We may need to wage war against corn-based ethanol productio

A forum dedicated to conservation issues and listings of conservation Orgs

Moderators: NV Guide, Dogman

We may need to wage war against corn-based ethanol productio

Postby h2ofwlr » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:02 pm

We may need to wage war against corn-based ethanol production
CHRIS NISKANEN, St Paul Pioneer Press

Article Launched: 01/27/2008 12:01:00 AM CST

In southeast Minnesota, trout fishermen are fighting a proposed corn-ethanol plant near Eyota, arguing the plant will draw excessive water from local aquifers and endanger trout streams and drinking-water supplies.

The Hiawatha chapter of Trout Unlimited recently passed a resolution decrying the plant as "a significant environmental risk (to water supplies) in a sensitive area."

Elsewhere in Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources officials and conservation groups are warily watching the impact of high corn prices on wildlife-enriching grassland programs.

Ducks Unlimited officials released a report last week showing contracts for nearly 600,000 acres of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program will expire in Minnesota by 2010 - about one-third of the 1.8 million acres currently enrolled - and no one is sure how much land will be re-enrolled.

About one-third of North Dakota's CRP contracts also will expire by 2010, but North Dakota wildlife officials were shocked this fall when 400,000 acres of CRP grasslands were plowed up.

DU officials say increasing demand for corn production, spurred by government-endorsed increases in ethanol production, is encouraging farmers to drop out of CRP, endangering some of North America's most productive duck-rearing areas.

All told, DU officials report, contracts for about 4.5 million acres of CRP in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana will expire within five years, roughly one-third of the CRP grasslands in the Midwest's Prairie Pothole region. Wildlife experts aren't hopeful many acres will be re-enrolled with soaring corn and soybean prices.
Back in Minnesota, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, which has strong ties to hunting and angling groups, is fighting a number of legal battles over ethanol plant air emissions, water pollution and plans by plants to draw large quantities of water from local aquifers.

MCEA officials also are concerned about a push by ethanol plants that would burn cheap coal to power "clean" ethanol plants.

"It doesn't quite make sense to burn coal to produce ethanol, does it?" said MCEA lawyer Janette Brimmer.

GRASS-BASED ALTERNATIVE

Corn-based ethanol, the environmental fuel of the future? It's probably the biggest taxpayer-subsided environmental lie promoted by our government in a generation.

Minnesota's hunting, fishing and environmental community, which desperately wants large-scale improvements to the state's natural resources, is arming itself to fight Big Corn and Big Ethanol.

Groups like Pheasants Forever and DU are pressing Congress to pass a Farm Bill that gives farmers extra incentives to grow grass, not corn. They're also pressing politicians to set aside money for experiments to convert grass - a wiser energy alternative than corn - into ethanol on an industrial scale.

But as the conservation community is quickly realizing, it could be years, maybe even decades, before mass-produced, grass-based ethanol - called cellulosic ethanol - can replace corn-based ethanol.

"We have to do a lot to figure this out - how to grow (grass), harvest it and store it," said Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., last weekend at Pheasant Fest. "The people who are pushing to build (grass-based) ethanol plants have no idea how hard this will be."

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

While the conservation community sees a bright future for energy from grass, they see the current rush for corn-ethanol plants as a potential disaster.

Last year, I attended a seminar by Michael Osterholm, the former Minnesota state epidemiologist and an avid trout angler, on the threats to southeast trout streams from proposed corn-based ethanol plants.

The seminar, the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo in Bloomington, was packed with anglers who listened raptly as Osterholm spelled out how plants would need large quantities of water from aquifers that feed trout streams.

The state and federal government's role in promoting corn-based ethanol is decidedly one-sided. Few politicians like to talk about the problems of returning idled grasslands to corn production; the impacts of water-sucking ethanol plants on groundwater supplies; or the fallacy that corn-based ethanol is a large gain in energy outputs. (It is very modest given the inputs of petroleum necessary to grow, harvest and ship corn and turn it into ethanol.)

The government's current rush to ramp up corn-based ethanol production is reminiscent of the years when the government paid to drain wetlands. The arguments used back then to publicly subsidize the draining of wetlands sound vaguely familiar today - it's good for the farmer, it's good for the economy, it is good for you and me.

Hunters and anglers are usually on the front edge of conservation and environmental movements. They're usually the first to point out the misuse of natural resources - especially when it involves the government. That's why trout anglers, pheasant and duck hunters are arguing for wise corn-ethanol policies.

The government doesn't want to listen to them, but the rest of us should. Since we're paying for corn ethanol with our taxes, we should demand a better return on our environmental investment.

