New version of Toledo Talk


    July 11, 2006

More ethanol plants by The Andersons - The Andersons is already building ethanol plants in Michigan and Indiana, and now the company has announced an ethanol partnership with Marathon Oil Corp. But a July 3 guest column in the Blade says bio-fuels are not the answer, although the anti-bio-fuels research ignores hemp, which is supposedly the world's #1 sustainable fuel and energy source.

About The Andersons - Marathon deal:

"... the companies have signed a letter of intent which could lead to the formation of a 50/50 joint venture that would construct and operate a number of ethanol plants."

"The Andersons will provide day-to-day management of the ethanol plants, as well as corn origination, risk management, and dry distillers grain and ethanol marketing services. Site selection is expected to be finalized soon. The initial plant is expected to have a nameplate annual production capacity of 110 million gallons of ethanol."



About the Blade guest columnist opposed to bio-fuels:

"Julia Olmstead is a graduate student in plant breeding and sustainable agriculture at Iowa State University and a graduate fellow with the Land Institute, Salina, Kan."

Excerpts fom her column:

"The United States annually consumes more fossil and nuclear energy than all the energy produced in a year by the country's plant life, including forests and that used for food and fiber, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Energy and David Pimentel, a Cornell University researcher."

"To produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet current U.S. demand for automotive gasoline, we would need to nearly double the amount of land used for harvested crops, plant all of it in corn, year after year, and not eat any of it."

"Even a greener fuel source like the switchgrass President Bush mentioned, which requires fewer petroleum-based inputs than corn and reduces topsoil losses by growing back each year, could provide only a small fraction of the energy we demand."

"The corn and soybeans that make ethanol and bio-diesel take huge quantities of fossil fuel for farm machinery, pesticides, and fertilizer. Much of it comes from foreign sources, including some that may not be dependable, such as Russia and countries in the Middle East."

"Corn and soybean production as practiced in the Midwest is ecologically unsustainable. Its effects include massive topsoil erosion, pollution of surface and groundwater with pesticides, and fertilizer runoff that travels down the Mississippi River to deplete oxygen and life from a New Jersey-size portion of the Gulf of Mexico."

"Improving fuel efficiency in cars by just one mile per gallon - a gain possible with proper tire inflation - would cut fuel consumption equal to the total amount of ethanol federally mandated for production in 2012."

"Let's be bold. Let's raise the tax on gasoline to encourage consumers to buy fuel-efficient cars and trucks. We can use the proceeds to fund research and subsidies for truly sustainable energy. Let's raise energy efficiency standards for vehicles, appliances, industries, and new buildings."

"Let's switch the billions we now spend on ethanol subsidies to development of truly sustainable energy technologies.

"And why not spend money to make on-the-shelf technology like hybrid cars more affordable? Fuel-efficient hybrids aren't the final solution, but they can be a bridge to more sustainable solutions."



A couple of things she said:

"We can use the proceeds to fund research and subsidies for truly sustainable energy."

"... they can be a bridge to more sustainable solutions."


Like what kinds of sustainable solutions?


From Hemp4Fuel.com:

"Cornell University study says no to biofuels - ignores hemp."


"In July 2005, Cornell University published a study saying that it is not economical to produce ethanol or biodiesel from corn and other crops. The study confirmed what other studies have shown in the past. The vegetable sources that are currently (legally) available are insuficient. Hemp is the only proven source for economical biomass fuels, a biomass source which was completely ignored by the Cornell study."



Supposedly:

"HEMP IS THE NUMBER ONE biomass producer on planet earth: 10 tons per acre in approximately four months. It is a woody plant containing 77% cellulose. Wood produces 60% cellulose. This energy crop can be harvested with equipment readily available. It can be "cubed" by modifying hay cubing equipment. This method condenses the bulk, reducing trucking costs from the field to the pyrolysis reactor. And the biomass cubes are ready for conversion with no further treatment."

"Hemp is drought resistant, making it an ideal crop in the dry western regions of the country. Hemp is the only biomass resource capable of making America energy independent. And our government outlawed it in 1938."

