The warning signs of a gigantic hoaxin the promotion of ethanol as a sub- stitute for gasoline came into sharp focus earlier this year, as a result of investiga- tions into the claims by government agencies about the efficiency of biofu- els. The evidence is not yet conclusive, but sufficiently suggestive to warrant prompt Congressional investigation into what might be one of the greatest and most costly hoaxes perpetrated by the Cheney-Bush Administration since the selling of the Iraq War.
The leading beneficiaries of this false promotion are the major grain cartels, the large hedge fund operators, who have moved in on the boondoggle, and at a higher level, those policy interests who would take us back to an agricul- tural society on the imperial model. The big losers will be the American public, including those farmers and farm-state businessmen who have been suckered into one of the greatest investment swin- dles since John Law's Mississippi land bubble.
The entry point for uncovering this hoax were the claims by officers of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) that produc- tion of ethanol from corn shows a posi- tive net energy balance of 30,528 Btu per gallon,1 or 67 percent more than the energy required to grow, transport, and distill it, and that cellulosic ethanol (derived from switchgrass or other inputs) could provide even higher net energy returns. But deeper investigation showed that while some independent analyses, most of them of recent vin- tage, show a slight positive energy bal- ance, the figures promoted by govern- ment agencies (the USDA Office of the Chief Economist, in particular) appear wildly inflated.
A huge energy giveback credit is allo- cated for the by-products of ethanol pro- duction, the data appear selectively cho- sen to make the case, and the claims have been inflating over the years.
If, as the preliminary evidence sug- gests, the bottom line has been goosed up to make the case, the source of such probable corruption is not far to find. As one Federal official with experience in energy and pollution was quoted in the
January 2007 Scientific American, referring to the 51-cents-per gallon tax break for ethanol, "Congress didn't do a life-cycle analysis; it did an ADM analysis." ADM is Archer Daniels Midland, the largest of the five grain cartel giants, which has been pushing corn ethanol for more than two decades, and whose influence over the USDA is no secret.
The hoax, however, goes much deep-
62 Spring/Summer 2007 21st CENTURY Science & Technology SPECIAL REPORT
IT'S STILL MOONSHINE
Smell of Gigantic Hoax in Government Ethanol Promotion by Laurence Hecht
The Voyager Ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Congress should investigate the Cheney-Bush Administration's ethanol hoax.
er than the debatable claims for a posi- tive net energy balance for ethanol pro- duction. No competent evaluation of the efficacy of biofuels can be carried out apart...