Columns

If the Governor Is All About Jobs, He'll Veto This Anti-Ethanol, Bad Idea

By: Honey Rand | Posted: April 26, 2013 3:55 AM
Honey Rand

Sometime in the next few days, a really bad piece of legislation will be sent to the governor.

To be fair, probably a handful of pretty bad ideas are heading his way. But at least one of them has already had a chilling effect on investment in a critical area of potential economic growth for Florida.

HB 4001 removes ethanol from the Florida Renewable Fuel Standards. Weirdly, this bill will have no effect on the composition of our gasoline. The Federal Renewable Fuels Standard provides for 10 percent ethanol now -- and is considering going to 15 percent.

Why? Because, right now, ethanol reduces the price of gas by 50 to 60 cents per gallon. That savings has been as much as $1 per gallon. We don’t need to debate who benefits when gas prices go up.

We should, however, debate the merits of a bill that tells companies that Florida is Closed for Biotech Business. This bill sends the message that we have no need for jobs that pay as much as $30,000 over the average. That investment in bio-energy and biofuels and even biotech is not needed and that Floridians are happy to spend $1 billion annually importing energy and have no need to keep those dollars here.

Except I don’t believe that Floridians think that any of those are good ideas and this governor has said he’s all about jobs.

You’re wondering what companies are invested in or considering expanding their ethanol operations?

DuPont (investing in feedstock research at UF); BioFuel Energy LLC (provides ethanol for blending at the Port of Tampa and is considering production facilities in the Southeast); Iones (located in Vero Beach); Algenol (production facilities in Lee County and considering expansion ...) and there are others. There are 5,000 companies and 78,000 Floridians employed in the biotech sector and every one of them needs to be concerned about the future if the governor signs off on this bad idea.

There’s a lot of misinformation about ethanol. Most of it about corn, though now that cellulosic ethanol is about to launch commercially, the propaganda has begun there, too. Because there’s no corn in Florida-grown ethanol, we can skip that argument. Pure gas? Pure-gas.org has the location nearest you.

The bottom line is the bottom line. We need to tell Gov. Rick Scott that we want clean energy security, that we want to ensure that producers and investors know that Florida is Open for Biofuel, Bio-energy and Biotech Business. We need to throw the doors open and put out the mat.

To do that, Gov. Scott needs to VETO this bad idea.



Honey Rand, Ph.D., APR, is a board member of the Florida BioEnergy Association.


Comments (21)

