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Regional panel says no thanks to ethanol fueling stations

Do the environmental costs of ethanol-based fuels outweigh their potential benefits?

Council members of the Southern California Assn. of Governments answered that question this week with an emphatic yes. The panel on Thursday rejected nearly $11 million in federal stimulus dollars targeted to build 55 ethanol fueling stations across the six-county Southern California region.

Eileen Tutt, executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition, on Friday called the panel's action "unfortunate."

"Ethanol is a key fuel in our move away from petroleum dependence,'' said Tutt, the former No. 2 in the California Environmental Protection Agency. "If we put the infrastructure in today, then we are closer to being prepared for when cellulosic ethanol is available."

Foes said that corn-based ethanol causes more harm than good because much of it would have to be trucked from farms in the Midwest. Even if the corn were grown in California, the water needed to produce a single gallon of ethanol, about 1,000 gallons, would make it cost prohibitive and ecologically unsound, opponents said.

Supporters of the project said that though ethanol isn't perfect, it's important to begin building the infrastructure for alternative fuels. Read more.

--Catherine Saillant

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I am very curious where the 1000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of ethanol came from. The number is about 3 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of ethanol. A typical 18 hole golf course uses the same amount for irrigation as a 40 million gallon per year ethanol plant to produce home grown renewable fuel. One gallon of oil takes 41.5 gallons of water to refine. One Sunday newspaper takes 150 gallons of water. One pound of hamburger takes 4 gallons. This data comes from Iowa State University Extension/EPA/USGS.

Ethanol only "borrows" the water. Most is released back into the atmosphere in the form of steam.

The credit for Corn Ethanol made with Coal should be abolished. Maybe half credit could be given temporarily to Corn Ethanol made with Natural Gas burners. Our country must begin moving the credit towards Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum to make Clean and Green Ethanol. Trade Corn for Sugarcane Ethanol from Poorer countries nearer the Equator. They overcome poverty and we become Greener. The Corn Farmers get back to producing Food for the world instead of driving up food prices and making other countries hate us. Cellulosic Ethanol Producers have let us down too many times; we cannot wait for them to start producing. Plug-In hybrid makers don't have a clue; they think that America can afford $40K for a compact car with questionable batteries. If Dumb, Dumb, and Dumber in Detroit had their act together, they would modify older NiMH hybrids for $100 and add 5 MPG.

We should follow the Brazil model and immediately begin cleaning up our big polluted cities with FFV's and Sugarcane Ethanol.

Wow! Thank goodness someone has some sense! It would be great if some of those council members would talk with other politicians that are pushing the ethanol scam as good for the environment. Please start with Governor Ed Rendell from Pennsylvania.


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