Thursday, May 1, 2008


Here's an article that Carolyn, NO APOLOGIES, BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES ON WORLD EVENTS and NO APOLOGIES, NEWS FROM THE FRONT LINES sent me.  It's authored by Thomas D. Segel, a retired U. S. Marine.  This article appeared in THE NEW MEDIA JOURNAL on April 26, 2008.  This article ties in with my entry, ETHANOL, HISTORY REPEATED 'CAUSE WE DIDN'T LEARN THE FIRST TIME!  In case you missed it, the entry title is hyperlinked.  Thanks for sharing this, Carolyn!

A Gallon of Milk, A Gallon of Gas & The Ethanol Hoax
USA Thomas D. Segel
April 26, 2008

When I read the newspaper or view the nightly television news shows I can’t help but feel almost uncontrollable anger. And the truth is I really don’t know where that anger should be directed. I listen to my fellow citizens’ anguish about the price of fuel, the price of food and sticker shock at everything they want to purchase. They have great concerns about the price of gas at the local station and the cost of milk at the super market. And they blame the politicians for inaction, along with greedy farmers and Big Oil for high prices. With their next breath they are crying for more of our corn based ethanol to help lower prices at the pump. It is enough to make a rational person want to bash his or her head against the nearest hard object in complete frustration.


For the past thirty plus years we have allowed the environmental activists of the Democratic Party to stop all forward movement in our national quest for energy independence. We know how to obtain oil from places such as Alaska, Wyoming and the Dakotas, but legislation to drill has been blocked. We know oil is waiting offshore, but we are not allowed to drill due to environmental impact, even though other nations are reaching for that same oil, just a few miles away.


We have even allowed these same activists to stop the building of new oil refineries for the past 30 years.


Our energy demands from abroad could be reduced by nuclear power, but the socialist led environmentalists have swayed enough pandering politicians to stop the production of nuclear power plants. Other socialist-activists who hide behind the green wall of environmentalism have slowed the much touted wind farms of this country to almost a standstill. When construction is almost at hand there is always another call for a study to see if these wind farms will kill migrating birds, or perhaps block Ted Kennedy’s oceanfront view.


Though the United States has enough coal to handle the majority of our energy needs for decades, political roadblocks keep on appearing to slow the rapid development of coal based technology.


While on the topic of energy concerns, lets not forget the political love affair with corn-based ethanol. To say this bio fuel is a gigantic con game perpetrated by corn producers and politicos would be an understatement. We must add into the mix major corporations that keep the myth of reduced dependence on oil alive, because they are financially invested in bio-fuels.


When we examine the politician’s incessant praising of corn based ethanol, we fail to understand these are really people who are prostituting themselves for more votes and financial support fromthe agro-community.


Ethanol, as we produce it today, is 20% less efficient than gasoline. It takes 450 pounds of corn to produce enough ethanol to fill the tank of the average American automobile. (Think about that for a minute. It also takes about 450 pounds of corn to feed one person for a year.) It is too corrosive to be shipped via pipeline and must be trucked to distribution points. Added to these negatives…it takes more than one gallon of fossil fuel, coal, oil, or natural gas, to produce one gallon of ethanol.


Writing on the Mother Jones website, Cameron Scott says, “To grow enough corn for ethanol to replace our oil addiction would require approximately 482 million acres of cropland. exceeding the total of 434 million acres of cropland used for all food and fiber. This does not even account for projected growth of oil consumption in the U.S.”


Added to these problem areas, ethanol production increases, rather than reduces, environmental concerns. Production requires the application of petroleum-based fertilizers that have contributed heavily to the emission of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. To produce a gallon of ethanol requires three to five gallons of water and results in 13 gallons of toxic trash and wastewater. It takes the energy equivalent of 113 liters of gas to treat this waste.


Dr. Walter Williams, the distinguished author, columnist and professor at George Mason University says, “The grain based ethanol hoax is a sterling example of a program economists refer to as narrow, well- defined benefits versus widely dispersed costs. It pays the ethanol lobby to organize and collect money to grease the palms of politicians willing to do their bidding because there is a large benefit to them – higher wages and profits. The millions of fuel consumers, who fund these benefits through higher fuel costs and food prices, as well as taxes, are relatively uninformed and have little clout.”


