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gasisoutrageous

My personal thoughts about Ethanol

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This past weekend, I put over 1,200 miles on my car. On Saturday, I drove over to Port Huron on the border with Canada to spend time with my uncle (and also make a pitch to him to use E-85 in his Sierra). On Sunday, my dad and I drove up to the thumb, and then up to Gaylord for the night before the annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge walk. Then comes the bridge walk. We then drove down to Petoskey, back through Gaylord, over to Alpena to check on the bio refinery, then home.

 

Now that the scholarship that I earned after graduating high school has expired, I've found myself forced to pay for more of my education costs. I've had to take a hard look at things. I've also noticed that I spend A LOT on fuel. Joe and I were talking a while ago about how there is one downside to E85 prices being well below $3/gallon: you drive more! I've had to realize that E85 will not suffer if I use less of it.

 

Many of the prices I submit come from my dad on his work travels, but I get a lot of them myself. For him and I, it's a labor of love. I want to do everything in my power to see ethanol succeed, and checking and posting prices is one way to help with that.

 

With the growing debate over climate, I'll admit that I've had my doubts about ethanol. It does still emit carbon dioxide, and uses petroleum in the corn harvesting process as well as several other steps along the way. But like every solution, it is not perfect. And I want to get something straight. I am NOT arguing for ethanol as the solution for our energy needs. But it's a darn good one, with a lot of promise. I wouldn't throw my support behind it if I didn't feel that way. I've said to several of you that the reason I got into ethanol is for the environmental benefits. I'm reminded every day how appalling oil safety practices are, and I'm reminded that I made the right choice in getting a flex fuel car. The BP deep water horizon spill in 2010, the Kalamazoo River tar sands spill later that summer, the near environmental apocalypse caused by Shell's incompetence off the Alaskan waters late last year, the March tar sands spill in Arkansas, and the Chevron Richmond, CA refinery fire in August 2012, just to name a few. It's extremely encouraging to see Speedway add E85 at so many stations so quickly, and to see a 1,500 fold increase in E85 stations since 1992.

 

I'm thankful that I have this community of like-minded ethanol enthusiasts. Thank you for being so accepting.

 

I am awaiting contact from Michigan Corn as to how they want to proceed with my help after their marketing meeting next Wednesday. I will NEVER lower my support for ethanol, no matter how stressful other things become.

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Thanks for sharing!

 

I recall my days of putting myself through college on a combination of hard work, thrifty spending, student loans and credit cards!

 

Just remember, when you get frustrated... that out of this experience, you will gain:

  1.  Deep respect for hard work

  2.  The ability to dig deep, and find the fortitude to "get 'er done" no matter the challenge

  3.  Life long ability to manage your finances responsibly

  4.  A very strong credit rating!

  5.  CHARACTER

 

I remember when I first got out of college, before I consolidated all my student loans, I wanted to pay of some of the smaller ones first...  so I was making 10x payments on these to try to wipe them off the books before consolidation...  pay one off, then hit the next smallest hard...

 

Because of this, I CHOSE to live on a meager budget (in 1998) of just $7.50/month for food and alcohol.  I ate only oatmeal for breakfast, and had vegetable soup made from scratch for lunch and supper, and went on the wagon  (probably a good thing for me to do after college)...  I also stopped watching TV (no Cable), avoided owning a cell phone (weren't that common then)...  walked to work, and had my car paid off...

 

This freaked my family out, and they felt bad for me "having to go through this"... but it taught me that if I really needed to, I could live on very little.  It helped me to keep things in perspective later in life when I "thought things were bad"...  As bad as things got, I knew that they could be worse, and that I could survive them.

 

Enough of my lecture... just remember, these are the days that you will be building the character that shapes who you will become as an adult.  It sounds like you are doing it right!

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Thanks for sharing indeed!

 

I noticed that you did not mention oil and gas from fracking operations impact on the environment. I get into west Wisconsin very frequently and what is jaw dropping over there is the dozens of frack sand plants, open pit mines,  the power consumed, the vast numbers of large gravel trucks hauling sand to the railhead operations, and the vast amount of rail cars being loaded. Wisconsin is of course a long long way from most frack wells but we have the right sand. While a lot of jobs were created here over the last 2 years- there is a lot of environmental impact with these new sand rock operations. I just hope these sand operations are not loading the air with a lot of silicates which are a respiratory hazard.

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Good post gasisoutrageous. Outlaw's thoughts on the sand are definitely something to think about. Sand is being loaded on the train a few miles from where my brother lives north of Minneapolis and I said I wondered how long before WI was mined out. He didn't think it was anything to worry about--- oh well. Here is some info from long ago about silicates and it happened at one of my favorite places in West VA.

