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Governor to unveil ambitious energy plan - Updated x1

Tuesday, Aug 22, 2006

The governor gets super ambitious.

Pointing to high fuel costs and dependence on foreign oil, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich wants his state to overhaul its energy sources with a strategy that experts said would be among the nation’s most ambitious, including replacing half its current supply of gasoline from imported oil with that made from homegrown products in little more than a decade.

On Tuesday, Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat seeking a second term in November, will announce a five-part, $1.2 billion plan, elements of which would require the legislature’s support, aides said.

Highlights include:

Investing $225 million to build as many as 20 new ethanol facilities, five new biodiesel facilities and four new facilities that use corn husks or other plant waste to manufacture ethanol. The increased production of ethanol and biofuels would enable Illinois to replace half of its current supply of imported oil with renewable, homegrown energy sources, according to the governor’s office.

Spending $30 million to boost the number of gasoline stations that sell biofuels, especially E85, which consists of 85 percent ethanol. By 2010, an additional 900 stations would sell E85.

Spending $775 million to help build as many as 10 new coal gasification plants that would use Illinois coal. The resulting energy would meet some of the state’s need for diesel fuel, natural gas and electricity.

Building a $100 million pipeline that would move carbon dioxide from the coal gasification plants to oilfields in southeastern Illinois, where more oil and natural gas would be extracted from the ground.

Much of the $1.2 billion plan will be funded by stepped-up efforts to collect taxes owed by “largely corporate taxpayers,” said Bob Greenlee, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

This sounds very interesting. You can quibble here and there, of course, but how could you not be for stuff like this?

UPDATE: The Sierra Club has a few major quibbles, including this one:

It takes 4-5 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol, and Illinois historically has lacked programs to regulate water withdrawals to ensure that large users in the wrong place do not take water needed for drinking, for wildlife, or for other uses. If 2.5 billion gallons of ethanol are produced in Illinois under this plan, it will require a tremendous amount of water.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

53 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:03 am:

    Ummm, how in the heck are we going to pay for it?

    That would be my quibble.


  2. - OneMan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:06 am:

    If there was 1.2 billion in uncollected taxes sitting out there from business, why hasn’t this administration gone after it before now? It’s not like we don’t need the money.


  3. - Common Sense in Illinois - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:12 am:

    Cost of such a program is an important consideration. However, the tone the governor uses in describing the plan seems like an isolationist approach…I’ve never heard of a state having an isolationist policy — well not since before the Civil War broke out.


  4. - DOWNSTATE - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:17 am:

    Election year tactics plus he has to do something to get the press back on him after JBT’s express.Why do these people come up with these plans only 2 months of every 4 years.


  5. - schroedk - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:20 am:

    I agree with Common Sense; I don’t like the isolationist approach of the proposal. However, I like the coal gasification plant proposal. More states need to start doing this, in addition to more drilling for oil. We’ve got the resources here; we need to tap into them now (or better yet, 10 years ago). I’m not too fired up about E85 personally. I think it’s a stop-gap measure easy to utilize now, and is great for our agriculture-based economy, but I see hydrogen fuel playing a much bigger role in the future. If we want to invest as a state, coal gasification and hydrogen seem like the way to go to me.


  6. - Lee - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:25 am:

    OneMan
    I agree. What have they been doing. Waiting for a rainy day. Shows the incompentence of this administration or they really do believe in smoke and mirrors as policy the continue to spout. I like how they describe it as a stepped-up effort to collect taxes from largely corporations. Note not large corporation, but largely corporations. Sounds like another round of tax increases or fees or whatever they want to call revenue enhancements on ALL corporations. Typical liberal social engineering by the Democrats.
    Rich, even I thought you would have pointed out this little revenue thing as quibble. You have fallen under their spell.


  7. - anon - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:27 am:

    i thought the governor already had a fabu record for going after back corporate taxes. i have real work to do so i will look for it later. good idea but there couldn’t really be $1.2 b in back taxes…


  8. - Lovie's Leather - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:39 am:

    “elements of which would require the legislature’s support, aides said.” Blagojevich… needing legislative support… ha… right…


  9. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:39 am:

    A couple of thoughts. First of all, when gas prices started climbing last summer, why didn’t GoverNOT Hairdo come out with a proposal then? The technology has been there to do this, just not the money. Secondly, I believe I read somewhere that Brazil is totally independent of foreign oil as they use only ethanol made from sugar cane. This program can work - somewhere. Not sure it will in Illinois. Elvis has already hocked the pension system and raided so many other funds to make it look like he has balanced the budget that the chance of coming up with money for a program as important as this is slim to none. It’s election pandering. The price of oil and gasoline is too important of an issue to wait until 3 months before your re-election attempt. Sorry Elvis, no atta boy for this one.


