Filed under: Biofuels, cars, ethanol, Farm, food, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics, travel, wood heat | Tags: car, cars, ethanol, farm, Food, machines, Minnesota, politics, transportation, travel
I’ve made no bones about it, I’m in favor of ethanol. The fact that I’m part owner of a small ethanol plant here in Minnesota does color my perception. That ethanol is cleaner burning than gas or diesel is a given. Bio-fuels are a renewable resource, being produced new again every year.
I’ve alway been one who hates to pay any more money to Big Oil than I have to. The main heat source for my home and shop are dead trees harvested from my farm. I have air to air solar collectors on my house and shop. I try to keep the house tight and all equipment operating at peak efficiency. I limit my trips as much as possible and will use public transportation when practical.
Big Oil does not like my little ethanol plant. They also do not like conservation practices that use less fuel, they want you to keep paying them for ever. In fact they don’t seem to like anyone who gets between them and their fat profits, and they are very, very fat profits.
Big Oil is worried. They have to be to keep saying the bad things about ethanol that they have been for so long. They try to tell us that ethanol is bad for our cars when the same cars we use are on the road in Brazil and in some cases are using 100% ethanol and have been for many years. They try to tell us that using more ethanol is causing our food prices to go up when more of your food dollar goes to oil related costs than to the farmer. They push a message of the carbon foot print of farming when they blow much, much more carbon into the air than any other industry. Big Oil has convinced our politicians that agriculture does not need any financial help so that they can protect the much larger tax breaks and hand outs that they take in.
This is nothing more than a coordinated effort by oil companies and refiners who will stop at nothing to hold their near monopoly on the liquid fuels market in the long quest to blame others for their absurd profits and never-ending increasing gasoline prices at the pump. I find it very interesting that the states with the largest ethanol industries have some of the lowest gas prices in the nation.
All we hear about is a domestic energy boom; more drilling and new oil and gas reserves. But nothing changes; gas prices still increase and every time it’s the other guys fault, not the oil companies. Let’s be honest here. The oil industry is experiencing record profits on the backs of the American consumers. And their industry sees renewable fuels such as ethanol that can be produced far less expensive than gasoline as a threat and they will go to great lengths to discredit any competition through misinformation and smear tactics. Enough is enough – it is time to call this what it is – an orchestrated sham by the oil companies to manipulate markets, cause panic and attempt to use false data to blame an industry that has grown to be a threat to their record profits and bottom lines.
Ethanol is a win-win for America, creating jobs and revitalizing rural economies, it is better for our environment and it is reducing our dependence on foreign oil, all while providing consumers a choice and savings at the pump. It is time for Americans to hear from someone other than oil companies, which are holding American consumers hostage to excessive prices and a dangerous dependence on a finite resource.
Filed under: cars, church, Farm Bureau, Politicians, travel | Tags: cars, D.C., Farm Bureau, machines, politics, POTUS, presidential motorcade, travel, washington national cathedral
Whenever you visit Washington D.C. you hope for a sighting of the President. Needless to say very few do catch sight of him without a planned event invitation. Our Farm Bureau members could not get that far. I’ve heard stories of close and unplanned sightings of presidents of the past. There are those who saw a president several years ago at the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, popularly known as Washington National Cathedral. Or story of the jogger who would see a former president out for an early morning round on the National Mall, and found himself face down in the grass when he reached for a camera. Most people in D.C. will never get close enough to be sure he is even there. Our encounter was not even close, but we know he was there.
During our week in D.C. President Obama was actively out visiting with senators and representatives to get something going on a budget and get the “sequester” settled. That meant a presidential motorcade. We were walking back to our hotel after one of our meetings one afternoon when we noticed that the street was strangely bare of all but police cars. No one was even being allowed to cross the street on foot. Thencame several motorcycle cops, a whole string of black limos and some black suburbans, what looked like a armored Hummer, an ambulance and then more police, and it was over.
There were some squealing girls across the street who thought they saw Obama through the car window, but I never saw him. Security was impressive, those folks know what they are doing. It’s no wonder that it is cheaper for the president to fly in a helicopter than drive.
So, no visit with the POTUS, just a few pictures of the motorcade driving by.
Filed under: Biofuels, cars, ethanol | Tags: big oil, biofuels, Brazil, car, cars, ethanol, ethanol blends, machines, politics, transportation
Big Oil’s best kept secret from the American consumer is Brazil’s fuel ethanol mandate, which started during the 1970s as a result of the OPEC oil embargoes. In Brazil, where ethanol is made from sugar cane, all gasoline contains 20 percent to 25 percent ethanol (E20-E25). At retail stations, consumers can choose to fuel up on 100 percent ethanol (E100) or with E20 to E25.