Chris Niskanen can be reached at cniskanen@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5524
The Audacity of Bull Crap.
"Typical: Gun-loving, bitter bible-thumping white person" Barack Obama.
Hey I resemble that comment!!! Those are FIGHTING WORDS!!!
User avatar
h2ofwlr
Forum & State Moderator
 
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:58 am
Location: "Buzz" at 8 months . Land of 10K polluted lakes


Postby h2ofwlr » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:03 pm

Costs in grasslands plowed, wetlands drained will be steep
By Tony Dean
For the Argus Leader
Published: January 30, 2008
I'm not the only outdoor communicator questioning the impact of corn-based ethanol on the environment. St. Paul Pioneer Press outdoor writer Chris Niskanen did Sunday in his weekly outdoor column, titled "We may need to Wage War on Corn-based ethanol."

Niskanen wrote, "In Southeast Minnesota, trout fishermen are fighting a proposed corn-ethanol plant near Eyota, arguing the plant will draw excessive water from local aquifers and endanger trout streams and drinking water supplies."

Ducks Unlimited released a report last week that showed contracts for CRP in Minnesota for nearly 600,000 acres of land enrolled in CRP will be released in 2010. In North Dakota, about one-third of the contracts will also expire then, but that was before North Dakota officials got over the shock of already losing some 400,000 acres.

All told, say DU officials, about 4.5 million acres of CRP will expire in Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas within five years, and that's roughly one-third of the CRP grasslands in the prairie pothole region, which encompasses the most important duck breeding grounds on the continent.

Niskanen was blunt in his assessment. He wrote, "Corn-based ethanol, the environmental fuel of the future? It's probably the biggest taxpayer-subsidized environmental lie promoted by our government in this generation." And, he added, "Minnesota's hunting, fishing and environmental community which desperately wants large scale improvements in the state's natural resource, is arming itself to fight Big Corn and Big Ethanol."

No matter what the corn producers and ethanol boosters try to tell you, the environmental costs in terms of grassland plowed and wetlands drained will be steep and will hurt fishing and hunting in South Dakota.

The ethanol boom has, and will continue to make a few people wealthy, but not without cost and it will hurt South Dakota's image as an outdoor recreation paradise.

There' s no question grass-based ethanol is a far better choice for America, but it isn't going to happen overnight, and in fact, could be years, even a decade or more before cellulosic ethanol can replace corn ethanol.

However, there's another solution out there and it appears to have environmental benefits as well as the potential to solve another problem facing our nation. A new system for converting trash into ethanol and methanol could help reduce the waste piling up in landfills while displacing a big fraction of the fossil fuels used to power vehicles in the United States.

The technology, developed at MIT and at Batelle Pacific Northwest Labs in Richland, Wash., doesn't incinerate refuse, so it doesn't produce pollutants that have historically plagued attempts to convert refuse into energy. Instead, it vaporizes materials to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide, a mixture called synthesis gas, which can be used to synthesize a wide variety of fuels and chemicals.

The technology has been further developed and commercialized by a spin-off called Integrated Environmental Technologies (IET), also located in Richland, WA.

In addition to processing municipal waste, the technology can be used to create ethanol out of agricultural biomass waste, providing a potentially less expensive way to make ethanol than the current corn-based plants. And, they say, they can produce a lower-cost fuel, which would be good news for everyone paying anywhere from a dime to fifteen cents per gallon above the national average, as is the case here in Pierre.

I've received my share of criticism from the ethanol industry, the corn producers and several ag groups. But, so far, none have indicated that figuring a way to maintain prairie and protect wetlands is in their plans. Thus, I can only conclude that if the boom continues, we'll see more plowing of grass and more wetland drainage. Some of the ag groups have already said they favor clean water, but oppose any regulation that guarantees it, such as the Clean Water Restoration Act.

It's difficult to have it both ways.

Tony Dean, an outdoor writer and broadcaster, writes a column every Wednesday for the Argus Leader.
The Audacity of Bull Crap.
"Typical: Gun-loving, bitter bible-thumping white person" Barack Obama.
Hey I resemble that comment!!! Those are FIGHTING WORDS!!!
User avatar
h2ofwlr
Forum & State Moderator
 
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:58 am
Location: "Buzz" at 8 months . Land of 10K polluted lakes

Postby greenster » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:18 pm

The land will be re-enrolled. The prices arnt that high yet, The farmers get a HUGE, insanely huge tax write off for that. And its not very good land anyway. THe reason most enrolled is because they could make 20x as much money from the tax write off than farming that poor piece of ground.


but if corn prices continue to go up.... they may very well farm it.
"Thomas Jefferson said I had a God-given right to pursue happiness. What makes me happy is to take a mallard's head smooth off at about 20 feet.