  10. - Reality Check - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:45 am:

    My personal quibble is this: It’s an economic development plan dressed up as an environmental one.

    To wit:

    Coal gasification and natural gas still result, bottom line, in burning non-renewable, carbon-releasing fossil fuels.

    And studies have shown that when ethanol production is considered as a total process, it is no better for the environment and requires no lesser exploitation of fossil fuels than just simply burning petroleum. Why? Because the gargantuan industrial agriculture model that dominates today’s corn production chews up immense amounts of oil and gas both in fuel and fertilizers. So yes, the gas you put in your car burns slightly cleaner when it’s E-85, but to produce that ethanol you’ve burned through (and released into the atmosphere) an equal amount of nonrenewable fossil fuels.

    So this plan isn’t good for the environment. It wouldn’t reduce our state’s reliance on fossil fuels or cut the levels of carbon we release into the atmosphere.

    It’s a economic plan that would transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to the coffers of the energy companies and ag conglomerates that do business in the state. You can debate whether you thinks that’s a good idea on its own terms (I don’t), but doing good for the environment has nothing to do with it.

    (So on second thought, maybe it’s not an economic plan either. It’s politics! Gasp.)


  11. - moderate - half way between crazy and crazy. - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:51 am:

    right plan wrong man. Hopefully either Judy Barr or Pat Quinn will take this up.


  12. - Finally, ...Leadership - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:54 am:

    This is exactly the type of big idea that’s going to appeal to voters. Of course it’s an election year stunt, but this is a great move: He brings it home for a number of core constiuencies.

    A previous commenter noted that it might be more of an economic plan than environmental one, and that’s correct, and that’s part of what makes it a beautiful thing. If America (and Illinois) wants to compete in the global economy, we need to become more focused on innovation and technology, investing in this alternative energy forms now is a step in the right direction. And while the process might not be totally environmentally sound, it’s also a step towards embracing sustainable policies.


  13. - sam - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:56 am:

    Reality Check,

    It’s neither. It’s an energy plan. _I_ could even understand that part.

    The plan is simply trying to use something we can produce in Illinois as opposed to something that we buy overseas (that is in limited supply).

    Here’s my analogy: If you had a choice, would you rather buy a grain silo filled with corn, or would you rather buy a field of corn that you could farm year after year?


  14. - Leroy - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:03 pm:

    I like the plan.

    Just make sure you build the ethanol ‘plants’ (read: refineries) in someone else’s backyard.

    Then everyone wins!


  15. - Reality Check - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:10 pm:

    Sam says: Here’s my analogy: If you had a choice, would you rather buy a grain silo filled with corn, or would you rather buy a field of corn that you could farm year after year?

    Neither. I’d put my $1.2 billion into wind, solar, and fuel cell technology, as well as greater investment in rail transit.


  16. - Lovie's Leather - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:16 pm:

    Read this… https://www.1888932-2946.ws/judyforgov/E-PressRelease/displaycontent.asp?a=5757&z=59

    Makes Blagojevich look like a Johnny-come-lately. And he makes no mention of wind power…


  17. - Grand Old Partisan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:20 pm:

    My “quibble” is this: the Governor “Pointed to high fuel costs” as one of the problems that this plan is supposed to address, but he doesn’t even offer a hint of what kind of fuel savings we can expect as a result of this. If we’re talking about spending $1.2 billion so that each of us can save less than we would if he’d just suspend the windfall portion of the sales tax on gas, then what’s really the point? I’m all for green energy when it’s economically advantageous to consumers/taxpayers– which, far as I can tell, this plan is not.


  18. - Huh? - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:22 pm:

    - Finally, …Leadership

    What are you smoking? Leadership from Governor Puffery? Get real.


  19. - Bubs - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:24 pm:

    Classic Blago. Big goals, great sound bite, and no demonstrable way to actually achieve the goal.

