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0907 PD: To ethanol or not

Baxter Black Published on 31 August 2007

To ethanol, or not to ethanol, that is the question.

Whether it’s better to pay less for a gallon of gas and get less miles per gallon, or to pay more and go further on the same gallon? This is the question that motorized man has passed down through the ages. Is the perception of being “green” more important than keeping the price of corn down? It depends on the size of your tank, your tolerance for frequent stops, the coffee at your convenience store, your stock in Chevron or your job at the feedlot.



The more ethanol gas you buy, the higher the price of corn. Increased demand for ethanol will raise the price of corn. The ethanol gasoline will eventually become equal or higher than the price of regular gas. Then the true test of one’s commitment to alternative fuels will be put to the test. Or, if history is our guide, corn farmers will rise to the occasion and soon be overproducing. The price of corn will fall as a result. The price of ethanol gas will fall, making it more desirable. At which time state and federal governments will then place an excess corn tax on ethanol gas, making it the same price as regular gas.

The whole situation will stabilize, gasoline prices will be high, consumers will have a choice between supporting Chevron or supporting Cargill. The government will get your taxes either way, and corn farmers will be back to growing 1.58-cent corn which will keep the price of steaks, spareribs, chicken nuggets, ice cream and quiche at restaurants down, thus encouraging people to eat out more often, use more gas, plant more corn, feed more cattle, etc. It is a process as complicated as a raindrop falling from a cloud over Iowa and eventually evaporating from the Gulf of Mexico. Or a candidate falling from a cloud over Iowa and eventually evaporating from the White House in Washington, D.C. (Sorry, George.)

To ethanol or not to ethanol? I must confess I feel uneasy putting cow feed into my pick-up truck. It sounds Transformerish. Should I worry about the old truck bloating, getting B.S.E. (bad stinking engine) or, heaven forbid, prolapsing its exhaust pipe?

Oh, well, I’ll just install an RPC gauge, revolutions per cud, of course, and monitor its performance. PD