Lanyard: KM Custom Cut, KM Cut Black Monster, LC cut BSOD, RNT Timber hog, 6n1 whistle
User avatar
greenster
Forum & State Moderator
 
Posts: 4416
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:11 pm
Location: arkansas Green Timber

Postby h2ofwlr » Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:13 pm

Surely you jest! The PPR farmers are getting $20 an acre for CRP, and last year could get $80 an acre if they rented it. Much of the CRP is good farm land in the Dakotas

And the native (never been plowed) grasslands are now being plowed under at a unprecidented rate. Why? Because the farmer can get 3 times the Govt subsidy if they farm it for 5 years an enroll it into a program like CRP.

And blame Roundup ready Corn and Beans for this too, as they apply Roundup, burn it in the fall, and plow it, disk it up in the spring and plant it in row crops that have ZERO benfit to waterfowl and upland birds during their nesting period.

And this all leads back to ethanol, and the SCAM that the big AG and Ethanol Companies have pulled on the american public. Meaning it takes 100,000 btu to make 102,000btu from corn. You can plant every single acre in corn across the USA, and still only provide less than 10% of our oil needs.

And look at our food costs, eggs up 50%, pork up 25%, ceral is up too all in the last year. This is ALL due to ethonal.

Many guys do not remember the 3 a day and 30 days season for ducks of 20 years ago. That was the result of the 1970's farm policy of "fence row to fence row" AG policy And as a result of the ethanol scam, we will be seeing that within 10 years time again.

So the wildlife are loosing out, we consumers are paying way more, and why? Because they big Ag and Ethanol CO sold the american public a bill of goods that makes not sense when ALL things are considered.

So tell me about how good ethanol is for us, IMO it is the worst thing that has happened to America in the last 40 years. :mad:
The Audacity of Bull Crap.
"Typical: Gun-loving, bitter bible-thumping white person" Barack Obama.
Hey I resemble that comment!!! Those are FIGHTING WORDS!!!
User avatar
h2ofwlr
Forum & State Moderator
 
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:58 am
Location: "Buzz" at 8 months . Land of 10K polluted lakes

Postby OneShot » Thu Feb 14, 2008 9:38 am

Thanks h2ofwlr, for putting up these articles. I've only just become aware of this issue and it certainly seems like something we should be talking about more on this forum. The implications here are huge and anyone who dismisses the facts you've highlighted needs to get ready for a return to shorter seasons and lower bag limits.
The fact that only one person has commented on this thread since you posted lasted weekend tells me there is a huge amount of work to be done if we as a group are going to "wake up" in time.
OneShot
hunter
 
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:58 pm
Location: eastern NC

Postby cannon » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:20 pm

Many guys do not remember the 3 a day and 30 days season for ducks of 20 years ago. That was the result of the 1970's farm policy of "fence row to fence row" AG policy And as a result of the ethanol scam, we will be seeing that within 10 years time again.


Well, that might be a bit of a simplification of the situation. I do well remember the days of 3 ducks and 30 days, and I also know that little has changed in the world of agriculture since the 70's.

However, I remember getting $100 for a good river otter pelt, which ain't worth $20 nowadays. It would be the same logic for me to assume that PETA will be responsible for any future decline in migratory waterfowl populations because their blockade of the fur industry has decreased trapping which led to increased predator populations. In reality, annual rainfall, predator populations, temperature fluctuations, agricultural practices, general human behavior and a host of other factors all play influential roles in determining duck populations.

I'm no lobbyist for Monsanto Corp, but I wouldn't go off blaming ALL the duck factory's problems on round-up ready technology. As a farmer AND a hunter, I can tell you that I'll achieve the same results with, or without round-up, and I can say that with experience because I was farming well before RR technology hit the market. If I want the ground clear, you'd better bet its gonna be clear, and I don't farm one single acre of ground with round-up that I wouldn't farm just as effectively without it (although maybe with slightly increased cost). Despite the negative rhetoric, most farmers actually do care. Those acres I set aside for wildlife, I set aside because I care, not because governmental incentives are provided. Unfortunately, not all farmers have second incomes which allow them to afford those principles.

2003-06 broke 25% of the farmers in our nation because the government likes to use their products as a bargaining tool via oversees sanctions. Don't look for a sympathetic view from farmers when you cry out for increased regulation, and don't ask them to take food off their children's plates to bolster wildlife habitat.

If you want results, get out your checkbook. Pay those farmers what it will cost them and their families not to grow crops ON THEIR ON LAND, WHICH THEY PURCHASED WITH THEIR OWN MONEY. If you're not willing to write that check, then you've got no right to bitch at them for not being willing to forebear planting those acres.