"During World War II, our supply of hemp was cut off by the Japanese. The federal government responded to the emergency by suspending marijuana prohibition. Patriotic American farmers were encouraged to apply for a license to cultivate hemp and responded enthusiastically. Hundreds of thousands of acres of hemp were grown."

"The argument against hemp production does not hold up to scrutiny: hemp grown for biomass makes very poor grade marijuana. The 20 to 40 million Americans who smoke marijuana would loath to smoke hemp grown for biomass, so a farmer's hemp biomass crop is worthless as marijuana."



The Blade guest columnist said about the allegedly inefficent corn and soybean-based bio-fuels:

"To produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet current U.S. demand for automotive gasoline, we would need to nearly double the amount of land used for harvested crops, plant all of it in corn, year after year, and not eat any of it."


From another website about hempoline, supposedly:

"It would only take 6% of our U.S. land to produce enough hemp, for hemp fuel, to make us energy independent from the rest of the world."

Sounds a little hard to believe, but who knows? Neither the article about the Cornell research nor the Blade guest columnist mentioned hemp as an alternative for sustainable energy.


From Hempcar.org:

"Hemp car was an alternative-fuel project car that utilized hemp biodiesel for fuel. Industrial hemp would be an economical fuel if hemp were legal to cultivate in the United States."

"The car toured America, with stops in Canada, frequenting alternative-energy, environmental, and hemp-legalization events. The car departed from Washington D.C. on July 4, 2001 and returned home on October 2, 2001. We provided the public with information about biofuels, hemp, their uses, and current American laws. We established a world distance record for a vehicle utilizing hemp for fuel: 10,000 miles."



June 12, 2006 news story from VoteHemp.com:

"North Dakota and California are in a race to be the first state in the U.S. to commercially grow industrial hemp since Wisconsin grew the last hemp crop nearly 50 years ago. [E]ach state will conduct important public hearings on the subject."

"The hearings are taking place in the shadow of Canadian hemp farming which has seen steady growth over the last six years. This year, Canada is expected to grow a record 40,000 acres of industrial hemp. Nevertheless, rumors persist that the demand for hemp seed from U.S. food producers whose sales are growing 50% each year will create shortages before harvest again this summer, forcing buyers to go to Europe or China for seed."

"[I]n the automotive industry, industrial hemp is used in the natural fiber composites that have rapidly replaced fiberglass as the material of choice for vehicle interiors. FlexForm, an Indiana manufacturer whose hemp-content materials are found in an estimated 2.5 million vehicles in North America today, uses approximately 250,000 pounds of hemp fiber per year."

"Currently seven states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have changed their laws to give farmers an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially or for research purposes."



From the Hemp Industries Association website, a list of products manufactured from hemp.


June 2005 news story about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005.

"HR 3037 would give states the right to regulate farming of versatile hemp plant. Ralph Nader called the US ban on hemp farming, "bureaucratic medievalism" because over 30 industrialized countries are growing hemp and the U.S. is the number one importer of the crop. Twenty-six states have introduced hemp legislation. Industrial hemp is used in a tremendous variety of products, including food products, soap, cosmetics, fertilizer, textiles, paper, paints and plastics."


About HR 3037:

"To amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes."

Status of HR 3037:

"Introduced (By Rep. Ronald Paul [R-TX])
This bill is in the first step in the legislative process. Introduced House bills go first to House committees that consider whether the bill should be presented to the House as a whole. The majority of bills never make it out of committee."



From the Vote Hemp report card about the 2004 presidential candidates:

"President George Bush received an "F" for overseeing the DEA's needless assault on industrial hemp over the past few years."


From the Vote Hemp state action guide, Ohio, not surprisingly, is not listed. Ohio, a bit of an agriculture state, is actionless.

"To date, twenty-six states have introduced hemp legislation and fourteen have passed legislation; seven (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. California and Vermont are considering bills in 2006. Iowa is close to getting a bill on the agenda."