    During the 1930s Depression, men were desperate for work of any kind. When word got out that there were jobs in the West Virginia hills, hundreds of black migrant workers from the Deep South hopped trains and rode north to the coal mining fields. But the jobs were not mining coal. Instead, a company needed workers to drill a tunnel through Gauley Mountain, located between Ansted and Gauley Bridge in Fayette County, West Virginia.

    The 3.8-mile Hawk's Nest Tunnel was an engineering marvel. The tunnel's purpose was to divert water from the New River through the Gauley Mountain and down a drop of 162 feet to provide electricity to the Electro Metallurgical Company, a subsidiary of the Union Carbide Corporation.

    Construction of the tunnel began in June 1930. Workers moved forward from 250 to 300ft per week through 99.44% pure silica, 32-36ft in diameter. Experts knew that miners who inhaled silica dust would contract silicosis, a deadly lung ailment. But the company ordered that the workers use a dry drilling technique that would create more dust because this method was faster and cheaper.

    Many accidents crippled or killed workers before the silicosis could choke them to death. Masks were supplied only to inspectors and company men inside the tunnel.

    Workers began dying two months after they first entered the tunnel.

http://tunneltalk.com/Hawks-Nest-Tunnel-tragedy-Sept09.php

 

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Oh don't get me wrong, I'm not in support of fracking. I haven't learned quite enough about it, but I certainly don't see a strong reason to support it. Sure, natural gas is quite cheap, but the processes to get it are horrible for the environment (I've been meaning to look for the documentary "Gasland"). After all, that's one major reason I oppose tar sands. It's extremely polluting.

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I've seen/heard some anti-ethanol people talk about the "indirect" costs of ethanol...  (dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico from run off of nutrients in the Midwest, and clearing of the Amazon rain forest...)

 

What these idiots either don't take into consideration, or conveniently disregard (as it would invalidate their crude point) is that all this land in the Midwest was being farmed BEFORE the ethanol boom, and was being farmed with the same (if not more so) polluting methods.  I think that farmers as a whole with GPS accuracy and much more sophisticated data sampling, are MUCH better at limiting over use of chemicals and fertilizers...  if for no other reason then to cut down on wasted inputs ($$$).  In Brazil, where the sugar is being grown, is NOT really the Amazon region...  So ethanol production there really has very little if anything to do with ethanol.  Many people see see pictures of massive soy and cotton farms... and are told these were rain forest...  also not true.  These lands (Mato Grasso region) were more of a "savannah" region of mixed trees grassland...  The clearing of the Amazon region was done primarily for cattle grazing lands...  and this has actually slowed down and become much more regulated.  If you want to farm "down there"... depending on the natural vegetation, you are required to maintain between 20-80% native vegetation reserve...

 

If we want to talk "indirect environmental impact"...  please, lets REALLY talk about that.

  1.  Oil

  2.  Natural Gas

  3.  Fracking

  4.  Tar sands

  5.  Coal

  6.  Mountain-top removal

 

this is a conversation the ethanol industry should welcome with open arms, just don't let them get away with avoiding "their" negatives, while fabricating ones for "our" side...

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Ethanol has actually reinvigorated interest in farming practices. I remember a few years ago how no-till was the new thing to do. It's still slowly catching on. Ignoring issues of that kind won't fix them. Paying attention to how we farm and changing it will make a difference.

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So I've actually found myself looking for discussions about ethanol, randomly bringing the idea up. Here's a flyer that someone from class was looking at, and wrote his thoughts on. I have to wonder how genuine his points were, but I thought it was humorous enough to share.

 

http://flic.kr/p/fWoBHj

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They are genuine opinions. He knows enough to talk but it's outdated information. In the 90's the octane comment were true enough. But all new engines are high compression, de-tuned for emissions, and yet will still ping occasionally on Regular. Honda, Ford, and Mazda all do this.

 

Regular is cheaper but mid-grade Gasoline will still improve drive-ability in economy cars. It makes a bigger difference on today's 100BHP cars than it did on yesteryear's 100BHP cars. Most of which are now infamous for having poor response and bad drive-ability. I bet he doesn't know that octane makes a bigger difference on low RPM driving than it does high RPM operation.

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Oh don't get me wrong, I'm not in support of fracking. I haven't learned quite enough about it, but I certainly don't see a strong reason to support it. Sure, natural gas is quite cheap, but the processes to get it are horrible for the environment (I've been meaning to look for the documentary "Gasland"). After all, that's one major reason I oppose tar sands. It's extremely polluting.

 

There is almost 400 fracking wells in Butler County (the one just north of where Pittsburgh is) Pennsylvania and regular reports of water well contamination continue on a regular basis.  Not every water well is contaminated but enough to make one pause and ask more questions.

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