Ethanol: Miracle or Mistake?

That’s the question examined by Florida Trend in a recent issue. Not only is this question of interest nationally, but it should be of particular interest to Floridians (and I am one). All the “go green” popularity led to our Legislature mandating that by December 31, 2010, all gasoline sold in Florida for vehicular use shall be blended with ethanol at 9-10%. The only exception is for vehicles classified as “collectible” since ethanol will damage their engines.

From a Libertarian and free market perspective, I’m completely opposed to this type of “government knows best” mandate that removes any consumer choice from the gasoline market. Blended gasoline reduces fuel efficiency because ethanol has lower BTU than gasoline. Depending on the price difference, pure gasoline may give you more miles per gallon than blended gasoline.

But there are other problems with ethanol. Newsweek recently reported that about 25% of this country’s 2008 corn harvest will end up as ethanol. Corn is an important food crop and we are seeing how its diversion to fuel production has caused, and continues to cause, escalating food prices at the grocery. Are you better off if rising grocery prices more than offset the few cents you save at the pump? I think eating is a little more important than driving.

Fortunately, ethanol can be produced from many products that would have little, if any, impact on food prices. But even if all ethanol production shifted to non-food sources, there is a real question of just how “green” it is to produce any type of ethanol. But I’ll let you decide that issue yourself by providing some links at the end of this post.

As for me, ethanol is another example of government rushing to embrace a solution based on appearance rather than substance. I believe in environmental responsibility; but I do not believe in environmental appearances, often called “greenwashing.” And I believe ethanol is being greenwashed, albeit with good intentions… which is the favorite paving material to a certain place.

Here’s the Florida trend article: Ethanol: Miracle or Mistake.

Here’s another ethanol article from the St. Petersburg Times.

Ethanol Facts from Treehugger

Now, what do you think?

(Coming next Sunday: Think you know how to select a President? Come back in time with me to a past Presidential election and see if your choice from 3 candidates would have been the correct one. You won’t know their names or the election until you’ve “voted.” See you next Sunday!)

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7 responses to “Ethanol: Miracle or Mistake?

  1. I have to agree with you concerning the greenwashing. I think I read somewhere that Brazil is way ahead of us in this matter.

  2. What an excellent post. I had not heard the term “greenwashing”, but I had already understood the point of it. The ethanol “fever” has had unintended consequences, not just rising prices at the grocery for us, but an increase in starvation worldwide. (Perhaps your links address that, haven’t read them yet.) It’s a stark reminder for those of us who are greenies, not to jump on the first bandwagon that comes along. And P.S., would you consider, say, a “Wednesday Blog”? The suspense of waiting for Sunday is killing me 🙂

  3. P.P.S. If you are reading Florida Trend, you’re spending way too much time in somebody’s Real Estate office. Just kidding. Love ya.

  4. My office receives a “complementary” subscription to Florida Trend because of our involvement (money!) in economic development.
    So much for perks…lol!

    As for a Wednesday blog..then I’d have to find a new name for the blog…lol! Not sure if I can “produce” twice a week! Maybe when I retire…

    But you’ll have to come up with a “snappy” title as a new name! Humpday and Sunday blog? ..lol!

  5. Economic development=good. Paving over every inch of Florida for economic development =bad. (See: Joni Mitchell–they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.) The developers and the state of Florida are shooting themselves in all four feet.
    As for the blog title, I like it as it is. Perhaps you could do a subtitle. like “This is the Sunday Bl0g, but I reserve the right to comment or post on Thursday if I so choose”.
    Have you seen my encounter with ptfan on TDO, if not, go there.

  6. Thanks, I just learned a whole lot more than I knew 10 minutes ago.

    And I’m making the switch. Thanks for asking. Looking forward to the next installment.

    http://thajackster.wordpress.com/

  7. Welcome to wordpress Jackster! I’m changing the links here and at TDO to your wordpress site.

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