So, we tolerate $6.00 corn used to produce $2.00 ethanol, which is also subsidized by the government to the tune of $1.05 to $1.38 per gallon, because it would not survive on the free market. Thus, we allow the costs to each of us personally to increase even more, because those subsidies come directly from our tax dollars.


But, we haven’t finished here. How about that box of cereal, or that steak, or that gallon of milk? Have you checked market prices lately?


Last night a woman on the evening news was telling the reporter that, “I had to choose between paying about $3.50 for a gallon of gas, or buying a gallon of milk for my children.”


A convenience store operator told the news reporter that the high price of gas had resulted in him losing customers. “People don’t fill their tanks”, he said. “And they don’t come in to the store and buy things like they did before. I am making much less money in my business.”


Yes, prices have sky rocketed on everything from beef to milk and cereal to soda pop. Even beer has jumped in price, because corn and other grains are being diverted into producing fuels.


Reporting in the Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher has noted “A Senate-passed energy bill would require the use of 15 billion gallons of ethanol by 2015, more than double what motorists are expected to use this year. The mandate would be raised to 36 billion gallons by 2022.


At the same time difficulties in transporting the bio fuel to distant locales have produced a glut of ethanol in Iowa and Nebraska, thus dropping the price by 50 cents a gallon and, of course, increasing the subsidies paid to the producers. Even with this happening dozens of plants are under construction and current distilleries are being expanded. More corn is being planted to feed the bio fuel industry and less corn and other grains are being raised to feed the hungry.


So, as you look at high prices everywhere there are a lot of people you can blame. You can point your rage at Big Oil, Big Industry, Big Farmers, Big Politicians…and on and on. But, the person you really should be angry at owns that face you see every day in the mirror.


Too many of us expected the politicians to be fathers, mothers and nannies combined. What they really ended up doing is stealing our modern way of life.


Ethanol is all about the money.  Not reducing our dependence on foreign oil, not about the environment, and certainly NOT about you and I.  It's all about the money . . . going OUT of your wallet and into the hands of politicians and special interests that is.


luvrte66 said...

I'm very disturbed by the increasing call for producing ethanol. It is damaging to the environment, and it is driving up food costs across the board. Increased dependence on ethanol will not solve our economic problems, and in fact, will only increase them.

Promising news is that licences have been granted for new nuclear power plants, and I believe that we will begin to build new plants soon.

Great entry, and I think it's important to get a grip NOW on the craze for ethanol.


lifesabench6 said...

Dirk, first, thanks for posting this.  I just read through again, and I don't know which part makes me more angry.  Fromthose who keep telling us- the regular people, to do more to conserve - to those in washington who cry on behalf of the working poor to demand lower costs at the pump- when they darned well know that the oil companies pay exhorbinant *Sp!* amounts in taxes and we pay enough per gallon in taxes too- washington is not only rolling in manure- but billions in tax dollars too!  Then there are the "greeny" washington elite listening to environmentalists long enough to tell you and me what we need to do without to save the planet- but then the Kennedys and  algores won't hear of it to cut their own wasteful ways, or don't want their lifestyles effected in any way!  Then, there's the Nancy Palosies who invent Bible verses when it's convenient to use a little religion, to tell us not to harm creation- instead we're to worship it?!  They throw Jesus out of our public areas- they disallow God- but expect us to worship NOT HIm, but His creation?!!  I'm sorry, I know this is the National Day of Prayer and all- but looking at all of this, and what else is going on with our "Elected" elites- I think we Are deserving of jugement.  I hope not, but .....  Anyway, thank you Dirk- thank  you for your posting all of these to keep us all informed, and thank you mostly for you- my Christian brother!  God Bless- Carolyn

cuteallison1980 said...

There are solutions for all of our problems, but unfortunately we as citizens don't have the fortitude to help ourselves.  Apathy has hit our nation and we just sit here and take it knowing full well that no one is going to help.  To blame environmentalists for gas prices is absurd.  It isn't an evironmentalist that is making over $10 Billion profit every quarter.  Our politicians allow this to happen because, well, they get paid handsomely by the oil companies so they can run for reelection.  When was the last time a politician on either side of the aisle actually stood up and fought for his or her citizens best interest.  I don't have that long to wait for an answer to that because I will be trying to collect my social security before you can give me a clue, but then again we are spending all of the cash we don't have on wars and not on our country.


sonsam13 said...