Some recent news:

July 10, 2006 Louisville Courier-Journal story about Kentucky's 2007 gubernatorial race:

"Lexington lawyer Galbraith hasn't filed the official paperwork yet, but he says he's running for governor again next year. Galbraith, 59, said he'll run as a Democrat this time. In the past, he has run as a reform party candidate and an independent, and has unsuccessfully sought the offices of governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner, and a seat in Congress."

"Top issues include getting Kentucky into the bio-fuel business, providing college incentives, protecting the environment, introducing hemp as a cash crop, and decriminalizing marijuana use for personal and medicinal purposes, Galbraith said."



July 9, 2006 Flint Journal story about a state political race:

"[Democrat hopeful Andy] Everman wants to see Michigan work with other Midwest states to lower the cost of prescription drugs and attract more businesses. He also wants to see a training center in Clio for volunteer firefighters, and to have the state explore the use of sterile hemp to create diesel fuel."


July 5, 2006 Greensboro News-Record story:

"When it comes to hemp, Stan Bingham is a true believer. "Each day I learn more about it, I get more excited about it," the Denton Republican and state senator says of marijuana's close cousin, which he touts as, among other things, an alternative fuel source (and a way to "kick OPEC in the ass.")"

"Law enforcement types aren't thrilled because although hemp doesn't get you high, it's difficult to distinguish visually from the stuff that made Cheech and Chong famous."

"Still, that isn't stopping Bingham, who has a bill in the legislature to study hemp's industrial uses. Just get him going, and he starts rattling off all the potential uses for the plant, which was cultivated by Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and grown during World War II when textiles were scarce."

"There's auto parts, food (it's rich in Omega 3 fat, the good kind, Bingham says), building materials, a concrete reinforcement and as an alternative fuel. That's how Bingham got involved in the first place. Alternative fuels have long been an interest. "I'm running my car on soybean oil now," he said."

"The conditions here are conducive to growing hemp -- as the area's marijuana busts also suggest -- and Bingham believes hemp would be potentially lucrative for area farmers. There is a market for hemp, although it might not exactly be leafy gold. Randall Fortenbery, a professor in agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin, said hemp might not be a bonanza like tobacco once was, but that it could be solidly profitable."



June 28 2006 story:

"Assembly Bill 1147 authored by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine), permitting California farmers to grow industrial hemp for the sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers passed the Senate Public Safety Committee today on a vote of 4 to 2. This measure will allow California to lead the way in tapping into a $270 million industry that's growing by $26 million each year."

"Sponsored by Vote Hemp, AB 1147 would permit California farmers to grow industrial hemp, a variety of cannabis that grows up to 16 feet tall, resembles bamboo, and has no psychoactive properties. Under the bill, industrial hemp is defined as cannabis having 0.3% THC or less and its cultivation is only permitted as an agricultural field crop or in a research setting. Cultivation in groves, yards, or other locations is prohibited."

"Hemp is one of the strongest natural fibers known and is grown and processed throughout the world for paper, fuel, clothing, building materials, canvas, rope, beauty care products, food and automobile parts, among others. The seed has many nutritional benefits because it contains essential amino acids, including omega-3 commonly found in fish, and is an alternative source of protein. Hemp also has strong environmental benefits. It's a source for paper that could enable us to save our trees for higher end uses such as lumber. Hemp can be used as a raw material for ethanol fuel with no net addition to greenhouse gases. It requires little or no agricultural chemicals, smothers weeds, and improves soil conditions, making it an excellent rotational crop."

posted by jr to news at 8:42 A.M. EST     (12 Comments)


Comments ...


Our puritanical government bans hemp, of course, because it feels that if legalized, it will replace alcohol consumption as our number one reality-blurring agent.
posted by politics_in_mudville at 12:30 P.M. EST on Tue Jul 11, 2006     #



I see a huge opportunity for a researcher.....genetically engineer hemp to not produce THC. Most likely knocking one or two genes out would do the trick. Surely no one would have any problem with a type of hemp that could not allow someone to get high. Maybe this should be an area the new UT investigates.
posted by HeyHey at 06:01 P.M. EST on Tue Jul 11, 2006     #



No, I don't think any genetic research needs to be done. Too many products are already being made from industiral hemp. The problem for those opposed to industrial hemp is either a lack of information or an unwillingness to accept the facts.


From the Myths and Facts page at Vote Hemp.

"Surely no member of the vegetable kingdom has ever been more misunderstood than hemp. For too many years, emotion-not reason-has guided our policy toward this crop. And nowhere have emotions run hotter than in the debate over the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana."

"Botanically, the genus Cannabis is composed of several variants. Although there has been a long-standing debate among taxonomists about how to classify these variants into species, applied plant breeders generally embrace a biochemical method to classify variants along utilitarian lines."

"Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids. Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of Cannabis, and CBD, which is an anti-psychoactive ingredient."

"One type of Cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and low in the anti-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD. This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this type are called Industrial Hemp."

"In the United States, the debate about the relationship between hemp and marijuana has been diminished by the dissemination of many statements that have little scientific support. This report examines in detail ten of the most pervasive and pernicious of these myths."



Some of the myths and facts:

Myth: Smoking Industrial Hemp gets a person high.

Reality: The THC levels in Industrial Hemp are so low that no one could get high from smoking it. Moreover, hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another cannabinoid, CBD, that actually blocks the marijuana high. Hemp, it turns out, is not only not marijuana; it could be called "anti-marijuana".

Myth: Industrial Hemp fields would be used to hide marijuana plants.

Reality: Industrial Hemp is grown quite differently from marijuana. Moreover, it is harvested at a different time than marijuana. Finally, cross-pollination between hemp plants and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plant.

Myth: Legalizing hemp while continuing the prohibition on marijuana would burden local police forces.

Reality: In countries where hemp is grown as an agricultural crop, the police have experienced no such burdens.

Myth: Hemp oil is a source of THC.

Reality: Hemp oil is an increasingly popular product, used for an expanding variety of purposes. The washed Industrial Hemp seed contains no THC at all. The tiny amounts of THC contained in Industrial Hemp are in the glands of the plant itself. Sometimes, in the manufacturing process, some THC- and CBD-containing resin sticks to the seed, resulting in traces of THC in the oil that is produced. The concentration of these cannabinoids in the oil is infinitesimal. No one can get high from using Industrial Hemp oil.

Myth: Legalizing Industrial Hemp would send the wrong message to children.

Reality: It is the current refusal of the DEA and ONDCP to distinguish between an agricultural crop and a drug crop that is sending the wrong message to children.

posted by jr at 06:25 P.M. EST on Tue Jul 11, 2006     #



our ethanol approach is an absolute sham.

jr...thanks for the info. i had read hemp is a very good rotational crop. furthermore, it would well in with a corn and soybean rotation.

i imagine it could be an important crop to the midwest farmer.

posted by wholesaler1972 at 09:26 P.M. EST on Tue Jul 11, 2006     #



In early America, converting grain to alcohol was stunningly compelling from an economic standpoint. Alcohol travelled better, stored better, sold better, and of course there was the high demand for it (that caused anti-liberty twits to start various temperance movements). With sufficient capital investment for a distillery, a farmer could convert as much of his perishable grain harvest as he wanted into a hot marketable item that could survive a trip over the Appalachians.

Perhaps this historical piece of trivia demonstrates a modern strength. In our grain-heavy Midwest, ethanol may make some sense. It's true that fossil fuels are too heavily involved in our heavily mechanized, industrial agriculture. But stockpiles of alcohol in our area could overwhelm gasoline stocks and perhaps make the area more self-sufficient, even (and necessarily) to the point of transforming tractors and such with alcohol-combusting engines.

