We're already eating too much corn, no thank you. If you check the label on the packaged goods you buy, corn is pretty much in all of them in one form or another.
We should grow less corn, let the cows eat grass, and have people eat people food (which might occasionally include a corn on the cob).
No reason to demonize sustainable, renewable fuel - instead, we should look at the agriculture subsidies that "protect our farmers" and see how they're hurting everyone (including the farmers, affected arguably more than the rest of us by global warming) in the long run.
They might be obsolete, but the fraction of people's time spent on food (both as producers and consumers ) continues to decline. It's also argued that the availability of abundant food is a legitimate public good.
Our levels of food security in the First World are recent. I doubt anyone from... say, 1850 would put food security in terms of a human right as we now do.
The irony is that petroleum products are an input into ethanol-corn production. How much I don't know; but the present subsidy regime nearly guarantees some measure of overproduction.
on the other hand, ethanol just makes people food more expensive....and it sucks as a fuel anyway (engineering reasons)...
Corn-fed beef is not high-quality protein, it is usually feed lot beef laced with antibiotics, andreline and cortisol.
There was a time when people didn't eat meat with every meal...many people believe it's actually healthier. If people can't afford to eat grass-fed meat with every meal, the simple answer is to not eat meat with every meal...poor people can eat vegetables too and will probably be healthier for it.
Yeah. There was also a time when 8-year-olds did a full day's work in the mines and malnourishment was the norm.
You should think about the complexity involved in eating a healthy vegetarian diet before you start being dismissive of it. Meat is easier in some significant ways.
Lets not blow the difficulty of being a vegetarian out of proportion. Eating a healthy vegan diet is still difficult. Eating a healthy vegetarian diet is not. There are plenty of cook books describing varied and balanced vegetarian meals. There are plenty of restaurants that serve good vegetarian meals and many supermarkets (at least in Western Europe) also provide the necessary ingredients.
(I have been a vegetarian for 16 years now, almost half of my life.)
I think there is more use of other antibiotics to treat sickness in feedlots though.
(as an aside, this pdf has an amazing and disturbing illustration of severe bloat on the third page: https://www.animalsciencepublications.org/publications/jas/p... Warning: it shows material ejecting from a medical opening in a rumen.)
Humans are fairly unique in our dietary flexibility; most other animals are evolutionarily adapted to a narrow range of foods. Corn provides caloric energy, but little more; a cow needs to eat grass, and move around, in order to be healthy.
Why on earth should my tax dollars go to a steak party?
There is an argument that says the Central Valley of California farmers basically funded Reagan's White House run in 1980. Carter was going after payments for all that water...
The average voter probably has also not had /good/ experiences with salads that are actually tasty for reasons other than bacon. (Can we PLEASE stop adding bacon to /everything/ (at least as a default?); some of us just don't like the smokey taste.)
I'm pretty sure there's no shortage of grass. If we turn some of those corn fields into grazing fields, there would be even more grass.
The reason they use corn is because it fattens up the cow much faster and to a far greater degree.
So yeah, switching to grass will increase the price of beef on a per pound basis. Label the meat. Let people choose. Stick a "fed with corn" or "fed with grass" sticker on it. I'll happily pay twice as much knowing the animal didn't eat crap.
We already do this with eggs. Lots of labeling. There's no reason we can't extend this to poultry and beef.
Then you should check your confidence level, because you're wrong. Most of the available USA grazing territory is already cow-burnt, and that's before you get things like the extreme droughts of recent years causing mass cattle slaughter and die-offs. And mind you all but a rounding error of these cattle are finished on grain feedlots.
Pasture is probably higher quality in the UK though, owing to the wet climate, which would compensate for there being less pasture.
Well yeah: corn grows really well in the American Midwest; it's pretty cool that we're able to make so many products from it (kinda like the work George Washington Carver did with peanuts, which grow very well in the South).
Disclaimer: I eat meat, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 pound a week.
I know that in Texas, the biggest reason people let family land that could be used for cow-farming go is taxation - there are Land Trusts that allow you to keep nominal control of the land while agreeing never to use it productively again, to get a tax abatement.
Also, the lyrics to James McMurty's "South Dakota" from the new record are really interesting on this subject.
I mean - we call noodging "eat your vegetables". I like vegetables just fine, but I like meat, too. I doubt the results of any of the analyses since anybody who gets paid to do the work will probably be biased by who pays them.