    “‘Much of the $1.2 billion plan will be funded by stepped-up efforts to collect taxes owed by largely corporate taxpayers,’ said Bob Greenlee, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.”

    To Mr. Greenlee and Mr. Blagojevich:

    1. You weren’t doing stepped up efforts on scofflaws before? You let that much money slide by every year? Who are these blatant tax cheats, Blago campaign donors?

    2. $1.2 BILLION, all from scofflaws, huh?

    3. Beating up tax cheats is something we are to accept - wait, RELY ON! - as a solid source of funding, huh?

    More BlagoBull.


  20. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:42 pm:

    Isn’t there a huge federal subsidy for ethanol?
    Otherwise, it would cost more than gas. Will Illinois taxpayers be paying additional subsidies for Blago’s energy dreams should they actually happen.

    As to the uncollected corporate taxes, the OMB guy was rather vague on what he meant. However,
    improving collection of corporate taxes would require Illinois revenue agents who can actually think. Given the patronage-choked nature of Illinois state government, it seems unlikely that
    our Illinois tax collection bureacracy is up to the task.


  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:53 pm:

    “…funded by stepped-up efforts to collect taxes owed…”

    If he really cared about that maybe he would be doing that already and wouldn’t need to raid the teacher’s pension fund. Of course, that’s downstate teachers only, not Chicago.


  22. - Justice - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 12:56 pm:

    30,000 more jobs, Illinois’s own resources….. mo money, mo money, mo money. We could fuel the entire state for years on Blogo’s bs alone. Where has this genius been the last 3 1/2 years? Where was this brilliance hidden? It will take longer to develop the supply chain and cost more to produce ethanol than it will to buy oil. If the genio Blogo wants to invest, invest in solar, wind, hydrogen. Introduce companies in Illinois to special twenty-year tax incentives, and power and water incentives to develop new energy technologies. Encourage new innovative companies to build in Illinois to help explore new energy sources and techniques. Provide grants to colleges. Make energy resource development a major revolution in Illinois. This will lead to jobs, economic growth, and cleaner and cheaper sources of energy for everyone.


  23. - Ag Knowledge - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 1:17 pm:

    Comparative Advantage

    Illinois has a comparative advantage as far as agricultural is concerned. Production of new ethanol plants will drive the Illinois economy as the construction of the plants will make builders money. Ethanol and BioDiesel plants will drive up the price of corn and soybeans, making farmers more money. Lower energy prices help all areas of business throughout the state. These groups will then reinvest the additional money they make into the rest of the economy.

    The reports of ethanol actually using more energy than it produces are simply incorrect. There is no other way to state it. The research has been done and ethanol and biodiesel production does not use more energy than it produces.

    We don’t need to use the fifth fleet to protect our cornfields either. Is that figured into the costs of ethanol or biodiesel production?


  24. - scoot - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 1:37 pm:

    Nice headlines…again. But leave this up to the professionals.


  25. - Bill - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 1:44 pm:

    Egypt,
    I hear Paducah is nice this time of year.


  26. - It is easy being Green - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 1:57 pm:

    Looks like the Governor is trying to seem more GREEN, but he is up for a fight on that front!

    I think Blagojevich’s people have been reading Rich Whitney’s plan for a New Deal on sustainable energy and transportation.

    If YOU want to read a credible and practical plan for where Illinois should be heading with sustainable energy and transportation, INCLUDING HOW TO PAY FOR IT, please read Rich Whitney’s New Deal policy found here:

    http://whitneyforgov.org/articles/EnergyPolicy.htm

    Governor Blagojevich is an environmental Jonny-Come-Lately who is trying to compete with Rich Whitney and other Illinois Green Party candidates on one of their key issues. Please don’t be fooled. In addition to the candidate with the most responsible plan to fix our energy and transportation crisis in Illinois, Rich Whitney is the only candidate in the Governor’s race who has confirmed he will be speaking at the IL Environmental Council’s Leadership Dinner October 5th. Wonder if the other two candidates will be there? Should be interesting.

    Politically exhausted? Recharge with the Green Party!


  27. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 2:57 pm:

    I’m glad GoverNOT Hairdo is actually recognizing that the Green Party candidate is someone he needs to pay attention to.


  28. - taxmandan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 3:07 pm:

    According to the Gov’s press release these delinquent “corporate taxes” that I guess the state has been saving for a rainy day include:
    1. Corporate income tax
    2. Sales taxes collected, but not remitted to IDOR.
    3. Out-of-state businesses illegally sheltering their IL tax liabilities.