Dick Bowers
4:15PM MAY 29TH 2013
I live in South West Florida. I can say for the better part of 5-7 years they have been attempting to create this fuel here from Algae. With millions of dollars spent thus far they have been unsucsessful. Most of these monies were Grants and or Tax Dollars that could have benn spent on a more worthy cause. It's a shame with the amount of $$$ waste when those dollars could have been properly appropriated. What's next a going green company going to milk and bilk more tax dollars from the Government. There is a water shortage maybe I could create a company calling it "Geen Water" where I could convert Sea water into potable water have the Government mandate 10% be used to blend with our current supply at an additional cost of $10 per every 500 gallons. While there may be trace amount of salt and sediment still in the water causing corrosion in our wash machines, pipes in our plumbing, appliances such as dish washers fridge ice makers etc.... When consumers cry out over the damage caused and having to pay for the newly created damages and break downs. Hopefully I can continue this mandate and making money even if I have to pay off lobbyists to do it afterall it's good for the environment.
Martin West
1:21AM MAY 11TH 2013
Burning our food for fuel is immoral, especially when so many around the country and world go hungry. Attempting to fix a non existent problem, there is no fuel shortage besides 30% of the ethanol that goes in the tank evaporates into the atousphere anyway when fuel tanks get near empty it can be as high as a 50% loss. Ethanol is a sham!
Brad Krohn
3:36PM APR 30TH 2013
I agree with those commenting here that consumers should have choices. Generally speaking, I too do not like mandates, and want to have freedom of choice. However, with biofuels, including ethanol, I make a personal exception. A mandate is necessary when it comes to the petroleum industry. Big Oil dictates our energy policy and HEAVILY LOBBIES our politicians. If Big Oil had its way, it would mandate our country use 100% petroleum all the time, at the expense of our national energy security, and at the expense of protecting access to oil reserves in the middle East. The ONLY way our country can get Big Oil to comply with an "all-of-the-above" energy policy and diversity in liquid fuel supply, which includes biofuels, is to slap the oil industry with a government mandate. Otherwise, Big OIl will cut out ethanol to maintain 100% marketshare and fuel monopoly - even if ethanol is 50 cents to $1 per gallon cheaper than unleaded gasoline, and even if ethanol provides an economic source of clean octane. I am tired of Big Oil dictating our national energy policy, and hence, I support a government mandate in this case. Brazil got it right when they mandated ethanol as an outfall of the OPEC oil embargoes of the 70's, and now ethanol is 50% of Brazil's motor fuel supply.
Jack Miles- GM ASE Auto Repairu
10:08AM APR 30TH 2013
How in the world does someone consider (ETHANOL) a renewable Energy? = Livestock feed has doubled, Poultry has increased by 1/3. Turning over these crops the way we are only leaves behind wasteland where nothing will grow. Ethanol takes more energy to produce than what it provides. If Ethanol was a legitimate business, there would be no need for this Political manipulation. For the past year Florida has been using the imported lower grade sugar cane Ethanol from South America...So have we now become Foreign Ethanol Dependent? What a 3 ring Circus...
Kurt
9:43AM APR 30TH 2013
Ethanol is an energy loser. Not to mention the cost involved to produce it wanton and willful destruction of America farm land to the tune of 80 million acres. I call it the farce of the decade. At this point it's nothing more than racketeering organized crime filled with kickbacks. By not using ethanol which accounts for 10% of the fuel results in a loss of 15-18% fuel economy not so green is it? We have recently discovered a way to extract oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields. So much more than Saudi...enough to last us 300-1000 years at our current use. If I was on the Ethanol payroll this may have read differently. Nor am I for oil however just an average Floridian tired of Ethanols ill effects on my lawn equipment, Outboards vehicles fuel pumps etc.... Not to mention there was no R &D here in Florida initially. Bottom line it's much to humid alcohol attracts this moisture into our fuel system and engines when this happens phase separation takes place and also becomes acidic eating through fuel tanks gas lines etc. this in turn pollutes our environment and ground water. Ethanol is some nasty stuff period!
Steve Vander Griend
1:28PM APR 29TH 2013
Ethanol octane isn’t linear and the OEM’s are now asking for more octane in the market. The biggest push against ethanol is by the oil companies and prompted in order to maintain market share. The second biggest fear the oil guys have is a competitive market for octane. Keeping E10 as the standard so as not to raise concern for small engines, simply add ethanol to E10 to create E15 and now we have better than mid-grade performance. E20 is better than premium.

Fords latest study shows they could easily raise compression ration by 2 if simply adding 10 percent more ethanol to regular.

People should also think about were the oil companies today get their own octane components called aromatic. 25 percent of the gasoline is some form of benzene which is part of the aromatic group.

Search PAH Asthma and health effects on Google and then ask where all these PAHs have in urban areas come from. There is a neat story about a clean high octane fuel that should be told but one just needs to follow the money for who controls the main stream media.
Curious
12:21PM APR 29TH 2013
Ethanol has a government quota, and quota's retard markets just like subsidies.

Let the market decide if they want ethanol.
If stations want 10% ethanol in their unleaded let them do it. If they do not want any in their unleaded, let them do that too.
CHRISTOPHER KLUG
11:42AM APR 29TH 2013
Why are we wasting time and energy passing legislation that is superseded by Federal law? This is a terrible bill sponsored by legislators who are either misinformed or in the pocket of Big Oil. Don't be fuelish, Governor. Veto this terrible bill.
Brad Krohn
11:05AM APR 26TH 2013
LDouglas, Your points are well-taken on whether or not cellulosic ethanol will compete for prime farming land for food use. However, most commercial cellulosic ethanol projects are either targeting a) the use of marginal lands that are not currently used for food, b) the use of agricultural by-products such as corn stover or wheat straw, c) the use of ag processing waste streams such as sugar cane bagasse, or d) the use of paper mill waste streams or wood waste or forest thinnings to prevent forest fires, etc... EPA actually does not favor direct land use change for cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuel production when it comes to qualifying those feedstocks for the federal Renewable Fuels Standard. I will add that the author is correct, the propaganda campaign against cellulosic ethanol made from non-food feedstocks has been launched. Its really about market share with petroleum and how much ethanol gets blended beyond the 10% level. One of the reasons we have an ethanol mandate is to create a level playing field with petroleum and to give ethanol fair market access. All I know is that I want my fuel dollars to go to the American farmer and not overseas to countries that are hostile to us. Corn ethanol may have a positive energy balance of only 2.3-to-1, but I will take it any day over paying the Middle East.
LDouglas
12:32PM APR 26TH 2013
"Your points are well-taken on whether or not cellulosic ethanol will compete for prime farming land for food use."

