The Real Truth About Ethanol By Ken Hambrick in a Guest Commentary for the Contra Costa Times
Ethanol, as are most bio-fuels, is "energy negative" taking 72 percent more energy to produce than is contained in the final product. If you adjust the price of ethanol based on energy per gallon, E85 ethanol sells for the equivalent of 66 cents more than a gallon of gasoline. This, despite federal subsidies based on gallons produced that show ethanol gets 54 cents, and oil gets only 1 cent.
Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier spun another one of his fairy tales in a recent Times' commentary on ethanol (co-written by one of his union buddies). If you believe him, ethanol is the savior of the world. Claiming ethanol is 63 cents a gallon cheaper than gasoline is patently untrue according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Its 2007 report says E85 ethanol fuel retails for 20 cents less (not 63 cents), but because ethanol contains about 34 percent less energy per unit volume it also will result in about 34 percent reduction in miles per gallon.
It goes on to say if you adjust the price based on energy per gallon, E85 ethanol sells for the equivalent of 66 cents more than a gallon of gasoline.
On top of that, ethanol, as most bio-fuels in general, is "energy negative" taking 72 percent more energy to produce than is contained in the final product.
Carbon dioxide is often cited as a major factor in so-called global warming. DeSaulnier claims that ethanol can be a significant tool in solving our air-quality problems. Use of ethanol, as currently produced, emits a similar net amount of carbon dioxide. So just where is the positive effect on air quality?
Although DeSaulnier doesn't mention this, assertions are often made that oil companies are subsidized by the government. Although this is true, consider this. Most ethanol in this country is made from corn. Corn ethanol subsidies totaled $7 billion in 2006 for 4.9 billion gallons of ethanol. That's $1.50 per gallon. So if you consider subsidies based on gallons produced, ethanol gets 54 cents, and oil gets 1 cent.
The main reason for DeSaulnier's statements is that he is trying to help his union buddies get more ethanol plants built in California along with more union jobs.
DeSaulnier was a key player in giving away obscene pension and health care benefits while a county supervisor thus leading the county into a financial morass. He did this as a payoff to the unions who owned him. Apparently, they still do.
A word of advice for Brother Mark: Do your research, and check your facts before writing about saviors like ethanol. It really makes you look silly.
Ken Hambrick is a resident of Walnut Creek, California.