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The Iowa Payoff?

Secretary Of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is now proposing that the allowed amount of corn or other agriculture product produced ethanol content in gasoline be increased from 10% to as much as 15-20%. Certainly, such a move would be a big boost to the corporate farming community who profit handsomely from diverting so much corn production into ethanol. Vilsack's own state of Iowa would witness a big jump in corporate business as a result of such a move.Tom_Vilsack.jpg

Not only is this a questionable use of the Secretary Of Agriculture's official department to boost corporate interests in their own home state, but such a decision comes with many serious questions about the impact of so much ethanol content in gasoline on car and motorcycle engines, possibly causing fuel line, carburetor or other engine problems. For example many motorcycles tend to run poorly on too high of an alcohol content in gasoline as many require premium fuel to begin with, and the dilution of high grade fuel can cause serious performance problems. Because of such concerns, Vilsack proposed allowing 12% ethanol for a trial period before increasing the amount over time.

Both environmentalists and corporate farmers might love ethanol. During the first Bush Administration that started in January 1989, corporate interests pushed for the first required use of ethanol because of their political clout. And such a move by the Obama Administration just seems like more of the same old politics, lobbyist interests and corporate special favors that we've all seen under the Republicans m any times before.

Another problem besides the possible negative performance or mechanical problems with a high ethanol content on motorcycles and automobiles, is that by diverting so much corn production into ethanol will only drive the price of corn up, and likely create a food price cycle of inflation in products that use corn oils or other corn products. And possiby less corn will be available for use in plastic bags that use corn starch content to assist in biodegrading ability as some communities are concerned about banning plastic shopping bags for environment reasons.

Vilsack will likely attempt to defend using more ethanol content using environmental or less gasoline consumption reasoning. However, this is really a controversial grey area decision, and could cost many motorists some unwanted motorcycle or automobile performance and repair problems. The government should really look towards new technology automobiles such as extreme hybrids or even requiring all new vehicles to come standard with high quality synthetic motor oils which will increase both engine life by more than double, cut tailpipe emissions and hydrocarbon blowby, and increase fuel mileage by up to 10% as well as improve horsepower and performance.

Automakers with the exception of the Chevrolet Corvette and a few luxury or high performance brands don't usually include standard synthetic oil because it costs more and it increases engine life and cuts repair work done at their dealer networks. Normal engine oil increases engine wear and tear, and results in much higher repair bills and quicker vehicle replacements creating a bigger market for the automakers. So the automakers have little incentive to use synthetic oil products that may allow some car engines to log over one million miles without replacement, when using standard engine oil will pretty much insure that by 70,000-150,000 most vehicles will suffer significant engine wear or head gasket loss because of the high wear factor and excessive engine heat produced by normal engine oils versus the use of high grade synthetics such as AMSOIL or other top brands which may run up to 40degrees cooler in some engines due to significantly less friction.

Even in older automobiles where the engine begins to visibly smoke due to wear, in most cases the use of a high grade of synthetic oil will immediately stop visible oil smoke burning due to far better combustion chamber sealing as well a huge drop in hydrocarbon blow-by. Some high quality synthetic oils such as AMSOIL will only burn at the extreme temperatures created by a blowtorch, and will not really combust at normal engine operation temperatures, creating far less oil burning and hydrocarbon blow-by than with normal engine oil and it's much lower combustion temperature.

Secretary Of Agriculture Tom Vilsack may be looking to decrease gasoline use or pollution. But he's certainly not looking at the best possible solutions here.


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Comments (10)

ke_future:

while i generally agree with your sentiments, here, paul. i think you need to take off your blinders when it comes to the democratic party.

And such a move by the Obama Administration just seems like more of the same old politics, lobbyist interests and corporate special favors that we've all seen under the Republicans m any times before

You imply that in the past it was only the republicans that engaged in this behavior. That is not true. All political parties have engaged in paying off their supporters. In fact, a good arguement could be made that the democrat party has been the worst at it.

Paul Hooson:

Actually I agree with you here, Ke. Both political parties have the ear of lobbyists and the ethanol lobby was able to sell their case as being good for corporate agriculture, supposedly good for reducing dependence on foreign oil and supposedly good for the environment. However, the problem is that ethanol is not good for many if not most automobiles and motorcycles, further it actually reduces, not increases fuel burning. And another problem is that most of these alternate fuels also cost more to produce and require more energy to produce than they actually yield. Ethanol is hardly any great advance for automobiles, but just one big bust promoted by a strong corporate agriculture lobby. My only point was that the first Bush Administration started this nonsensical program, and now a Democratic administration id furthering this absurd scheme to supposedly save the environment and reduce foreign dependence on oil.