    The Governor claims that the energy plan will cost $27 million per year. According to the press release IDOR estimates that businesses owe between $35-40 million in unpaid taxes.

    Using the larger $40 million dollar figure, 67% of the outstanding taxes would have to be collected (from business that already don’t pay their taxes) just to cover the $27 million per year that the plan requires. In the statement the Governor claims that his plan will produce more than $30 million of these uncollected taxes in FY 2007 (75% collection) and as much as $40 million (100% collection) in FY 2008. All this is made possible by hiring 150 new auditors. Sure.

    http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&RecNum=5200


  29. - taxmandan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 3:22 pm:

    Easy Green:
    Rich Whitney would make Karl Marx blush.


  30. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 3:29 pm:

    But they have to be smart auditors, to go up against the corporates. And there’s the problem.
    And their managers have to be smart too. It’s easy to go after clueless individual taxpayers. It takes brains to go after corporations protected by employees who were hired on merit, not clout.


  31. - Bill - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 3:39 pm:

    To paraphrase one of my heroes who must be busy today:
    Another HOMERUN for GROD!
    Bring it on.


  32. - Reality Check - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 4:08 pm:

    Ag Knowledge claims: The reports of ethanol actually using more energy than it produces are simply incorrect. There is no other way to state it. The research has been done and ethanol and biodiesel production does not use more energy than it produces.

    And he’s right. But nobody said it uses more. I earlier said it uses the same amount. Here’s a citation from Michael Pollan, who has written extensively on this and other related topics; his best-known book is The Botany of Desire: “It takes two gallons of oil to produce three gallons of corn-based ethanol, at best. For every barrel of oil saved through corn-based ethanol, the taxpayer cost is $120. Makes $70-per-barrel oil look like a bargain.”

    Basically, Pollan says, our ag economy has come to be so dominated by unnaturally, unsustainably huge corn production that we’ve invented all these strange ways to get rid of all that corn–like feeding it to cows (which aren’t adapted to eat corn, and thus must be shot full of antibiotics to force their bodies to accept it), and converting it through various messy processes into ethanol our cars can burn, among other things.

    Does Ag Knowledge know something Pollan doesn’t? I doubt it.


  33. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 4:23 pm:

    Reality check, there’s also the other side, which is how much energy it takes to produce and deliver a gallon of gasoline. From Business Week:

    ===Michael Wang, a scientist at the Energy Dept.-funded Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research, says “The energy used for each unit of ethanol produced has been reduced by about half [since 1980].” Now, Wang says, the delivery of 1 million British thermal units (BTUs) of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels. (That does not include the solar energy—the sun shining—used in growing corn.) By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels.===

    Add in the indirect government subsidies to oil - meaning much of the nation’s defense budget - and the fact that so many of our overseas oil suppliers actively fund the ideological and religious hatred against their biggest customers (us), and ethanol/soy diesel doesn’t look so bad to me.


  34. - Reality Check - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 4:48 pm:

    Rich, good point on the former, but the latter essentially mimics Sam’s earlier position (Would you like to buy a silo of corn, or a corn field?) and has its same flaw: It’s a false choice. If Illinois has $1.2 b to spend on new investment in energy, your options aren’t limited to just petroleum or ethanol (or coal), all of which consume huge amounts of non-renewable fossil fuels. Put some or all of the money into developing wind, solar, fuel cells, and/or to building our rail capacity.


  35. - Johnny Risk - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 4:55 pm:

    So we haven’t built a refinery in this country in years, now all of a sudden, we are going to be building 20 of them?

    I’m sure left to the politicians, they will engineer an ethanol infrastructure that has none of the shortcomings of the petroleum infrastructure.

    Sigh.


  36. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 5:02 pm:

    RC, I have no problem putting money into other energy options. But we have a lot of farmers already and ethanol should be a big part of the mix.

    Also, Johnny, ethanol plants are not refineries.


  37. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 5:09 pm:

    I like the idea. Over in Iowa, in Lee County, there’s a windmill blade factory that Siemens is going to build (I guess the deal just got signed). If we can get wind, biodiesel, ethanol, E85, whatever, production and use going in the midwest, we can hopefully revive the flagging rural economies and show the rest of the nation how it’s done.

