“That money talks I’ll not deny, I heard it once. It said, ‘Goodbye.’”

Richard Armour, American poet and author.

I don’t know if everyone feels like I do but when it comes to the skyrocketing cost of gasoline I am really ticked off, although I wish I could make that statement even stronger without being censored.

But if you think the price of gasoline is based solely on the price of crude oil, you are sadly mistaken. And if you want to know who’s to blame, please look closely at those members of the U.S. Congress representing those states that produce the most corn.

What I am writing about this week is something called ethanol. It is a biofuel added to gasoline supposedly to reduce pollution and at the same time reduce America’s huge demand for gasoline.

Ethanol is not a new substance made by mankind to replace gasoline. It is a product that we have been drinking for centuries. It’s a substance known as grain alcohol. In today’s world it would almost make sense to call it ethanol, instead of grain alcohol, because I have that sneaky feeling some would try to drink the mixture to get high. After all, some people sniff gasoline to get high so why not add the benefit of an alcohol no different than vodka.

The problem with ethanol in the United States is that it is made from one of the world’s primary food sources, corn. I find it amazing that the mindless minions in Washington would allow such a valuable food source to be produced into a fuel source without any realization that the cost of food produced from corn would rise along with the price of a gallon of gasoline as well. All one has to do is look at the different ways byproducts of corn are used today in food production especially as sweeteners like corn sucrose or fructose.

If you were a farmer, would you produce corn instead of something that produced a product with a profit far less than corn? If you said “corn,” the politicians in the cesspool known as Washington will absolutely love you.

Ethanol is not friendly to older engines, especially 2-cycle ones. Alcohol also dissolves certain types of rubber and plastic, which I witnessed when it ate through the plastic gasoline tank on my old riding lawnmower. I think I mentioned in a previous column that I had a 1980 Cadillac which had a carburetor instead of fuel injection and I had nothing but problems keeping the car running smoothly until I finally gave up and junked it. Of course, nowadays one can purchase additives to help lessen some of problems with ethanol but all of them add an additional cost to operating vehicles or other machinery. I believe that the producers of ethanol should provide us with free additives.

What’s even worse is that the production of ethanol is subsidized by our tax dollars while it drives up the price of a gallon of gasoline as well as any food that contains corn or corn byproducts. This is nothing but shear lunacy by the elected officials residing in our national septic system known as Capitol Hill. Whether it’s in Augusta or Washington, our elected officials complain that they don’t collect enough fuel taxes to repair our roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

In fiscal year 2009 biofuel tax credits reduced federal excise taxes about $6 billion while producers of ethanol received a tax credit around $1.01 a gallon. It kind of reminds me that somebody in Maine government might have made a comment about not using Vaseline.

What does it take to produce ethanol? It takes fertilizer to grow the corn, tractors to harvest the corn, trucks to move the corn, processing plants to turn the corn into ethanol and yes, even more trucks to bring the ethanol to refineries because it is not a product that can survive a trip through a pipeline. And all that takes fossil fuels to accomplish.

Lane Hiltunen, of Windham, believes our elected officials in Washington are not running on ethanol, but surely are running on empty … brains that is.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.