Thursday, April 9, 2009

What Bugs You?

Our government with the deep pockets has budgeted $240 million to develope biofuel from cellulosic materials. This mandate to produce more of our energy domestically from renewable sources seems to make sense. So did making ethanol from corn until we saw what it did to food prices and what happened when ethanol producers bought corn on the futures market. Anyway the feds funded R & D for new biofuel technologies.

Because some people hated to see us make fuel from food (i.e. corn) other suggestions of algae, switchgrass and weeds or woodchips were offered. Corn growers associations will not easily give up promoting corn for ethanol. Farmers may not want to plant switchgrass and weeds only to have those crops not be economically effective. We are past the days of horse and buggy when we had a pretty effecient system of feeding the grass directly to the horse with no middle man to process the fuel.

A few decades ago Dutch Elm disease destroyed huge numbers of shade trees in the midwest. Oak wilt is now spreading and killing trees. To counter these diseases we have all replanted with ash trees. Now a disease born by the Emerald Ash Borer is killing ash trees. It came from the east and is in western Wisconsin. Some areas have as much as 90% ash shade trees. That green borer kills every variety of ash it infects. We will probably have a lot of ash trees to chip and convert to fuel. I wish I could feel good about that but we have three or four good sized ash trees in our yard.
I won't worry though. The government will take good care of us. Hopefully the new money that they print to cover the bills won't be the cellulose we burn to fuel our cars. It might be worth less than corn someday.

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