The Biofuel Curse

The Biofuel Curse

The often hidden costs of plowing the fields, sowing, fertilizing, irrigating, harvesting, drying, storing, transporting, converting, and distributing the fuel clearly shows “no energy gain at all but rather a loss.” – Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser

The Biofuel Curse

Bio-Ethanol, Bio-Diesel, Biofuel mandate is more of a curse than a blessing

By Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Obama, and his administration think that alternative energy sources (like wind and solar power) and biofuels in particular are the salvation from “climate change,” previously called “global warming.”

They view “carbon pollution” (a misnomer, as they actually mean carbon dioxide, CO2) as the root cause of the current economic and environmental malaise in general. That’s why they blessed the nation with the “Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).”

I think the opposite is true; neither CO2 nor the “carbon footprint” is the cause of today’s many problems. In fact, the world today would be much better off if that (scientifically proven) nonsense had never become a political football.

If anything, the world today is not suffering from excessive “carbon footprints” but from excessive “carbon think” by politicians in cahoots with all kinds of NGO (non-governmental organization) “experts.” The “grow-your-fuel” idea is just one of those NGO-driven and politician-embraced problems that do more harm than good. Let’s look at biofuels more closely.


The push to have a large proportion of corn converted to bio-ethanol for admixture into the nation’s gasoline supplies came from then Vice-President Al Gore as a means to garner votes in his home state of Tennessee. Then termed “global warming” was perceived as the number one threat to mankind’s survival and prosperity on the planet.

Agitators like Maurice Strong, Al Gore, David Suzuki and others promoted the idea of CO2 as a “global evil” that would cause runaway global warming, the starvation of millions of people and, ultimately, the wholesale destruction of life on earth. Thus was born the idea of growing fuel.

The farmers in the corn-growing areas were very receptive to that idea as they could foresee rising demand for their product, supported by the biofuel mandate and government handouts. Since its inception in 2005 this mandate has been expanded at least twice, from an initial 5% ethanol in gasoline to the current 15% (with seasonal and geographical variations) on average. That represents a lot of corn; in fact somewhere in the order of one third of what is grown in the U.S.


But the biofuel mandate goes further than just ethanol in gasoline. Even the U.S. military was compelled to use biofuels for the powering of ships and airplanes. Those types of biofuels come from oil plants like canola that were previously also grown strictly for human consumption. Of course, the canola farmers on the continent were equally receptive to such ideas.

Bio-diesel and bio-jet fuel can certainly be made from plant-derived oils. Chemically, such oils differ from normal diesel or jet fuel by having some oxygen atoms in their structure, but are comparable in many physical properties. However, the cost of growing and refining such oils for use in jets is prohibitive at ten to twenty times the cost of traditional fuel made from fossil oil. So why does the mandate persist? Does it prevent “climate change” or preserve the natural environment?

Are Bio-Fuels Good?

Less CO2?

Whether you believe CO2 to be a “greenhouse gas” or not (it certainly is not) is entirely irrelevant in this context. The question here is only if growing (bio)-fuels and manipulating them to be used for powering various engines will reduce the CO2 output relative to the use of fossil resources. The unequivocal answer to that question is NO.

Every study performed that includes the often hidden costs of plowing the fields, sowing, fertilizing, irrigating, harvesting, drying, storing, transporting, converting, and distributing the fuel shows clearly that there is no energy gain at all but rather a loss. That energy loss automatically translates into a higher “carbon footprint” than otherwise necessary.

Good for nature?

Perhaps you think that pressing the (nearly) last piece of marginal land into agricultural production will enhance the local wildlife like the Monarch butterflies or protect the polar bears in the Arctic or be good for the penguins in the Antarctic.

Unfortunately, none of these is the case. The Monarch butterflies are close to being wiped out by conversion of marginal land which is the prime habitat for the milkweed plant (the preferred food for their caterpillars) and both the bears and penguins don’t give a hoot; they live off the other species in the oceans.

Good for the economy?

If you are a consumer of fuel like gasoline or diesel the biofuel mandate is certainly a part of increased fuel costs in recent years. Those increased costs come out of your pocket and largely go to the governments and biofuel producers by way of direct and indirect transfers. Of course and despite all protestations to the contrary nearly all levels of government are quite happy to see higher fuel prices as such automatically raise the revenue from cost-based taxes. Any claim to the contrary is a bold-faced lie.

Good for your mileage?

If your engine needs to deliver energy output at a certain level, the ethanol biofuel mandate is actually diminishing the available energy output from the ethanol-type fuel. The reason is easy to understand: both bio-ethanol and bio-diesel are, energetically speaking, already partly combusted hydrocarbons. Therefore, they cannot possibly deliver the same amount of energy as “un-combusted” fuel. Your fuel consumption will increase to compensate for that. Even if that were not a critical issue, ethanol in fuel can cause other problems in your vehicle.

Good for your vehicle? Anything but. In fact most car manufacturers have clearly stated that using gasoline with more than 10 or 15% ethanol will void any and all warranties. Even small amounts of water, for example from the air humidity can lead to phase separation, particularly so for two-cycle engines and in colder weather. Apart from that, ethanol is an excellent solvent that can dissolve many different materials that are fully resistant to pure gasoline.

Very simply, it is bad for your engine.

Good for business?

A considerable part of the bio-ethanol and other biofuel consumed in the U.S. is either imported directly from Brazil or produced in the U.S. from sugar imported from Brazil. For example, at least one U.S. company produces fuels from sugar. Without various government subsidies and mandates in support of such “green” enterprises, none of these alternative energy suppliers would have ever come about at all and most depend on the continuation of these incentive programs.

In reality, the cost for all that green comes right out of taxpayers’ wallets. Too many of such enterprises have gone bust soon after they received their last government “pay check.”

Good for farming?

While many farmers welcomed the original ethanol mandate as it supported demand for their products, new findings show an unexpected flip side: Some weeds are becoming resistant to herbicides, such as glyphosate, that are widely used to increase corn yields, For example, the magazine Nature reports that in the U.S. alone some 60 million acres of farmland are infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Indirectly, the biofuel mandate is also to blame for the increased resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides because it spurred reduced crop rotation. All in the name of “saving the climate” from a non-existent “greenhouse gas” effect by the 0.04% CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere.

The EPA is now seeking comments and direction from users on how to cope with the problem they have helped to create in the first place. Their assessment and new regulations to be forthcoming will likely introduce substantial new requirements on corn and soybean farming that will entail additional costs for the farmers in several ways. I think the time may not be far off when even farmers will come to realize that the biofuel mandate is more of a curse than a blessing.

Dr Klaus L E KaiserDr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser  Bio Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts ( )

Dr. Kaiser can be reached at:

20 thoughts on “The Biofuel Curse

  1. And as the population doubles over the next century, the conflict between land for food and land for biofuel will escalate, driving up the price of both.

    If the Greens were rational and serious, they’d be pushing nuclear power (no CO2 missions) and hydrogen fuel for transportation (no CO2 emissions), both of which need to happen, even if, or even though, CO2 emissions do not “poison” the environment or drive climate change.


    For the simple reason that oil is probably a finite resource, and as long as the world’s growing energy demand depends on oil, the conflicts for control of oil, and gas, around the world, will escalate.

    Going nuke will de-escalate the coming oil wars.

    • World population will peak at around 9.5 billion around 2050 at the current fertility rates. By 3000 the population will have dropped off rapidly and Western Civilization will disappear.

      If that sounds preposterous look at any of the charts produced from reputable sources which show rates by country. A fertility rate of 2.1 is needed to sustain our population. The world average is about 2.55 and the rates of all European countries are well below 2.0. One of the highest is the U.S. at 2.05. Even most of South American countries are below the sustaining level. The fertility rates in Africa are very high. Otherwise the world rate would be lower.

      All of the above hinges on global warming and increased CO2. If we are sliding into another cooling period the resulting loss of available food crops found plunge the world into famine and war. Then the decline could be much sooner.

      Nice, huh. It took all of us being here to bring us to the current level of technology. What happens when half of us disappear in 85 years?

      Greenies want economical collapse so they will be ecstatic until they have to live with the result.

    • Mathematically speaking Earths population cannot double over the next century. It will rise to near 9 billion by 2055 and then fall permanently. This is due to the demographics of aging.
      The reason we will get to 9 billion is because of the one off increase in average lifespans (IT DOUBLED)that occurred in the 20th century.

  2. Dr. Kaiser nails another one! EPA may as well be promoting the harvesting of energy from popping corn. 😉

    Iceland harvests a lot of energy from Geothermal. It seems to me we could do the same thing at Yellowstone. Why we aren’t is anyone’s guess.
    “Federal law forbids drilling to ever use Yellowstone’s geothermal power. IF drilling were allowed, it could wipe out the beautiful geyser fields.”
    Geothermal Energy Right Under Our Feet

  3. Thank you Dr. Kaiser

    There are a couple more points I would like to add to your essay.

    Huge amounts of western water is used to irrigate corn for biofuels.

    The vast majority of irrigation water in Colorado comes from rivers. Much of the water usage in the Front Range is pumped over from the western slope.

    Corn is a ‘Heavy Feeder’ and requires a lot of fertilizer. It is also hard on the soil because of erosion due to the bare soil between plants. This leads to fertilizer and soil ending up in our streams and rivers.
    The Effects of Corn Monoculture on Soils

    Erosion: Drive to increase corn acres could damage soil

    Worse Farmers have forgotten the lessons of the Dust Bowl era and are now putting to plow every available inch of soil. Windbreak trees and grass filter strips are disappearing under the plow. Farmers are even planting from road edge to road edge! Farming in road right-of-way raises safety concerns

    ADM profits Soar 550 Percent as Ethanol Margins Improve

    Want Food Security? Bring Back a National Grain Reserve The grain reserve was abolished in the 1996 Freedom to Fail Farm Bill.

    How Goldman gambled on starvation

    This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it “a silent mass murder”, entirely due to “man-made actions.” Through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations [controlling agricultural futures contracts] were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into “derivatives” that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in “food speculation” was born. The speculators drove the price through the roof.

    Here is the real attitude of these sons of…..

    In summary, we have record low grain inventories globally as we move into a new crop year. We have demand growing strongly. Which means that going forward even small crop failures are going to drive grain prices to record levels. As an investor, we continue to find these long term trends…very attractive.” Food shortfalls predicted: 2008

    Recently there have been increased calls for the development of a U.S. or international grain reserve to provide priority access to food supplies for Humanitarian needs. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) strongly advise against this concept..Stock reserves have a documented depressing effect on prices… and resulted in less aggressive market bidding for the grains.” July 22, 2008 letter to President Bush

    As a farmer and a chemist, there is nothing good I can say about corn or biofuels. I refuse to lease my land to a neighbor who wants to “mine my soil” It has taken twenty years to start rectifying the damage done. My farm due to poor practices on leased land, suffered the complete loss of all two feet of topsoil and ceased to produce a crop. That is why it was sold-off.

  4. It was well known before their full steam ahead commitment that this would be both an economic and agricultural disaster. But form and appearance are more important than substance and reality. Ask any leftist.

  5. Burning our food is just nuts. Only a brain dead zombie (libtard) would even consider burning our food.

  6. It’s a scam. Gasoline consumption declines in the fall-winter, which is when ethanol is added that reduces mpg efficiency by the proportion of ethanol to gasoline. Therefore, we consume more gasoline at a lower mpg to make up for the fewer miles driven and the gasoline we would otherwise consume.

    This is yet another corporate-statist cartel’s managing of the economy for the benefit of an infinitesimally small percent of the population, not unlike Wall St., “health care”, “education”, and “free trade”, i.e., offshoring, “globalization”, etc.

  7. Hi, I had asked u if u were going to update your book. You responded, basically, probably not. I hope you will reconsider given that it appears we are approaching a critical period of time where there are some different approaches and opinions, but still a tremendous vacuum between knowledge and accessibility to laypeople. You say it would end up being a $4 an hour proposition. However, I would argue that there are many innovations that would make this go much more smoothly, especially since you are not re-creating the wheel, but updating one of the iconic, sentinel works on the coming Ice Age. Just hear me out, I published a non fiction education related book several years ago. If you use a company like Lightning Source, you can do Print on Demand and you get access to the big distributors, Ingram and Baker & Taylor. So since you are only doing POD, you are not running the risk a typical publisher runs with having stock. At the same time, you can use the ebook route and make it available thru Amazon and BN, as well as your website. The bottom line is if you sell a POD, book, you get over 50% after their printing and shipping cost. It’s seamless. The ebooks sold from your site, depending on how you go about it, is basically all yours minus paypal fees. The way i would do it is dictate each chapter update, or additional chapters, then send the audio via email or link to a contractor from Elance, or of that ilk. then they send you back the typed up text, and you can efit from there. (trust me dictation can be uncomfortable but its light years faster). You have a large audience, which will be growing as things get colder. You would be opening a lot of eyes and helping. Unfortunately, the others out there are far less approachable and many clearly have an axe to grind which distracts from the importance of the issue. You could even consider a collaboration with someone else, but that’s up to you if course. Anyway, no need to publish my comment, but please, please think about it. We need you. 🙂

  8. Biofuel done on a large scale is costly and the more grandiose the scale the more diminished the return on it to the point the market will not bear the cost unless prices/markets are manipulated to jack up the price of other fuels.

    Now for a farmer of homeowner to make ethanol it can be very cost effective and I have seen many articles from the 70s oil embargo days and many tried it and one farmer even came up with a solar still for making fuel his gasoline powered tractors and while the process was a little slow, he had all year and all the corn he could ask for so it worked out for him as he made all the fuel he needed with fuel to spare to run a 400 acre farm and turn a profit.

  9. Corn is about the worst possible ag product to use for bio-fuel, but of course it is also being pushed by the ag giants such as Monsanto and Archer, Midland Daniels, et al, who are doing such a great job of poisoning our food supply and command the politicians of both of our Coke and Pepsi political parties which our esteemed author fails to mention. Industrial hemp would be a much better idea for fuel production because it grows almost anywhere, requires almost nothing to grow,and gives you far more energy per capita than corn. Nothing wrong with bio-fuel if it is done intelligently rather than as a corporate welfare scheme for established mega-agribusiness interests who are also involved in the petrochemical industries. I know several people who converted their cars from diesel fuel to bio-fuel (leftover cooking oil that restaurants have to pay to dispose of)and they no longer have to pay 4 to 5 dollars a gallon for gas. But forget all that. The real deal would be hydrogen fuel cells which our oil companies fight tooth and nail. Out.

  10. the gmo corn theyre using has created huge issues not just for poor soils and the glyphostae resistant bugs but dead soils, add nicotinamide and other pestcontroller syatemic poisons IN every cell of the plant as well as the RR and Bt
    killing not just bees but everything else inc small mammals bats n birds.
    they plan to move to 24D resistnt crops as well
    smart stax corn etc
    Id like to pour gore a big glassful!

  11. During the next twenty years most Northern Hemisphere nations will be growing wheat much further south on land previously wasted on fuel crops. An indicator of this will be the final wheat/corn harvest data in North America this year. A lot of people are going to get very thin, before the Solar Minimum returns to more normal output levels during SC26.
    By that time the hoax of AWG and the CO2 hockey stick will be well known and the Green terrorists will have lost their charitable status.

  12. Still, I wouldn’t go nuklear. I are a radsafe tech in my day job and I am a heluva lot more laid back about my radiation exposure than most folk (I figure I don’t get -enough- each day) and I really, really don’t want a nuclear world. I would rather superinsulate (straw bale houses are awesome; add a greenhouse on the south side and you need to open windows in the winter!) I mean, I can hang out near hot stuff all day — but I really don’t want it in my body, right? where I can’t get away from it? I’ve about given up on Pacific fish due to Fukushima, personally (ymmv). I’d even rather walk than go nuke.

    Or go with thorium reactors.

  13. I am in favor of biofuels because in addition to their direct products, there is a plethora of byproducts such as CO2, lots of animal feeds, and resin for plastics and chemicals. It’s like nothing goes to waste and its usefulness skyrockets. We are farmers, we sell some corn for ethanol, some for grain. We buy animal feeds from the ethanol plant (keeping beef cheaper) and use the forage from corn stalks as feed as well. Then we also use the fuel for our machinery. That’s just what I can think of at the moment. The CO2 is very valuable in manufacturing and the market takes every bit that can be produced.

  14. In the US the problem is the “Iowa Caucuses” that start the presidential primary season: politicians of both parties support the ethanol mandate and subsidies to get votes in Iowa. Only John McCain refused. He lost Iowa and the election. The stupid Europeans are importing vast quantities of palm oil to make biodiesel, and causing the extinction of Orangutans in Borneo, as the forest is clear cut to make way for palm oil plantations.

  15. Any body wasting their time with low yield corn for bio-fuels is deluded.

    Hemp will yield 10 times the output per acre of around 7600L per acre and 6% of USA farmland will grow all the fuel you need. Then with non thc hemp as the soucre we have cattle food or even human food, plus cellulose. The farmers got conned, hemp is $1.5-3K per acre crop.

    A weed called cat-tails in towns sewerage, can make 35,000L per acre of sewerage.

    The govt works on corn because its good for the oil lobby.

    Hemp as a distilled oil and juiced cures diseases like cancer. Now wonder the globalist who you have allowed to subvert government wanted it suppressed

    Henry Ford wanted an ethanol future. We got lead and prohibition thanks to oil, not his dream.

    Who gave right wing christian groups $200 million in today’s terms in 1915 to push for prohibition, the oil industry. Plus how much other lobbying occurred.

    They could not care if you got drunk they wanted the stills stopped to produce car fuel. Ford pleaded for years to get those distilleries for fuel use.

    Most of the green movement look at the wrong stuff.

    Learn history and don’t be shackled to other people’s version written by them for you.

    Have a listen to this, low key but listen hard.


    hemp vs corn

    Health and hemp

  16. corn as biofuel is not good. But there is plenty of plants that can be grown on poor land (that won’t compete with food) that can be used for biofuels. Contrary to what is stated in the article, there are numerous studies that show that there is a net-gain in energy when growing biofuels properly. You just don’t want to waste good food land for the production of fuel. Hell, I’m not a fan of using corn for fuel at all, but the biproduct of corn-ethenol (DDGS) is a much better food for animals than corn is. The ethenol can then be a by product.

    Secondly, there IS a CO2 reduction when growing plants for biofuel. CO2 is used throughout the plant (roots, stalks, fruit) but only part of the plant is turned into fuel. All that plant that is not used still contains the CO2 collected and not re-released. –Of course that is a rather moot point in that CO2 is not a problem.

    A good place to get some of these studies is a book call “Alcohol can be a gas”. At least, that was where I began my research.

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