For decades, conventional unmodified automobiles in Brazil ran on E20-E25 with no engine problems whatsoever. By 2003, the Brazilian government incentivized the sale of flex-fuel automobiles which can run on any blend of ethanol up to E100. As of December 2010, Brazil had more than 12 million flex-fuel vehicles and 500,000 motorcycles regularly using E100 fuel. Even small engines for lawn equipment have successfully used E20-E25 in Brazil.
Yet here in the United States, Big Oil and the American Petroleum Institute have launched an all-out war against ethanol via a massive advertising smear campaign in an attempt to quash the U.S. ethanol industry. In fact, the API has publicly announced it is seeking a congressional repeal of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2), which mandates our country use 36 billion gallons per year of biofuel, mainly ethanol, by 2022. “
Across the country Big Oil is spending the profits from todays high gasoline prices and the hand outs that our government gives them to give ethanol blended fuels a black eye. The truth hurts if you are Big Oil.
Filed under: Biofuels, cars, ethanol, Farm, food, history | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, cars, climate, ethanol, farm, Food, fuel, horses, machines, science, transportation
Now stop and think about it. You are concerned that foods you eat may be diverted to use for fuel. You consider that this is a new phenomenon. The truth is that only in the last century or so has the earths surface not provided the world with fuel. Only when we dug down for coal, oil and nuclear energy did man move away from the fuels provided by the forests and fields of agriculture.
How did the horses and oxen of our great grandfathers generation move? They ate plant materials and turned them into energy. Before WWII most of the production of a farm went to feeding the horses and oxen that pulled the plows, wagons and buggies. Very little of the food produced on a farm actually made it into town.
When the train and the automobile were first introduced they was powered by ethanol, from fermented grains or other food crops, or steam, produced mostly from coal or wood, not oil, thus powering early trains and autos on the produce of farms and forests. Early oil discoveries were used in medicines and as lubricants. Then some oil man figured out how to make a motor fuel cheaper than ethanol and we moved into the modern era with our addiction to oil.
When Germany went to war it had very little for oil reserves and initially powered its war machine on potato alcohol. When bootleggers needed a fuel to outrun government pursuit they fueled their boats and cars with alcohol and ethanol. It is only since WWII that man has depended almost solely on oil for his motor fuels.
So you see, except for a brief part of history, man has relied on farms and forests to provide him with food and fuel. It is only in the “modern” era, an era of smog, pollution and global warming, has man relied on the fossil fuels of coal, oil and natural gas. Perhaps it’s time we got back to the farm to fuel our world. I’m not such a fan of pollution and global warming.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Biofuels, ethanol, Farm, Farm Bureau, science | Tags: Agriculture education, car, cars, compressed natural gas, diesel, diesel fuel, ethanol, ethanol producers, farm, Farm Bureau, gas, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, machines, transportation
One of the sessions I attended at the AFBF meeting in Nashville was a General Motors seminar on the future of motor vehicles. Since they were talking to a farm audience they mostly talked about light trucks, but automotive and heavy truck technology was also touched on. One of the items that they made plain was that the gasoline technology was not going away just yet, but they were gearing up for the future.
The biggest driver in the future of motoring was the higher mpg demands of both the public and government in this era if higher fuel prices. The problem with most of the new technologies is getting the fueling stations out for use. Although Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) are available for larger fleets where they can come to a base station every night, long distance motoring is still going to require a liquid motor fuel. The same is true of hydrogen and electric vehicles, we know how to make them, we just cannot keep them on the road once they get away from fast refueling connections. To bridge the gap until we get refueling stations set up for these fuels we are still going to have to rely on liquid fuels like diesel, gasoline and ethanol.
Despite where you stand on ethanol, the automotive industry is planning on using greater amounts of it in fuels for the foreseeable future. If they are to meet the government mpg guidelines they have no choice. Understandably the growers of ethanol feedstocks are all in favor of this increase.
While today we in agriculture are fighting a battle to keep E-15 approval, automotive manufacturers are gearing up for E-30. They are telling the ethanol producers that it will happen. Automobile manufacturers need the higher octane that ethanol gives to produce the higher performance engines of the future.
I don’t expect Big Oil to give up this battle without a fight. They want to keep us dependent on gasoline and diesel for as long as possible. They are already breaking down the gunkier oils that they used to throw away to meet demand. This costs more money, money they are getting from government subsidies and from us in higher prices. In the mean time, automotive manufacturers are planning for a future that uses less gasoline. They can already see a future of less oil usage, and it is something that I have waited for for a long time.
