Written by Tom Segel
April 24, 2008
by Tom Segel
Harlingen, Texas, April 24, 2008: When I read the newspaper or view the nightly television news shows I can’t help but feel almost uncontrollable anger. And the truth is, I really don’t know where that anger should be directed. I listen to my fellow citizens anguish about the price of fuel, the price of food and sticker shock at everything they want to purchase.
For the past thirty plus years we have allowed the environmental activists of the Democratic Party to, stop all forward movement in our national quest for energy independence. We know how to obtain oil from places such as Alaska, Wyoming and the Dakotas, but legislation to drill has been blocked. We know oil is waiting offshore, but we are not allowed to drill due to environmental impact, even though other nations are reaching for that same oil, just a few miles away.
We have even allowed these same activists to stop the building of new oil refineries for the past 30 years.
Our energy demands from abroad could be reduced by nuclear power, but the socialist led environmentalists have swayed enough pandering politicians to stop the production of nuclear power plants. Other socialist-activists who hide behind the green wall of environmentalism have slowed the much touted wind farms of this country to almost a standstill. When construction is almost at hand there is always another call for a study to see if these wind farms will kill migrating birds, or perhaps block Ted Kennedy’s oceanfront view.
Though the United States has enough coal to handle the majority of our energy needs for decades, political roadblocks keep on appearing to slow the rapid development of coal based technology.
While on the topic of energy concerns, lets not forget the political love affair with corn-based ethanol. To say this bio fuel is a gigantic con game perpetrated by corn producers and politicos would be an understatement. We must add into the mix major corporations that keep the myth of reduced dependence on oil alive, because they are financially invested in bio-fuels.
When we examine the politician’s incessant praising of corn based ethanol, we fail to understand these are really people who are prostituting themselves for more votes and financial support from the agro-community.
Ethanol, as we produce it today, is 20% less efficient than gasoline. It takes 450 pounds of corn to produce enough ethanol to fill the tank of the average American automobile. (Think about that for a minute. It also takes about 450 pounds of corn to feed one person for a year.) It is too corrosive to be shipped via pipeline and must be trucked to distribution points. Added to these negatives…it takes more than one gallon of fossil fuel, coal, oil, or natural gas, to produce one gallon of ethanol.
Writing on the Mother Jones website, Cameron Scott says, “To grow enough corn for ethanol to replace our oil addiction would require approximately 482 million acres of cropland. exceeding the total of 434 million acres of cropland used for all food and fiber. This does not even account fro projected growth of oil consumption in the U.S.”
Added to these problem areas, ethanol production increases, rather than reduces, environmental concerns. Production requires the application of petroleum-based fertilizers that have contributed heavily to the emission of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. To produce a gallon of ethanol requires three to five gallons of water and results in 13 gallons of toxic trash and wastewater. It takes the energy equivalent of 113 liters of gas to treat this waste.
Dr. Walter Williams, the distinguished author, columnist and professor at George Mason University says, “The grain based ethanol hoax is a sterling example of a program economists refer to as narrow, well-defined benefits versus widely dispersed costs. It pays the ethanol lobby to organize and collect money to grease the palms of politicians willing to do their bidding because there is a large benefit to them – higher wages and profits. The millions of fuel consumers, who fund these benefits through higher fuel costs and food prices, as well as taxes, are relatively uninformed and have little clout.”
So, we tolerate $6.00 corn used to produce $2.00 ethanol, which is also subsidized by the government to the tune of $1.05 to $1.38 per gallon, because it would not survive on the free market. Thus, we allow the costs to each of us personally to increase even more, because those subsidies come directly from our tax dollars.
But, we haven’t finished here. How about that box of cereal, or that steak, or that gallon of milk? Have you checked market prices lately?
Last night a woman on the evening news was telling the reporter that, “ I had to choose between paying about $3.50 for a gallon of gas, or buying a gallon of milk for my children.”
A convenience store operator told the news reporter that the high price of gas had resulted in him losing customers. “People don’t fill their tanks”, he said. “And they don’t come in to the store and buy things like they did before. I am making much less money in my business.”
Yes, prices have sky rocketed on everything from beef to milk and cereal to soda pop. Even beer has jumped in price, because corn and other grains are being diverted into producing fuels.
Reporting in the Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher has noted “A Senate-passed energy bill would require the use of 15 billion gallons of ethanol by 2015, more than double what motorists are expected to use this year. The mandate would be raised to 36 billion gallons by 2022.”
At the same time difficulties in transporting the bio fuel to distant locales have produced a glut of ethanol in Iowa and Nebraska, thus dropping the price by 50 cents a gallon and, of course, increasing the subsidies paid to the producers. Even with this happening dozens of plants are under construction and current distilleries are being expanded. More corn is being planted to feed the bio fuel industry and less corn and other grains are being raised to feed the hungry.
So, as you look at high prices everywhere there are a lot of people you can blame. You can point your rage at Big Oil, Big Industry, Big Farmers, Big Politicians…and on and on. But, the person you really should be angry at owns that face you see every day in the mirror. Too many of us expected the politicians to be fathers, mothers and nannies combined. What they really ended up doing is stealing our modern way of life.