Just Don’t Put Gasoline in my Ethanol

I’ve been trying since I sat down here at 4 this morning to understand why, if the subsidies for corn ethanol have ended (at the end of 2011) and the price of corn is at near-record highs (due to the fact that some 70% of the US corn crop has failed because of this wide-spread drought) and ethanol plants are cutting back or shutting down because of the financial shifts this summer, and stocks of ethanol must be shrinking quickly….

WHY then is gasoline at the Express Market in Floyd 30 cents cheaper for the ETHANOL-added variety than for regular non-ethanol gasoline?

I have never chosen to fill my tank with the “cheaper” fuel, because in this case, savings is a false economy if you count the food taken out of production (about 30% of our corn crop annually), the topsoil costs, the irrigation water costs, the distillation costs and the pesticide-herbicide costs. Do you buy ethanol gas because it is “cheaper?”

But I won’t post anything about that issue.  I know you’d rather hear about less troubling topics. But heck. Even today’s photograph is troubling, if native flora matters to you.

This image from  the margins of the Floyd Fest grounds shows a hundred potential Trees of Heaven in the seed stage. The Blue Ridge Parkway is being overtaken by this Asian invasive, and where there were overlooks when I lived on the Parkway in 1997, there are views only of Tree of Heaven, thirty feet tall, thick as thieves. Do you recognize Ailanthus when you see it? Chances are very good it lives where you do.

Your good deeds for the day: buy regular regular at the pump. And give the devil to a tree of heaven.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Down here, there is no option to buy anything but Ethanol “enhanced” gasoline. I don’t have any Ailanthus on my property, but I have lots and lots of Oriental Bittersweet and Japanese Honeysuckle. Want some?