    I do think we need to consider nuclear energy too. I know Exelon has had some tridium problems lately, but Montana has large Uranium reserves and nuclear-generated electricity is very clean electricity (and again something we can produce domestically).


  38. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 5:11 pm:

    Two Items:
    1. Guess if Rod can find $1M for a ball park, he can find several billion in owed taxes. Where his tax finders were two years ago is a mystery.
    2. So ethanol processing uses enormous amounts of water. Is this water recycled after processing or does it become waste/evaporate? It has to come from somewhere so is the aquafer system capable of providing the water needed without hitting the water tables? Got neighbors who already have to truck in water when their wells go dry.


  39. - Huh? - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 6:01 pm:

    Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 4:23 pm said “… Now, Wang says, the delivery of 1 million British thermal units (BTUs) of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels. (That does not include the solar energy—the sun shining—used in growing corn.) By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels.=== …”

    I have often wondered about this bit of information but have never known where to look.

    I guess this information blows a hole in the claim that it costs more to produce ethanol versus gasoline.


  40. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 6:10 pm:

    Bill, what does Paducah, Kentucky have to do with Illinois?


  41. - Just the facts - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 6:13 pm:

    Rod’s tax collection proposal is nonsense. If the taxes were easily collected they would have been collected already.

    Hiring 150 auditors to generate $30,000,000 in FY 2007 means that each auditor will be responsible for collecting $200,000 during the fiscal year. This is an unrealistic number. Tax auditors are Rutan-protected and have to be hired through a competitive process. This will not happen overnight,nor should it. The auditors are also union employees (AFSME).

    Also, there needs to be money to pay for the new auditors. I doubt that the Illinois Department of Revenue has any extra money in the personal services line item to hire another 150 auditors. So, if there needs to be a supplemental appropriation to hire new auditors that will have to be done in the veto session. IF the Revenue department waits to hire the auditors until they have an appropriation to pay them, the nature of the hiring process will mean that it will be no sooner than the beginning of calendar year 2007 when these auditors actually get hired.

    Next, you don’t just hire tax auditors and send them out to audit folks. As Cassandra notes in her comments, these folks have to understand some rather sophisticated tax concepts if they are going to go up against the purported “corporate scofflaws.” The training process for auditors takes a number of months in-house before the auditors are turned loose to audit taxpayers.

    Finally, if the taxpayers that the Governor is targeting are out of state, then he has to decide where to put these auditors. The Governor has closed virtually all of the out of state regional offices of the Revenue department. Unless he lets the auditors work out of state and out of their homes out of state he is going to have to open up some of the closed regional tax offices.

    Finally, most of the folks that are to be audited under this proposed aren’t going to just say “oh gee, you caught me using these ‘tax shelters,’ let me write you a check. As Cassandra notes, these are rather tax-savy folks who will challenge attempts at collection through audits. There is a minor matter of due process which allows taxpayers to challenge proposed tax assessments. Anything proposed for assessment today may be collected in 2 or 3 years if the taxpayer challenges the assessment.

    This is another bit of nonsense put forth by the Governor to secure re-election. We will be as likely to see concrete proposals and draft legislation prior to the election as we are to see the Governor loading up a moving van at his Chicago address and moving down to Springfield to live in the Governor’s mansion.


  42. - Squideshi - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 6:27 pm:

    Blagojevich may not be talking about Rich Whitney, unless refusing to debate him; but he sure is reacting to Whitney. He’s already been down to Southern Illinois, and now this GREEN-sounding energy plan. I think he’s worried.


  43. - taxmandan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 6:53 pm:

    Coincidently, the AP released a story today about the IRS private collection program. According to the article, the US Treasury expects to collect $1.4 billion in delinquent taxes over 10 years by using this program. Why don’t the Feds just call Governor Blagojevich, he can collect $1.2 billion in unpaid state taxes by simply hiring 150 auditors that target unpaid business taxes? On top of that he will have his energy plan funded by this scheme in 2017.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060822/ap_on_go_ot/irs_debt_collection


  44. - Disgusted - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 7:07 pm:

    Cafferty on CNN just presented Rod’s plan and asked for response to his question whether this was the way to go or did it belong in the federal zone. The responders whose responses he read on air all had good things to say about it. Little do they know.

    Of course, Dyed Hair Boy and his hangers-on will love this and it will be all over the campaign news now.

