Thank you very much. We appreciate the opportunity to present the views of the National Farmers Union relating to ethanol and biofuels.
We say ethanol and biofuels are a costly misadventure and probably the most misguided public policy introduced in Canada today. Ethanol is a feel-good industry that achieves no public policy objectives.
In regard to the grain and ethanol energy balance, ethanol manufacturing is very energy intensive, using large amounts of fossil fuel to grow a crop, and then transporting and distilling it into ethanol. Three distillations are required to remove the water and produce ethanol. Many world-renowned scientists have confirmed that more fossil fuel energy is required in the ethanol production cycle than the ethanol provides.
Dr. David Pimentel, one of the early opposers of ethanol in the United States, concludes that 71% more energy is required to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy that is contained in one gallon of ethanol.
Dr. Tad Patzek, at the University of California at Berkeley, on June 4, 2003, released a comprehensive corn ethanol report. Dr. Patzek states:
It is shown here that one burns 1 gallon of gasoline equivalent...[from] ethanol from corn. Then this ethanol is burned as a gasoline additive or fuel. Burning the same amount of fuel twice to drive a car once is equivalent to halving the fuel efficiency of those cars....
Dr. Mark Delucchi, of the University of California at Davis, was the creator of the Greek model. He did work that is some 1,000 pages, using his life-cycle emissions model. On release of his report in January 2004, Delucchi stated that the most significant changes regarding CO2 equivalency factors and lifestyle materials and biofuels indicates that soy- and corn-based fuels look worse than gasoline and diesel fuel.
Dr. Burton Vaughan, of Washington State University, researched Brazil's ethanol manufacturing from sugar cane, and he describes the pollution caused by burning the leaves off the cane and then washing the char off the cane. He stated in a visit to one of the distilleries, “I observed about 3,900 litres of water being used per ton of sugar cane”. The drain on rivers coincides with the dry season, contributing to water shortages and damaging river life. The researchers concluded that large-scale farming of sugar cane and corn for ethanol is damaging the planet.
There are a number of reports indicating that: for example, Dr. Paul Weiss; the U.S. Government Accountability Office; or the U.S. Department of Energy.
In the Library of Parliament report in February 2007, Frédéric Forge of the Library of Parliament's parliamentary information and research service, science and technology division, stated:
Canada would have to use 36% of its farmland to produce enough biofuels to replace 10% of the fuel currently used for transportation.
...if 10% of the fuel used were corn-based ethanol...Canada's GHG emissions would drop by approximately 1%.
So it's really insignificant to the total fuel supply.
There are a number of reports out indicating that there are tremendous gains from ethanol. They're generally done by the USDA, by Shapouri and Wang, and by the Argonne Institute. But these reports are in-house documents mainly done for the USDA and are not peer-reviewed, and they're not scientific documents. These reports often minimize or leave out the energy required for farm equipment, its repair and maintenance, waste water treatment, and irrigation water.
The promoters of ethanol and biodiesel in Canada are mainly the big agribusiness corporations in this country, such as ADM, Agricore United, Bunge, and Cargill, and federal and provincial governments.
The Manitoba government, for example, and the federal government often use an ethanol report that was done by S&T Squared Consultants, out of Delta, British Columbia. The S&T report omits or underestimates many of the inputs required to produce a bushel of wheat. They state that it takes 48 pounds of nitrogen, while Manitoba Agriculture is saying 70 pounds for an acre of wheat. They're saying 12 litres of diesel fuel; Manitoba Agriculture says 22 litres of diesel fuel. For agriculture chemicals, the S&T report would almost have farmers at an organic level of $4.50 of ag chemicals, while Manitoba Agriculture is saying it takes about $32.
Energy to haul the farm input 600 miles is omitted in this study. Energy required for waste water treatment and pollution control is omitted. Seed costs are omitted, and the big one always is the energy required to manufacture and maintain farm equipment. This can add up to 36,000 BTUs of energy.