As a biochemist and environmentalist I don't entirely agree with your assertion that environmental concerns/regulations are the main driver of higher gas prices, or that without them we'd be better off. As far as being able to drill in places like ANWAR, I don't argue that we shouldn't but I would argue WHEN. Drilling in ANWAR would hardly put a dent in balancing our oil needs, despite what people think. All it would do is bring the cost of gas down for a few years....we're not talking $1 a gallon either. I would rather see that kept in reserve for use in the airline industry (which has no viable solution for oil) and for all the other petroleum based products we use, so we are not paying $1 per garbage bag. To use it for automobiles is short sighted and it would be depleted quickly.....OPEC has to sell oil, that's all they have....we don't. It could also be a real competitive advantage to american industries if they had access to a cheaper supply of oil (i.e. the airline, farm,plastic ect. industries)

I agree with you on the whole ethanol farse.

I think hyrogen as a fuel is a much better way to go. The greatest advantage of hydrogen is that you can employ several methods to derive and harness it ( most likely it would come from natural gas) however all you really need is water and any energy source to break the H-O bond. This could come from solar,wind,hydro,coal,geothermal sources.....this kind of flexibility is exactly what we need to spur inovation.

wipforever said...

Unbelievable, isn't it?  The only way we can decrease our reliance on foreign oil is to drill it ourselves but the do-gooders won't allow that to happen.  Something has to give.  I just hope that it is soon.


moondawghouse said...

I certainly agree. I'm writing my own take on this ethanol fiasco, so watch for an alert on my political journal soon.


wwfbison said...

I don't think I am going to be too popular based on some of the other comments and while I don't consider myself a tree hugger I am concerned about the environment.  I am opposed to nuclear power for one huge reason, there is no room for error.  A mistake will cost us more than most are willing to pay.  Chernobyl was 100% human error, we all know how that ended.  TMI & Peach Bottom are jokes. I live in the hot zone of both and I can tell you it is not a good feeling knowing the employees are SLEEPING on the job...literally.  Until we can produce a plant that doesn't rely on humans I think we are fooling ourselves into a false sense of security.  I know engineers at TMI and they have told me way too much.

I don't believe the blame lies solely with the environmentalist.  Our politicians will favor whomever is greasing their palms and lining their pockets.  If the environmentalists are paying more ~ that is the way they will vote.  We as humans, not liberals or conservatives have to start changing our ways.  WE have to be willing to make sacrifices to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  That means everyone.  How many people do you know who have made any effort to change their lifestyles to reduce this dependence?  Everyone wants to complain but few will do anything and have the "let someone else do it" attitude.

There has to be a middle ground, finding our own oil sources without destroying everything around it.  Believe it or not, I am NOT a liberal...I have been a card carrying republican since I was 18.  There is good & bad in each party, to blame the liberals for all of our problems is sillly.  It is just that OUR problems, each of us regardless of our political party choice.

And the ethanol issue is a money game....our (farm) grain prices have increased almost $2 in a little over a month.

ma24179 said...

It's sad and it's scary.. if it keeps going like this, some of us will not be able to survive. -Missy

randlprysock said...

I read every word of this out loud to my husband.  Wow.  This is really scary stuff.  We don't know how much longer we can hold on with things like this either.  We make the choice between gas and milk all the time.  Sometimes the milk has to wait so we can put fuel in the tank to get to work.

queeniemart said...

Someone needs to realize that in the U.S., the common child of 2 working parents, honest people who pay taxes, dont' spank, don't drink, who believe in God, and live their lives as they should are going hungry. In mid America, DAILY, i see those who have to choose between eating or filling their tank. Many are standing in food banks for bread and boloney as they rob Peter to pay Paul to keep the lights on and the heat on. Hungry Americans. For full time working parents.

i think it is a travesty.

ndnhunny30 said...

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Dirk, Happy Birthday to you!!! I hope you have a wonderful day ;)
Hugs, Robyn