Latest Anti-Ethanol Attack Reveals Huge Economic Potential for U.S.
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
With all its land, its copious shipping and airport facilities, industrial capability, technical prowess, robust farming community, finely honed communications media, and superior military strength, the United States of America is perfectly suited to be the world's largest supplier of narcotic and hallucinogenic products. That's right, we could do it all; you name the drug, we can make more of it and ship it anywhere in the globe. We can supply all of the drugs, all of the paraphernalia, faster, better packaged, and our combined media and advertising industries would make people everywhere happy and proud that they're addicted to our dope. And if we come up against a country or regime that tries to stop us from supplying their citizens with this dope we can do what the British did for so many years: we send in our military and force the people to use our drugs.
There's just one or two little things that stand in the way of our becoming the Dope Pushers to the World: The drugs are deadly, and those addicted might not die right away, they'd live a semi-comatose existence dependent upon us for their next fix - and you know that they would be taken advantage of by the locals who control the "retail" delivery of U.S dope products. It would the modern age of slavery.
So why do I bring this up? Why would I write such absolute silliness and make such a patently absurd suggestion?
Well, I just received an email from one of the rising young stars in ethanol advocacy, Jacob Kaul. Jacob is a farmer, the son of farmers, he lives in an upper Midwest state that grows lots of crops that the people of America enjoy and live on. Jacob, is also a producer of ethanol advocacy videos (more about that later). The purpose of Jacob's email was to inform me of an editorial he just read that was written by J. Winston Porter, PhD., and published a few hours earlier on a website called "TheHill.com." The article is titled "ETHANOL IN GASOLINE — AN ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC PROBLEM."
Mr. Porter's editorial is tantamount to a declaration that America should be in the business of peddling narcotics and hallucinogenic drugs to the world.
J. Winston Porter, PhD., is currently an energy and environmental consultant and author, who previously held a position as an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. I've come across a lot of dopey PhD's who have written some really dopey stuff against ethanol, and this ranks way up there with some of the dopiest...which makes sense, in a perverse way, because his anti-ethanol position helps to push the petroleum oil industry's dope. The EPA has given us a mixed bag of information and dictates - some very good, some terrible. I don't know what Winnie worked on when he was with the EPA, but it couldn't have been as an Assistant Administrator of Accounting.
Let me begin with his first mind-numbing comment that "America has now become self-sufficient in oil and natural gas thanks largely to the "fracking" revolution. In fact, the U.S. is now the world's largest producer of oil and gas."
I'm sorry to burst your bubble, Winnie, but the U.S. is not self-sufficient in oil and gas. In 2018, crude oil production in the U.S. was 10-11 millions barrels per day. It takes a little more than two gallons of crude oil to make one gallon of gasoline. There are 42 gallons of crude oil in a barrel, so 11 million barrels of crude oil creates about 231 million gallons of gasoline per day.
In 2017 (the 2018 figures aren't available yet), the U.S. consumed an average of 392 million gallons of gasoline per day. If the 2018 gasoline consumption figures are the same as 2017, we would have needed about 800 million gallons of crude, or 19 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2018. Since we need 19 million barrels of crude oil per day, but we only produce 11 million barrels of crude oil per day, then the U.S. is not self-sufficient. We are short, by a pretty good margin, regardless of how much frackin' fracking was going on.
For a further detailed explanation of all this I suggest you read Robert Rapier's story "NO, THE U.S. IS NOT A NET EXPORTER OF CRUDE OIL".
On top of this error in arithmetic, Mr. Porter should have taken into account that for the U.S. LTO industry (Light Tight Oil) to be profitable and to survive, the crude oil has to be priced pretty high for a long time. Some experts think that number is in the $115 to $125 per barrel range. 2018 prices went from mid $60's to mid $70's, and the prices so far in 2019 have been generally lower. OPEC and Russia want prices higher, but higher prices brings in American competition, so they've been keeping the prices low to hurt domestic U.S. light tight oil - it's basically the same game they played against alternative fuels in the past every time the issue of alt-fuels seemed to be getting a full head of steam. American oil interests went along with OPEC then, because it meant more money for them, too. But now the price game hurts U.S. LTO producers. The bottom line here is that not only are we not petroleum oil self sufficient, but that the OPEC pricing game could put the LTO industry out of business. For more information about this I suggest you read Mike Shellman's story "DEEP THE DENIAL.".
