Newt Gingrich has put up an ‘answers’ page to describe his political positions… and I found it curious that he is attempting to defend ethanol as a ’25 year success story’. (Thanks to Hot Air for the link to Gingrich’s answers page.)
For starters, let’s get us some facts up here. According to a 2005 paper by David Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek, “corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;”.
Now, proponents of ethanol despise that paper, saying the study was conducted incorrectly and pointing to studies before and since that ‘prove’ ethanol outputs more energy than is required in fossil fuels. They cite studies both before 2005 and since that claim otherwise.
Let’s say that is true. Even if it is, other sources have shown that if you don’t fiddle with the numbers by counting the by-products of ethanol (such as animal feed) as ‘energy gain’, the total energy output is very close to 1.00. That is to say, for every gallon of gasoline in energy you put in, you get roughly the same amount out.
So, the best case scenario is we are recouping just over the amount of energy put into the ethanol process, but none of the labor, federal subsidies, or federal price supports. The worst case scenario is that we are losing money and energy faster than a drunken sailor, but proponents want us to continue going down that path because Monsanto says we should.
In fact, I would go further to say that ethanol consumption is a by-product of the government’s relationship with Monsanto: patent supports (so Monsanto can sue almost any farmer), corn subsidy supports, and price supports. All of these things lead to genetically modified corn ‘sugar’ ending up on almost every table in America, with no current hope for that to ever change. (Monsanto likes both Democrats and Republicans, as Newt Gingrich has shown us)
Now, if this hasn’t convinced a fellow that our ethanol system is a bad deal, here are a couple of great videos by John Stossel that summarize the effects of ethanol and farm subsidies on our market. Enjoy!