Environmental Irony in Virginia

I ran across an ironic article today from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In part, it read:

Oct. 17–Virginia has one public filling station where motorists can fill up with E-85 fuel, and stations providing the gasoline alternative for government vehicles number just five.

Yesterday, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine joined representatives of General Motors and state and federal agencies in launching the first E-85 pump in the Richmond area. The pump, connected to an 8,000-gallon tank, is at a state fleet-vehicle office on Leigh Street.

Kaine touted the environmental and human-health benefits of a cleaner-burning motor fuel and praised the public-private partnerships that promote the fuel’s use.

Bless their hearts. And then they follow up that sentence with:

He then filled up a GMC Yukon sport utility vehicle used by his office from the new pump.

Throughout the article, they tout the “cleaner-burning alternative to gas that benefits the environment and can help cut the nation’s dependence on foreign oil”, but apparently do not see the irony of promoting highly inefficient vehicles. A bit later the article states:

At yesterday’s event, General Motors donated a brightly painted E-85 Chevrolet Tahoe to the state to be used to educate consumers.

Do these people really believe that running big SUVs and pickups on E85 is going to help solve our energy problems? Shall we all rush out and follow their lead? Can we possibly find a faster way to deplete the topsoil than by producing as much corn as we possibly can just to inefficiently convert it to ethanol?

This kind of thinking drives me crazy. Makes a guy want to move to Europe. Which, by the way, I am about to do. More on that later, as well as an essay contrasting biomass gasification with cellulosic ethanol.

6 thoughts on “Environmental Irony in Virginia”

  1. Environmentalists ought to team up with the folks at Oxfam and Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other producers forced to use corn syrup because of high sugar tariffs. Certainly if they stopped using corn for Coca-Cola, there’d be more available for ethanol.

  2. Environmentalists ought to team up with the folks at Oxfam and Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other producers forced to use corn syrup because of high sugar tariffs.

    High sugar tariffs are also the reason we don’t make ethanol from sugarcane in the U.S.

    moving to europe?

    It’s job related. I will be relocating to Aberdeen, Scotland on February 1.



  3. Robert,

    Good luck in Scotland. I think you’ll like it there. We spent a long vacation in the Highlands several years ago. Very nice, the only ethanol that matters there is the ethyl alcohol in malt whisky.

    Here’s something interesting for you to think about I just realized a few days ago:

    How does using genetically modified (GMO) corn for ethanol affect the cattle industry and the net energy balance of corn ethanol?

    My reasoning: Western Europe, Japan, and most other developed countries want nothing to do with food from the U.S. made with GMO corn or other GMO seeds. They also don’t want meat from cattle or hogs rationed with GMO grain.

    The Third World countries also want nothing to do with GMO food saying that we are using them as guinea pigs.

    If an ethanol plant uses GMO corn, won’t the distiller’s grains from that plant have to be considered GMO?

    Which naturally leads to this:

    * If cattle farmers can’t use or don’t want distiller’s grains made from GMO corn, who will use that distiller’s grain?

    * If no one wants GMO distiller’s grains, what does that do to the energy balance of corn ethanol, since the only way they get a positive EROEI is by counting the energy in DG.

    By my reckoning, if the DG goes unused, the EROEI of corn ethanol immediately becomes negative.



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