In reality, this is another reason we need ethanol to force OPEC and Russia to lower their prices way below current prices, and keep them there. Ethanol can be profitably produced cheaper than U.S. LTO and has the extra benefit of depriving despotic oil producers of the money they need to fund terrorism.
Winston Porter then turns his attention to the inane argument that ethanol demand is causing great environmental damage - damage that approaches or surpasses the real and terrible environmental damage caused by the petroleum oil industry and their fuels. Mr. Porter cites an article published on the National Resources Defense Council website that utilizes such false anti-ethanol issues as the so-called "Blend Wall." The blend wall is a work of fiction, it does not exist, and has never existed except in the minds of the Big Oil dope peddlers. Along with many others, we kicked the stuffing out of this nonsense argument by pointing out the very, very simple fact that all of the gasoline-powered vehicles on the road in America and around the world can safely and economically use ethanol-gasoline blends that are substantially higher than E10. You can read my 2014 editorial on this titled "THE FIGURATIVE ETHANOL BLEND WALL IS A FICTIONAL ETHANOL BLEND WALL.".
In addition, every other anti-ethanol point made in the Mr. Porter's editorial and in the NRDC story is false or greatly exaggerated. Porter doesn't even seem to know that there is NO ETHANOL MANDATE. He writes:
"Today, about 40 percent of the nation's corn crop is used to create ethanol. Millions of acres of once untouched lands have been plowed to accommodate corn ethanol demand. Instead of expanding wildlife habitat, the ethanol mandate is steadily reducing it.
"Because growing corn is hard on the soil, farmers have been forced to use more and more fertilizer. Runoff from that fertilizer is adding to a growing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that is so low in oxygen that it kills off significant fish and wildlife.
"As for economic factors, huge amounts of Midwest corn are used for ethanol production to mix with vehicle gasoline. This "extra" corn has raised the cost of food inside and outside of America."
It's irrelevant what the total percentage is, or how much corn crop is used to create ethanol. It's the same basic relative percentile as it's been for years. There's still more than enough corn for every other imaginable use because as the corn crop yield has soared it makes more corn available for all the non-ethanol items. Plus the corn that's used for ethanol also gets used for animal feed and other products, so there is no 'wasted corn.' There is more fuel, and more food. The millions of untouched acres that he claims have been spoiled is also false. The amount of acres planted with corn today is less or similar to many of the years before the RFS was adopted. Farmers are not being forced to use more fertilizer, they are using less fertilizer than before the RFS. The hypoxia problem that exists in the Gulf of Mexico was originally observed in the 1950's (way before the start of any modern large scale production of ethanol in the U.S.), and it was first documented as a problem in the mid-1970's (still way before the start of any large scale production of ethanol in the U.S.). The cause of hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico may be from agricultural runoff, but then you have to blame all crops and all runoff, such as the fertilizer and chemical runoff from golf courses, residential communities, corporate and academic campuses, and residue from paved streets and parking lots.
If Winnie wants to cut down on fertilizer running into the Gulf of Mexico he should target the several thousand golf courses that exist in the states with rivers that empty into the Gulf. It's just a dumb game; if so much harm is being caused by fertilizer runoff then just ban golf. And then he should target flower farms, hops farms, and vineyards in these states. People could be using artificial flowers, and we don't need beer and wine produced in Indiana or Illinois or Nebraska - the west coast states makes more than enough (I have no problem with people in the Midwest wanting to make beer and wine, but if we have imbeciles running around worrying about non-existent quantities of fertilizer, they should be shunted off in that direction of Indiana winemakers).
Mr. Porter brings up the near-ancient canard that corn used for ethanol raises the price of food for consumers. This bit of lunacy, which was started by a report from The World Bank around 2007-8, was rescinded by them in 2010...and they repeated the retraction two or three times since. Wake up Mr. PhD, this is 2019.
Lastly, our former assistant EPA administrator addresses the issue of hardship waivers for small oil refineries. Petroleum oil fuels are poison, deadly poison. Millions of Americans have been killed or made seriously ill from this dope. If he wants to campaign for small refineries to be granted hardship waivers, then he might as well campaign for hardship waivers for all small meth labs and cocaine pushers - IT'S THE SAME THING!
As I've asked to other highly credentialed people that present fallacious arguments on behalf of the oil industry, "Unless you're getting paid millions of dollars, how can putting your reputation and career on the line for the petroleum oil industry be worth it?
SEE ALSO: It's Time To Rethink The Value Of PhD.
Jacob Kaul's videos are great tools to help dispel ethanol myths. Here's some examples: