View Full Version : Could NJ produce it's own fuel and save it's farmers?

08-09-2006, 01:39 PM
I got this idea from a CNN.com article on Wal-Mart creating ehtanol gas stations at it's Wal-Mart stores. As the article says, there are only a limited number of stations to buy ethanol from at this moment and there are still problems that Wal-mart need to overcome, such as transporting the finished product and getting it to the stations.

This seriously got me started to think about NJ, it's farms and the 9 million people who live here. Right now - other than renewable energy, NJ does NOT manufacture any of it's own energy (unless you consider the many oil refineries). But imagine this, if NJ farmers were to grow corn for ethanol purposes, we would have the oil refineries right here that produce the gas component, we can then deliver ethanol directly to NJ gas stations. It has the potential of really saving NJ farmers, making NJ a cleaner place, and keeping more money in NJ. The entire process, other than the extraction of the oil to produce the gas, would all be handled within NJ borders. We can then EXPORT additional ethanol to Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York.

New Jersey should really be leading the way on this I feel.

For those interested - here is the article on the Wal-Mart/Ethanol plan.

Why Wal-Mart wants to sell ethanol (http://money.cnn.com/2006/08/08/news/companies/pluggedin_gunther.fortune/index.htm?cnn=yes)
E85 is available at only a tiny fraction of gas stations. But Fortune's Marc Gunther says the giant retailer is poised to change that.
By Marc Gunther, Fortune senior writer
August 9 2006: 11:54 AM EDT

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- More than 5 million vehicles on U.S. roads today can run on ethanol - a renewable fuel that comes from corn - as well as gasoline. General Motors (Charts), Ford (Charts) and DaimlerChrysler (Charts) recently announced plans to double their annual production of so-called flex fuel vehicles to two million cars and trucks by 2010.

It's the single largest commitment to renewable fuels in the history of the auto industry - a good move for the automakers, and for the planet, too.

That's because running cars and trucks on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, could turn out to be a cost-effective way to reduce the carbon emissions that cause global warming and curb our dependence on imported oil.

There's just one big problem.

Only about 800 service stations in the United States, out of a total of 168,000, pump E85. There's not a single E85 pump, for example, in all of New England.

You won't be surprised to learn that the big oil companies are not, as a rule, interested in selling E85.

But Wal-Mart (Charts) is. The giant retailer is considering selling ethanol at the eight stations that it operates at Wal-Mart Stores and at about 380 more that it runs as part of its Sam's Clubs division.

It could also decide to sell ethanol in a partnership with Murphy Oil Corp. (Charts), which operates about 946 gas stations in Wal-Mart parking lots, and there's no reason why Wal-Mart couldn't sell E85 - which it calls "America's Fuel" - at the rest of its 3,000 U.S. stores.

"Our goal would be to make E-85 available across the U.S.," Rich Ezell, senior strategy manager of fuel at Wal-Mart, said recently.

Why does Wal-Mart want to get into the transportation fuel business?

Several reasons. First, selling ethanol could be a new profit center for Wal-Mart, since the retailing business is wide-open. It's also a way for the company to help its customers save money; the less money they pour into the tank, the more they have to spend at Wal-Mart.

Finally, Wal-Mart's interest in alternative fuels like ethanol comes as part of its sweeping efforts to adopt business practices that are better for the environment. To guide its efforts, Wal-Mart has organized more than a dozen "sustainable value networks" that are composed of suppliers, environmentalists, industry experts and government officials.

The company brought an impressive group of movers-and-shakers to the kickoff meeting of its alternative fuels network in Washington last May. Participants included representatives of GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, the National Corn Growers Association, ethanol-makers such as Cargill, Blue Fire Ethanol and Iogen, consulting firms Green Strategies, BluSkye and the Rocky Mountain Institute, and nonprofits Conservation International, Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Fund, the World Wildlife Fund and the Worldwatch Institute. For most of a day, they discussed how Wal-Mart could help promote alternative fuels.

Afterwards, one longtime ethanol advocate told me that Wal-Mart - if it agrees to distribute E85 - could be a catalyst to making ethanol a mainstream alternative to gasoline for millions of Americans.

"That would be a complete game-changer," said Reid Detchon, the executive director of the Energy Future Coalition. "Everybody knows where the local Wal-Mart is. You would immediately know where to buy E85."

But Wal-Mart isn't ready to commit to ethanol yet, insiders say.

Before doing so, the company needs to feel confident that it will have access to ample supplies of ethanol, at a price competitive with gasoline. That's a complicated matter - prices for ethanol spiked this summer, even as lots of new supply is coming into the market. Wal-Mart is also waiting for ethanol dispensers to get certified by the Underwriters Laboratory, which tests products for safety.

Some other key issues need to be resolved before millions of Americans regularly fill their tanks with ethanol. (For more, see How To Beat the High Cost of Gasoline. Forever!)

Many experts believe that so long as ethanol comes from corn kernels or sugar cane, using ethanol for fuel will create stresses on the world's food supply; they favor what's called cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from prairie switchgrass, corn husks or other waste products.

Mass production of cellulosic ethanol isn't expected for a couple of years. Transporting ethanol from farm country to population centers is another challenge. There's also debate over the future of a 51-cent a gallon government subsidy for ethanol.

Consumers also need to learn more about the fuel. The auto industry's working on that. You've probably seen GM's clever "Live Green, Go Yellow" ad campaign, which can be found online.

GM's also been trying to help build an ethanol infrastructure. In California, Texas, Pennsylvania and several Midwestern states, the automaker has helped bring together ethanol refiners, governments and independent service stations to sell E85. Those selling the fuel include Meijer supermarket chains and the Sheetz convenience store chain.

The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition keeps a list of E85 stations online. Philip J. Lampert, the executive director, says the number of stations has doubled in the past two years. "It's still just a drop in the bucket, but we're making significant progress," he says.

All this leaves people like Reid Detchon - who has worked on ethanol issues since the 1980s, and served in the energy department in the first Bush administration - feeling like ethanol's moment may finally be here. Particularly if Wal-Mart gets on board, Detchon says: "If oil stays at anything like these prices, I think ethanol will grow as fast as the farmers can produce it. We are on the cusp of a fundamental change."

BTW - even though I have boycotted Wal-Mart, if I had a car which could use Ethanol - I would go to their gas station.

I think those in favor of this idea, should write letters to Corzine and to the New Jersey newspapers. As I have always stressed, pur politicians should be working at bringing jobs into the state and promoting OUR businesses, this is a great way of NJ supplying it's own fuel and at the same time, supporting our farmers. It could also have the residual effect of preventing or limited sprawl. How many farms do you see that have now turned into megavelpments? :(

Anyway, what are people's ideas on this? Do people see shortcomings with this or problems?