Filed under: cars, charity, hunger, make a difference | Tags: cars, climate, Food, hunger, recycle, transportation
Weather it is cleaning up our part of the world or taking care of others in this world, we can all do better. I know I am not always the absolute recycler, there are things I could do yet to save reusable things. I know I could use my car less, and thus help cut greenhouse gasses. I should be able to eat less and save more. Is it maybe because of fear that we don’t want to look for those less fortunate, fear that we may not like what we see?
Love of self is one of the first things we all show when we grow up. Young children always start out with a “mine” attitude. We have to be taught that this world is ours to take care of. Even then we still want to look out for Number 1. There is a little bit of “let someone else do it” in all of us too. So how do we get over ourselves and learn to take care of our world? I really don’t know, but I keep trying.
Filed under: Biofuels, cars, ethanol, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics, travel | Tags: big oil, biofuels, car, cars, gasoline prices, gasoline usage, machines, Minnesota, NASCAR, politics
Why is it that while Americans are now using 8% less gasoline, gasoline prices are going up? Who stands to profit by higher gasoline prices? Big Oil that’s who.
Why is it that while American ethanol producers are producing ethanol at $1 per gallon less than gasoline, oil company blenders do not choose to buy ethanol to help hold the price of gasoline down? We are currently shipping ethanol to other countries, including Brazil which used to be a net ethanol exporter. Who stands to profit by using less ethanol and more gasoline? Big Oil that’s who.
I’m lucky to have a blender pump in my area so that I can buy 20%, 30% or even 50% ethanol if I choose to lower my price of transportation fuel. Many areas have to search to find 85% ethanol, which is the most available alternative fuel. I use 20% ethanol in my car whenever I fill up, no engine problems. I’ve even used 30% ethanol for short periods with no problem. E20 and E30 give you more power at less cost.
Tests by universities here in Minnesota show no adverse effects on automotive engines for using 20% ethanol blends. NASCAR is has completed 1.5 million miles with no engine issues using 15% ethanol. Despite all of this testing, Big Oil supporters are calling for more testing. They do not want to miss out on one of your dollars making it to their pocket.
It’s time to tell the money guzzlers at Big Oil to back off. They don’t need any more help from our government, they are already making record profits.
Reduce your consumption of gasoline, and increase you consumption of home-grown biofuels like ethanol. Drive less. Car pool or use pubic transport whenever possible. Reduce your speed on the highway. Do everything you can to cut gasoline usage. Stop sending your money to Big Oil.
Filed under: Animal care, cats, cold, dogs, family, Farm, farm animals, Minnesota, school, snow, travel, weather, wind, winter | Tags: car, cars, cold, farm, machines, Minnesota, snow, travel, weather, wind, winter
The temperature was eleven below as the school day started this morning and some high school boys were coming to school in shorts and no socks, they did have a long sleeve sweatshirt on. I know of several men who will not wear long pants unless they have to, no matter what the weather. Today’s high will be 18 degrees, and for some, coats are optional in Minnesota. Minnesotans have been known to leave home for a three hour or longer drive in the winter and not even bring a coat or boots. Yes, we raise them tough here … or do we?
I also see cars warming up outside houses for ten minutes so that the owner can make a five minute drive to work. Heated garages are a requirement for any new house built today, and apartment buildings with underground heated garages are common. Most folks here in the north are able to go from heated house, to heated car, to heated business and rarely do they experience the weather. Are we tough in Minnesota, or have todays modern conveniences made life so easy for us that we do not have to dress for the weather.
We take pride in Minnesota in our good roads. Our winter road crews are second to none when it comes to keeping roads open in nasty weather, but this has lead to the illusion that you can drive anywhere at any time. I grew up on the prairie, not in town, and I know better.
The last few winters have taken a toll on snow removal equipment on the farm. There are days you seem to be doing nothing else other than moving snow, and if you have livestock it can be worse. The animals have to be cared for. Free range is not possible when the wind blows snow into the yards every day, our animals need shelter. Larger cattle and horses can survive cold up to a point, but pigs and poultry need to be indoors. Sheep, goats, dogs and cats will make it in the cold, but will benefit from a place out of the wind and food and water every day.
The real tough one here in Minnesota is the livestock farmer, always making sure that his animals are cared for. Newborn calves in the shower stall, baby pigs warming on the oven door, these are what the livestock man does to keep his animals alive. Waterers freeze and he has to fix them despite the temperature. Feed must be delivered and if the tractor does not start, or something breaks, it can mean many hours of unexpected labor even if there were family plans. Yes, the tough one here in Minnesota is not the kid who comes to school in shorts in below zero weather, no, it’s the guy bundled up until only his eyes show, out feeding his animals. His sacrifice for the animals he raises is a true sign of being tough.
