A recent article published online in Bloomberg Politics by Jennifer A Dlouhy, “As Corn Devours U.S. Prairies, Greens Reconsider Biofuel Mandate,” calls into question the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). She writes, “More than a decade after conservationists helped persuade Congress to require adding corn-based ethanol and other biofuels to gasoline, some groups regret the resulting agricultural runoff in waterways and conversion of prairies to cropland — improving the odds that lawmakers might seek changes to the program next year.”
The article has prompted numerous replies but none more funny than the editorial from Auto Channel’s Marc Rauch who notes that her article raises some noteworthy questions. In his response, Rauch takes a run at answering these said noteworthy questions. The result is a must read and reprinted here with permission from Rauch, truly one of the leading performance ethanol experts in the country.
I just finished reading an anti-ethanol Bloomberg editorial written by Jennifer A. Dlouhy. Her story, “Biofuelblunder? Greens who once championed a renewable fuel mandate say climate benefits are coming too slowly,” raises some seemingly noteworthy questions.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that she may be on to something.
Not since 2001 has any professional baseball player hit more than 60 home runs in one year. What’s the connection you ask? It’s obvious, 2001 is the first year of increased global biofuel production!
To make matters worse, 2001 was the first year of a decline in total home runs hit by all MLB players. In 1999 and 2000, total homes runs per year topped 5,500. We have never again had numbers like that, and in some years total home runs didn’t even exceed 5,000!
It’s all because of biofuels, ethanol, and that dreaded “renewable fuel standard.” I’m shuddering in fear and anger.
Look, if the American renewable fuel mandate can’t fix man-made global warming, and it impacts on home run totals, then it can’t be good for our country. It’s bad enough when MPG production is called into question by blending ethanol with gasoline, but messing with one of the most cherish aspects of our great national pastime is just too damn much! That’s right, I used the word “damn,” because no other word so succinctly describes the outrage we must all share.
Wait, don’t go away yet, I have more startling news: Some of the top deceptively named organizations have come out to challenge the value of the renewable fuel mandate. Yes, that’s right, we have PECC (Persons for the Ethical Consumption of Corn) voicing their concerns. There’s AHASC, raising heck over this issue (AHASC, in case you don’t know, is Americans Hanging Around Street Corners – it’s very big in Brooklyn where I grew up). Naturally, LAPWEC (Let’s All Pretend We’re Environmentalists and Conservationists) is involved. But the most vocal of all is the groups is OPUS TDT (Oil Pays Us To Do This).
REALITY CHECK TIME
For fun, let’s say that man-made global climate change is real and that the consequences are as bad as the most extreme predictions. How would anything we do in America reverse all the environmental damage being caused around the world? So how can the renewable fuel mandate be held responsible for any of this? How would a change from corn ethanol as the renewable fuel ingredient to some poison made by the oil industry solve the problem? It wouldn’t.
For double fun, let’s say that man-made climate change is not real, or at least not quite as consequential as predicted. Then maybe the renewable fuel mandate is not an effective solution to the problem because the problem doesn’t exist. You know, the world’s greatest laundry detergent will not improve the results of plain warm water on an already clean shirt.
As for the organizations with the highfaluting names and acronyms, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is not democratic and it’s not a people’s republic. It’s a tightly controlled dictatorship under the control of one monster. If the dictator changed the official name of North Korea to Democratic People’s Democratic Republic of Democratic Korea, it wouldn’t be anything other than what it is.
The Center For Consumer Freedom, which changed its name to Center for Organizational Research and Education, is a front group for the tobacco industry. Global Climate Coalition was a front group for the petroleum oil industry. The names were intended to make it seem like they had some planet-wide environmental concerns, other than the concern for their own personal business environment, of course.
So when we get to a group like the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Working Group, I don’t care how many “green” words they use in their title or if they marched down 5th Avenue with environmentally conscious flags flying out of the rear ends. If they promote unworkable schemes that divert attention away from real solutions, or spread irrelevant and contrived information against solutions (like ethanol) that are inexpensive and available right now, then they are as deceptive and damaging as any Big Oil funded stink tank. Jennifer A. Dlouhy might refer to NRDC and EWG as “respected,” but I don’t respect them one bit.
As it happens, I had some experience with Environmental Working Group when their Research Analyst, Emily Cassidy, published an absurd “Dirty Corn Ethanol” story on the EWG website in October 2015. She took EPA information out of context and perhaps invented some new details to suit her unwarranted attack on ethanol…and I told her so.
In Ms. Dlouhy’s Bloomberg article she refers to the fertilizer runoff problem that has created a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. She does what many ethanol opponents do, she implies that the problem is caused solely by corn farmers. She conveniently fails to recognize that nearly 10,000 golf courses, thousands of other farms, hundreds of thousands of residences and commercial campuses also use fertilizer that also drains into the Gulf. Animal waste is a major part of the problem, as well. Therefore, unless all farming and ranching and living is discontinued in all of the states with rivers that drain into the Mississippi basin, the problem will continue.
Since the end of farming and elimination of all other areas that use fertilizer is unlikely, the solution would be to do what David Blume preaches in his Permaculture Workshops: Harvest the algae, use it to make ethanol, allow oxygen back into the water, use the remnants as organic fertilizer on the farms and ranches and campuses, and help to make America energy independent.
These are my possibly noteworthy comments to Ms. Dlouhy’s seemingly noteworthy questions.