It's business as usual back there in Washington once again, at least on this issue right here.

bryanD:

Alcohol vs. petrol: alcohol is naturally 110 octane versus petroleum @ 60 octane (requiring toluene additive to bring up to 80 octane). A no-brainer in favor of alcohol/ethanol.

Corn (ethanol), though, is a waste (IMO). Plus it depletes the soil, leading to inevitable shortages.

Cat tails. Hemp. That's the way to go.
Still, "ethanol" (cash crop) is better than petrol. "Alcohol" (weeds: cat tails, hemp) is best.

I haven't seen this particular vid (part 1 missing), but I'm familiar with the book and meme. Hire Blume as energy czar.

p.s. I heard Blume on Coast2coast, BTW. That's my connection. I've been convinced since. Call me gullible, but the octane differential is compelling in itself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jew3ah24Zj4&feature=related

bryanD:

"(part 1 missing)"-bd

scratch that. hmmm...

bryanD:

"part 1"

Ooo! ooo! Ford vs. Rockefeller & the WCTM!!!

Good stuff!

Paul Hooson:

Hello, BryanD. I have a new post coming today on the ethanol fuel hoax, where I touch on even more serious issues about the shortcomings of ethanol. One problem being since corn yields so little fuel(8% usable product, 92% water content) that it would actually take 97% of the U.S. land mass to produce enough ethanol to power every motor vehicle in the nation. This statistic alone proves what nonsense ethanol actually is. This is hardly the claimed alternative fuel miracle by some true believers. In fact ethanol is simply a huge hoax, forced on many motorists who know much better by politicians and corporate lobbyists for large corn farmers.

You can always trust me to attack consumer fraud, no matter where it comes from. And ethanol is nothing but a huge consumer fraud.

bryanD:

Hey Paul!

Please see my linked post (video). I assumed (too?) that alcohol (my energy hope) and ethanol were essentially different. Blume seems to use the terms interchangeably, though, with the emphasis on "renewability". If the source is renewable, I'm "fer" it.

The ethanol/alcohol use of sugars (renewable) instead of fossil fuels (non-renewable) as a more (obviously) efficient energy source is important.

Paul Hooson:

Your video link is interesting, BryanD. I know that methanol alcohol is used by the NHRA to power 333mph hour top fuel dragsters for example. However, the cost of producing many of these alcohols far exceeds that of producing gasoline. However it looks like the much lower burning temperature of alcohol might reduce global warming to some extent. My new post covers some of the serious shortcomings of the extensive uses for ethanol products.

Even those who build bio-fuels, only find these fuels cost effective when they can use old cooking oil left over from McDonald's or other restaurants, otherwise the cost and energy involved to convert soybeans into a fuel that produces less energy than it takes to produce it makes any real economic sense.

Chad:

Yes, the midwest would benefit from raising the level of ethanol in fuels, and would lower our use of petroleum based products. How is this bad again? Oh, that's right, the EEEVILLLL corporate farms would profit. What about all the family farms and rural towns that rely on smaller farms? I hate to say it Paul, but the area I'm from is all farming, and there are no big corporate farms that produce grain. There's some that raise cattle and hogs, but the grain they produce is used to feed their own animals, not "production" for ethanol. There's a little town in South Dakota that my family is all from. Name of it is Marion. That town would be a lot better off with a little higher corn price. Guess what, all the farms in the area are family owned and operated. Elevator and Ethanol Plant the two biggest employers around. Guess they could use a little economic stimuli as well. If we are going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, or oil in general, we have to have renewable fuels. Solar, Wind, Hydrogen Cells, etc. are not mature enough technologies to provide the necessary mobility. I believe that pebble bed nuclear power plants are what we need to provide the energy and electricity generation this country needs.

BPG:

Not only that, but increasing the use of corn yields to produce ethanol means less yield is being used for food, which drives food prices up. Further food price increases result from from farmers realizing that ethanol refineries pay far more for corn than food producers do.

These subsidies mainly go to farms operated by huge agribusinesses, not family farmers. These businesses don't need subsidies.

We've had it all wrong, for so many years now. Ugh!


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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