Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Illinois governor loves him some bio-fuel...

I'm sure the governor of Illinois is going to take some flak for this, in fact he already has, but today Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich unveiled a huge energy plan for his state.

In his plan he would like to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the constructing of bio-fuel producing factories of which 20 would produce ethanol and five would produce biodiesel. It also turns out that Illinois has several bio-fuel factories running as we speak. And by the year 2017 he would like to have every gas station in the state to offer E85 ethanol fuel.

This is a huge deal. With gas being $3 a gallon, we all have pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that the federal government is funded too well by Big Oil and that they aren't going to do anything about this. But few have looked to their own state government for action.

Illinois apparently has a governor that wants to do something about it.

The United States produces roughly 46 percent of the world's corn crop. Ethanol is made out of corn and E85 ethanol is 85 percent corn squeezin's and 15 percent gasoline. I would say that ethanol is the part of moonshine that will kill you if you drink it, but here in the Midwest, we all have corn crops and here in Kentucky we make a lot of alcohol out of corn. In fact, Mother Nature has literally beat a significant portion of my 25 acres of corn into the ground.

Illinois produces a lot more corn than Kentucky does so this is a great idea for his state. In Kentucky we use corn to hide marijuana patches so we don't produce as much, but a lot is around.

I'm a big fan of biodiesel, but it has a "gelling" problem and requires heaters and things to allow it to flow freely. But by design diesel engine produce tons more power and are much more economic to run these days. And besides the desiel engine wasn't specifically designed to run petroleum based diesel fuel. It was designed to run on crap like coal oil and junky stuff like that. In fact, biodiesel is much better for the engine than regular diesel. Something like 66 percent better lubrication.

The only chink in the armor of this plan is that it is an election year for Illinois and Rod Blagojevich is catching some flak from his opponent saying that he should have thought about this four years ago before his term was up.

My argument against that is that we all know the politics game. If it weren't for election years we'd all be drinking well water and driving on gravel roads. Heck, they re-paved Main Street here in town for no reason this year. But we all know the real reason was because it is an election year.

And besides, four years ago gas was $1.50 and we were all living the good life.

Either way, I'll tell you what I would like to see. If the federal government is going to insist on dragging its feet about figuring our a way to lessen our dependence on oil, let the states do it. However, it's sad that the states have to basically circumvent the federal government for action on this situation. Really sad.

If anything this should be a wake up call. I actually wish I could vote for this dude.


Travis said...

I have to disagree with a premise of your argument. If you had stuck with the standard, "big oil is in bed with big government" I would have sided with you. But saying that the federal government should somehow intervene and stop companies from making so much money is a communistic idea.

We are a capitalist society. But we hate seeing it succeed. Consider how many people hate Wal-Mart. Why? Because they whup up on everyone else. They conquered the market in a capitalist economy.

Competition drives capitalism. When there's no competition, it doesn't work. Well, all the oil companies are resigned to not compete but to all charge high prices and make oogles of money together. That's why gas is so high.

Now, when you introduce competition in the forms of ethanol and biodiesel, now you're thinking. That will offer an alternative and that means competition. Provided the big oil companies don't buy up the ethanol and biodiesel companies that is.

If you want to point a finger of blame for high gas prices and the lack of technological advances to lessen our dependence on foreign oil sources, then point your finger at Detroit, Michigan. Car companies have been in cahoots with big oil, and thus no advances were needed. They feed off each other.

This is the problem of the American auto industry. They're all about deals. Deals for shoddy parts that will fail, making American cars less dependable than their foreign counterparts. Deals with big oil that provide incentive for less fuel efficient vehicles. Again, falling behind foreign auto makers.

I think Ford, Dodge, and GM are waking up. But it may already be too late as Nissan, Toyota, and Honda have taken over the markets.

WHEW! That was a lot of economic/political talk this early in the morning. I haven't even had coffee yet.

Piccu said...

Anytime someone blows off steam and suggests that maybe the government and big oil help the people instead of screwing them, communism is brought up. I think that there are things that the government can do that would help the little guy who is getting killed by big oil without our country becoming a communist nation.

If the government would even seriously back the creating of alternative fuels, that would be a start. Anyone can just talk about it, Washington needs to actually act on it.

I think Detroit should be putting all their money in alternative fuel because big oil has definitely screwed them. Big oil continues to make big bucks, but Detroit is closing down factories and laying off workers because we can't afford to buy new cars, especially those behemoth SUVs.

I would have thought Detroit and big oil would have been a little tighter, but it is apparent big oil only looks out for itself. So, Detroit should be trying like hell to stick it to big oil and get some payback for their low sales by helping those creating alternative fuels.

It looks like this Gov. Joe Blow-javich has got some good ideas, but as Bratch said, this is an election year, and a lot of things get said during an election year.

I seem to remember someone saying the U.S. would not be a nation building police force of the world if he were elected.

Travis said...

I didn't say it would turn us into a communist country, but that is a communistic thought. It hinders capitalism. In capitalism you let the combination of supply and demand and competition set the market.

Governement could intervene. Windfall taxes and things could be introduced. Price ceilings could be set. But what does that do? It hinders capitalism.

I do agree that government could back alternative fuels. But that's where government being in bed with big oil and the power of the Washington lobbyists shows up. Governments, like the one in Illinois, only act on these issues in election years.

So what's the alternative? It should be Detroit. It should be GE or some other large corporation with the capital to back the research. An solar car race once a year doesn't get the job done. You need money coming in from a non-government source so you don't depend on election year promises for a decade long work.

Piccu said...

We are in agreeance.

BRATCH said...

My point to all of this is that regardless of your polical view, capitalist view or communist view or Budhistview, we use a crap load of oil. Daily. And we need to look at an alternative because we do in fact have a limited supply of oil in this world and even less in this country.

There are two very nice, sustainable/renewable alternatives to gasoline out there and nothing on a federal level is really being done about it to the extent that the Illinois governor is suggesting for his state. This dude's plan is on a another stratosphere one that the old codgers in Washington can't haven't dreamed of.

Capitalism is alive and well in this deal and if GM and Ford insist on creating engines that will run on corn squeezin's it only seems fair that someone help push this renewable fuel product. Few private citizens can do it, so he's just nudging it along.

And let's not forget that all an automaker has to do to run biodiesel effectively is figure out how to keep everything warm. To me it's actually a better alternative to ethanol anyway being that ethanol's fuel economy sucks, but for some reason people don't like diesel engines.

We are always going to need oil for engine lubrication, but as a fuel it's really a lost cause in the grand scheme of things.

And before you blame automakers, the diesel engine was invented in the 19th century and again, it was designed to run on crap. Engines out of Detroit have been made to run on a number of things other than gasoline, but nothing has ever been pushed. JoJo's old junk white truck ran on natural gas before being converted to gasoline.

Any diesel vehicle you see on the road from a Jeep Liberty to a 1-ton Dodge pickup will run on straight vegetable oil and has been able to since whenever they started building them.

The argument of superior foreign vehicles is an argument of the 80's. In order for automakers to build alternative fuel vehicles there has to be a push to get away from gasoline or at least offer something else at the pump. The only reason ethanol has taken hold is because few, if any, modifications have to be made to run it. If the government won't take action then they can't justify researching and designing alternative fuel engines because we are still locked into oil. It would be wasted money.

However, friggin' high school kids last year designed and built a two-seat Ferrari-lookin' sportscar that would do like 120 miles per hour that ran on biodiesel. High school kids! Everything we need is already here.

What do you think would happen if the president announced tomorrow that we were switching over to anything but gasoline in 11 years? Automakers wouldn't miss a beat. As soon as a single ethanol or biodiesel pump showed up there would be a car and truckt to use it.

Screw politics, the bottom line is nothing is getting done about it and this governor is attempting to let his state control its own destiny.

And by the way, I don't think Piccu is saying regulate oil and hindering the almighty capitalist. He's talking about the government helping push along the introduction and implementation of alternative fuels that are readily available. Then Big Oil can charge $10 for a gallon of gas while I'm taking a dump in my fuel tank. Regulating oil never crossed my mind in the past 24 hours thinking about this.

Or is the government working in the favor of anyone other than the oil companies hindering capitalism too?

Piccu said...

They are all hindering me.