Dr. Vaclav Smil, from the University of Manitoba, in a presentation to the Frontier Centre, described the problem of wheat ethanol such as low wheat yields, high water requirements, and growing wheat in the prairies, much of which is a semi-desert. Smil states, “One would simply have to be dumb to attempt to do something like this. This is a criminal public policy.” He was talking about wheat-based ethanol.
The Manitoba government and federal government currently have an energy equivalent subsidy of 45¢ a litre. Ethanol only has 66% of the energy of gasoline. If ethanol plants actually created energy, ethanol plants would use ethanol, not natural gas, as an energy source. If ethanol plants were as modern and efficient as they claim, why are there the massive subsidies? The modern and efficient APl plant at Red Deer, Alberta, went into receivership. This was prior to the subsidy age.
The cost of jobs. With a subsidy of 30¢ a litre in ethanol manufacturing, the subsidy for a job will range from $680,000 to $1.2 million per job per year. The Husky plant at Minnedosa created an additional 11 new jobs. Each one of these jobs costs $3.3 million per job per year. An ethanol plant provides little economic activity, as some would argue. That is, grain comes in and distillers' dried grain and ethanol are hauled out.
Two reports in Manitoba by the agricultural economists, Kraft and Rude, point out that Manitoba does not have surplus feed grain for ethanol manufacturing. They state that the likely raw ingredient for Manitoba ethanol plants will be subsidized U.S. corn. Dr. Ed Tyrchniewicz and Heather Gregory, in a report for the pork value chain prepared for Agri-Food Canada, state that “the likely source of feedstock for Manitoba's ethanol sector would be U.S. corn”.
East of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, Canada is a net importer of corn, 60 million to 100 million bushels annually. So any additional feedgrains requirement will result in more corn imports from the U.S. for ethanol manufacturing. This really makes a dumb idea even dumber. Ethanol plants are subsidized food burners.
In Canada, more Canadian children live in poverty now than 10 years ago. Twenty-five percent of Manitoba children live in poverty. Why create the illusion that we can produce energy for someone to burn in an SUV?
Biofuels. Lester Brown, president of Earth Policy Institute, warns of the coming epic competition between 800 million people with automobiles and 2 billion of the poorest people and predicts that shortages and high food prices will lead to starvation and urban riots. “I don't think the world is ready for this”, he says.
Pollution from ethanol production. Volatile organic compounds are emitted as the distillers' dried grain is dried down. VOCs emitted are carcinogens, formaldehyde, and acetic acid, which are hazardous air pollutants. ADM, the largest ethanol producer in the United States, reached a $340 million agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to install pollution control equipment at its ethanol plants. The EPA also fined ADM for violations of the Clean Air Act.
Thermal oxidizers reduce VOCs. They're expensive to operate and, again, they take energy. The fermentation process releases large amounts of CO2, which contributes to global warming. Some ethanol plants use coal as a fuel source. Ethanol plants use large amounts of fresh water and produce large amounts of nutrient-rich waste water with a high BOD level. Waste water treatment is costly and requires energy.
As for gasohol versus the environment....
Okay, I'm not going to be able to finish. I'll just read a little bit more.
Greg Rideout, head of Environment Canada's toxic emissions research, says, as do others, that, “Looking at tailpipe emissions, from a greenhouse gas perspective, there really isn't much difference between ethanol and gasoline.”
We've had a number of failed farmer initiatives--elk, buffalo, PMU, hogs, cattle--and ethanol will be another one of them. Ethanol from straw and wood waste simply does not work. The technology is not there. We should not be removing waste material from our fields. The value of that is $20 to $40 an acre.
As for biodiesel, it takes about 250,000 to 300,000 BTUs of energy input to grow a bushel of canola. That same bushel of canola gives about 400,000 BTUs of energy. This leave about 100,000 BTUs to process and transport.
Biodiesel at best is--