To the Editor:
Re: Ending the folly of corn-based ethanol that recently appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, I think there is a need for some education about the benefits of ethanol. I find a great deal of misinformation about what ethanol does and does not do.
The first thing: It does no harm to gasoline-fueled motors. There have been numerous tests done be universities and colleges that have found no damage can be attributed to the use of ethanol. The Minnesota and Iowa highway patrol and all their other state fleet vehicles have been using ethanol blended gasoline for decades with zero problems, (actually Minnesota has required ethanol in all gasoline for at least ten years).
In fact in Northern climates the need to add Heet in the winter to prevent gas line freeze up is eliminated because the ethanol causes any water in the tank to be burned with the gasoline.
Another thing ethanol does not do is cost more to produce than it yields, according to junk science foisted on us by the petroleum industry. The ratio is improving all the time as new technology is developed, but the last I heard it was about 1.25 to 1.
There are two ethanol plants in Northern Iowa that use wind energy, (renewable energy to produce renewable energy). The reason the Renewable Fuels Standard was established was to clean the air of “harmful carbon-dioxide.”
Hence the Clean Air Act, which mandated the use of an oxygenate in all U.S. gasoline. The favorite of the petroleum industry was MTBE, which was found to be a carcinogen and banned, leaving ethanol, which is a renewable product made in America and it is not from a fossil fuel. I believe that refutes the claim that it may be bad for the environment.
What ethanol from corn does is provide many good paying jobs in the counties that have ethanol plants. Also a huge tax base is gained for those counties. The use of ethanol has also saved motorists in this country thousands of dollars by lowering the cost of gasoline.
There was a campaign mounted by lobbyists of the Petroleum Marketing Institute (PMI) and more recently the American Grocers Association (AGA) to get congress to pass legislation that would make the EPA relax the RFS. The AGA got into it a couple years ago when corn prices shot up due to poor crops in other parts of the world. That coincided with a sharp rise in petroleum prices which added more to the cost of groceries than the price of corn due to increased shipping cost.
The scare was that the poor wouldn’t have enough food because so much was being used for ethanol, (the price of corn is now about half what it was then). They were forced to retract their assertion but it was too late because the scare made front page news and the retractions are always deeper in the paper.
The truth is that the co-product distillers grains is an excellent feed stock meaning that the 30%of the U.S corn crop used for ethanol in 2013 is not totally unavailable for feed. There are other co-products used to fill various needs providing value not measured. That addresses your claim that it is bad for the economy.