Friday, June 17, 2005

Sniffing Ethanol

Freedom Party of Ontario leader, Paul McKeever, opposes the Government of Ontario's decision, announced today, to grant $520 million to private businesses involved in setting up new ethanol production plants in Ontario.

"This decision is wrong, politically-motivated, and economically foolish", says McKeever.

"There is no economically sound case for this decision. There also is no principled reason to give welfare to publicly traded companies like Suncor, and not to give money to other business ventures. What's next, an income stabilization fund for lawyers in a solo private practice?", says McKeever, a lawyer in a solo private practice.

"Ending the tax exemption for ethanol producers is the only good part of this announcement", says McKeever. "Such an exemption is a disguised form of welfare; one that masks the nature and extent of the welfare by burying it in tax code. At least with this announcement, we know exactly how much the government is throwing down the sink-hole."

As for PC opposition leader John Tory's criticism that, in effect, the subsidy should be paid but that fuel content requirements should be delayed until the plants are up and running, McKeever adds: "If that is honestly the only thing that Mr. Tory sees wrong with this proposal, he is not qualified to say no to an up-sizing on an order of fries. Mr. Tory's modus operandi would appear to be to agree with the substance of everything Mr. McGuinty does, but to disagree only with the manner in which it is implemented: we've seen it with everything from the green belt to contracting with doctors. It's a pathetic way of politicking. Indeed, it's actually a cowardly election strategy for 2007, and it is a disservice to Ontarians who object, right now, to the Liberal government's agenda. I think that Mr. Tory is going to realize all too late that Ontarians who want Liberal policies vote Liberal."
McGimpy and his nannies are justifying this handout with reference to .... surprise! .... health and the environment:
"By supporting the production of ethanol fuel, we're helping farmers, creating jobs in rural Ontario, and moving forward with our plan to reduce greenhouse gases and the harmful emissions that cause smog,'' McGuinty said.
McGimpy might want to do a bit of research before making such assertions. From an abstract of a paper available here in pdf format:
First, I demonstrate that more fossil energy is used to produce ethanol from corn than the ethanol’s calorific value. Analysis of the carbon cycle shows that all leftovers from ethanol production must be returned back to the fields to limit the irreversible mining of soil humus. Thus, production of ethanol from whole plants is unsustainable. In 2004, ethanol production from corn will generate 8 million tonnes of incremental CO2, over and above the amount of CO2 generated by burning gasoline with 115% of the calorific value of this ethanol.

Second, I calculate the cumulative exergy (available free energy) consumed in corn farming and ethanol production, and estimate the minimum amount of work necessary to restore the key non-renewable resources consumed by the industrial corn-ethanol cycle. This amount of work is compared with the maximum useful work obtained from the industrial corn-ethanol cycle. It appears that if the corn ethanol exergy is used to power a car engine, the minimum restoration work is about 6 times the maximum useful work from the cycle. This ratio drops down to 2, if an ideal (but nonexistent) fuel cell is used to process the ethanol.

Third, I estimate the U.S. taxpayer subsidies of the industrial corn-ethanol cycle at $3.8 billion in 2004. The parallel subsidies by the environment are estimated at $1.8 billion in 2004. The latter estimate will increase manifold when the restoration costs of aquifers, streams and rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico are also included.
Update: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation takes a similar stance on the issue.

1 Comment:

Dorothy said...

Energy is surely on of the topics we all should be worried about. Keep up the good work.