    It’s just a shame they didn’t read my letter telling it like it really is here in Illinois.


  45. - HoosierDaddy - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 7:29 pm:

    If only he could find a way to harness his own hot air….


  46. - NoGiftsPlease - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 7:57 pm:

    I think what is left out is that the high yield of Illinois agriculture, including corn, is driven by nitrogen fertilizers. Natural gas is used to produce it and accounts for 90% of the cost. I don’t even know how much fuel is used to produce the other chemicals required to maintain this level of production. When people say it takes more energy to produce ethanol, they are considering the energy to grow the corn as well as convert it to ethanol. If you’re interested, see this GAO report : http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d031148.pdf#search=’fertilizer%20production’ A lot of our fertilizer is imported, too. I think the conversion of power plants from coal to natural gas has pushed up the prices of natural gas even more. We can’t only look at the “build plants and replace gas” side of the equation, we have to look at how much it costs to grow an acre of corn and if the amount of fuel and sale price will make worth it.


  47. - NoGiftsPlease - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 8:01 pm:

    Sorry, I meant 90% of the cost of nitrogen fertilizer. From the report, nitrogen fertilizer is about 1/3 of the cost of an acre of corn. Fertilizer plus other chemicals is about 1/2 the cost of an acre — according to the GAO.


  48. - OneMan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 9:39 pm:

    Rich,

    You may want to look at this slate story
    http://www.slate.com/id/2122961/ and the Straight Dope
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/031128.html The energy in vs. energy out argument is by no means a done deal.

    Also I have a E85 ready car (a Ford Taurus) when I called my dealers service department about using E85 what I should be on the lookout for they said.

    Lower gas mileage and it would run rough. In fact he recomended against using it.

    Also 10 Billion gallons of water is roughly 41.5 days worth of average august daily flow of the Fox River in Montgomery.

    Or 3 days of the average flow of the Iowa river in August at a point just before it enters the Mississippi. (5000 cubic feet per second, 7.48 gallons per cubic feet). A lot of water.

    OneMan


  49. - JohnR - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 9:53 pm:

    If the Ethanol Plants are built along the main rivers, then we shouldn’t have a problem with the water.

    Remember - this doesn’t have to be well water. Mississippi and Ohio river water is fine.


  50. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 10:21 pm:

    There are several ethanol plants in the planning stages just south west of Springfield. There is no sizable river close. They plan on 25M bushels coming through one of them.


  51. - SilverBackDemocrat - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 10:44 pm:

    This is an absolutely brilliant idea that deserves to be explored, and hopefully it will become law and implimented. This is the kind of creative thinking that will bring Illinois to the forefront of cutting-edge industry. I hope this can become a reality. The state must invest in the future today! You have to spend money to make money. In addition to this, a Capital spending project to insure our infrastructure is top-notched, and we are in business, “for the first time.” This is very do-able! I hope the Governor can make a good commercial that is attractive, so voters can see the difference between what he and the Democrats want to do to help the private sector create jobs compared to the Republican-obstructionist’s. I would ram it down their throats because you can just about guarantee Republicans will be against it. Therefore, “we” can see it first hand how they truly are against everything. Don’t let the Republicans steal this election with their smear tactics Mr. Governor! Go on the offensive! Remind people how the Republicans are against just about everything that is good for the common man.
    PS: brother Rich, I was hoping that the Democrats would come up with some “big” plan that would involve ethanol in one of my previous posts several months ago. If this does not get the Governor good press and publicity, the old adage of liber media truly is biased propoganda from the concervatives.


  52. - Fred Ziffel - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 11:59 pm:

    Well, we could replace some of the corn with switchgrass and even non-drug hemp, both can also be made into efficient automotive fuel. Subsidizing the conversion of more gas stations is a great idea: this past year there were barely a handful of E-85 stations in the Chicago and Metro East areas, where the fuel does the most good. it can’t make much difference unless people can actually access it.

    You can call the ethanol plants and biodiesel makers refineries, or stills; they basically ferment and cook the stuff to convert it. The water supply in and out of these is as they say “a non-trivial problem”, particularly the post-use cleanup and return portion. Illinois aquifers are not up to the drain, hey are already in a shakey state and so these plants would need surface water so that means river water or surface lakes. The plants also need massive electrical power to run their thermal processes, so gas-fired or coal-powered generating stations will likely have to be added to some or most of them, or the towns that host them. Not saying it’s not all doable, but this is by no means an instant shake-and-bake kind of construction project, like putting up a Walgreens. This is a 20-year type project, not something anybody will be able to point to and take credit for in an election cycle or even three. And as has been pointed out, the chemical/petroleum industry and the super-large agricultural conglomerates have a weak track record on accountability, safety, and pollution in general.