Re-seeding wouldn't be much of an issue since you're not supposed to "eat your seed corn" anyway. As opposed to Medieval yields, modern farming has outstandingly high yields -- today you can get almost 100bu of corn from just 3bu of seed. Of course, the big issue nowadays is the legality of re-seeding (since Monsanto and other Fascist corporations are putting a stop to the natural rights of farmers). Farmers who convert entire crops to alcohol might face re-seeding from corporate seedstocks, whose cost may rise and preclude the entire exercise once said corporation sees the crop going towards fuel production.

It's true that a lot of acreage would convert to fuel production, away from food production. I don't know the level of exports, but since we're STILL paying yearly $50+ billion to people to NOT grow crops, I'd say that we have enough margin to transform some of our acreage away from food.

posted by GuestZero at 01:52 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 12, 2006     #





"In July 2005, Cornell University published a study saying that it is not economical to produce ethanol or biodiesel from corn and other crops.


No shit? Really?

I think I've said this before. Ethanol is another hand-out to the farm lobby. Just like there's a limit on how much sugar can be imported, which means High Fructose Corn Syrup gets used instead, despite a higher price... so ADM and the like make big bucks.

Knock down all the farm subsidies, the trade barriers, and so on, and let the market decide. The minute they nix all the farming and energy subsidies and tariffs and credits and trade barriers, a hell of a lot of things will change.

posted by anonymouscoward at 01:54 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 12, 2006     #



A/C - for a minute there I thought someone was impersonating you :)

But you're right about subsidies and the market...

posted by MaggieThurber at 06:11 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 12, 2006     #



Front page posting moved here as a comment.

---- start ----

Ethanol: Good or Bad? - by chrismyers on 01:35 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 12, 2006

Business week tackled this issue in the April edition of its magazine. An interesting article is the one linked above titled, "Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts". We have heard a lot of positives about the fuel, but yet that article brings up some good points. I am not passing judgment on the fuel, but why not bring something else into the debate? If you look at the upper part of the article, there are other Ethanol articles, even one where the Andersons is mentioned.

I actually filled up with Ethanol for the first time today. It smells "beerish wineish" when you put it into your car. My body was expecting a gasoline smell and was sort of caught off guard by the sweet smell. It was an interesting experience.

Oh and don't worry, my car is a flex-fuel car that can run off E85. It is a recent addition and I was attracted to the flex-fuel capability even though it gets great mileage regardless. I am curious to see how my car runs/reacts and the mileage it gets. It is not a problem for me to stop by the fuel station on Alexis, so why not?

So what do you think? Ethanol good or bad? Do you think the author has made some good points? Would you use it if you could? Just an FYI, learn more about Ethanol at http://www.e85ethanol.org/ or http://www.ethanol.org/

---- end ----


Just like the article about Cornell's research against bio-fuels, and just like the Blade guest column's opinion against bio-fuels, this Business Week article does not mention hemp. It mentions corn.

My guess is hemp makes too much sense. It probably works too well. Bio-fuel from hemp could cause research funding for alternative energy sources to be cut at universities. Hemp could lower profits for some energy companies, which would affect campaign donations to politicians.

posted by jr at 07:31 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 12, 2006     #



Knock down all the farm subsidies

I don't think that's wise. In particular, as individuals we spend far less on food than any other nation in the world, which is an advantage worth keeping. Unless, of course, you want to live through violent social change. "Let them eat cake!"

In keeping with an earlier commentary by the illustrious GuestZero, I'd like to mention that overtaxing the populace is often insufficient stimulus to induce massive social change; You have to starve the people first.

posted by madjack at 08:45 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 12, 2006     #



WSPD story:

"Dedication for the first ethanol plant for Maumee based The Andersons takes place in Albion, MI. The facility will produce 55 million gallons of ethanol annually. In addition, the plant will lead into the creation of about 85 jobs. The Andersons has another ethanol plant under construction in Indiana. The local company is also scouting sites in Ohio for future ethanol facilities."

I wonder why Maumee, Ohio-based The Andersons chose neighboring states for their first two ethanol plants?

I also wonder what the official statement is from The Andersons about this claim over ethanol?

