Monday, July 03, 2006

The other side of ethanol numbers...

While I am merely trying to be sensible in my expectations for ethanol, some critics are arising that have hard-to-answer numbers describing biofuel limitations. The key quote for me put the "Brazilian success story" in perspective:

Recently, there has been lots of excitement and media coverage about how Brazil produces ethanol for its automobile fuel and talk that America should follow its lead. But Brazil consumes only 10 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel annually, compared with America's 170 billion. There are almost 4 million miles of paved roads in America -- Brazil has 60,000. And Brazil is the leading producer of sugar cane -- more than 300 million tons annually -- so it has lots of agricultural waste to make ethanol.

Whle Brazil may be a bigger ag producer than the US soon it is a tiny consumer. Citing Brazil as a path we should follow is not realistic. Our oil consumption, like the federal budget, is a number too big for many of us to grapple with.

And I still can't figure out how any practical amount of ethanol will lower our dependence on Arab oil.

Let's face it - ethanol for farmers is 95% about farm income. We'd lobby for mandates for any usage that offered a glimmer of $3 corn.

[Thanks, Dan]

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