E85 Boondoggle of the Day: Alabama Buys More, Pays More

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The Alabama Press-Register's headline: "State invests in ethanol, but results mixed." Invests? Mixed? You guessed it. "State agencies have doubled purchases this year of E85, an ethanol-gasoline mixture, citing its production from domestic sources and ever higher costs of conventional gasoline." In practice, "the state Department of Transportation paid more per gallon for E85 than it did for gasoline in five of the 10 months between May 2007 and March of 2008." So how much is this boondoggle costing Yellowhammer State taxpayers? "In March, E85 cost the department $2.64 a gallon, while gasoline cost $2.46. Despite the higher price, state records show DOT bought an additional 4,224 gallons of the mixture that month, an increase of nearly 40 percent." Even without the 40 percent increase, that's a $10k E85 surcharge for five months' corn juice. The executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition blames… gas prices. "In order to get any product anywhere in this country, it takes a truck or engines," said Mark Bentley. "And currently, those engines are fueled by petrodiesel, which is currently tied to price of gasoline." Mr. Bentley called for Alabama-based E85 plants. So far, only one company has so proposed.

Robert Farago
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  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on May 29, 2008

    It never ceases to amaze me that ethanol proponents can't see the amount of oil used in all stages of agricultural production and the connection between monetary cost and total energy consumption.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on May 29, 2008

    Now the maroons in the Canadian government decide to jump on the ethanol bandwagon. We don't grow enough corn in Canada to make 2 billion gallons of ethanol. http://ca.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idCAN2739045520080528

  • Juniper Juniper on May 30, 2008

    Don't forget it takes energy to refine crude into gasoline and move it to market. How does gasoline get to Alabama? Do they have a pipeline or does it come by truck and train? Even if they have a pipeline it gets moved from the terminal by truck.

  • Rodster205 Rodster205 on May 30, 2008

    ash78: I'm certain there is at least one biodiesel plant in south Alabama (can't remember where, but somewhere between Mobile and Evergreen) and I believe another is coming on line soon somewhere near Dothan, and several more are in the works. I believe they are using soybeans as the raw material. I need to go find that article... Juniper: Gasoline gets here by pipeline, mostly from Louisiana, and then is dispersed by truck to the pumps. The Birmingham area has several of the main pipelines running from Louisiana refineries to the Northeast, so there are several large gasoline "tank farms" around town where the tanker trucks roll from to your friendly neighborhood C-store. I don't believe there are ANY ethanol plants in Alabama, it is not a corn state. Any E85 here is being brought in from somewhere else, or being made from switchgrass or something other than corn. Actually Auburn University (the other Alabama university) is one of the leaders in research on these alternative sources of ethanol and biodiesel.