That wasn't my point Mr. Krohn. (Though it certainly is a consideration that is not propaganda.) My point is plant waste eventually turns into topsoil. All across the country and the world topsoil is being depleted faster than it's being replenished. I just don't think it's good for our long term prospects to be using our plant waste for fuel rather than mulching it for later use. Especially on a large scale. And especially when components of fertilizer are finite resources- as is water.
Brad Krohn
10:47AM APR 26TH 2013
Steve H., Here are several corrections to your statements:
1. Over the past year, the wholesale price of ethanol on the CBOT has been 50 cents to $1 lower than the wholesale price of unleaded gasoline on the NYMEX. Today, the wholesale price of ethanol is $2.45 per gal vs. the wholesale price of unleaded gasoline which is $2.81 / gal. Ethanol is cheaper by 36 cents / gal. Translates to nearly 4 cents / gal reduction in price for gasoline blended with 10% ethanol. 2. Ethanol receives NO government subsidies - neither at the producer level, nor at the blender's level. The ethanol blender's tax credit expired at the end of 2011. 3. Ethanol is high in octane, and has an octane rating of 113. When ethanol is blended at the 10% level, it raises the octane of gasoline by 3 points, so a gasoline with 84 octane can be increased to 87 octane by adding 10% ethanol. Ethanol is a low cost, economic source of clean octane. 4. Gasoline with 10% ethanol has negligible to non-detectable loss in fuel economy. Its only at higher blends such as E85 where one will get a 10% - 15% loss in fuel economy. 5. EPA has approved the use of 15% ethanol (E15) for all vehicles 2001 and newer. However, Big Oil is fighting the commercialization of E15 because the oil industry does not want to give up market share to ethanol. 6. In Brazil, where ethanol is made from sugar cane, all gasoline contains 25% ethanol, and conventional automobiles have no engine problems. Brazil has mandated the use of ethanol since the 1970's. All gasoline stations also sell 100% ethanol as well. 50% of Brazil's motor fuel supply is ethanol. 8. Ethanol is an official fuel of the National Boat Racing Association, NASCAR, and Indy League Racing. It ought to be good enough for the family minivan. Please do not buy into the myths and misinformation on ethanol that are propagated by the petroleum industry.
Roger Bennett
10:14PM APR 26TH 2013
Assuming your facts are factual, then why should we subsidize ethanol. There is no myth associated with the fact that ethanol, even at the relatively low 10% mixture with gasoline, destroys expensive components of small engines in particular. Let's consider the real costs of ethanol, not the pick and choose depending on your financial interests viewpoint. We are paying a higher price for ethanol "enriched" fuels, and nothing the racing industry can afford to do in order to utilize ethanol fuel mixtures has proved viable in the everyday market for gasoline powered tools and vehicles.
Brad Krohn
8:18AM APR 27TH 2013
Roger, Ethanol is NOT subsidized. It receives no govt subsidies whatsoever. The only previous subsidy, which was the ethanol blender's tax credit (which by the way, went to the oil companies for blending it) expired at the end of 2011. All I know is that I have run E10 in my lawn mowers for many years and have never had a mechanical problem. All new lawn equipment come approved for E10. If unblended gasoline or blended gasoline sits in a lawn equipment tank for several weeks or months, there are going to be mechanical problems regardless. I checked yesterday's CBOT price for ethanol and the NYMEX price for unleaded gasoline and ethanol is 38 cents cheaper than unleaded gasoline. And that is not a subsidized difference!
Bobby Likis
9:25AM APR 26TH 2013
With a 42-yr successful automotive service operation in Pensacola, I know the slogans “FLORIDA: The Perfect Climate for Business” and “Florida is Open for Business” need to be more than slogans. With the repeal of the Florida Renewable Fuel Standard go jobs ... and the tacit rescission of Florida’s own “invitation” to alternative energy and biotechnology sectors to locate future plants – and investments – in Florida. The ethanol industry alone - an industry which we need to attract more of in the Sunshine State - nationally supports 87,293 direct & 383,261 indirect jobs. Hope Florida is open for this business. INEOS Bio believed that Florida is the perfect climate for business and anted up a project investment of $130+M, creating 400 direct & indirect jobs during the plant development phase with 60 additional full-time jobs in its plant near Vero Beach. Repeal of the Florida Renewable Fuel Standard would not only severely jeopardize current jobs, but also would overarch considerations by global & national companies for future investments in Florida, substantially impacting jobs & our economy.
Steve H.
7:44AM APR 26TH 2013
Lady, your information is all wrong. It does NOT cost 50-60 cents less to make gasoline with ethanol than without. If this were true, then why stop at 10% ethanol? Why not mandate 100% ethanol and make car manufacturers run all cars on ethanol? I don't know how you derived the 50-60 cents cost savings, but reality is it is the other way around. it costs more to use ethanol than straight gasoline. Right now ethanol manufacturers received huge government subsidies to produce ethanol because without the subsidies; ethanol is not competitively priced in relation to gasoline. In addition, when added to gasoline, ethanol lowers the octane rating and as result, it requires more ethanol added gasoline to drive the same amount distance than gasoline without ethanol added. Hence, ethanol based gasoline actually increases the consumption of gasoline since cars go fewer miles with ethanol than without. Your article appears to be so pro-ethanol that it makes one wonder if you are a paid ethanol manufacturer lobbyist.
CHRISTOPHER KLUG
11:50AM APR 29TH 2013
the United States is not currently capable of making enough ethanol to power all of the SUVs and pickups Americans are so fond of; in fact, we can only produce enough ethanol for about 20% of all our motor fuel needs. America has a huge appetite for motor fuel, and show no signs of using less rather than more. If the entities that profit from the use of gasoline would stop wasting time and money in attempts to discredit ethanol, We might have more production of this great product. Remember that ethanol is in the gasoline in the is proportion as a knock preventative, replacing water-polluting MTBE and brain-frying ethyl lead. The added and very important benefit of stretching our fuel supply is a freebee!
Bobby Likis
10:14AM APR 26TH 2013
In our 42 years operating a professional automotive service business, we make it common courtesy never to say to one of our female customers..."Lady, you got it all wrong." We simply don't make such denigrating statements.