Filed under: Biofuels, cars, ethanol, Farm, food, travel | Tags: biofuels, car, cars, diesel, diesel fuel. transportation, farm, Food, machines
To most people the current decline in fuel prices is a relief, but to those who use diesel fuel to move, the news has not been so good. Why should you care?
I admit, I have been relieved to see gasoline prices drop, but I have been perplexed that for quite a few months now the price of diesel fuel has not gone down, indeed it has gone up. When I recently filled my gas tank near Chaska for $3.13 I was quite pleased, since that was down a lot from the $3.27 that I had seen on the pumps when I left home. What did not please me was to realize that diesel prices had again gone up and were now at $4.17. Only a year ago the two fuels were at nearly the same price. That increase in diesel fuel prices verses gasoline prices affects everyone.
There is very little in our life here in the U.S. that is not dependent on the price of diesel fuel. The trucks that bring all of the things we need and want are powered by diesel. Buses and trains, ships and tractors all are dependent on diesel fuel. More than any other fuel source, diesel is the power that moves us. The food you eat, the clothing you wear, the car you drive, the fuel that moves our machinery, all arrive at the store on the power of diesel fuel.
Our nation’s farmers depend on diesel fuel as a powerful, economical, source of power for their machinery. Without diesel fuel there would be no ground preparation, no planting, no fertilizing, no weeding, no harvesting. Food moves from the farm to the store on diesel powered wheels. It is a large part of the price we pay for everything we eat.
For most of my life I have seen diesel fuel as the lower priced, higher powered, source of energy for transportation. It has become the fuel of choice for many in the rest of the world. But unlike gasoline, the demand for diesel fuel is inelastic. The demand for diesel is always there.
Consumers look at the price of gas as too high and they stop traveling, trips are cancelled or consolidated, more efficient cars are purchased and the big, gas guzzling vehicles are mothballed. Diesel fuel use does not change so easily, the trucks that move everything we need must keep going. The buses and trains we use when gas prices are high are filled to the brim, and new routes are put into use.
Then there is the new competition for gasoline, ethanol. Whenever gas prices get too high, gas wholesalers add more ethanol to the mix. The current price of ethanol to gasoline is such that adding a little more ethanol to the mix can increase profits for gasoline sales, diesel fuel has no such lower priced alternative.
Usually when fuel prices go down the price of many of the goods we buy goes down also, but this time I wouldn’t look for decreasing prices at the grocery store. Because of the rising prices at the pump for diesel fuel, I expect the price of many of our goods to continue to go up. That will take an ever increasing amount of money out of the pockets of all of us. Not at all a comforting thought.
Filed under: cars, Corn, farm animals, fish, food, Politics, Soybeans | Tags: car, cars, China, Corn, economics, farm, Food, gas, gas prices, politics, Soybeans
Well, perhaps not so new.
As prices for everything seem to be going up we hear many questions of why. Why must I pay more each day at the pump? Why is food getting more expensive? Why are commodities (corn, soybeans, cotton, gold, silver) nearing record high levels? The answer for all of them seems to be an old country that has become the new 500 pound gorilla in the room, China.
For many years, China has been a country with lots of poor people. They seemed to be barely getting by, producing just enough, growing just enough to keep themselves fed. Then they decided to join the world economy and put those people to work producing export goods.
Now flush with cash from nations around the world, China is buying. Their people want to join the rest of the developed world now, and they are not willing to wait. They have money from new jobs and they are spending it. Cars and better food are top on their list.
China is rapidly catching up with the U.S. in the number of cars on the road. Those cars need fuel and China is buying gasoline to fuel those cars. The extra demand means that we in the U.S. are having to pay more to get some of the excess exported by other countries.
The Chinese are eating better lately. They want more than just more rice in the bowl. They want protein, and they are buying up pork, poultry and fish to eat. To feed those animals they are buying corn and soybeans from around the world. They are also buying massive amounts of a co-product of the ethanol industry, Distillers Dried Grains with Solids (DDGS) as a source of protein and fat for their livestock. This added world demand is causing food prices to rise. It has also pushed commodity prices to higher levels.
China has now become the second largest economy in the world. It has quite a ways to go to catch the U.S., but it is growing rapidly. For many years we purchased consumer goods that could be made inexpensively in China, and China took our money. Now China is buying goods from around the world to keep their people happy. What China wants, China gets.
The added demand on the world economy means we’ll have to pay more for what we want in the future. Get used to it.