And the biggest receivers of any sort of subsidy - precious California water included - are veggie farmers. Using acres of Western Kansas for grazing seems pretty low-impact relative to that.
It is hard to say for certain, but we can get a pretty good idea based on the inputs required to raise cattle. Water, grain, antibiotics, petroleum based fuels to plant, harvest and transport the grain, petroleum based fertilizers to aid in growing the grain, and herbicides and pesticides to kill unwanted organisms (I'm sure I missed something).
Not to mention a few of the by-products such as manure and chemical run-off, methane emissions, and soil erosion (from conventional agriculture practices).
The above describes a CAFO, which is where the majority of beef comes from. Managed intensive rotational grazing would be my preferred alternative, but there still wouldn't be enough land available to keep up with our consumption.
>>And the biggest receivers of any sort of subsidy - precious California water included - are veggie farmers.
Can you please site some of the sources that you are using to determine that vegetable farmers are receiving more subsidies than any other industry? I assume you meant "the biggest receivers of any sort of Agriculture subsidy", but I still don't think that is right.
Here is why I say these things - my piano teacher's father in Northeast Oklahoma was one of the ones who reintroduced bison onto his land. Cattle are different from bison, but not that different. There's a Vast ocean of grass from the Rio Grande well into Canada, and four-legged critters eating it, making food is remarkably efficient.
I can indeed point you to the book "Cadillac Desert" which does a rough sketch, with respect to the Central Valley farmers. This doesn't make them bad people. It just means these things are messy.
We call the noodge "eat your vegetables" because it's a cliche. I eat good vegetables with great gusto these days; my taste has matured. But all things in balance.
The chart is hard to read exact numbers from, there is a table available at the second link. 2008 was the last year that feed accounted for more than 1/2 of corn use (it still accounts for nearly 1/2 today, I'm not trying to be pedantic there, just adding information).
Ethanol is clearly a big enough portion of consumption to be impacting the price of corn used for food, which isn't the same thing as burning edible food, but it's a reason to carefully consider what incentives are created by various government programs.
People worldwide who can't eat, can't eat because they live in something like a failed state. If you can't have enough stability to be on the global finance network, you're left pretty far behind.
So instead of using cow slurry to fertilise crops the US uses oil based fertiliser and has millions of gallons of cow slurry in lagoons.
Having lived in many different countries, the cost of food in the US is incredibly low. I assume (and have heard) this is mostly a result of subsidies to farmers.
All the while, US exports of 'corn based products', which I assume is also corn, has continued to grow http://www.fas.usda.gov/data/us-exports-corn-based-products-....
It seems like the Cuba detente has broken a constituent stalemate in Congress: a small group of Florida sugarcane farmers corner the market on US cane sugar and no one has wanted to normalize relations and import sugarcane from Cuba because of those farmers' political clout, even though our countries' comparative advantage should dictate growing sugarcane in poor, developing Cuba and exporting it for food and ethanol use in the US. There's been a gentlemen's agreement among senators that props up these farm subsidies because no one wants to rock the boat and jeopardize their own state's subsidies, but California is pushing back as our farmers get hammered by drought and Florida now has little to lose for opposing Midwestern farmers' lucrative corn subsidies.
Cuba is not even in the top ten cane producers, and more to the point, the USA alone produces over 15 times as much cane as Cuba. Brazil, which has bilateral free trade agreements with the USA, produces well over 400 times as much cane as Cuba.
What leads you to believe that lifting some sanctions against Cuba would do anything to change US sugar policy?
Subsidies do play a role, however American farm productivity is among the highest of any country and has skyrocketed in the last 50 to 60 years. This is due to technology, organization structure, and a geography favorable to nearly every type of farming. Few countries have all of those things, along with the world's largest consumer and capital markets.
Three million US farmers produce so much food they can feed not only all 320 million Americans, but also export a vast amount of food.
So America pays twice the global rate for sugar.
Reference in Portuguese:
While my car runs the ethenolized gas okay, it kills me knowing that I'm losing HP/efficiency just due to corn subsidies:(
Oxygenated fuel is fuel with extra oxygen that is released during combustion. Nitromethane is an especially dramatic example:
The oxygen content of nitromethane enables it to burn with much less atmospheric oxygen...
The amount of air required to burn 1 kg (2.2 lb) of gasoline is 14.7 kg (32 lb), but only 1.7 kg (3.7 lb) of air is required for 1 kg of nitromethane
The answer seems to vary depending on which side of the ethanol/no-ethanol fence you ask. It's hard to find real numbers.