    Ethanol has good and bad points to it: it is not as chemically energetic a fuel as petroleum distillates, so you will not go as far for the same volume of fuel in the tank. But it burns cleaner, good for city air. The plants themselves stink to high heaven, so making more towns smell like Decatur does is not great.

    For the forseeable future, ethanol is only able to compete with gasoline as long as it remains subsidized, or gas prices stay at more than $3.50 or so. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself: the people and their government can choose how to get their energy, accepting some high costs or inconveniences in one area to avoid even higher costs in another. But realize: The amount of corn and beans used to make fuel could feed a heck of a lot of people instead. And the available land to grow it on is finite and shrinking annually. It’s not an efficient process at all, and a good point was made that after counting all the true inputs, the output doesn’t look so great after all. it is worthy of additional study to see if we get a true net gain when all the factors are weighed.

    making Illinois a bigger Ethanol state means nothing to the interstate traffic of cars trucks and trains that crosses our state en route to elsewhere, so it’s not like the petroeum infrastructure will get reduced all that much unless ethanol becomes the national standard. Frankly, for a national standard fuel, I’d rather see Hydrogen: it can run fuel cells in electric or hybrid cars, it can be burned directly without pollution in internal combustion engines, it can be generated from coal gassification, from biomass like switchgrass and even corn, from solar cells and wing power, or, most efficiently, it can be electrolyzed out or thermally cracked out of any water source using a nuclear powerplant. You can even use a device called a reformer to convert gasoline at the gas station into hydrogen right at the (specialized) pump. You can leverage the existing petroleum infrastructure to make and move hydrogen in various forms without starting from scratch.

    Solar and wind and biomass and conservation are all certainly things to invest in, but mostly regarding city and industrial power grids. They would have little or no impact on automobiles, trucks, busses and trains unless you switched all those to electric overnight. And to really increase electrical power availability, you are going to need the high output and energy density of atomic powerplants. There are new designs out now that are much safer and more efficient than ever before, and we should be getting behind that before the old plants in the state are all out of their service life and retired without a ready replacement.

    Frankly, I would have thought Blago’d have unilaterally granted mega tax breaks on hybrid and electric car and truck owners long ago as one of his publicity stunts; not much revenue to lose since so few exist, yet a big PR bump derived, and new Illinois businesses started. Sounds like it came right from his playbook, but he hasn’t done it. Maybe Judy will.

    I think this proposal of his is a cunning way to try and get several things done that Blago wants: it is a way to bribe the farmers and Southern Illinois voters back to Blago, with what amounts to the promise of a huge, permanent and subsidized in-state corn market, and government-mandated use of coal.

    He is also not yet done with his favorite tax/user fee fetish, mark my words; the software tax on large business software purchases. Look to see him try to also leverage this overall tax-recovery thing in the future to launch an internet tax, saying that is way easier to collect because it can be fully automated.

    Well, time to go feed the biomass makers, er, pigs… anyhow, while this is an important thing to be talking about and making decisions about, Blago is not the one to count on to make these things haooen for us: this is only a means to an end for him and I doubt his sincerity ont he subject greatly. Get back to me when he changes his joke to:

    “I rolled down the window of my hybrid car, and this little girl saw me and said….. well you know the rest”


  53. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:29 pm:

    With electricity costing the equivalent of less than $1 per gallon and Toyota introducing a plug-in hybrid, it won’t be long before we all switch to plug-in electric hybrid flex-fuel vehicles.

    Plug-in hybrids recharge overnight, so no new power plants are needed, although wind could supply most of the lower nighttime demand. Then we can choose between gas, ethanol, or electricity depending on the price.

    FYI, biodiesel uses far less water than ethanol and requires far less energy inputs, especially compared to ethanol made from inefficient corn.

    Investing in corn ethanol plants this late in the product development cycle is foolish unless the financing is from out of state because cellulous ethanol will be far more efficient. Switchgrass (a low maintenance perennial) will soon be far more efficient for making ethanol.


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