Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Drunk, Green and Losing Money

I love this: “2007’s worst energy investment”. We’re talking moonshine. Factory made corn mash squeezings. The tasty liquid promising to quench our thirst and make us abandon our prior addictions in favor of alcohol. Oh, there are so many politicians still drinking from this well. I hope they spent their own money but they probably spent the pension funds.

Ethanol Bust: Ethanol, the centerpiece of President George W. Bush's plan to wean the U.S. from oil, is 2007's worst energy investment. … Even worse for investors and the Bush administration, energy experts contend ethanol isn't reducing oil demand. Scientists at Cornell University say making the fuel uses more energy than it creates, while the National Research Council warns ethanol production threatens scarce water supplies.

As oil nears $100 a barrel, ethanol markets are so depressed that distilleries are shutting from Iowa to Germany. An investor who put $10 million into ethanol on Dec. 31 now has $7.5 million, a loss of 25 percent. Florida and Georgia have banned sales during the summer, when the fuel may evaporate and create smog.

The federal government has 20 separate laws and incentives to boost ethanol use, and 49 states offer additional subsidies and supports, according to the Energy Department in Washington.

Scientists question the wisdom of using ethanol. Stanford University researchers say ethanol, originally added to gasoline in the 1970s to reduce tailpipe emissions, does nothing to improve the environment.

Someone has to keep saying this. Oil is not bad for the environment. Alternatives to oil, however, can be extremely bad for the biosphere. Of course, bad economics will never deter the environmentalists because it’s not about free market money, it’s about power over nature. The Greens will say the problem is not the concept but the implementation. So what if corn is a bust, fuel oil from the expanding deforestation diesel plantations will be the answer to saving the planet --- for the new human management team.