It's disappointing that the McCain camp doesn't want debate ethanol but it's understandable. Anyone who speaks out against ethanol can pretty much kiss their political future goodbye in the Midwest these days. While the rest of the country's economy is crashing in on itself, they're raking in the cash faster than they can count it selling ethanol made from their corn to be mixed with gasoline. Then of course there's Texas getting fat mixing it with their high priced gasoline which we have no choice but to buy unless we choose to forego driving. Neither gasoline or ethanol are anywhere near as good as they could be. Blending them together makes them near worthless. But since it still allows our cars to move, we buy it anyway and they get rich.
So the presidential ethanol debate turned out to be definitively one sided, or was it? Really all it consisted of was the Mike Adams of AgriTalk.com asking Ms. Zichal questions he wanted her to agree with about how Barack Obama supports ethanol in spite of the many pitfalls of its use. She came across like the Obama message on ethanol is that he wants the farm vote so badly that he's willing to bend over backwards as far as he has too in order to get it no matter what it means to the rest of the country. And I can hardly blame him with his being Black. Even though he supports ethanol and McCain doesn't, the corn belt vote still goes to McCain. Their differences over ethanol are however slowly winning corn farmers over to being willing to vote for an African American. In that sense, the debate over ethanol is working to make this country better even if from all other respects, it's nonsensical. White people being willing to vote for a Black man is important to our future, maybe even more important than how bad ethanol added to gasoline is for our economy and environment. I just wish we could have both, a presidential race without regard for the color of a mans skin and energy policies that make sense.
Actually the way the questions were posed by Adams to Zichal made the interview seem more scripted or even rehearsed than informative. It made me wonder if perhaps McCain wasn't actually invited to have his rep there but was represented as if he had declined it giving the impression he was afraid to defend his position. From the beginning of the interview, Adams and Zichal seemed to have an overabundance of confidence in the tones of their voice like they knew they were going to score big against ethanol's detractors. So I figured the cards were stacked in their favor in some way, I just didn't know what the game was at the time. And I say this with all sincerity. I am an Obama supporter. But my support for quality energy policies trumps my liking or disliking any particular politician.
But Heather agreed overly aggressively with whatever she was asked about ethanol. She gave Obama's undaunting blessing to anything the ethanol industry wanted to do with their product. It was as if she actually doesn't know anything about ethanol accept for how to say what those who support it claim. She even sited how Obama would support increasing the amounts of ethanol added to gasoline from 10 percent to 15 and 20% (E10 –E15 andE20 ethanol/gasoline). This is in spite of the fact that the people who make the engines it will be run in say they can only handle 10 percent ethanol. Samuel Badman has recently introduced new DOE policy changes that will allow E15 and E20 to begin to enter the market claiming it is safe for engines even though the same studies he sites show otherwise. It seems Obama and Bush agree on one thing, corn based ethanol at any cost.
Right now, ethanol is costing us a 3 percent loss in mileage using E10. That's all the DOE will admit to. But complaints from consumers and independent studies point to much higher losses even as high as 30 percent in some vehicles. But just the admitted 3% is a pretty big cut in our national fuel supply. So now that will be increased to twice as much of a loss if we move to using E20. Then there's the increase in VOC pollutants that come from ethanol blended gasoline that will also increase. A new report from NOAA and NASA titled "Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios for Long-Lived and Short-Lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols" that forms the basis our new climate change policy says VOC's are responsible for the weather pattern changes we've been seeing since ethanol use started in the spring of 2006.
What strikes me as odd, or really more like ridiculous bordering on stupid, is how all the players on both sides of the ethanol debate seem to be ignorant of the fact, or pretending they are for whatever reason I can't imagine, that there is a way to add ethanol to gasoline that Brazil, China, Germany, and even the state of Louisiana, are using that is far cheaper than the way we're doing it now that doesn't cause a mileage loss or the pollution problem. It also allows for much higher yields of ethanol to be produced from the same amount of corn. But the way Heather talked about ethanol by simply agreeing with Mike Adams while repeating the results of studies put out by ethanol industry as if they are independent facts made me realize she doesn't have a clue what ethanol is.
Ethanol is not just "ethanol." The ethanol we're required to add to our national gasoline supplies is anhydrous ethanol. It's an oxygenate. Oxygenates were mandated by the Clean Air Act of 1990 as the brainstorm of the first Bush president, Ken Lay of Enron, and Phil Gramm, an ex-senator from Texas who now works on Park Avenue for the United Bank of Switzerland, UBS. Phil Gramm was McCain's lead economic advisor before he made comments about how Americans have turned into "a nation of whiners" because we're not happy with the high price of gasoline ripping our economy apart. This came at a time when testimony was being given on Capitol Hill about how speculators were using the commodities market to falsely inflate the price of crude oil.
Phil Gramm of course was defending speculators while trying to place the blame for high prices on stronger demand from China and India. The outcome of that debate was a bill being passed through the senate in a 96 to zero vote to reign in oil speculators and bring down the price of oil. It later died in the house even though it had wide bipartisan support. Ever since then, all we've heard about is the trillions of dollars worth of Wall Street bailouts when all we need to do is stop allowing speculators to falsely inflate the price of crude oil.