"To produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet current U.S. demand for automotive gasoline, we would need to nearly double the amount of land used for harvested crops, plant all of it in corn, year after year, and not eat any of it."

posted by jr at 05:54 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 04, 2006     #



"To produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet current U.S. demand for automotive gasoline, we would need to nearly double the amount of land used for harvested crops, plant all of it in corn, year after year, and not eat any of it."

I believe that's called a subsidy to farmers and ADM and the whole agricultural machine.

Ethanol sucks as a fuel.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butanol_fuel

Butanol may be used as a fuel in an internal combustion engine. It is in several ways more similar to gasoline than ethanol is. Butanol has been demonstrated to work in some vehicles designed for use with gasoline without any modification.

[...]

Environmental Energy, inc. claims to have developed a two-stage fermentation process for butanol (U.S. Patent 5753474) that delivers a 100% increase in butanol yield from this process over single fermentation and about 42 % more energy in the form of butanol and hydrogen than conventional fermentation of ethanol for a given amount of feedstock. According to the company a bushel of corn (maize) produces 2.5 US gallons of butanol, a volume of butanol comparable to the volume of ethanol produced from a bushel of corn in the traditional fermentative process.

[...]

Butanol better tolerates water contamination and is less corrosive than ethanol and therefore, unlike ethanol, is suitable for distribution through existing pipelines for gasoline.


Butanol also has a higher energy density than ethanol.

Let's see now:

* Does not require engine modification, or only slight modification, as opposed to ethanol

* Can be pumped through pipelines, rather than having to be transported by tanker truck or tank car, thus unclogging the highways and railroads, reducing pollution, eliminating the dangers of accidents, and avoiding the whole OMFG NIMBY issue.

* A process generates as much by volume, except that butanol has a higher energy density, which, translated to non-science-speak for the scientifically challenged, means "more bang for the buck"... or that a two-liter bottle of ethanol contains 39.2 megajoules of energy while a two-liter bottle of butanol contains 58.4 megajoules of energy -- so if this was shopping at Mall*Wart, the bottle of Butanol would say "almost 50% more energy than Ethanol!" in big bold letters on it.

posted by anonymouscoward at 06:25 P.M. EST on Fri Aug 04, 2006     #



August 24, 2006 WTOL story:

"With shovels of dirt, lawmakers and local dignitaries broke ground on Thursday for a new [East Toledo] plant that will produce "biodiesel." When it's finished, the $18 million dollar plant will produce 30 million gallons of biodiesel per year. In this case, American Biodiesel will blend soybean oil with diesel fuel to create B-100, a mixture that's 100% biodiesel. The company says this will be the first blending plant in Ohio."


August 24, 2006 WSPD story:

"Up to 25 new jobs will be created when a biodiesel plant opens in East Toledo next year. Officials with American Biodiesel, Delta Fuels and the Ohio Soybean Council broke ground on the $18,000,000 facility Thursday morning. Company President Dave White says the plant will produce 30,000,000 gallons of B-100 fuel each year. That's a 100% version of biodiesel. The petroleum-free fuel will be made from soybean oil by-way of local farmers. Nationwide estimates for demand of the product in the coming years are up to three-point-five billion gallons each year."


I wonder if any of the lawmakers and local dignitaries have ever addressed the claim that bio-based fuels are not the answer?

"The United States annually consumes more fossil and nuclear energy than all the energy produced in a year by the country's plant life."

"The corn and soybeans that make ethanol and bio-diesel take huge quantities of fossil fuel for farm machinery, pesticides, and fertilizer. Much of it comes from foreign sources, including some that may not be dependable, such as Russia and countries in the Middle East."

"Corn and soybean production as practiced in the Midwest is ecologically unsustainable. Its effects include massive topsoil erosion, pollution of surface and groundwater with pesticides, and fertilizer runoff that travels down the Mississippi River to deplete oxygen and life from a New Jersey-size portion of the Gulf of Mexico."

posted by jr at 03:23 P.M. EST on Thu Aug 24, 2006     #



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