Re: Gas prices. Blenders (oil companies) today formulate low-octane (84) gasoline that’s cheaper for them to make than higher octane straight 87…then they inject 10% ethanol (113 octane rating) to bump up their 84 to 87 to make it legal to sell at the pump. The cost of low-octane 84 plus 10% ethanol is less than the cost of straight 87 octane gasoline.
Roger Bennett
10:20PM APR 26TH 2013
Well, Bobby, welcome to the real world. When people get it all wrong, is "Lady" the new "L-Word" that we are politically incorrect to utter, or are you living in the 19th century, when ladies were treated like "Ladies", but were relegated to servicing a man's world? (remember, when we treated females as "Ladies", we didn't give them credit for having the sense or right to participate in the selection of a democratically elected government). So, yes, Lady, you got it wrong, and when you get it wrong, be glad you are respectfully addressed as a "Lady".
CHRISTOPHER KLUG
11:54AM APR 29TH 2013
This is 2013. Kindly drop the sexual demeaning term and address Dr. Rand by her title. She didn't get it wrong, you refuse to accept scientific facts when they are presented to you. This isn't an episode of "King of the Hill".
Bobby Likis
10:04AM APR 27TH 2013
I'm from the school where individuals are respected and a man's word is his bond. I've operated an automotive shop for 42 years and have had to deal with car owners of all types... from rude to confrontational to downright obstinate re their car repairs. But after all is said and done...I very much enjoy passing the "man in the mirror" test that continues to drive me towards the truth. Speaking of the truth... you can't possible believe the gent who made the "You got it wrong Lady" statement that he wasn't' talking down...no word games in my court, sir Bennett
LDouglas
7:30AM APR 26TH 2013
"...though now that cellulosic ethanol is about to launch commercially, the propaganda has begun there, too..."

Call it propaganda if you like but the thing I don't like about promoting cellulosic ethanol is that we'll be burning future sources of topsoil. In a country that adds about 10,000 additional people to the dinner table night after night while the world adds an additional 200,000 every single night, and where topsoil is a major factor in growing food, it just seems foolish to promote burning a source of it for fuel.

However, if the market is there for it and it does reduce the cost of fuel 50 to 60 cents a gallon, I don't see how the law will hurt. (Unless it forbids the makers from selling it- or unless the 50 to 60 cents a gallon savings at the pump is only due to being subsidized by taxpayers in order to meet the renewable standards.)

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