The brutal reality of $4.00-plus and, in some areas, $6.00 per gallon gasoline has brought greater urgency, if not clarity, to the debate over national energy policy.
The Biden administration’s answer to the gasoline price crisis it engineered is… drum roll… adding more ethanol!
The administration announced it will authorize the sale of gasoline with higher ethanol content this summer, supposedly to counteract high gas prices. That means America will burn more corn ethanol, a/k/a, “food,” to offset the negative effects of President(ish) Joe Biden’s war on fossil fuels.
From The Hill: “Under a national emergency waiver set to be issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, a restriction on E15, or fuel with a 15 percent ethanol blend, would be lifted during the high-demand summer driving season… The administration… projected that at current prices, use of E15 could save the average family about 10 cents a gallon.”
In other words, burning a food product that produces 30 percent less energy than the same volume of gasoline is preferable to developing/refining/transporting the nation’s ample oil reserves in order to (only maybe) drop the price of motor fuel by a lousy 1.7 to 2.4 percent to a level still 60 percent or more higher than when Biden took office.
The problems with alcohol-based “renewable” fuels are well-documented. Corn-based ethanol has significant drawbacks, not the least of which is that, because ethanol producers and the food industry use the same commodity, artificial demand for corn to produce ethanol increases food prices to levels that can cause – have caused — civil unrest in parts of the world.
In fact, the price of corn is already at a nine-year high due to drought- and conflict-related shortages.
With a war in Ukraine involving two of the world’s largest grain exporters, general famine, especially in Africa, is a real possibility. Indeed, certain African nations are already experiencing food shortages.
Adding ethanol to motor fuel is a case study of poor choices and the negative effects of government tinkering in markets.
Federal crop subsidies and ethanol mandates shower tax and household dollars on corn growers and ethanol refiners to produce a product we are forced to purchase, that provides less energy for our money, adds water to gas tanks (refiners cannot remove all the water from corn alcohol ), raises food prices, degrades the environment, and, unsubsidized, would actually increase fuel prices.
Moreover, ethanol is irrelevant to other critical fossil fuel applications, including power generation, home heating, and thousands of consumer products, the prices for which Biden’s energy policies also inflated.
A Cornell University study revealed that more carbon-based energy is used to grow and process corn into ethanol than the energy ethanol produces. Ethanol is a money sink, a waste of farmland, fertilizer, fossil fuels — and food.
Increasing ethanol is a scam. All the Biden administration is doing is meddling in multiple markets in an attempt to spare fellow Democrats midterm election punishment for the soaring fuel prices Biden’s policies created. It’s merely a distraction designed — they hope — to avoid public backlash at the polls.
If biofuels and other alternatives to hydrocarbon-based sources were economically viable and competitive in energy markets, everyone would be made available by “greedy capitalists,” unsubsidized. It is only government-enforced taxpayer investment in alternatives that attract private money interests.
The real greed lies, mutually, in private “investors” chasing public funds for private profit with the complicity of politicians who promote energy alternatives and then harvest campaign cash from the recipients of taxpayer handouts.
It’s an insiders’ game, a closed-loop: political hacks and rent-seekers are playing taxpayers and consumers for chumps on marginally viable, even impractical alternative energy sources.
Our dependence on oil is one of necessity. The world’s energy demands are simply too great for alternatives to provide much offset.
Any rational American energy policy must begin with producing carbon-based energy.
The truth is that the best way for America to lower energy costs is to increase the supply of conventional, practical, domestic energy assets, including nuclear.
But, to the Biden administration, the truth, the economy and American consumers take a back seat to ethanol and other alt-energy special interests and the demands of a noisy, hard-left “Green New Deal” fringe.
Worse, the administration thinks you’re dumb enough to thank them for their ethanol scam by voting for Democrats in November.
Contact columnist Jerry Shenk at firstname.lastname@example.org