OTOH, ten years ago, the prices for farm products were so low that farmers in countries with no farm subsidies could not make ends meet. The biofuel industry has at least had the benefit of making the lot of farmers in such countries - who by the way were among the poorest people in these countries - a bit less dismal.
It doesn't necessarily mean growing vegetation to produce ethanol fuel is a good thing but not doing so wouldn't make things effectively better either. On the other hand, at least the process is renewable unlike fossil fuels. On the other hand, it would make sense to grow this biofuel only in places where the environment is optimal for the most aggressively ethanol-producing plants.
The bigger problem is the demand for fuel. You could build cities where you don't need millions of people to consume fuel in order to merely get by their ordinary days moving between work, shopping groceries, and home. Unfortunately, those cities don't seem to be built until fuel prices get high enough that it's cheaper to abandon suburbia and rebuild the city based on walking and public transit.
The price of food is not about hunger. There are people who literally have no food because the place they live has no infrastructure to transport food; that's what causes hunger.
But there are still billions of people in poverty who live in urban areas. Those people don't go hungry, because food is available for sale and food is what a hungry man buys with his first dollar. But that doesn't mean the price of food doesn't affect them -- it makes all the difference in the world to them. Because if not only the first dollar but the second and third dollars have to go to buying food then they will, but that means they can't go to obtaining shelter or medicine or education.
The crop is not good? It went spoiled?
Well light this matches and watch it burn.. yes literally
The cities nearby suffer a lot with respiratory problems specially kids.
But you will not see that on News the companies pay a lot to "promote" their eco images
Still, it probably still makes sense to use it. For example, its energy balance(ethanol/energy for its production) is ~8-10 whereas in the US is ~1-2.
Then why on earth is the Australian government making us put this shit in our cars unless we want to buy 100% premium fuel.
- "All studies indicated that current corn ethanol technologies are much less petroleum-intensive than gasoline but have greenhouse gas emissions similar to those of gasoline. However, many important environmental effects of biofuel production are poorly understood. New metrics that measure specific resource inputs are developed, but further research into environmental metrics is needed. Nonetheless, it is already clear that large-scale use of ethanol for fuel will almost certainly require cellulosic technology. "
- "[Prior] analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuels. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. " http://www.whrc.org/resources/publications/pdf/Searchingeret...
This second citation is key. Most of my friends who aren't studying this stuff all the time aren't aware of the critical role land use changes (e.g. deforestation) plays in global carbon emissions, and biofuel's perturbation of international food markets tends to accelerate these deleterious trends.
Another nice benefit is that sugar is a very useful input in many bio manufacturing industries.And many of those products are much more controlled than what nature offers(like healthy dairy fats for the food industry by solazyme), so if available at the right price, they could be quite important, and low cost sugar could be helpful here.
Also, is growing and harvesting this corn (taking out the final burning of ethanol out of it for a moment) a net positive or negative in terms of carbon emissions? Is the fact that the corn is growing and absorbing carbon dioxide enough to offset the planting, fertilization, and harvesting? What about all that + conversion to ethanol + disposal of the conversion byproducts?
The real question is this: what is greater?
(a) CO2 emissions from planting, harvesting, transporting, converting, disposing of corn + CO2 emissions from burning the ethanol + CO2 and other emissions from having to recycle/downcycle/dispose of engines that die earlier because ethanol is bad for them.
or (b) CO2 emissions from drilling/fracking for oil, transport, refining, disposal of byproducts + CO2 emissions from burning gasoline.
If I accounted for all the factors, the questions of whether a > b or b > a should determine the policy.
There is of course a (c) CO2 emissions from mining and transporting coal/oil/natural gas to the power plant * loss factor for transporting the electricity + losses in charging systems + CO2 and other emissions from mining and processing lithium and manufacturing, transport, and recycling of lithium ion batteries.
It might be hard to determine. But here's an anecdote, the price of short ribs has dramatically gone up. My wife is Korean, so short ribs (galbi) are a favorite dish. We used to be able to buy several pounds of ribs, a huge pile of them, for $20-30. They were so cheap, and there were so many of them, and the way they were packaged was in such large packages, that it would take us several meals to get through them. It used to be a regular thing for us to go get some ribs, grab a few friends and spend a lazy afternoon in the park cooking Korean bbq and we'd all go home stuffed. We used to even buy it when we were much less well off it was such a cheap and satisfying meal.
