Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “ethanol”

Still more on the downside of alternative, unreliable energy sources

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more updates on the unintended consequences of alternative, unreliable energy sources.

  • Humans want electricity available the instant we want electricity – the challenge of dispatchable energy
  • An overview of the harm from burning corn in our engines

8/9 – Million Dollar Way – Dispatchable Energy – The Demand is Growing

Yet another massive problem with wind and solar energy. You cannot turn it off and on. As in, provide electricity when people decide they want it. That feature is called dispatchable.

Here’s the definition of the term:

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More wind power coming on line in North Dakota

Above party did not speak at hearings which approved 159 wind turbines. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Above party did not speak at hearings which approved 159 wind turbines. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Several articles on the increasing number of slice-and-dicers in the state.

Also, ethanol lobbyists want the feds to force customers to buy more of their food-based power; this is cronyism in action. That customers don’t want to burn more corn in their cars and don’t want the higher prices and don’t want to risk damaging their engines is not a factor in the lobbying.

6/16 – Forum News Service at Bismark Tribune – N.D. utility regulators approve wind farm project – The state PSC approved the Brady Wind Energy Center I near Dickinson. There has been a lot of public opposition to the project for quite some time.

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Visual illustration of energy foolishness

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

I just learned that Robert Wilson (@CountCarbon) does a huge amount of graphing. (Yeah, yeah, I’m slow to catch up with what’s happening. On the other hand, keeping up with change is the purpose of this blog.)

Here are two of his illustrations that shows the utter foolishness of two specific energy policies: ethanol and solar power.


Question along with graph to help figure out your answer:

corn used in ethanol

Question: Would corn be better used to feed people than cars?

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More on the immorality of ethanol

I have a backlog of energy articles. That allows me to group comments together. Today’s focus: the morality of ethanol assessed based on the damage it causes.

12/17/14 – CBS Minnesota – U of M Study Finds Ethanol Worse for Air Quality Than Gasoline – When measured at the tailpipe, ethanol-laden gasoline measures about the same as regular gasoline. Study from the University of Minnesota says that when you count all of the inputs to grow corn and turn it into ethanol it is far worse for the environment than plain gasoline.

The point?

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More good stuff from the open frontier of energy – 6/1

Articles on operation of salt water disposal sites, damage from ethanol, drones in the oil patch, and an interview with Chevron’s CEO (including comments on harsh over regulation in California).

5/26 – Journal Publishing – Putting the ‘safe’ in hazardous oil waste – Superb article on salt water disposal (SWD). Waste water from a well, perhaps two or 3 gallons for every gallon of oil, goes to special treatment sites.

The SWD sites have lots of tanks to let the saltwater settle. Oil floats to the top, is skimmed off, then sold.

Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontier of energy – 3/12

Here are a few recent articles that help me understand what is happening in the open frontier of energy. Two articles on the damage from ethanol and a view of Cowboyistan. Also cool pictures of North Dakota.

3/10 – Robert Bryce at New York Times – End the Ethanol Rip-Off – In addition to the environmental damage from tearing up grasslands, harm to poor people world-wide, damage to small engines at 10%, and damage to most car engines at 15%, burning corn to power cars is wasteful economically.

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Ethanol makes global warming worse

A new study funded by the federal government reached the conclusion that ethanol made from residue after corn harvesting releases 7% more greenhouse gases that straight gasoline.

The reason for the surprise is that the study considers the ancillary effects of biofuels. For example, when the residual is left on the ground, it improves the soil’s ability to absorb CO2. When the increased CO2 from non-absorption into the ground is considered, biofuels make the environment worse.

You can read more:

Doubling greenhouse gas

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Another unintended consequence of ethanol – loss of wildlife due to loss of habitat

Update: Welcome to those arriving from Million Dollar Way. Hope you enjoy the read. There are plenty of other posts here on ethanol, energy in general, and especially peak oil foolishness. (Thanks for the link!)

It doesn’t compare to forcing the poor to pay lots more so they barely have enough food to stay alive, but there is another unintended consequence directly caused by turning corn into gasoline.

The loss of grassland has reduced the number of game birds, with a resulting drop in hunting and the associated slump in economic activity.

The Dickinson Press has a report:  Ethanol’s rise can mean loss of hunting lands.

It used to be that one particular motel in Fairbury, Nebraska would be packed every day of the week for the first two weeks of the pheasant season and then all weekend for several more weeks. Now, there are a few hunters that show up occasionally.


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Reality finally impacting ethanol requirements

The EPA has reduced the amount of ethanol that must be used in gasoline. The federal requirement is based on absolute volume of ethanol and not the amount of gasoline sold. Thus, even though gasoline use dropped instead of rising, the amount of ethanol has to increase. This would force us to use E15, which would damage many auto engines on the road.  The AAA asserts that only 5% of the light trucks on the market can use E15.  That linked article also says E15 actually has twice as much corn (ethanol) as E10.

A small victory for consumers who buy gas, everyone that owns a vehicle with an engine that otherwise would be damaged, and the poor who spend a disproportionate share of their income buying artificially high-priced corn.

Other good news:

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Compared to slice-and-dice, wing-toasters, and corn-for-gasoline industries, seems like oil and gas is an oasis of common sense


Million Dollar Way ponders The Irony Of It All – North Dakota Will Lose More Grassland, More Wetlands To Ethanol Than To The Oil And Gas Industry:

And with an ever-increasing number of slicers and dicers killing bats, eagles, hawks, and whooping cranes, the oil and gas industry is starting to look like an oasis of common sense.

Four industries: wind power, solar power, ethanol, and oil & gas. What common sense is visible seems to be in oil & gas.


…is environmentally unfriendly. Maybe. Probably. Possibly.

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Current reputation of ethanol

Cute cartoon from Nate Beeler in the Columbus Dispatch

The corn, it’s a poppin’ 

Q: What churned up 5M acres of never-before-plowed land, increased carbon output, poisoned rivers, and drove up food prices for the poor?

A: Ethanol.

Yes, gasoline from corn does all that and more.

In what Million Dollar Way calls a Cronkite moment, the AP has a major story out, the title of which I will edit to make neutral as to political parties, since ethanol is the official policy of one R and one D administration:  The secret, dirty cost of {two administration’s} green power push.

Here’s a bit of the information the AP reported:

Environmental damage

The overall conclusion:

The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. 

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Ethanol fail

When can we start calling it foolishness to burn corn in our cars?

Via Meadia’s post Biofuel Boondoggle Just Won’t Quit begins:

Corn-based ethanol starves the world’s poor and increases greenhouse gas emissions

Standards set by Congress require a certain amount of ethanol be used. Here’s the required amount this year compared to production and expected demand:

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The folly of burning corn in our cars explained in one cartoon

You can distill the problem with burning corn in our cars into one cartoon. From Michael Ramirez at Investors Business Daily.

Hungry people can’t eat gasoline.

Is this really wise? We feed our cars almost as much grain as we feed our livestock.

We are diverting increasing amounts of corn into ethanol which goes into our gasoline. That is driving up grain prices. That in turn is driving up food prices here in the U.S. and around the world.

And that at a time when our domestic oil production is going through the roof.

Carpe Diem reminds us of two older articles in More on the lunacy of turning corn into demon ethanol.

The first is from Slate, in July 2012 – Food as Fuel. The second is from far left economist Paul Krugman from April 2008 – Grains Gone Wild.

In the Carpe Diem post, Prof. Perry says that anytime you have Paul Krugman agreeing with fifteen named sources (including commentators from both left and right) that ethanol is a lousy policy …

… you know that ethanol has to be one of the most misguided public policies in U.S. history.

Read more…

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