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Author Topic: Urban vs Rural Viewpoints on Ethanol & Agriculture Back to Topics
darwinfinch

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Message Posted: Nov 26, 2013 11:16:33 AM

I'm starting to feel like all of this anti-farming mentality in the name of environmentalism is coming from urban folk who, honestly, do not know much about agriculture and conservation.

I used to live in a heavily populated area and really, most people don't know where the resources come from to make a city work. All of the food and energy flowing into the city come from somewhere, and people have a sense that somewhere, somehow, their material needs are causing problems elsewhere. This fosters an appropriate amount of environmental angst (which is good!), so when we learn that the things we use could be damaging the wilderness beyond our cities, we get mad. The problem is that in a city your conservation efforts are not "hands on".

I've also lived in sparsely populated areas where people work with the land, with resources, and where conservation isn't just a monkey on your back, it's a necessity for survival. If a creek cuts through your land and erodes your soil, you do something about it. If your topsoil is blowing away in the wind, you do something about it. If your trees fall down, you plant new ones. Etc.

I really think Big Oil has taken advantage of this urban demographic who honestly cares about the environment but doesn't know enough about it to have a fair view of what's happening with agriculture. Big Oil says corn farming is "raping the land" and the most populated areas believe it because they can't see it. Big Oil wants to paint the picture that farming is the enemy. Meanwhile, they are acid-blasting the geological boundaries of our precious water tables or dredging truckloads of ancient carbon from tar pits and saying "look that a way".

I don't mean to pit urban vs rural, but I do wish environmentalists would think about what they are doing when they criticize ethanol; think about who you are defending.
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RS101
Champion Author Minnesota

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Message Posted: Dec 24, 2013 6:51:58 AM

Point taken
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TheRobster666
Rookie Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Dec 12, 2013 10:21:39 PM

DarwinLemming you really need to get a life.
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tropicalmn
Veteran Author Minnesota

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Message Posted: Dec 11, 2013 2:40:44 AM

"You don't get it and you never will"
Gee brerrabbitTX look in the mirror....While it’s commonly referred to as RFS2 the actual official short name is “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007”. I suspect based on the name alone even a caveman could guest that replacing imported oil with imported sugarcane ethanol was not the intent of congress.Neither was it the intent of Congress that EPA would be using the pseudo science of Indirect Land Use Change to offer Brazil's Sugarcane an advantage.Let's pretend & ignore all that for a second.As it was pointed out to you Brazil doesn't have the surplus of cane to export any significant quantities of ethanol to the USA unless they were also importing corn ethanol from the USA.When world sugar prices are high(2011)Brazil sells the sugar & needs to import ethanol(like from the USA).Again how rational is your plan armchair genius?“The RFA is funded primarily by the corn industry so they are opposed to any ethanol production that does not involve corn, corn stalks, etc.”
Funny you claim to not have agenda but you keep repeating that bald face lie.I’ve already pointed out to you that the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) was directly affiliated with Renewable Fuels Assoc.(RFA). RFA and AEC share a common interest in promoting the use of ethanol, and more specifically, broadening the types of feedstocks and processes used to produce the fuel. I’ll give you a clue since you don’t seem to have one, Coskata, Mascoma & Algenol are examples of their members that have nothing to do with corn or corn plant material.
You(incorrectly) came to the conclusion that since RFA asked EPA in 2013 to reduce the Advance Bio fuels minimum requirement( which would reduce imported sugarcane ethanol) they oppose anything not corn related.
Based on your analogy apparently a person can’t be a supporter of ethanol without supporting importing sugar cane ethanol regardless of the circumstances. A person can’t be a true supporter of petroleum unless you support all petroleum product production.You can’t support just domestic petroleum production without supporting imported petroleum. Gee how did anyone come to the conclusion your a Big Oil Shill????Do you look for & give priorty to the Made in China label when you shop???
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brerrabbitTX
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Message Posted: Dec 10, 2013 5:20:32 PM

Soylent,
You don't get it and you never will. I have never once advocated growing sugar cane for ethanol in the US. What I have said and you have yet to hear because anyone that disagrees with the mighty and powerful Soylent gets shouted down and sent to the outhouse is that the EPA in their documents gives a higher greenhouse gas reduction percentage to sugar cane ethanol than it does to corn ethanol. Therefore once we hit the max for corn ethanol which we are virtually there now, then incremental ethanol sales would have to come from other types of ethanol that have a higher GHG reduction number.

The further point I make is when I ask what type of ethanol indivduals favor generally says a lot about what their true position is. You obviously support corn ethanol above all others. Makes sense, you lease farm land to corn farmers and can make better rent if they grow corn. You have a dog in the hunt as do the boys over at the RFA. They support corn above all else because that's who pays them. Can's go supporting ethanol from the competitors of your bosses, they tend to get a might upset about that.

As far as ethanol plants in the corn belt, who cares? Since all incremental ethanol needed to meet the RFA standards have to come from sources other than corn then by default it makes no sense to build anymore plants in the corn belt. They are building bio mass and garbage ethanol plants in high population areas, and last time I checked that ain't the corn and rust belts of the midwest. The new plants needed to meet the new standards will not be built there, so as we move forwaard I see no reason for the ethanol plants to continue to be concentrated in the corn belt.

Your logic and reasoning clearly identify you as a "lets all use ethanol" guy with the caviate, "but it better be corn ethanol, cause all the rest is no good!"
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Banjoe
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Message Posted: Dec 7, 2013 9:51:55 AM

"Technological sclerosis" - love it.

Divide and conquer is a pretty strong tactic. Pitting the town folk against the sod busters is a pretty old game and is alive and well as there are far more people eating than producing. Maybe the Chinese had a great idea when sending the professional citizens to the work farms. Clearly wouldn't hurt some of our team here.
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goldseeker
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Message Posted: Dec 6, 2013 2:57:18 AM

The US government is controlled primarily by the oil industry so they are opposed to anything that may rock the boat and hamper the vast tax advantages that their oil buddies have enjoyed for over 100 years.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Dec 6, 2013 12:14:52 AM

"In Soylents case his rhetoric has made it extremely clear that it is all about the corn. I would not be surprised to learn he was heavily invested in corn production in some way. "

The fact of the matter is ethanol producers built plants around corn fields. If the US had vast sugar cane fields, perhaps, ethanol producers would build plants there too. But, that, clearly is not the case.

And yes, I own crop land. Might be part of the reason I have some insight into ethanol production. We have land we rent that grows corn and soybeans. Other land has oil on it. It makes no differencyork me what is produced off the land. If my renter can find a way to grow sugar cane in below zero temperatures, great. You produce what you can with the resources available.

If you feel strongly about using sugar cane for ethanol production, find a way to grow high yield cane in the US and you will make billion. Until then, the ethanol plants will remain concentrated in the corn-belt.

[Edited by: SoylentGrain at 12/6/2013 12:15:13 AM EST]
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brerrabbitTX
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Message Posted: Dec 5, 2013 11:12:52 PM

Soylent,
I quite frankly have no desire to discuss with you any aspect of corn vs sugar cane ethanol. Been there done that do not care to go there again. All I ever said was the EPA which is the word of god to most ethanol supporters here says that sugar cane ethanol reduces greenhouse gas more than corn ethanol does. Want to have that debate, call up the EPA and make your case I don't care.

The reason I ask anyone how they feel about sugar cane vs corn ethanol is to gauge where they are coming from. The RFA is funded primarily by the corn industry so they are opposed to any ethanol production that does not involve corn, corn stalks, etc. The way most answer the question says a lot about their true selves.

In Soylents case his rhetoric has made it extremely clear that it is all about the corn. I would not be surprised to learn he was heavily invested in corn production in some way.

[Edited by: brerrabbitTX at 12/5/2013 11:14:19 PM EST]
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darwinfinch
Veteran Author Gasbuddy

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Message Posted: Dec 5, 2013 9:53:15 AM

Honestly, I'm not educated enough about sugar cane ethanol to have a useful opinion.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Dec 4, 2013 10:11:42 PM

"And are you of the corn is the only answer variety as well. Some of your fellow supporters have made it quite clear that sugar cane ethanol from South America is just as evil as oil. Do you feel the same or would you support ethanol imports?

Just trying to understand what drives people to the level of irrationality exhibited here everyday."

How rational is it to import ethanol from a south American country over oil from a south American country?

In the end, it's nt an option. Brazil doesn't have the surplus of cane to export any significant quantities of ethanol to the us.

A couple fundamentals you are missing:
The US is a surplus producer of corn.
We don't grow much sugar cane here.
When sugar cane is processed into ethanol, only one product is made, ethanol
When corn is processed, it makes two products in equal quantities, ethanol and animal feed.
By using a domestic product, corc, it provides employment for our citizens, generates profits for our citizens, and those profits are taxed and generate revenue for the US Treasury.
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brerrabbitTX
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Message Posted: Dec 4, 2013 7:47:07 PM

Your discussion topic, your rules, but first I said nothing about corn subsidies. I specifically referenced the fact that wind and solar subsidies are much larger than even the oil subsidies everyone always complain about.

Also I have come out in support of sugar cane ethanol and had people on this site shout me down because it was in their opinion inferior to corn based ethanol. I am not contradicting anything merely trying to understand where you are on this issue. I have been accused more than once of being a big oil shill here, but through understanding where people stand on corn vs sugar cane ethanol usually points out the corn shills vs the true supporters of ethanol. No hidden agenda in the question, just a simple attempt to see where you are on the issue.
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darwinfinch
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Message Posted: Dec 4, 2013 11:20:28 AM

The internet is full of people yelling "ethanol gets subsidies... get rid of ethanol!" so if your personal opinion is that corn subsidies are bad but ethanol holds promise, it's up to you to make that distinction. Otherwise, given that most anti-ethanol crowds attempt to leverage subsidy debates against the entire future of renewable fuel, I and others will assume (fairly) that any vocal opinions about the downsides of corn subsidies, unless otherwise corrected, run parallel to a general anti-ethanol stance. Your opinions may be more nuanced but it's up to you to state them, not for me to extrapolate them.

As for sugar cane ethanol, it has its flaws and its promise, like anything. Your attempt to draw me into a "for or against" position on the matter seems to contradict your thoughts on riding the fence for all energy sources.
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brerrabbitTX
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Message Posted: Dec 4, 2013 10:55:50 AM

So Wind, Bio Fuel and Nuclear energy. I have no issues with any of those however, I can complain that wind and solar energy receive way more subsidies that even big oil. Does that mean by making that statement I am by default supporting big oil? No, however to your way of thinking it does. Can I say that while nuclear energy offers many advantages the idea of radiation leaks and the toxcicity of it's by product scare the bejesus out of me? Again per your strick interpretation I am by voicing that fear supporting coal, and big oil because I am not welcoming with open arms nuclear energy. I do not oppose any alternative but want to move forward questoning and making sure we are doing the right thing. You and others already have the mind set that anything is better than oil and will not even have a discussion that questions in any way, any alternative.

You still did not answer my question about sugar cane ethanol. Are you truly a supporter of alternate fuels, or are you at heart just a supporter of corn farmers as many here are?
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darwinfinch
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Message Posted: Dec 3, 2013 3:33:49 PM

I never said "ethanol or die". I think "alternatives to oil & coal, or die" is more appropriate, and reflects our prospects if we fail to move forward with alternatives.

There are many alternatives but none are allowed to tinker with the rigid infrastructure of the status quo:

We built a wind generator! / Too bad, it doesn't connect with our grid.

We made renewable biofuel! / Too bad, doesn't run in classic cars.

We can make nuclear safe! / No way, remember Hiroshima?

This is technological sclerosis... a hardening of the innovative muscles in our society. It has to be remedied before anything else can change.

Oil & coal resist the medicine and that's a problem.



