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posted by janrinok on Tuesday August 24 2021, @04:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the its-corn-its-good dept.

The author of this piece has an obvious bias (Geoff Cooper is the president and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association), but does he also have a valid point?

Let's prioritize American renewable fuels over foreign oil and minerals:

After suffering through more than a year of quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and travel lockdowns, millions of Americans have eagerly returned to the nation's highways this summer for long-awaited vacations and road trips. As a result, gasoline demand has surged to record highs and pump prices are at levels not seen since 2014.

In recent weeks, regular-grade gas prices averaged $3.17 per gallon, up almost 50 percent from the same time last year. With higher fuel prices threatening to undermine the nation's ongoing economic recovery, it's easy to see why the Biden administration is looking for ways to ease America's pain at the pump.

[...] Before the Biden administration looks to OPEC+ countries or mineral-rich nations like Afghanistan, China and Bolivia for help, it has an opportunity to turn to America's heartland for a homegrown solution. Renewable fuels like ethanol have a 40-year proven track record of success in helping to lower prices at the pump while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions, supporting good-paying clean energy jobs and curtailing crude oil imports.

Four decades' worth of investment and innovation by ethanol producers has resulted in real breakthroughs in lower-carbon transportation fuels. Today's corn-based ethanol reduces carbon emissions by 52 percent when compared directly to gasoline, according to a recent study from the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. Another study by scientists from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tufts University similarly shows corn ethanol achieves an average carbon reduction of 46 percent compared to gasoline, with some ethanol in the market today achieving a 61 percent carbon reduction.

[...] Before we turn to the Persian Gulf for answers to our nation's energy and climate challenges, let's give the American heartland a shot. The solution to high pump prices and decarbonization lies in the farm fields of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and other Midwest states — not in the oil fields of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East nations.

Journal Reference:
Uisung Lee, Hoyoung Kwon, May Wu, et al. Retrospective analysis of the U.S. corn ethanol industry for 2005–2019: implications for greenhouse gas emission reductions [open], Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining (DOI: 10.1002/bbb.2225)

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday August 24 2021, @05:19PM (2 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @05:19PM (#1170405)

    Yes, cutting back on driving would definitely help. Some things along those lines you didn't mention:
    1. Working from home. Which also makes things better for the people that have to commute because you're one fewer car on the road.
    2. Use public transit when possible. Putting hundreds of people on 1 train or even 25 people on 1 bus is a lot more efficient than putting hundreds of people in hundreds of SUVs.
    3. Bicycling. Bicycles are approximately the most efficient tool for moving people from one place to another currently known to humanity.

    But there are lots of people, at least where I am, that drive around for pleasure at least as much as for necessity. And there's a really easy way to stop them from doing that: Let the price of gas go up. A few years ago, gas started approaching $4 a gallon in the US, and suddenly sales started to drop as people began making adjustments to not need so much of it.

    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
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  • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday August 25 2021, @12:17AM (1 child)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday August 25 2021, @12:17AM (#1170586) Journal

    I was loving it when gas was $4/gallon. Suddenly, my economy car changed from an object of scorn and mockery into an interesting and cool ride. Not that I ever cared what idiots thought of my ride, though the persistent attempts to make a stink about it were sometimes annoying. Usually ended up with my coworkers baffled that they couldn't budge what I valued about a car. Bosses too would get frustrated that I wasn't falling into the trap of needing that job income to pay for an expensive new car. If I wasn't making car payments, I was a flight risk, you know.

    It was especially funny one evening when my boss bummed a ride off me to get home, as his truck was in the repair shop. Soon as I started the engine, he asked what was that horrible rumbling noise? It wasn't that bad, but the car didn't have the best sound dampening, and that particular engine, being a large 4 cyl, was harder than most to muffle. By the time I reached cruising speed on the freeway, he announced that I needed a new car. That he was a teensy bit behind in paying me apparently didn't disturb his thinking in the slightest. He was hardly unique in that kind of thinking, lot of bosses think that way, including at least 2 others I had.

    Anyway, if only it was so easy to cut back on the driving, in America! Public transportation is lacking, and walking and bicycling is hindered by city design that is all but oblivious to all other forms of transportation. And of course, we have severe suburban sprawl. So damned many bridges have no room at all for pedestrians or bikes. There is also a major attitude problem about it all. Lot of people really like the current situation in the belief that pedestrian traffic is undesirable. Only poor, low status, crime prone people walk, you see. One time I proposed that a city ordinance be amended to allow-- not require, just allow, mind you-- gaps in the fence behind strip malls, for pedestrian access, and a shop keeper who overheard that went nuts, yelling that it would bring more crime, raise his costs, scare away his customers, force stores to make the backs safer and cleaner, etc. He went on and on for a solid 5 minutes, not letting me get another word in, and finally, the city councilman who was listening to the whole thing said "man, you are on a roll!"

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday August 25 2021, @03:46AM

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday August 25 2021, @03:46AM (#1170644)

      I definitely enjoyed the $4 gas too: Mostly because it put a stop to the bikers and hot rodders using my road as a drag strip for a while. But more generally, it really showed how much people were driving for pleasure rather than to actually get somewhere.

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.