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REPLIES ON GAS AND ETHANOL

Jack,
An independent Ph.D. energy economist disagrees with your dismissal of LNG (liquefied natural gas).  He claims "it’s economic to transport LNG at $3-3.50 mBTU [million British Thermal Units]," and that "if the world price is high enough, it will make economic sense for producers to liquefy it and send it to China."  In other words, natural gas (NG) is not "de-coupled" from the world market as you say.  He asserts that natural gas is "just as fungible as oil."
John M.

Reply:

John,
Could this fellow be shilling for Chevron or some other outfit hyping LNG?  A barrel of crude oil contains on average around 6 mBTU and costs around $1 to ship it across an ocean.  That’s 16.5 cents per mBTU, and this fellow says it’s economic to transport LNG at some 18 times the transport cost of crude?  It’s ludicrous to claim that something costing 18 times as much is "just as fungible."

And even if China decided to pay this exorbitant shipping cost for LNG, plus the hyper-expense of LNG super-cooled tankers and terminals, rather than pipeline it more cheaply from Siberia, they would get it from a much closer source than the US east coast – say Indonesia or Qatar.

Lastly, an enormous increase in US production of natural gas acquired through offshore drilling would result in a substantial decrease in natural gas prices – resulting in no economic sense at all to liquefy it and send it to China on your fellow’s own terms.

**

Jack,
The following is a quote from a pro-ethanol URL: "Reduced toxic emissions: Gasoline is a complex mixture of dozens of chemicals, many of them toxic. Ethanol adds oxygen to gasoline-improving combustion and reducing toxic exhaust emissions. Adding ethanol to gasoline also dilutes the potency of these toxic chemicals.

Studies have shown that ethanol:
* Reduces tailpipe carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 30 percent
* Reduces exhaust volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions by 12 percent
* Reduces toxic emissions by 30 percent
* Reduces particulate matter (PM) emissions by more than 25 percent".

Can you assert that these other reductions are either false, or not substantially beneficial? In particular, these folks claim a reduction in so-called "toxic" emissions, whereas your brief is just the opposite!
Ray S.

Reply:

Ray,
All of these claims for ethanol are true — for pre-modern cars with carburetors. They are thus false for every car on the road today built over the last 20 years or so with computer controlled fuel-injection and oxygen sensors in the exhaust system.

So yes, the ethanol people are lying.  There is virtually no difference in emissions with either ethanol or regular gas in a modern engine/exhaust system.  Except that ethanol combustion emits acetaldehyde and other carcinogens.  So it’s worse than useless.

Ethanol is a fraud not just environmentally but in the claims it can give us energy independence.  There isn’t enough land in America to grow enough corn to do that.  Corn can only be grown in the "corn belt" of the Midwest:  north of this region it freezes, west of it is too dry, south of it too wet (so you get rot and fungus). 

Then there’s the energy expenditure of growing all the corn, the diesel for the tractors, and shipping it by truck as you can’t pipeline it.

Once again, Americans are being conned into a phony "solution" which benefits the conmen, and rips off  the taxpayer and consumer.  The same old Washington story.