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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 30, 2006 8:31 AM. The previous post in this blog was From a study group of one. The next post in this blog is Pulling the linchpin. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Will Texaco be coming for the trees next?

Most of my professional reading has to do with taxes -- dense stuff, and dry as static most of the time. Last night I stumbled across an interesting piece, though. It was about the policy implications of tax incentives for alternative fuels -- ethanol in particular. And the author spent plenty of space educating us tax types about the basics of ethanol fuels as well as the tax rules that surround them.

The guy did not seem to have an ax to grind, and so I read the article with great interest. (Alas, no free link is available.) In it, I learned:

-- Ethanol is being mixed into gasoline as a replacement for MTBE, which was a replacement for lead. They all prevent engine knocking.

-- A study has shown that it takes more than three times as much fossil fuel energy to produce corn ethanol as it does to refine gasoline.

-- At an estimated U.S. production level of 9.8 billion gallons of ethanol in 2015, it will still be dwarfed by gasoline consumption of 160 billion gallons.

-- Even if all the available corn in the United States (5.95 bushels out of 15.05 billion bushels grown) is dedicated to ethanol production in 2015, it will produce only 17.9 billion gallons of ethanol.

-- Other than corn, the potential sources of ethanol are sugar and cellulose.

-- The United States isn't a great place to grow sugar, mostly because of the climate.

-- The government is working hard on finding a way to convert cellulose -- the ubiquitous basic building block of plants, and the most common organic compound on the planet -- into sugar. There's a demonstration plant on this in Ottawa.

-- Cellulosic ethanol takes far less fossil fuel to produce than corn ethanol does. And cellulosic reduces greenhouse gases much more efficiently than corn ethanol does.

-- If cellulose ethanol becomes a reality, about 1.3 billion tons of ethanol "feedstock" could be generated in this country every year.

And here's the part at which I really sat up and took notice:

-- "Of those 1.3 billion tons, one quarter would come from forests and forest products."


Comments (17)

The trouble is, even if there were an economically viable process for conversion, there's nowhere near enough cellulosic mass availble now, nor will there be in the forseeable future. Throw in the logistics of harvesting and transporting this stuff and you get a non-starter.

Hmmm...just a thought....I think there's oil in Alaska...also in the gulf....also off the Florida and California coasts....nuke plants are clean an efficient. Betcha exploiting and developing these resources wouldn't break the bank or decimate forests and corn fields.

As I say...just a thought.

I don't think transportation of feedstock would be that much of impediment. Just build ethanol plants where old lumber mills were.

I grew up in Hawaii, where sugar used to be king (that's why the US overthrew the legitimate Kingdom of Hawaii, after all), until we could get it cheaper from Latin America, and now tourism is king.... But I digress. I would love to be able to look forward to seeing the vast sugar fields, as opposed to the vast condo fields, when I go home for visits.

So, grow sugar, grow!

"Just build ethanol plants where old lumber mills were."

Right, then the gleaners can use all the convenient logging roads in the national forests and train spotted owls to be "spotting owls" for cellulosic waste.

Then we can build pipelines through the forests or run fleets of tanker trucks to the points of demand.

Might as well try to build Wal-Marts where the old lumber mills were.

The follies of political crrecness never cease to amse and amaze me.

Currently, Brazil's use of ethanol frm primarily sugar cane grown in the Amazon basin is the favored solution to fossil fuel use and global warming.

Is it just me, or was it no more than 5 years ago that Brazil's burning off Amazon basin jugle every three years or so to clear new cropland for planting sugar cane was being decried as a huge threat to planet wide oxygen production by jungle plant growth and a huge contributor to pollution from CO2 and particulates? Am I the ony one who remembers when it was PC to decry Brazilian jungle land clearing?

Seems the Brazilians were wearing out the soils in a each newly fire cleared area about every three years because they didn't use chemical fertilizers and the soils were poor to begin wth, so it was off anew every three years to burn another 100,000 square miles of jungle.

Yeah, thats real sustainable. Not.

No worries..

Soon, most types of traditional (burning) fuel will be a thing of the past.

In a year, over zealous scientists will be firing up the Large Hadron Collider, the worlds largest particle accelerator.

If successful, scientists should know enough about gravity and particle physics to create anti-gravity devices and zero-point energy devices.

That of course is if they don't destroy the earth & solar system by creating a stable black hole, strange matter, or a portal to hell; and/or destroy the universe by starting the big bang 2.0.

Either way we wont need to worry about fossil fuels for much longer.

I'm not advocating the ethanol plants in the forests.

But I'm warning that they're coming.

The only feedstock that makes even marginal sense for cellulosic ethanol production, from a distribution standpoint, is some sort of cultivated crop (like the famous switchgrass). That or anything like it will still have to be massively subsidized. If that's what it takes, then that's what it takes, better farmers than international oil companies. BUT, there are vastly more promising ideas in the pipeline (so to speak).

The road to energy self-sufficience is a multi-lane highway - wind, solar, hydro, tidal, nuclear and some biofuels. The present electrical grid is the best core distribution method. Although it's already stressed, it's a known technology and rights of way already exist to meet upgraded transmission needs. The technology where investment will bring the very best returns is BATTERY technology. Subsidies in this area, if successful, would produce a solution with the lowest cost, best adaptability and integration, fairly seamless market penetration and long term applicability.

That's where I'd invest my nickel.

If I had one.

Regarding corn ethanol...people have been reciting those facts for a while now, but they just get written off as oil whores.
If someone with an "axe to grind" reads the same facts, are they somehow different?

Wind, Hydro, nuclear....hmmm, not likely.

The NIMBYs & PC freaks here are against all of those. Wind hurts birds, hydro hurts fish, and nuclear hurts everyone.
I figure eventually, they will find a reason to bitch about ethanol as well.

They wont quit until cars are a thing of legend, and we all live in a condo downtown and ride bikes or mass transit.

Jon: They wont quit until cars are a thing of legend, and we all live in a condo downtown and ride bikes or mass transit.
jk: But mass transit does not save energy compared to new cars. Hybrids beat the pants off of both bus and toy trains.


The bottom line is that so-called alternatives just can't match our current consuption. That is, Peak Oil (Coal, gas etc.) will force us to downsize regardless and even more that what PC freaks are lecturing about.

FOOD is the thing we should have our eyes on, and if you don't know how to grow it yourself, watch out.

Tooling around in cars or counting angels on the head of a pin on blogs and sipping latte will be distant sweet memories.

Technology can't solve this one because it was technology is the meth that we're hooked on.

Well, no less prestigious an organization than the United Nations itself has recently come out with a report that clearly indicates that the worst source of "greenhouse gas" comes not from the CO2 we produce when driving or firing up the ol' computer. Nope, the worst source, nearly 25% more effective as a "greenhouse gas" is:

cow farts.

Oh, they look so cute with their heads to the ground.

Grazing and chewing, just farting around.

But humans grow cows to make milk, meat and cheese.

The cows take revenge by farting around as you sleep.

Yet they make methane,
and that's a burnable fuel.

They're making methane;
we just need to find a tool.

They're making methane,
and we can put it to use.

Just train them to back up when they're ready to poot.

JackBog, that is why I drive around with a used christmas tree in my trunk for six months.

The wonder's of cellulosic ethanol are counterbalanced by the fact that nobody yet knows how to produce it on a large scale or what the true EROEI (energy return on energy invested) will be. Using vast amounts of crop land (or any land) to grow fuel is sure to create problems.

In my experience the best starting point for keeping track of all things in alternative energy and oil supply is the Energy Bulletin - . I read the links it provides regularly.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2012
Decoy, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Marqués de Murrieta, Reserva Rioja 2010
Kendall-Jackson, Grand Reserve Cabernet 2009
Seven Hills, Merlot 2013
Los Vascos, Grande Reserve Cabernet 2011
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Forlorn Hope, St. Laurent, Ost-Intrigen 2013
Upper Five, Tempranillo 2010 and 2012
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Topsail, Syrah 2013
Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2013
Robert Mondavi, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2012
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2014
Boomtown, Cabernet 2013
Boulay, Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Domaine de Durban Muscat 2011
Patricia Green, Estate Pinot Noir 2012
Crios, Cabernet, Mendoza 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Dehesa la Granja, Tempranillo 2008
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #15
Selvapiana, Chianti Ruffina 2012
Joseph Carr, Cabernet 2012
Prendo, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti 2014
Joel Gott, Oregon Pinot Gris 2014
Otazu, Red 2010
Chehalem, Pinot Gris, Three Vineyards 2013
Wente, Merlot, Sandstone 2011
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2012
Monmousseau, Vouvray 2014
Duriguttti, Malbec 2013
Ruby, Pinot Noir 2012
Castellare, Chianti 2013
Lugana, San Benedetto 2013
Canoe Ridge, Cabernet, Horse Heaven Hills 2011
Arcangelo, Negroamaro Rosato
Vale do Bomfim, Douro 2012
Portuga, Branco 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2009
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Kristina's Reserve 2010
Rodney Strong, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 28, 2012
Coppola, Sofia, Rose 2014
Kirkland, Napa Cabernet 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve, Napa Meritage 2011
Kramer, Chardonnay Estate 2012
Forlorn Hope, Que Saudade 2013
Ramos, Premium Tinto, Alentejano 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve, Rutherford Cabernet 2012
Bottego Vinaia, Pinot Grigio Trentino 2013
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2011
Pete's Mountain, Elijah's Reserve Cabernet, 2007
Beaulieu, George Latour Cabernet 1998
Januik, Merlot 2011
Torricino, Campania Falanghina 2013
Edmunds St. John, Heart of Gold 2012
Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2013
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio, Friuli 2013
St. Francis, Red Splash 2011
Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
Erath, Pinot Blanc 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Porto 2007
Portuga, Rose 2013
Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
Locations, F Red Blend
El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2010
Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2013
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio, Friuli 2013
St. Francis, Red Splash 2011
Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
Erath, Pinot Blanc 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Porto 2007
Portuga, Rose 2013
Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
Locations, F Red Blend
El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2
If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
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Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
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Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
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Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
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Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
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Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010

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Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
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William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
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Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 61
At this date last year: 97
Total run in 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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