Robert Bryce (whose book, Gusher of Lies, was savaged by mission-to-Mars and flex-fuel fan Robert Zubrin here) writes in today’s WSJ:
Whenever you read about ethanol, remember these numbers: 98 and 190.
They offer an essential insight into U.S. energy politics and the debate over cap-and-trade legislation that recently passed the House. Here is what the numbers mean: The U.S. gets about 98 times as much energy from natural gas and oil as it does from ethanol and biofuels. And measured on a per-unit-of-energy basis, Congress lavishes ethanol and biofuels with subsidies that are 190 times as large as those given to oil and gas.
Those numbers come from an April 2008 report by the Energy Information Administration: “Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007.” Table ES6 lists domestic energy sources that get subsidies. In 2007, the U.S. consumed nearly 55.8 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs), or about 9.6 billion barrels of oil equivalent, in natural gas and oil. That’s about 98 times as much energy as the U.S. consumed in ethanol and biofuels, which totaled 98 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Meanwhile, ethanol and biofuels are getting subsidies of $5.72 per million BTU. That’s 190 times as much as natural gas and petroleum liquids, which get subsidies of $0.03 per million BTU.
The report also shows that the ethanol and biofuels industry are more heavily subsidized — in total dollar terms — than the oil and gas industry. In 2007, the ethanol and biofuels industries got $3.25 billion in subsidies. The oil and gas industry got $1.92 billion.
The rest here.