Or you can read this report from the U.S. Energy Department "Biofuels & Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Myths versus Facts," that states unequivocally that ethanol produces far less GHG than gasoline: https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/edg/news/archives/documents/Myths_and_Facts.pdf
By the way, the U.S. Energy Dept. report is from 2007. The significance of this is that ethanol's GHG benefits have been known for years, and the newer study concludes that the results have gotten even better. So when charlatans like Messrs. Wolfram and Shughart try to pass off so-called puke-reviewed* information that says something else, they should be rebuked in the harshest terms.
A tactic that the oil industry uses to try and put the "ethanol is dirtier than gasoline" myth over on the public is a trick, but not from a glamorous Las Vegas magician, more than a scuzzball on 42nd Street with his three-card monte game. Here's what they say: "The tractor's used on the farms have to use diesel fuel; and the trucks to ship the ethanol have to use diesel fuel; and the blah, blah, blah to blah, blah, blah the ethanol has to use gasoline. And so all this use of diesel and gasoline creates additional harmful emissions, which when you add it to everything else, tilts scales in favor of fossil fuels (abiotic fuels).
Hey guess what, Mr. Three-Car Monte, what about all the fuel expended to ship oil, gasoline, and diesel? What about all the fuel expended by our military forces to send ships, planes, missiles, and service men around the world to defend the oil industry. What about all the fuel expended to manufacture all the military materiel, and uniforms to clothe our military personnel, and food to feed them, and medicine to treat their wounds. Have you factored in all this to your con job rhetoric?
TAR SANDS AND FRACKING
Wolfram and Shughart write about the potential of oil from tar sands and fracking; what a wonderful world it will be. Well I have news for them, gasoline and diesel fuel made from tar sands oil and fracking is just as poisonous as gasoline produced from a Saudi oil well. And if you're interested in protecting beautiful landscapes, forget tar sands mining and those 'fracking' horizontal wells.
While I'm on the subject of the environment, Gary Wolfram does what Bill Shughart tried to do, frighten the public with alarming news from a questionable environmentalist group that the American Prairie is rapidly shrinking. And Gary tries to do what Bill did - blame it on ethanol...blame it ALL on ethanol.
So to Gary Wolfram, I write what I wrote to Bill Shughart: "There are a wide number of reasons why prairie is being lost. In Indiana, for example, they lose about 200,000 acres of farmland per year to urban growth. If you're not a fan of shopping centers and new housing communities I guess you could call it a "barren landscape," but the only way you could blame that on corn is to complain about the popcorn they sell at the new movie theaters. However, to anyone serious about this subject I would recommend you read "Vanishing Open Spaces" by Leon Kolankiewicz, Roy Beck and Anne Manetas. Their study provides a rather excellent break down of the loss of open space and the problem of urban sprawl and population growth, and they don't seem to have an oil industry sponsored agenda to blame it on corn. In fact, in the entire study, which covers about 100 pages of text, charts, and tables, they only mention the word "corn" one time."
WATER QUALITY AND AVAILABILITY
Regarding water quality and its availability in the corn crop states, if these are really serious issues then do something about the oily run off from parking lots and paved streets after a rain storm. Ask the more than 10,000 golf courses in the states that feed into the Mississippi River to stop using water and fertilizers - it's just a silly game with a little ball, for crying out loud. If quality and availability of water is so important then why waste it on golf courses?
Here's another thing, why are people in the Midwest trying to grow wine grapes and make wine? Don't they know there's a water shortage? There's no shortage of great wine from California or Australia or Brazil or Spain or Italy or France (well, yes there is a shortage of good French wine, it almost doesn't exist, except in some people's imagination). But we certainly don't need to be wasting valuable water on mediocre Midwest wine (sorry, Midwest, but I am a California wine snob).
Of course, the funniest and most ironic part of the whole 'water' issue is that it's brought up by the oil industry and it's stooges. How many more water disasters do we have to experience before it's completely clear to everyone that the oil industry couldn't give a rat's brass ring for what happens to our water and the animals that depend on it.
And if growing corn is so damn harmful, why the heck are we still selling popcorn at movie theaters and carnivals. Don't those people have chocolate bars they can get fat on?
Mr. Wolfram brings up the garbage about 40% of the corn crop being used for ethanol, thereby robbing starving people of food. This is a ridiculous, ignorant out-of-context old statistic. The percentage of corn being used for ethanol is about the same as it's been for decades. Yes, on a tonnage basis more is being used for ethanol, but because farming techniques have improved and more land is used the percentage has stayed relatively static - so there's more for everybody. In addition, the more corn being used for ethanol the more distiller's grains are available to feed live stock; this means more beef and other meats for humans to consume...and in case you haven't noticed, Gary Wolfram, meat is food, too!
Then, to top it all off, if the corn industry went away tomorrow, the farmers wouldn't grow so much, so it's not like there would be an even greater surplus to feed people in other countries who can't pay for it. You're supposed to be a real, live professional economist; why do you need me to tell you this?
The thing that makes me laugh the most about people like Gary Wolfram is that I get the sense that they know nothing about engine fuels. I don't even find any evidence that these guys own a car or that they know how to drive. And I have never, ever come up against one of these oil industry-paid professors who has been able to cite an actual bad experience that they had using an ethanol-gasoline blend. Sure, I get anonymous cranks who claim to be engine mechanics, but the only thing they know about automotive engines is how change oil and spark plugs.
BOTTOM LINE: IS THE RFS A SUCCESS OR FAILURE?
Okay, so I've presented to you the above reasons why I - a common ordinary man with a computer, and a lot of business experience, and the ability to analyze and articulate issues - believes that Gary Wolfram is nothing more
than an oil industry lackey. But what do other professorial academics make of the RFS? Here's a very new paper published by UTAH LAW REVIEW, written by Jay P. Kesan, University of Illinois College of Law and the Energy Biosciences
Institute (EBI), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Hsiao-Shan Yang, Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Isabel F. Peres Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), University of Illinois
The conclusion of this paper is that the RFS has been a success, but that the degree of success has diminished over time. Why has the degree of success diminished over time? Because of the Blend-Wall. As I wrote in my earlier rebuttal to Bill Shughard, the Blend-Wall is a myth. But although it's a myth, many people, especially the politicians responsible for raising or lowering the amount of ethanol that can be used in a mandated ethanol-gasoline blend, have been hoodwinked by the oil industry. Consequently, ethanol producers are forced to keep production down. This limits all the economic, health, and national security benefits that the RFS was intended to provide.
In fact, contrary to the myth of the Blend Wall, there is no need or reason to limit non-flex fuel gasoline-engine passenger vehicles to just E10 or E15. The great preponderance of vehicles on the road today can use E20, E25, E30, E35, E40 and higher fuels. As I previously wrote to Bill Shughart, this has been proven in several studies, including a multi-year test that I personally conducted. In support of this are several "Ethanol Challenges," including one that was just recently concluded by Glacial Lakes Energy and Dyno Tune Speed and Performance. (2016 E30 Challenge)
The bottom line is that the Renewable Fuel Standard should be expanded to mandate E20 for all spark-ignited internal combustion passenger cars and light trucks, higher level blends should also be available through either specific pumps or blender pumps, and bio-diesel mandate should be created. This should be done forthwith.
All academics who have brought shame to their schools for their unethical behavior should be tossed out on their ears.
* I purposely chose to use these malapropos. However, owing to my Brooklyn origin, there are probably several unintentional typos and grammatical errors scattered about this article. Forghedaboudit.