Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Of much debate on this blog has been the subject of ethanol, especially following NYT articles. Yesterday, the Fourth of July, a number of people wrote in letters to defend ethanol, among them Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Association, the trade association of the US ethanol industry. He rebuts a Steven Rattner who repeats the claim that using corn for ethanol is to blame for the rise in food prices, noting that while 13 billion gallons of ethanol were produced last year (it is not clear from the letter whether this is just for the US, but it would seem to be), 32.5 million metric tons of feed for cattle, pigs and poultry were produced by the US biofuels industry. He remarks on Rattner's comment that ethanol production increases smog and consumes vast amounts of water - Dinneen notes that ethanol gasoline has reduced smog forming emissions by 25% since 1990, and that a gallon of ethanol uses about the same water as it takes to produce a gallon of gasoline.
Presently, the US ethanol industry employs some 400,00 and contributes $53.6 billion to the GDP, paying $15 in taxes.
Another missive, sent in from Robert Zubrin, author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil notes that the argument about ethanol driving up food prices is a red herring - he pegs the price fluctuations to the the changes in the price of a barrel! How right on, and I was happy to see that in print, instead of the thousands of column inches of erroneous figures trying to blame the alternative energy producers for food prices. I hope that more in the press read the letters their readers send in and get their facts right.
And when they do, they just might mention the ethanol producing capabilities of hemp, which is one of, if not the best sources of ethanol.

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