Cellulosic ethanol is a pipe dream. And yet, you and I are paying for that pipedream, and paying dearly. We’ve posted on this subject before, but here is a recap, as well as more information.
In 2006, those in Washington, who deem themselves far smarter than Sir Isaac Newton, decided to mandate that a certain amount of our fuel contain cellulosic ethanol, i.e., ethanol not made from corn. In 2007, President Bush signed legislation giving a tax credit of $1.13 per gallon for each gallon of cellulosic ethanol produced, and, to insure that this junk had a market, Congress mandated that 100 million barrels be blended into our gasoline in 2010, 250 million barrels in 2011, and 500 million barrels in 2012.
We have also thrown millions in borrowed taxpayer dollars at this project. And here is what we know after 4 years…it doesn’t work.
Earlier this year, the only plant licensed to sell it closed down to work out “technical difficulties”. But, that has not stopped this administration. In August we threw $510 million at the “industry” to produce “advanced biofuels” for the military. And, in September, “loaned” $134 million to Abengoa Bioenergy to build a plant in Kansas, and another $105 million to a company called POET to produce this ethanol. In total, since 2007, we have thrown some $1.5 billion at this industry, and, we have virtually nothing to show for it.
Were that not enough, the EPA forced oil companies to pay some $10 million in 2010 and 2011 for failing to blend this non existent junk into our gasoline. Of course, you and I paid that in the form of higher fuel prices.
If possible, it gets better. The National Academy of Sciences has this to say about the mandates,
…[they] may be an ineffective way to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions….[due to] the high cost of producing cellulosic biofuels compared with petroleum-based fuels, and uncertainties in future biofuel markets.
…currently, no commercially viable biorefineries exist for converting cellulosic biomass to fuel.
But, we mush along. We mandate the use of a non-existent product, throw money at in the hopes that someone will figure out how to make the product, and then tax ourselves for not using said non-existent product.
And, as always, the taxpayer is left holding the bag for Congress’s grandiose, impractical thoughts. We’ve spent $1.5 billion to produce nothing, and an additional $10 million because we didn’t consume what we couldn’t produce.
Let me suggest the following to Congress…if something is technologically feasible and cost efficient, it is far more likely private industry will find it, not the government. And, once it is found, not only will the taxpayer not have to fund it, but, it will actually save the taxpayer money.