The costs of Congress’ ethanol mandate have been well documented. It is diverting more and more corn away from food and into fuel (25% this year and 35% next year) causing the price of both go to up. Consumers here in the U.S. are paying for Congressional shortsightedness at the pump and in the grocery store, and world wide the mandates are contributing to deadly food riots. So what are Americans getting for all this pain here at home and abroad. National Review‘s David Freddoso investigates:
What exactly do we get from ethanol? Environmentalists have given up on ethanol as a reducer of carbon emissions because of the changes it causes in land-use and the increasing reliance on coal in the refining process. Advocates of ethanol still claim that its subsidies are a vital tool for attaining energy independence.
It takes only a bit of simple math to disprove this claim. According to a 2006 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ethanol contains about 25 percent more energy than is consumed by the process of making it (a generous estimate compared to some others). This means that the farming, distilling, and shipping required to bring five gallons of corn ethanol to market consumes the energy equivalent of four gallons of ethanol.
Each gallon contains 76,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy but requires 60,800 BTUs for production. The net energy gain from ethanol is therefore approximately 15,200 BTUs per gallon, which translates to 99 trillion BTUs for the 6.5 billion gallons we produced last year. That’s the energy equivalent of 868 million gallons of gasoline — slightly more than what Americans consume in two days.