Let me make this clear: Ethanol ain't the problem with the farm commodity crisis, and neither are oil prices. The problem is that the USDA annually manipulates their global stocks estimates on ag commodities to ensure that our nation's cheap food policy is absolutely accommodated. That's a good thing, because we, as Americans, pay less than 12% of our disposable income annually for food, on average (as opposed to every other civilized country on the planet, which averages 33%).

Unfortunately, you can only lie about the abundant supply of a particular commodity for so long before it catches up to you. In 2007, it caught up to the USDA. Estimates now surfacing indicate that there will be less than 1 month's stock of rice in the United States as of January, which is an all-time record low. The result is that prices are at an all-time record high. In perspective, soybeans sold in 1973 for $12 per bushel, whereas the same bushel sold for $4.50 in 2003. Today they're selling for $14 per bushel. That's not making farmers rich; it is simply the market correcting itself. The supply has NOT been there, and the demand has not decreased. We just live with a government that very efficiently manipulates the commodities markets.

If you want to blame someone, blame China and/or OPEC. The increase in oil prices is a direct result of increased consumption in a rapidly industrializing country and an organization of criminals who are masters of the art of price-fixing.
Smell that? Smells like sumthin died in here.
User avatar
cannon
hunter
 
Posts: 4047
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:17 pm
Location: At the stop sign in the ditch at Byers Farm, unlocking the gate.

Postby TakeEm12 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:54 pm

well im glad someone in here knows what their talking about cause I know i need to do some reading on this stuff. :huh: Very informative post cannon
2009 waterfowl totals so far.....

Woodies -4
Mallards -4
Geese - 4
Shooting ducks like its my day job.
User avatar
TakeEm12
hunter
 
Posts: 132
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:54 pm
Location: Lebanon, Me

Postby Crash » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:29 pm

OneShot wrote:The fact that only one person has commented on this thread since you posted lasted weekend tells me there is a huge amount of work to be done if we as a group are going to "wake up" in time.
I agree 100% OneShot. I started a thread on the NC page.
If you're gonna hunt ducks in AMERICA, please use an AMERICAN shot gun.

Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.
Calvin Coolidge
User avatar
Crash
hunter
 
Posts: 508
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:52 pm
Location: 1 Tobacco Rd., Blue Heaven, NC

Postby Newf Hunter » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:00 pm

I second Cannon's post. I'm also a hunter and a farmer. Realize that with 5 dollar corn and 12 dollar beans, farmers still aren't making more money than the did with 2.50 corn and 5 dollar beans thanks to fertilizer and fuel prices being at record highs. I would love to be able to flood a couple hundred acres of corn to be able to hunt on all winter long, however that just isn't feasible. And CRP re-enrollment in the mid-Missouri area is at the same level it always has been.
Newf Hunter
hunter
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:37 am
Location: New Franklin, Mo.

Postby h2ofwlr » Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:56 pm

Since when is MO part of the Prairie Pothole Region?

I can tell you first hand as I was out in the Dakotas twice this spring--in the heart if the US PPR where the majority of the ducks in the US are raised. There is a definately less CRP fields this spring. Something like 400,000 acres less in the last year alone. So sorry, but this loss of upland grasslands will make a deifinate impact upon duck production.

Like I said, if I own land and can get $15-20 from Govt or $80 an acre by renting it, the possibility of $300 net an acre playing the market and selling hopefully high, I'd be a fool not to take advantage of making the $. So can not blame the farmer. But now if I was an absentee landlord, and the Govt paid me $50 an acre, I would give it serious consideration for portions of the land.

Thjat being said, then there is the why are grasslands paid at less than 1/2 of the rate of CRP? What farmers have been doing starting 5 years ago is this, plowing in farmland unsuitable for crow draops, but bust up the native grasslands anyway, farm it for 4 years, and than it is eligible for CRP. But what has now happened is that with the high commodities prices, they are making serious $ per acre on these marginal acres. If the farmer was paid a better prices to keep native priarie as is, they never would plow it up to begin with.

Guys it is simple economics, the Govt needs to pay better prices for WRP, CRP, Grasslands, etc.. to keep it the acreage as is.

And ethanol production has caused a shortage of other grains too, and this year 8% less corn will be planted.

The bottom line is ethanol has cuased a major decrease of available grain for aanimal feed and human consumption. And thus the price of all commodities has skyrocketed because of the shortage os approx 10% of commodidities. Corn is going for $6 a bushel right now, I bet it hits $7. Heck for a brief time this spring wheat futures was at $20 a bushel, now back below $10.