Only a decade later, $30-40 buys you enough for a couple people, if we eat a side of rice and other food with it.
As a result, galbi has turned into a rare treat, despite us being much better-off financially, it's so expensive compared other foods that it's just not worth it anymore. Even restaurants we frequent will have a menu of $10-12 meals and then galbi (1 person's service) will be something like $18-20.
My understanding is that over 90% of cows are fed mostly with corn feed, so if corn goes up, the price of cows go up.
We're also starting to see some minor kickback against HFCS. The story is that it's bad for health, but my personal theory is that companies are trying to rework supply chains around other sugar sources in the event corn subsidies disappear. "Mexican Coke" and "Throwback Pepsi" are regulars at my local stores. Sold at a slightly higher price than the HFCS varieties.
I haven't read this yet, but it appears to look at some of these relationships. http://www.card.iastate.edu/policy_briefs/display.aspx?id=11...
Slightly increased domestic demand due to economic recovery, as well as very large increases in foreign demand due to economic development, combined with the fact that supply was trimmed back during the recession, are also big parts of the equation.
The reason oil companies object to the Renewable Fuel Standard is that it results in lower net usage of oil. If it resulted in higher net oil usage, they wouldn't oppose it. So that answers your question.
Especially if we develop (through GMOs or ordinary selective breeding) crops specifically for fuel purposes to make the whole process more efficient.
- Deforestation for the creation of corn fields. This includes the process of cutting down trees (gas powered machines, transport, etc.) and loss of trees that will no longer produce O2/absorb CO2
- Fertilizers. This one is huge as creation of fertilizers is nasty business and fairly energy intensive.
- Disposal of byproducts
- Transport again to the pump
- Other effects, such as having to manufacture more engines as they would wear out quicker and recycling of more worn out engines.
This would partially offset by the fact that the corn is absorbing CO2.
As I mentioned above (twice), fossil fuels have similarly complex sources of emissions (drilling/fracking, transport, refining, transport again, combustion).
The question to answer is this: if you sum up the totals for both methods, which is more efficient. I guarantee you, both still will produce net positive CO2 emissions. The only question is which will produce less net CO2 from all the sources.
Lastly, I should mention that theoretically, there is also a benefit of reducing other nasty emissions from fossil fuels such as sulfur. We could probably produce cleaner ethanol than gasoline. But none of that will matter if we spew so much CO2 into the air that we suffocate before we can measure these secondary pollutants properly.
That leaves deforestation for planting, which is a problem since human energy use isn't the only source of CO2. But if deforestation is avoided (this is where GMO crops would come in, grow more fuel in a given amount of space) or we implement other methods of CO2 sequestration (impractical now, but perhaps not in the future) we could still minimize that risk.
Edit: Not totally solve of course because that doesn't do anything about coal and natural gas emissions.
Post-2008, demand for oil has dropped without recovering, yet the cash flows of oil firms have remained strong ( it remains to be seen what comes of the big price drop ).
In this case, the conclusion might still hold. But the proper argument has one more step.
Last year, my wife and I rented a diesel 7 series while in Europe (a minor upgrade to the car we had reserved). 70% of our driving was non-Autobahn, but still a lot in the 120kph range, with some traffic. 30% Autobahn, having fun. A larger car, a larger engine, comparable mix of driving to what I do at home, yet still roughly got 37MPH. Smaller diesel cars, we've started way north of what I get in my Jetta for even faster driving.
Europe seems to have cleaner diesel (and air) yet fewer contraptions in their cars (compared to CA) and comparable or even larger cars there meet or exceed lesser cars here.
Diesel regulations are roughly equal (Europe got there earlier though): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-low-sulfur_diesel
> Corn is the top crop for subsidy payments. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that billions of gallons of ethanol be blended into vehicle fuel each year, guaranteeing demand, but US corn ethanol subsidies are between $5.5 billion and $7.3 billion per year.
It uses oil and natural gas feedstocks, so goes up and down with them. I guess it is somewhat cheaper to produce than ethanol, something like 1/2 the cost when the various input costs make the comparison the worst, and similar at other times (this is just a ballpark guess, not based on any careful analysis).
Facts are against it. There are plenty of studies, that ethanol is doing more harm to environment than it helps. The reason is, that conventional thinking that "corn growing reduces CO2" is just to simple. You must take into account all factors and also damages that are made by the ethanol production. And it is a fact, that rain forests and other natural plants are displaced by corn farms for ethanol. So conventional thinking "great we have more plants and CO2 is reduced" is just plainly wrong. This thinking was misguiding and misused by the ethanol lobbies.
