Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Repost: Why ethanol blended fuels suck as Environmental Policy

On the heels of todays announcement from Chuck Strahl and Rona Ambrose, here's a rehash of a post on the archaic notion of mixing alcohol with fuels. Glad to see they are at least upto speed on environmental issues circa 1992.


There has been a lot of interest in ethanol blended fuels as of late but is it really worth it? Is it a clean replacement for regular fuel?

If you consider our most pressing concern to be particulates then yes it is good at reducing that but it does nothing to help with global warming or other concerns with the environment. It actually will result in more ground level ozone aka smog and still produce carbon dioxide (20%-40% reduction in CO2 only). The benefits being no sulfur dioxide in the ethanol and lower particulates. Instead what we get from ethanol blended fuels is formic acid which results when water contaminates your fuel. Research has linked formic acid to genetic mutation.

A 20% - 40% reduction in CO2 reductions sound great until you put it in perspective. Only a percentage of your fuel is producing less. The Conservative Government has committed 5% of fuel to be ethanol, so you have reduced your CO2 emissions not by 80% but by only 4%. The fuel still produces CO2, sulfur dioxide, nitrates and now possibly formic acid.

Other problems

Turning food into fuel will cost us at the grocery store. As more companies start blending ethanol into their fuels in order to dilute the amount of gasoline they use, grains will increase in price. Simple economics.

Why are biofuels being pushed on the consumer?

These fuels looked attractive when we had no other options and its time to let them go. The solution to our environmental problem is that we burn things for energy. We need to step back and embrace a technology that does not rely on combustion of hydrocarbons.

Oil companies have embraced blended fuels because it is similar to a methadone clinic for heroin users. They will dilute the fuel they ship and yet get the same price. In effect they are diluting their stocks to make them last longer and make more profit than ever. We need environmental action now not profit manipulation. Recommend this Post