I was surprised to see this Op-Ed in the NYTimes this morning. Surprised but pleased.
For nearly a decade I have been writing about the ethanol rip-off (see here, for what I wrote in June, 2005).
The NYTimes Op-Ed says it all very well, though. An excerpt:
[T]he indirect environmental costs involved, including growing, harvesting and processing corn into fuel, are significant. Ethanol diverts corn from the food supply, driving up food costs; it promotes inefficient and harmful land-use strategies; and it can damage small engines. But a more fundamental problem is its high cost when compared with conventional gasoline. And that higher cost is directly related to its lower energy density.
Ethanol contains about 76,000 B.T.U.s per gallon. Gasoline contains about 114,000 B.T.U.s per gallon. Therefore, to get the same amount of energy contained in a gallon of gasoline, a motorist must buy about 1.5 gallons of ethanol. ...
[V]ehicles running on the most common form of ethanol-blended fuel, E10 (which contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline), will typically get “3 percent to 4 percent fewer miles per gallon” than they would if they were running on pure gasoline. That mileage penalty — in essence, a tax — must be paid at the pump through the purchase of additional fuel.
And that takes us to the cost issue. Since 1982, officials in Nebraska (which is the second-largest ethanol producer, behind Iowa) have been monitoring monthly and annual wholesale, or “rack,” prices for ethanol and gasoline at fuel depots in Omaha. In December 2014, the rack price of a gallon of ethanol was $2.40, while a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $1.73. But recall that we need 1.5 gallons of ethanol to match the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline. That means you would need to pay about $3.60 to get the same amount of energy as from a gallon of gasoline, making ethanol about twice as expensive.
That’s not unusual. Since 1982, the price of an energy-equivalent amount of ethanol has, on average, been about 2.4 times the price of gasoline.
What was supposed to be a "green initiative" has been nothing more than a tax on gasoline users that benefits corn farmers and ethanol producers, that wastes land, and that drives up the prices of food products (thus disproportionately hurting the poor).
The sooner the the ethanol programme is ended, the better.