[Edited by: darwinfinch at 12/3/2013 3:34:07 PM EST]
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brerrabbitTX
Champion Author Houston

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Message Posted: Dec 3, 2013 12:22:33 PM

So darwinfinch,
You basically make my point. You are either with us or against us and rational discussion should be thrown out the window, ethanol or die, all that sort of stuff right?

And are you of the corn is the only answer variety as well. Some of your fellow supporters have made it quite clear that sugar cane ethanol from South America is just as evil as oil. Do you feel the same or would you support ethanol imports?

Just trying to understand what drives people to the level of irrationality exhibited here everyday.

Oh and apparently Big Oil still does beat their wives.

[Edited by: brerrabbitTX at 12/3/2013 12:22:38 PM EST]
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darwinfinch
Veteran Author Gasbuddy

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Message Posted: Dec 2, 2013 5:39:22 PM

RE: "The absolute wrongest thing about ethanol is the RFS, the notion that government knows anything about what it is doing, the notion that government intentions are ever met. Unintended consequences are always greater than the government's intention when government attempts to apply a heavy hand to markets."

You're referring to the EPA... the same group which worked for decades to remove lead from fuel. The EPA knew it was bad. They did the research and they pushed for change. The oil industry (representing your treasured free market) resisted the change until the EPA finally gathered enough momentum to force a change. Leaded fuel was eventually referred to as "the worst mistake of the 20th century" and its toxic legacy is well documented. Today, nobody defends lead in fuel, and nobody cries about the EPA working against the oil companies for CHANGE.

This may or may not be an effective analogy for what's happening today with renewable fuels vs fossil fuels, but it does demonstrate the EPA's (government's) ability to affect change, follow through and succeed on something that matters to all of us. Had Big Oil been given the steering wheel, we'd still be breathing and drinking toxic lead "because it's more profitable".
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Dec 2, 2013 5:20:36 PM

"If gasoline is $4.00/gallon then so be it. Let ethanol compete, if it can. The absolute wrongest thing about ethanol is the RFS, the notion that government knows anything about what it is doing, the notion that government intentions are ever met. Unintended consequences are always greater than the government's intention when government attempts to apply a heavy hand to markets."

Did you complain about MTBE, when it was mandated?

I am first generation removed from the farm. Where 20 years ago under government price controls my farming relatives were Working Poor. Perhaps millionaires based on the value of their farms and implements, but earning less than minimum wage if they break even at all. Today due to ethanol most have all old debts paid off and are planting every square foot with corn.

"Fields were one used to rotate crops to regenerate the soil are now planted with corn year after year. When crop rotation was used in the past, today fertilizer is used. Fertilizer made from natural gas, a fossil fuel."

Are you implying fertilizer wasn't used 20 years ago and farmers don't rotate crops today? If you are, thats complete nonsense.

"As for water runoff and erosion the question has become, "How much will it hurt future yields?" Only when it hurts the bottom line does it matter. Same for fertilizer use. How much fertilizer to use is only a question of cost vs benefit. The bottom line."

The EPA monitors runoff.

"I have no opposition to free market use of ethanol. I have every opposition to someone else deciding what fuel I must use, wether its the ethanol lobby, "big oil", or government. No small part of this opposition is rooted in government price controls for farm products which historically kept supply up with farmers broke and dependent on government."

Which price controls do you refer?

"Today ethanol is too valuable due to government mandate for farmers to care for the land the way they did in the past."

When land sells for $10,000 and $20,000 an acre, you are kidding yourself, if you think farmers are destroying their property.
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GrumpyCat
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Message Posted: Dec 2, 2013 3:53:13 PM

darwinfinch, you say "markets" but I see no evidence you are willing to let markets decide.

If gasoline is $4.00/gallon then so be it. Let ethanol compete, if it can. The absolute wrongest thing about ethanol is the RFS, the notion that government knows anything about what it is doing, the notion that government intentions are ever met. Unintended consequences are always greater than the government's intention when government attempts to apply a heavy hand to markets.

