Getting realistic about ethanol as fuel

Right now politicians are falling all over themselves to promote ethanol as the solution to America’s “gasoline shortage” problem.

I burn 10% ethanol in my truck, and I kind of like it, but ethanol won’t; it can’t become the solution because there is not enough enough ground to grow the inputs (especially ethanol from corn) and still feed people. Corn is used directly or indirectly in many more food products than almost any American knows. Ethanol is going to have a huge environmental fuel, and it is not really a fossil-fuel-free form energy but so much petroleum is used to produce it.

Here is part of a great editorial in the Missoulian.

(1) It takes one gallon of fossil fuel to produce 1.3 gallons of grain ethanol (not much gain); (2) Corn grain ethanol production promotes soil erosion (280 pounds of soil lost per gallon of ethanol); (3) The amount of corn required to fill one 25-gallon tank of gas could feed a person for a year; (4) Corn is an important export to developing countries. Diversion to ethanol production may strain our capacity to supply these countries; (5) Ethanol cannot be transported by pipeline; (6) Ethanol plants demand large volumes of water and generate wastewater.

Read the rest:  Guest Column: In quest for fuel alternatives, it pays to look before leaping. Missoulian.

Yellowstone bison stay inside Park this winter; Montana hunters bought expensive tags for nothing

Due to a mild winter, Yellowstone’s bison herd, which is plenty large, has remained inside the Park this winter. Montana’s Department of Livestock has had few to truck off under the fiction that they are dangerous to cattle, and Montana hunters who saw the state give a big increase this year for expensive bison tags have had little to hunt.

The bison hunt is controversial, in my view, because Montana refuses to give the bison any habitat, even though plenty of cattle free habitat exists to the west and NW of the Park. In the winter of 2005-6, a lot of bison left the Park and the small number bison hunt tags were quickly filled. For some reason, the state assumed that this large out-migration would happen every year, so this year they greatly increased the number of tags sold and did nothing to give bison room to roam beyond the Park.

Those who support bison being freed from their Yellowstone prison and bison hunters, who flat out got screwed, have plenty to complain about. The solution is easy — free the bison, but Montana’s state officials still won’t listen. They are blaming the bison for failure to migrate! No, it is not that unusual for the bison to stay in the Park. Montana government has only its selfish self to blame.
I hope the congressional investigation digs up the dirt that is obviously being hidden in Helena.

Story in the Billings Gazette. Bison staying in park this winter. By Mike Stark.

General Accounting Office to look at bison situation in Montana

Finally some aid may be coming to Yellowstone’s bison, artificially constrained to Yellowstone Park.

The GAO, the investigatory arm of Congress, is looking into a number of bison issues, including the failure of CUT, the Church Universal and Triumphant, a land-owning cult immediately north of the Yellowstone boundary, to allow bison to cross its land.

In 1999, a federal land exchange between the Gallatin National Forest and various private land owners was implemented. It was not just an exchange. A payout of 13-million dollars was also made to made things equal. This exchange was expected to settle numerous private/public land issues on lands north of the Park. It did in part. However, a major enticement for conservation groups to make the deal, as I remember it (I was on the Board of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition at the time), was that CUT would receive land and give up lands in order to facilitate bison migration and winter range. Instead, they have actually brought in cattle (the notion that bison will give cattle brucellosis is one of excuses used to keep bison inside YNP). Yes, it’s time to see whether taxpayers got what they paid for. See the story below.

GAO to examine bison management. 13M deal to open land north of Yellowstone has never been implemented. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff

Update. 3-3-2007. Bison management under federal investigation. Missoula Independent.

Posted in Bison, national parks, privatization, public lands, public lands management, wildlife disease. Comments Off on General Accounting Office to look at bison situation in Montana