A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Low carbon fuel: You may pay more

Written March 19th, 2013 by

100_0376At stake in the legislature now, in the form of Senate Bill 488: Possibly higher fuel prices for years to come.

In 2009 the legislature authorized an attempt to lower the amount of carbon emitted from transportation fuels in Oregon. The goal was to reduce the amount of carbon emissions from conventional gasoline and diesel by 10 percent over 10 years in the interest of slowing down global warming. This would be done by requiring the use of various additives or alternatives in transportation — from more ethanol in gas to using more electric cars.

The fuel standard is opposed by, among others, industry groups such as general contractors, loggers, the Farm Bureau, the metals industry, public utility districts, truckers, and Associated Oregon Industries. They say the program will likely raise the price of fuel by up to a dollar a gallon and cause the loss of up to 29,000 jobs if carried out. And they want the program to end, or “sunset,” in 2015, as the original bill provided.

Senate Bill 488 now would repeal the sunset, and the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held a hearing Monday. Despite the objections, Democrats in the legislature are likely to approve the bill. But what Oregon does cannot possibly affect the global climate, so we’d be paying more for no good reason at all. (hh)

Warren Beeson: The idiotic thing about adding ethanol to gasoline to cut down on carbon emissions is that the ethanol reduces the efficiency of the engine so much that it burns more gasoline; and actually reduces the vehicle mileage to the point where it produces more carbon than if no ethanol were added.  In addition, the ethanol drives up the price of gasoline while reducing mileage; thus costing the driving public far more than any cost/benefit ratio could justify.  Just one more example of how much liberals value science in their lawmaking, much less common sense.  What they really want to do is punish people who drive automobiles because its a “bad” thing to so.

Howard Poppleton: In general, ethanol used in all gasoline sold is a boondoggle to support the corn farmers of the Midwest (and their congressional reps). Mr. Beeson hit nearly all the right things except that he did not include the results of studies which show that it takes from 0.98 Btus to 1.2 Btus of fossil fuel to make one Btu of ethanol. The lower figure is from the US Dept. of Energy and the higher figure from university engineers. I’m sure it depends upon how you draw the boundaries of the system. Even if the 0.98 figure is correct, that isn’t enough gain to warrant the change. The one way in which ethanol is useful is as an oxygenator in major metropolitan areas where an oxygenator is required by the EPA. This also does not take into account the taxpayer dollars that pay the subsidies to farmers to grow corn, nor the increased costs for corn used for food products.


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