Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Elias: Energy Bill screws California

On one point, commentator Tom Elias correctly notes how the Federal Energy bill will hurt California.

One is a mandate that Americans use 8 billion gallons of ethanol in their gasoline within five years -- twice as much as today. For California, this one has three major flaws:

-- California oil refiners do not need ethanol to make gasoline that meets federal clean air standards. But they will have to blend it in anyway, driving up the cost of fuel by about 8-12 cents per gallon.

-- Ethanol, made mostly from corn husks and cobs -- corn squeezin's, one writer called it -- may reduce automotive emissions of carbon monoxide, but it increases other pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen. If refiners cannot meet clear air standards with ethanol, why use it?

-- According to a new study published by University of California-Berkeley Professor Tad Patzek in the journal "Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences," making ethanol may use up to six times as much energy as the resulting fluid contains. Some federal scientists dispute this finding, but no one claims more than a 3-to-2 margin of new energy over what's used to make ethanol.

In short, the new ethanol mandate is a slap at California and welfare for big farmers and companies (read: Archer Daniels Midland Corp., for one) in Corn Belt states that voted solidly for President Bush in the last two elections.

But as he has done so often, Elias incorrectly interprets how the Federal energy bill will impact liquefied natural gas terminals in the State. Unless it is onshore, it won't...so his attacks on the Cabrillo Port are unwarranted (as always!).