Corn-based ethanol is subjected to criticisms, lies and misinformation. It has been battered and bruised, to hell and back – so to speak, and penalized in federal policy. But what if you were to separate everything you’ve already heard and spend a moment to refocus on corn-based ethanol and why it was a good idea for our domestic energy policy?
I dare you to rethink ethanol.
Corn-based ethanol is made from dent corn grown right here in the U.S. Dent corn is the sort of corn fed to livestock and is very different from the sweet corn that we eat. The food vs. fuel debate is really non-existent because we have enough corn to feed to livestock in the U.S. and U.S. meat consumption isn’t increasing so corn needed for livestock has reached its limit. And corn yields are increasing every year thanks to new technologies and new seeds. Farmers need new markets to use up increasing corn yields.
Corn-based ethanol is renewable. Instead of using petroleum to fuel the country, we can use crops that grow from the earth every year. This energy source will never be used up. And as we progress in the technologies used to make ethanol, we will continue getting more and more energy out of fewer bushels of corn.
Corn-based ethanol is domestic. Why buy oil from foreign countries that hate us? Why allow our American progress to hinge on Iraq or Mexico when we can rely on ourselves? Why send jobs and money overseas? The concept of buying American used to be so deeply entrenched in our psyche that we wouldn’t conceive of penalizing an American product and rewarding a foreign product. Yet, that is what we do every day. Corn-based ethanol means jobs in rural America. It means economic growth. And it means energy security.
Corn-based ethanol is environmentally friendly. Corn has been grown in America for generations; in fact, Midwestern farmers would argue that the prairie soils in much of America are almost created for growing corn, a native grass. As farmers learn how to produce more corn with less impact on the environment, corn-based ethanol becomes increasingly more environmentally friendly. Ethanol from corn burns cleaner, producing less air pollution in our largest cities.
Doesn’t this seem like a no-brainer?
There are cons to producing every sort of fuel. Yes, corn-based ethanol requires water in production. But water is required in the refining of oil too. Yes, growing corn requires inputs like trips over the field with a tractor and man hours, but have we forgotten that oil requires drilling, refining, and other inputs too? Yes, corn-based ethanol makes the price of corn higher, but it also means that farmers don’t need the government to artificially support the price. Farmers did give up a huge chunk of their payments this year in the Farm Bill negotiations which the ethanol market helped justify!
Rethink ethanol. It’s good for rural America, good for the environment, and good for energy security.
ICGA/ICMB Technology & Business Development Director