It would be better to stay on normal gasoline and at the same time reduce the gasoline usage of cars and factories in mid-term. In long term, we should go for better energy sources (preferably solar and wind energy).
So, the environment is no valid reason for the ethanol promotion. What is the only (valid) reason to do so?: To get less dependent from the oil-countries. (so politics again)
But the best way would be to get rid of this environment-costly energy source for real environment-friendly ones.
The fact that rain forests are destroyed for corn plantations is probably independent of ethanol consumption, the ethanol driven investment mostly just increasing the existing rate at which deforestation happens. Corn is not only used for ethanol after all.
And to your "rain forests are destroyed anyway"-argument: You argue without any proof just by guessing. (BTW: rain forests where only one example, in fact, I don't know what areas are destroyed by fuel plants, but fact is, that there are areas destroyed and they are mono-cultures that grossly harm nature).
Other than the propaganda reason (i.e., to make people think "85" is the octane) the reason that it is called E85 is that it is only 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Ethanol by itself it not volatile enough to start an engine in cold climates so they spike it with gasoline.
Also you're correct it can phase separate but you could just as easily blame the gasoline for that problem as the ethanol... and if you tend to drive your gas tank down to near empty it reduces the problem even further.
Not sure about any antifreeze properties but on the whole it's not good for small carbureted engines.
Ethanol does absorb water from the air.
But that's how it works as a gas-line antifreeze: It absorbs undesired water from the fuel line and mixes with it so that you can burn it.
In my part of Canada people were actually somewhat happy when the 10% ethanol showed up as it meant that you didn't have to add any fuel line antifreeze over the winter.
This kickback is never going to end and if it got close, someone would just put an anonymous hold on the bill until it died.
But if you want to waste taxpayer money by renaming post offices after dead presidents, they are all for that.
And if we're getting into the details, how do we allocate the trillions of dollars spent on the Middle East?
More money touched and redirected just leads to more corruption and rent-seeking.
If you want the government to have less money, let's just reduce eg the `sin tax on honest work' aka the income tax.
( http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2015/01/26/worlds-larg... for example of their stuff)
On the other hand, it allows oil companies to pretend they're doing something about climate change (without changing any of their infrastructure) and it gives farmers more money, so you'd have to take on the oil lobby AND the farming lobby to get rid of it.
Diesel engines originally were developed to burn peanut oil. So lets run the peanut farm on locally grown peanut oil.
Lets say the tractors and trucks take 100 barrels of peanut oil per year to run. Oh fertilizers and poisons and all that petroleum derived stuff take oil too, but whatever, we'll imagine the total energy cost of running a farm is 100 barrel equivalent of peanut oil. Sure some of the 100 barrels equivalent is the UPS dude pumping diesel into his brown truck to drive out and drop off your herbicide or seed or whatever. And the power plant is shoveling some energy in the form of coal to make the electricity to run the irrigation pumps. Still, ignore the details and stick with me on the big pix, "doing farmin for a year" takes 100 barrels of energy.
If your farm averages 101 or more barrels of peanut oil production, you win, and get to sell at least 1 barrel a year (or more) for profit, or more likely debt service and taxes, whatever. At least next year on average you'll have a stockpile of 100 barrels needed to run the farm next year. You have a magic perpetual motion machine that turns sunlight into a trickle of peanut oil as long as the soil doesn't wash away and the sun keeps on shining. Cool.
If your farm averages 99 or fewer barrels of peanut oil production per year, then aside from massive government intervention you'll never get to sell any peanut oil on the open market, and even worse, you'll have to buy at least 1 barrel per year of crude oil to continue to operate your farm. This farm eats oil well pumped crude oil and outputs, well, nothing at all, at least without massive central government control and regulation and subsidy, like having the .gov take my money at gunpoint to give you 50 barrels of crude oil in exchange for votes so you can sell 40 barrels of peanut oil to greenwash the market.
Guess which scenario describes actual ethanol operations? We would net conserve crude petroleum if we shut down ethanol production today. This would eliminate uncountable government provided socialized jobs, so you can guess the likelihood of that ever happening.
Correct, this is the real question, whose answer is debated and depends severely on the production mechanism.
say you have 100 barrels of revenue, but you must expend 60 barrels to get the 100 barrels, then you have 40 barrels of profit.
you consume more barrels than you produce. See?