The bottom line is ethanol production is the primary reason for high crop prices. And it now means higher food prices too. So the gas prices is squeezing us from one side and food prices from the other side. The average family is finding it difficult to make ends meet. And the working poor are going backwards financially. Then add the home market situation of falling values...

IMO The crap is about to hit the fan across the USA as a result. God knows I hope I am wrong, but I fear we could be teetering on an economic depression not seen in 60 years.
User avatar
h2ofwlr
Forum & State Moderator
 
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:58 am
Location: "Buzz" at 8 months . Land of 10K polluted lakes

Postby Newf Hunter » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:48 pm

I realize that MO has never been part of the Pothole region and I believe you when you talk about the loss of CRP ground in the Dakotas. I'm just telling you what it's like in my part of the country, that's all.
Newf Hunter
hunter
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:37 am
Location: New Franklin, Mo.

Postby hunter121390 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:01 am

im not sure if this is right, but someone was telling me yesterday that ethanol based fuel actually burns basically twice as fast as regular fuel, so you have to produce twice as much to meet the demands for it. also they said that we actually only get 15% of our oil or so from middle east companies, the rest comes from coutnries like russia and mexico. and thats the reason were paying about 2 dollars more a gallon than mexico is(i believe someone said they could go across the border into mexico and get fuel for 2 dollars cheaper than here?). i think what we need to do is start producing all of our own oil here in the U.S. refining it, instead of getting it from everywhere else, and start lowering prices. our government apparently is the reason that gas prices are so high, according to the guy i talked to yesterday.


can anyone confirm this?
If it flies it dies
Take em'
"My guns will be pulled out of my cold dead hands, with the bolts locked back, the barrels smoking, and a pile of empty magazines and brass at my feet. "
"kill em' all, let God sort em out."
User avatar
hunter121390
hunter
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:03 am
Location: watertown, wi

Postby David » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:31 am

http://www.gravmag.com/oil.html

Good read on where our oil comes from, who has what, and just about everything you need to know about oil. Sorry, none of it has to do with the original topic, but it is an answer to hunter121390's question.
ImageImageImage
User avatar
David
Lefty
 
Posts: 3715
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:20 pm
Location: Mobile, AL

Postby hunter121390 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:43 am

thank you david
If it flies it dies
Take em'
"My guns will be pulled out of my cold dead hands, with the bolts locked back, the barrels smoking, and a pile of empty magazines and brass at my feet. "
"kill em' all, let God sort em out."
User avatar
hunter121390
hunter
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:03 am
Location: watertown, wi

Postby aftershox454 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:27 pm

crazy!.
didn't know anything about ethanol before reading this

I wonder what we are going to do when oil runs out :huh:

There has to be another way to come up with something, I mean we can put a guy on the moon but can't figure out how to make a truck get better than 15 MPG!!!

Hydrogen fuel cells anybody? could that be our answer, or is that way out of our league still?
User avatar
aftershox454
hunter
 
Posts: 490
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:14 pm
Location: Spokane, WA

Postby David » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:43 pm

aftershox454 wrote:Hydrogen fuel cells anybody? could that be our answer, or is that way out of our league still?


The biggest problem with Hydrogen is the most efficient way to get it now is from Natural Gas. So we aren't exactly escaping fossil fuels. If we could get enough nuke and hydroelectric plants set up to provide energy to get it from water, then set up the massive infrastructure of H2 fuel stations all over the US, then we would be in business.

http://www.fuelcellpartnership.org/fact ... rogen.html
Currently, most hydrogen is produced by steam reforming natural gas. In the U.S. alone, about nine million tons of hydrogen are produced every year for industrial uses, like refining gasoline and making silicon chips or food products.

Steam reforming combines natural gas (CH 4 ), methanol (CH 3OH) or ethanol (C 2H 5OH) with super-heated steam to release the hydrogen from both the hydrocarbon and water molecules. As with electrolysis, the resulting hydrogen can be stored as a compressed gas or a liquid.
ImageImageImage
User avatar
David
Lefty
 
Posts: 3715
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:20 pm
Location: Mobile, AL

Postby olddkguide » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:52 pm

Finally took the time to read all this. All I have to say is load up Cannon and fire another round, I'm with you on this one. Well said!
olddkguide
hunter
 
Posts: 668
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:50 am
Location: Georgia

Postby aftershox454 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:03 pm

Interesting

thanks for the post david!
:thumbsup:
User avatar
aftershox454
hunter
 
Posts: 490
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:14 pm
Location: Spokane, WA


Return to Conservation/Biology

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron