Ethanol Biofuel is Uneconomic, Unsustainable and Un-green


The Carbon Sense Coalition today called for an end to all government promotion and subsidies for the domestic production of ethanol.

The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that all taxpayers, all consumers of food and most farmers will be harmed by the creation of an artificial industry producing subsidised ethanol.

“Subsidising the production of ethanol will waste taxes, harm the environment, cause sharply increased costs for everyone in the food chain, and do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or air pollution.

“Many people think that ethanol production will provide wins for the whole community – farmers, the community and the environment. But there is no free lunch.

“As usual with government promotions, the benefits are obvious but the costs are hidden.

“Most of the benefits will go to large corporations set up to harvest ethanol subsidies, and some will trickle down to those growing cereals and sugar cane – they will get higher prices for their products than they would otherwise.

“The majority of farmers will be losers – all those using grains or molasses for supplementary feeding of cattle, horses, chooks, sheep and pigs will see their feed prices increase – this has already happened in America.

“Higher prices for grains and sugar will then pass thru farms, feedlots and factories to show up as rising costs for cereals, bacon, eggs, milk, meat and all sweets – a hidden ethanol tax on every breakfast table.

“In addition, the inevitable government subsidies or tax breaks for ethanol will consume tax dollars, giving higher taxes for tax payers or lower services for tax consumers.

“Then there are environmental costs. We will use heaps of diesel tractor fuel to bring marginal land, either grassland or bush, into a dead mono-culture of cereals or cane. (Professor Ausubel of the Rockefeller University in New York has calculated that each car would need 1-2 hectares of pasture to produce its motor fuel in this inefficient way.) And the excessive cultivation and chemical fertilisers used will reduce the soil organic matter and produce – – – – – more greenhouse gases.

“Then when we burn ethanol in cars, we get the same old dreaded greenhouse gases, water vapour and carbon dioxide – releasing exactly the same amount of these gases as were removed from the environment by the growing plant a few months before.

“Moreover, the cultivation, harvesting, transport and processing of the ethanol inputs adds more pollutants to the atmosphere – in fact, careful energy audits show that there is less energy in a gallon of ethanol than is required to produce it from plant material (see reference below).

“And what do we do in times of drought – burn our cereals and sugar in ethanol cars and import food to eat?

“Finally, who pays for the damage or modifications required to many engines to allow them to use ethanol?

“If people think ethanol can be produced profitably in a competitive market with no tax breaks or subsidies, they should be free to try with their own dollars.

“But taxpayers and consumers should not be forced to subsidise the ethanol industry – any full audit will show that the costs outweigh the benefits.

“If the government wants to increase energy security or reduce the price of motor fuel they should remove all the barriers to exploring for oil in Australia or producing gas or liquid fuels from Australian coals.”

For more information on the deficits of Ethanol Fuel see:
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html

Mr Viv Forbes

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