Results 1 to 15 of 43

Thread: Drought = Less Ethanol?

Hybrid View

  1. #1
    na1g
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Greater Bahstin, Massachusetts
    Posts
    694

    Drought = Less Ethanol?

    Our local newspaper just ran an Associated Press article about the 2012 drought and ethanol production. A few highlights:

    - "...of the nation's 211 ethanol plants, 20 have ceased production over the past year, inluding 5 in January."

    - "Still, there is growing concern about what happens if the drought lingers through another corn-growing season."

    - "About 95 percent of US ethanol is made from corn."

    - "...39 percent of the US corn crop is used in ethanol production."

    - "Even though more acres were planted in 2012 compared to 2011, about 13 percent less corn was harvested."

    - "...not much of an issue for consumers, at least for now, because there are plenty of stockpiles of ethanol."

    - "...the nation has more than 20 million barrels of ethanol in stock."

    In case you thought this was good news and surely the EPA would re-think increasing ethanol content to 15% in gasoline, the last two quotes will set you straight. I feel sorry for the corn farmers but wish they would make corn flakes instead of ethanol.

    pete

  2. #2
    Curmudgeon At Large Bobmws's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Astatula, FL
    Posts
    547
    So now our food prices soar and we still get screwed with lousy mileage and performance, and the cost of that will increase too............
    Bob Weis
    '04 K12RS - Hannigan Hack
    www.earplugco.com

  3. #3
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Fly Over Land
    Posts
    10,499
    Manufacturing agricultural based products, cornflakes/ethanol/enter product name here, are far less likely to be continuous operations in the same way that widget manufacturing is described in conversation. In the case of ethanol the balance among supply/seasonal gas demand changes/storage capacity/production changes due to seasonal blends results in the slow down or shut down of production and refining operations. If the article is referring to business failures the industry has a history of that going back to the dawn of time. Lack of demand, distance to market, costs greater than revenue will lead to any business closing.

    Your selected quotes observes increased acreage was dedicated to corn yet it yielded less. Acres planted and rainfall amounts are only two of many elements in predicting yield. Which acres are planted? Increases in planted acreage often come from marginal lands which farmers expect lower yields and only plant when market prices will support the risk. Bushels per acre planted is an important metric but I would argue it must be considered in the context of total production v demand. Improved drought resistant seed stains have been developed to protect yield. When water comes is as important as if. Timing and form will greatly impact crop yield.

    Without reading the article I am not certain I would use it to draw an overall conclusion about the EPA. My experience as a reader of such articles the 'consumers don't need to worry' parts refer to short term seasonal supply and demand concerns and do little to inform the long term view of the issue.

    Based on the quotes without reading the article and including past reading I suggest the discussion has to be expanded to include water management. Water is a limited resource here in Fly Over Land. What should it be used for. Does it make sense to drain aquifers and reservoirs to grow any row crops? If so how much and for what purpose? I am not opposed to shale oil but have great concerns about its impact on water reserves. As I understand it these resources are finite but the demand for food and potable water will continue long after.

    Dang I swore I wouldn't get involved in another ethanol thread but I am procrastinating and this was the only thing at hand.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  4. #4
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Sheboygan, WI
    Posts
    3,409

    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobmws View Post
    So now our food prices soar and we still get screwed with lousy mileage and performance, and the cost of that will increase too............
    Amen to that!
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.)
    MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer,THE REF Staff)
    Iron Butt Association Member # 34281

  5. #5
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Fly Over Land
    Posts
    10,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobmws View Post
    So now our food prices soar and we still get screwed with lousy mileage and performance, and the cost of that will increase too............
    Quote Originally Posted by Greenwald View Post
    Amen to that!
    The two issues are definitely but it is simplistic to see it as just cause and effect. If we are going to dance on the edge of the forum rules at lets at least do it with more than sound bites. No energy policy, bad farm policy and protective tariffs are the visible tip of a big iceberg. It is not a left-right, dem-rep, city-farmer issue it is how we are choosing to run complex long term systems with very short term ad hoc solutions.

    Sorry Mods.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Covington, LA
    Posts
    78
    This is not a rational issue as its a federal program, not private and also not voted on by congress. While water is a valid concern, the mandate does not allow for that consideration and I surmise until water is an emergency situation, it will not be a factor. (It should be, but it won be.) Energy policy and the EPA are in the drivers seat and the federal mandates are on production of biofuels. The mandates won't change without congressional or presidential intervention. I always believed that the in the food vs fuel debate, food would win. But the market, due to our mandates, has moved food production (exports) to South America, the Black Sea regions as well as other, new, non-traditional exporting countries. So ethanol is here to stay. We are producing enough ethanol that we can't consume it all at only a 10% inclusion rate, but mandates require more production. That's why the govt has to allow 15% blend.

    What's even more interesting is why aren't we switching to natural gas more quickly than we are today? On a btu basis it has a 5-1 advantage cost wise over crude oil.
    Greg

  7. #7
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Fly Over Land
    Posts
    10,499
    I will argue that because 'it' is a Federal problem it is incredibly rational; however, the difficulty in that is it is a problem which does not reside in one branch (silo) but bridges all three branches and administrative law. The logic with a single silo is predictable and while not fallacy proof it does generally work. Where rationality of the system comes into doubt is that the designers of the silos set them up as silos and ones that function in tension with each other. The administrative law side is linked in tension filled ways to all the silos in ways that reinforce the tension.

    I will also argue that it is not just a Federal problem but also a state problem which adds another layer of silos in tension with each other and the Federal system.

    Left to business it may not be any different. Business might not intentionally set them selves up in this manner but it is more often the case than many would think. While it is not a purely business management issue business is one of the component constituencies involved in all of the branches involved adding to the complexity of the problem.

    The difference between how we approach the Federal problem and a similar problem is we are willing to expend the energy to analyze the business problem, hire consultants and more. The same people that display the intellect to go about dealing with the issues throw up their hands grab a beer and say its the government(any silo) and accept the status.

    The shift to natural gas or any other energy source than a dominate one is largely limited by infrastructure and connivance.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •