By on April 30, 2008

ethanolpump.jpgLast year, the Canadian government initiated an "aggressive push" to produce fuel from crops. The 2007 federal budget included a C$2.2b support package for biofuels. According to a report in the Globe and Mail, "political consensus in favor of biofuels is suddenly breaking down." Member of Parliament (MP) Keith Martin thinks it's time to step back and "put a moratorium on it now so people can actually wrap their heads around the facts; the current biofuel strategy is deeply misguided." The president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association claims "the issues that come up have nothing to do with food supply."  Gord Quaiattin says concerned Canadian should blame rising oil prices for food costs. "Everybody's screaming about 'food for fuel'; it's too bad we can't have a rational debate in this country," sighs MP David McGuinty. Still, it may be too late to shut the door: the government has poured billions into a biofuel facilities fund. Fourteen plants are running already and six more being built- so this horse may have already left the barn.

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11 Comments on “Canadian Government Struggles With Biofuel Issues...”

  • avatar

    Let’s just play make-believe for a moment and assume that bio-fuels have thus far had no impact on food prices or supplies. Because food prices are rising at an uncomfortable rate and because we are starting to see shortages in certain areas, couldn’t we assume that continued bio-fuel production and development would be putting extra strain on a structure that isn’t even up to code in the first place?

  • avatar

    The change in food prices has had more impact on my family budget (by a factor of 5-10x) vs. the increase in gas prices. So much for making that choice to live near work. Now I need to look at houses with a big yard and good soil! :D

    I keep hearing that the key factors behind both food and energy increases are “demand in emerging markets”…but last time I checked, it’s not like someone just flipped a switch in China and India 12 months ago. This change is far more of a shock than a transition.

  • avatar

    That Keith Martin is a clever guy.

    Too bad he crossed the floor years ago and now finds himself stuck in Opposition.

    That said, biofuels is nowhere near as accelerated in Canada as in the U.S.

    There are few E85 stations in Canada, mostly in the east.

  • avatar

    Recently, a new law came into effect in the UK that ALL petrol and diesels have to contain AT LEAST 2.5% biofuel with the figure rising to 5% by 2010.

    I spoke to a few people and checked my figures and the general conclusion is that the mpg on cars aren’t as good as they used to be, prior to the biofuel law. If this is the case (and I’m pretty sure it is) then I can’t see ANY benefit here.

    Whatever you gain in CO2 reduction, you’ll gain in refineries refining more petrol because mpg’s are falling. Not to mention, putting pressure on world food prices, displacing people to make way for arable farmland, etc.

  • avatar


    There are many places in the US where 10% ethanol is the norm now. Where I live, it appears that only Exxon (Esso) is doing this, so I’m hoping the fad doesn’t spread.

    Honestly, I think Exxon is only doing it because it lets them advertise a few cents lower on the price to lure the suckers in, hoping they don’t know what the “10% ethanol” placard means on the pump. Shameful.

  • avatar
    Powell Lucas

    What I find most strange about the biofuels controversy is how the very opposition parties who were castigating the government because they weren’t moving quickly enough on taking action to reduce emmissions are now advocating a more cautious approach. This new found cautionary mantra mirrors the comments on the global warming blog sites. Whereas a few short months ago all the blogs of the ‘earth is doomed’ persuasion were having hysteriacl fits over the slow implementation of biofuels there has now descended a strange blanket of silence. I suspect this silence is a result of these people trying to find some new panacea to promote rather than a consideration of just how complicated the problem is.

  • avatar

    It appears the addition of 5 or 10% ethanol causes the emmission equipment to call for a richer mixture. So you add ethanol and the mileage goes down.

    And in the USA last year they used about 25% of the corn crop to replace about 5% of the gasoline. (around 7 billion gallons of ethanol and a total gas consumption around 150 billion gallons) And the USA corn crop is huge, by far the largest in the world. How ‘experts’ could study this and decide it was a good idea makes no sense. The ethanol scam was really put in place to provide under the table subsidies to agriculture and placate the Global Warming crowd.

  • avatar

    @Powell Lucas

    The same UN that was screaming AGW and we need biofuels is now declaring they will fix the food shortage. The UN has become such a corrupt useless organization mirroring most of the third world governments that run it.

  • avatar

    Folks familiar with me here at TTAC know that I’ve written before, that I’ve tried E10 (aka “gasohol”) whis is 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol, in cars since 1979, and in virtually EVERY case, my efficiency (MPG) has dropped from about 5% to 25%. In EVERY CAR. I’ve tested probably over a dozen cars. So, ethanol is WORSE than wasteful, because we are obviously not only burning food but we’re having to import MORE oil because of a lack of efficiency in the cars caused by corrupting the fuel with ethanol.

    Yes, post-1984 cars particularly suffer, because the oxygen sensor on the exhaust “tells” the computer to enrichen the mixture (because ethanol is an oxygenate). Plus, ethanol has fewer BTU per gallon, so even 10% ethanol causes folks to push the go-pedal harder to get their expected performance, though I think people do this subconsciously.

    Ethanol will prove to be one of the biggest mistakes the world has ever seen.

    We should not starve people so we can drive SUVs, oversized trucks and powerful cars.

    Anyone saying “oh it’s the oil which is causing the food crisis” is being disengenious. Corn being planted in massive quantities to make ethanol is displacing other crops, which raises food prices. It’s not brain surgery to figure this out…

    Glad to see Canada following Europe in smartening up on this situation, hope America follows soon.

  • avatar

    Some truth about gasahol and mileage.

  • avatar

    It only seems like yesterday that everybody was on the biofuel bandwagon…

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