I am first generation removed from the farm. Where 20 years ago under government price controls my farming relatives were Working Poor. Perhaps millionaires based on the value of their farms and implements, but earning less than minimum wage if they break even at all. Today due to ethanol most have all old debts paid off and are planting every square foot with corn.

Fields were one used to rotate crops to regenerate the soil are now planted with corn year after year. When crop rotation was used in the past, today fertilizer is used. Fertilizer made from natural gas, a fossil fuel.

As for water runoff and erosion the question has become, "How much will it hurt future yields?" Only when it hurts the bottom line does it matter. Same for fertilizer use. How much fertilizer to use is only a question of cost vs benefit. The bottom line.

I have no opposition to free market use of ethanol. I have every opposition to someone else deciding what fuel I must use, wether its the ethanol lobby, "big oil", or government. No small part of this opposition is rooted in government price controls for farm products which historically kept supply up with farmers broke and dependent on government.

Today ethanol is too valuable due to government mandate for farmers to care for the land the way they did in the past.
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darwinfinch
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Message Posted: Dec 2, 2013 2:17:54 PM

Ethanol displaces oil.
The oil industry resents this displacement.
Arguments against ethanol reduce the ethanol market.
When the ethanol market is reduced, oil regains its market.

There is NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE to crude oil at the moment, certainly nothing displacing 10% or more of the oil market. So it should be obvious to anyone educated enough to discuss this issue that pushing to repeal renewable fuel standards, circulating anti-ethanol myths, or stating outright that we need to get rid of ethanol... is equivalent to re-establish fossil fuel as the only significant energy source in the marketplace.

The only argument against this I would buy is that most people don't realize they are defending Big Oil when they bash biofuels... from a position of ignorance. Anything else is equivalent to saying crude oil is cheaper, less subsidized, and better for the environment than biofuel (none of which are true).
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brerrabbitTX
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Message Posted: Dec 2, 2013 1:24:31 PM

See I think comments like yours cause as much friction as anything Big Oil may say. Certainly Big Oil has a larger audeance than this forum, but I don't think this is a fair statement:

"I don't mean to pit urban vs rural, but I do wish environmentalists would think about what they are doing when they criticize ethanol; think about who you are defending."

By default you are saying that if anyone questions any aspect of ethanol then they are by default defending Big Oil. In otherwords, "tell us Mr. Johnson, do you still beat your wife?"

Most folks on this board don't want to have a reseaoned discussion of the issues, but rather a straight up you with us or your agaisnt us shouting match.

As far as your example goes it is even more complex than you can imagine. My Grandfather was a farmer and faced all the issues you raise, I own property that once was his and graze cattle on it. I am a small time rancher if you will. However as my Grandfather did and all the ranchers, and Farmers in the area did and continue to do is lease our land to the Big Bad Oil Companies to drill on. We do it because it allows us to keep the family farms, ranches, and property in out families because of the additional revenue from the oil. Without many would have had to sell out and stop farming and ranching long ago. More people than you think know how things work where I live, but then again we have been mixing farming, ranching, and oil for a long time.


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forresj
Champion Author Wilmington

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Message Posted: Nov 27, 2013 4:28:09 PM

I don't take any claims from the Big Oil companies to heart. In my opinion, they have a product to sell to you. They are "drug dealers" telling you drugs are good for you and the rest is bad.



[Edited by: forresj at 11/27/2013 4:28:42 PM EST]
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46chief
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Message Posted: Nov 27, 2013 10:40:07 AM

Very good. I don't use ethanol, don't like it, but if it were banned a lot of jobs would be lost here locally at ethanol plants.
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SilverStreaker
Champion Author Twin Cities

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Message Posted: Nov 27, 2013 9:21:25 AM

How true.
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RS101
Champion Author Minnesota

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Message Posted: Nov 26, 2013 7:50:26 PM

I still think there needs to be vast improvements if ethanol is ever to catch on.
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SoylentGrain
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Message Posted: Nov 26, 2013 3:10:14 PM

Well said, Darwinfinch.
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