Quebec rejects corn ethanol


in Canada, Daily updates, Politics, Science, The environment

Having decided in 2005 to authorize a corn-fed ethanol plant in Varennes, the government of Quebec has now officially said that corn ethanol has no future in the province. While the future use of alternative feedstocks is not ruled out, the Quebec Minister for Natural Resources have said that this pilot plant will be the last of its kind. An article in the Montreal Gazette supports the idea that “[b]acking away from ethanol makes sense.”

This is a good thing for a number of reasons. To begin with, ethanol made from corn probably doesn’t have any positive environmental effects. It takes as much oil to grow the corn, make the ethanol, and distribute it as it would have taken to power the ethanol cars in the first place. As such, the effect of using corn ethanol on greenhouse gas emissions is negligible. Furthermore, intensive corn agriculture has problems of its own. Pesticide use peppers the environment with toxins – including persistent organic pollutants. Fertilizer runoff causes the eutrophication of rivers and algae blooms in the sea.

Wherever a sustainable future for transportation energy lies, it is not with ethanol made from corn.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan November 14, 2007 at 10:31 am
Anonymous November 14, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Watch out! Farmers have pitchforks.

Tom November 14, 2007 at 7:50 pm

Forget pitchforks.

Farmers are powerful because:

1) There are few of them

2) Cuts to government handouts would really hurt them

3) So they will fight like hell to prevent it

4) And very few people will notice

As a result: corn ethanol is the solution to our fossil fuel problems!

. November 20, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Ethanol is 2007’s worst investment, market experts say

Ethanol has become 2007’s worst investment after the price of the corn-based fuel fell this year for a variety of reasons, driving crop prices to a 10-year high, market experts said this week.

The Bush administration energy plan triggered a growth in ethanol production by mandating increased uses of all biofuels. The White House also proposed raising biofuels output in the next 10 years to five times the current target amount for 2012.

The Senate approved the increase and lengthened the time frame to 2022. The federal government has 20 separate laws and incentives to boost ethanol use, and 49 states offer additional subsidies and supports, according to the Energy Department.

But, as a result of these policy decisions, the market price of ethanol fell 57 percent this year from last year’s record of $4.33 per gallon due to a production glut financed by investment bank Morgan Stanley, hedge fund firm D.E. Shaw & Co. and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla.

Corn has risen to $3.795 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade from less than $2.50 in September 2006, and ethanol on the exchange is little changed at $1.865 per gallon after falling from the $4.33 peak.

Ethanol markets are so depressed that distilleries from Iowa to Germany are shutting down. If an investor put $10 million into ethanol on Dec. 31, 2006, the investment is now worth only $7.5 million. Also, Florida and Georgia banned ethanol sales during the summer because of concerns that the fuel may evaporate and create smog.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., the largest producer of ethanol, may resort to exporting ethanol.

“I don’t anticipate any sort of immediate rebound,” Center Ethanol LLC President Barry Frazier said. “It’s going to take 12 to 24 months before the market is able to absorb the large amount of new capacity.”

“Ethanol companies are near break-even at best,” Broadpoint Capital Inc. principal Ron Oster said. “That’s not a good recipe when you have $100 oil” (Carroll/Parker, Bloomberg, Nov. 18).

. December 12, 2007 at 11:36 am

Low faith in biofuels for climate
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Decision-makers in the climate change field have little faith in biofuels as a low-carbon technology, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) says.

“Of 18 technologies suggested by IUCN, the current generation of biofuels came bottom of the list, with only 21% believing in its potential to “lower overall carbon levels in the atmosphere without unacceptable side effects” over the next 25 years.

Nearly twice as many were confident in the potential of nuclear energy, while solar power for hot water and solar power for electricity emerged as the most favoured low-carbon technologies.

Overall, respondents said increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand could produce more benefits than “clean” energy sources. “

. April 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Implications of the CARB Ethanol Ruling

A number of people have written or commented regarding the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ruling that is expected on ethanol later this week. Treehugger had the story:

Corn Ethanol Worse than Oil? California Rules Yes

In what would certainly be a huge blow to the US’ formidable corn-ethanol industry, the California Air Resources Board is readying a report that says ethanol is worse than oil in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Daily Climate, the California regulators are prepared to go as far as to declare that biofuels cannot help the state fight climate change–could this be the beginning of the end for ethanol?

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