It takes 1.39 gallons of E85 to have the same energy as 1 gallon of conventional dino juice.
The only way to get more power with E85 is to have some sort of extreme engine running INSANE amounts of turbo boost, like the Koenesegg CCXR. In a normal street car any level of octane high enough to keep the engine from pre-detonating is more than sufficient - there is no boost in power.
The fact that it has lower energy density just means you burn more of it, so your tank runs out faster. It has nothing to do with the power you can get out of the engine.
I've done a lot of work with turbo charged cars, but I'm not an expert, so i could be wrong here... I'd rather just buy real race gas or mix toluene than mess with E85...
Timing out the injectors is an issue if they are marginally sized, and the ECU can throw a fit because it thinks the injector timing can't possibly be as off as the lambda sensor tells it.
On my old VW Passat, you could program an offset into the ECU to account for the latter problem. I test-ran it on up to about E85 without any other changes, and got noticeably less knock retard until the injector time saturated somewhere around E60.
There's a good primer here:
tl;dr - E85 does have lower energy per unit of volume than pump gas, but the significantly higher octane rating and evaporative cooling effect of ethanol mean higher boost and compression levels, more than making up for the difference.
Other cars get even greater gains when tuned for ethanol.
Water is needed to grow the corn and also in processing it.
"The amount of water it takes to produce ethanol varies according to how much irrigation is needed for the corn, particularly since row crop agriculture for corn is the most water consuming stage of ethanol production. In Ohio, because of sufficient rainfall, only 1% of the corn is irrigated while in Nebraska 72% of the crop is irrigated. It takes 19 gallons of water to produce a bushel of corn in Region 5, 38 gallons in Region 6, and 865 gallons in Region 7. The Baker Institute estimates that producing the corn to meet the ethanol mandate for 2015 will require 2.9 trillion gallons of water.
Most of this irrigation water is drawn from groundwater aquifers in a region that is already water stressed. Conflicts over water allotments have occurred in Kansas and Nebraska, and the Ogallala Aquifer, which lies under the Great Plains and supplies 30% of the nation’s groundwater for irrigation, is in danger of running dry.
Growing corn also requires a great deal of fertilizer, and extensive use of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides is having severe impacts on water quality now. Fertilizer laden runoff into streams in the Midwest makes its way to the Mississippi River, and eventually contributes to the eutrophication (when algae bloom, then die, depleting the area of oxygen and suffocating plants and animals) in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2010, this dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico was estimated to be almost 8000 square miles and it continues to grow. 2.39 million additional tons of nitrogen fertilizer will be needed to meet the 2015 mandate.
Easily erodible and less productive land set aside by the conservation reserve program, that paid farmers to retire inferior land, is now being pressed back into service due to the lure of high corn prices. This land will likely need additional fertilizer and irrigation to be productive, which will result in more polluted runoff and water consumption.
Although biofuels are promoted because they are said to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some scientists argue that when the life cycle of ethanol production is compared to that of conventional gasoline, there may be no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at all. More corn is being planted on more land fertilized with nitrogen, resulting in additional air and water pollution from nitrous oxide, a chemical 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
Processing corn to make ethanol requires substantial amounts of water for the grinding, liquefaction, fermentation, separation and drying procedures. Over the last ten years, however, some of the nation’s 200 biorefineries have been able to reduce water use from 6.8 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol to 3 gallons by boosting the efficiency of their equipment. South Dakota based Poet,the world’s largest ethanol producer is aiming to cut its overall water intake by 22% by 2014, and use only 2.33 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced. This would reduce its annual water use by 1 billion gallons."
The by-product of large-scale ethanol production is large amounts of dried distillers grains (DDGS). The starch that is consumed during distillation is not nutritional for the cows anyhow, and the DDGS are sold as a HIGH QUALITY feed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distillers_grains).
That said, large scale ethanol production is not the best way to produce fuel, especially when it could be quite easily distilled on site where it is harvested to greatly decrease the energy input for producing the fuel. It is not a coincidence that many large ethanol plants are owned by oil companies... this would be like Microsoft buying Red Hat, adding dependencies on ActiveX to the kernel, and then claiming that their studies show that Linux is total shit.
Also, whether or not you have a law, they'll still add ethanol to the gas to increase the octane and act as an oxygenator, so I agree that tax subsidies and mandates need to end... also wars, political corruption, the income tax, and mass surveillance, but you have to start somewhere I guess.