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From: Jack in OH (
Subject:         Re: P.S.
Date: December 4, 2007 at 7:52 pm PST

In Reply to: P.S. posted by Werepoodle on December 4, 2007 at 8:40 am:

The reason the overall process of making ethanol adds a net amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, is that fossil fuels are used to make it. That includes making the tractors and harvesters that are used, as well as the gasoline, or diesel fuel to run them. The fertilizer and pesticides used are also made from fossil fuel, and CO2 is emitted during that process. Then the corn is trucked to the distillery (more diesel fuel, plus the truck had to be manufactured - more fossil fuel). Then the corn mash has to be heated by fossil fuel, and then the ethanol distilled out (more fossil fuel). Finally, the ethanol has to be trucked to the oil refinery, for blending into the gasoline - more fossil fuel.

When the ethanol is finally burned, its CO2 does go back into new corn plants, which is a trade-off, but along the way, a lot of fossil fuel was used, which does add global warming greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Not all CO2 either. N20 is produced by the farming process.

The real hooker is, that without subsidies, the whole process would be a real loser. That's because the fossil fuel(oil) used is currently imported at the rate of about $90/barrel. About as much energy is put into the whole process by fossil fuels as is contained in the final ethanol. Might as well have burned the oil in the first place, except that it's imported.

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