Grassley urges Iowans to push back against DC-hatched smear campaign against ethanol
WASHINGTON — Senator Chuck Grassley today encouraged Iowans who work for major food manufacturers to make their voices heard in opposition to a national smearcampaign against ethanol.
“A national association employing high-priced Washington, DC spin doctors haslaunched a misleading and disingenuous assault on ethanol,” Grassley said. “The facts are thatbiofuels are a very small factor in rising grocery costs and just 19 cents of every food dollarspent by consumers goes to farmers. I’m calling on companies who are members of theGrocery Manufacturers Association to protest the trade association’s target and tactics. Everyemployee of these member companies can join in. We’ve got to speak truth to power and fightback against this smear campaign.”
The text of the letter that Grassley mailed today is below. He sent it to the followingcompanies who are listed as members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and haveoperations in Iowa. A copy of the floor speech Grassley delivered last Thursday is alsoincluded in this news release. It’s below the text of the letter.
Recipients of Grassley’s May 19th letter:
Archer Daniels Midland
Dean Foods Company
Pinnacle Foods Corp
Procter & Gamble
Sara Lee Corp
May 19, 2008
For nearly thirty years, our nation has pursued policies to promote the development anduse of domestic, renewable fuels. We've promoted renewable biofuels as a way to lesson ourdependence on foreign oil and to improve air quality. During this time, the biofuels movementenjoyed overwhelming support. Now, an anti-ethanol smear campaign led by the GroceryManufacturers Association is blaming U.S. biofuels policies for the rising cost of food andglobal food shortages.
As a company with significant operations and employees in Iowa, surely you are wellaware of the cooperative effort among all partners in the food supply chain to produce a safe,abundant food supply. Iowa's farmers and agricultural industries have long filled thebreadbasket that feeds our nation and the world. This has always been a strong cooperativeeffort between family farmers, livestock growers, food processors, manufacturers andmarketers.
As a family farmer and a long-time partner in the production of our nation's foodsupply, I am personally disappointed and offended by the public relations smear campaign thatthe food processors and member companies of the Grocery Manufacturers Association are nowspearheading. I hope you'll recognize that this smear campaign against biofuels is unfounded,irresponsible and pits traditional allies and partners in food production against one another.The propaganda being used by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and its highpaidlobbying firms in Washington, D.C., is patently false and should be disavowed.
Administration officials with the Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture andthe President's Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers have all determined that theproduction of biofuels has had only a small impact on the rise in retail food prices domesticallyand globally. The facts prove that the rising cost of energy, worldwide economic growth,global weather problems, rising marketing costs, and the weak U.S. dollar all have a far greaterimpact on rising food prices than biofuels.
All Iowans, my constituents and your employees, deserve an honest, fair discussion ofthe issues surrounding the rising cost of food. This smear campaign led by an organization ofwhich you are listed as a member is harmful to an honest discussion and should be abandoned.I therefore strongly encourage you to call on the leadership of the Grocery ManufacturersAssociation to end this misleading campaign that is undermining and denigrating the patrioticachievements of American farmers to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while alsoproviding a safe, abundant and reliable food supply.
Thank you for your timely consideration of this request and I look forward to hearingfrom you soon.
Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator
The Congressional Record, page S4243
Thursday, May 15, 2008
“Scapegoating of Ethanol”
Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, I come to the floor to rebut the scapegoating ofethanol, which is part of the food versus fuel debate.
I do not do it for a one-way conversation. I hope I can encourage conversation on thissubject among my colleagues so we can look at this from a scientific and economic point ofview and avoid scapegoating.
For almost 30 years, I have been leading an effort with many of my colleagues topromote policies to grow a domestic renewable fuels industry. We have promoted homegrownrenewable fuels as a way to lessen our dependance on foreign oil and to improve our airquality.
For all these years, we have hardly heard anything negative about these policies. Now,ethanol and other biofuels are being made a scapegoat for a whole variety of problems. Neverbefore in 30 years has the virtuous benefits of ethanol and renewable fuels been so questionedand so criticized.
The problem is, none of these criticisms are based on sound science, sound economics,or for that matter even common sense. I had the opportunity to hear an intelligent discussion ofthis, maybe it only lasted a couple of minutes, on a program on Fox News Saturday nightcalled, ``The Beltway Boys.'' And these people are very intelligent people.
I heard Mort Kondracke, a veteran journalist, falling prey to some of the sameerroneous talking points that I have heard over and over for the past couple of weeks.Mr. Kondracke is one-half of that intelligent duo on Fox News that I referred to as ``TheBeltway Boys.'' Maybe Mr. Kondracke has spent too much time inside the beltway and coulduse a little real world explanation from a family farmer like me from the Midwest.
Some of my colleagues in the Senate have also gotten involved in this misinformationcampaign, and that is why I did not come to the floor to speak; I come to the floor to encouragedialogue with my colleagues on this subject because it seems there is a ``group-think''mentality when it comes to scapegoating ethanol for everything from high gas prices, globalfood shortages, global warming, and even deforestation.
But, as was recently reported, this anti-ethanol campaign is not a coincidence. It hasbeen well thought out, well programmed, and that program is going on. It turns out that a$300,000, 6-month retainer of a beltway public relations firm is behind the smear campaignagainst ethanol. And they have been hired by a trade association referred to as the GroceryManufacturers Association. They have outlined their strategy of using environmental, hunger,and food aid groups to demonstrate their contrived crisis. And it is right here in a 26-pagedocument put out by the Glover Park Group, called ``The Food and Fuel Campaign.'' Theyenlist the support of these other nonprofit groups that are involved with environment andhunger.
I think it is important for policymakers and the American people to know who is behindthis effort. According to reports, downtown DC lobbyists, the Glover Park Group, and theDutko Worldwide are leading the effort to undermine and denigrate the patriotic achievementsof American farmers to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, while also providing a safe andaffordable food environment.
The principal leaders behind the Glover Park Group's proposal reads like a who's whoof Democratic operatives. The effort is led by former President Clinton's Press Secretary, JoeLockhart. Another is 8-year veteran of the Clinton-Gore White House, Michael Feldman.Other leaders in this misinformation campaign include Carter Eskew, Mike Donilon,Joel Johnson, and Susan Brophy, all of which proudly display their ties to the Clinton-GoreWhite House and their credentials of helping elect Democratic candidates.
This campaign against ethanol is more sophisticated than anything I have seen put onby big oil over the last 30 years, as big oil has been a constant fighter. I will show you how thisis a well-sophisticated political operation and public relations effort. For instance, the mediarelations public affairs responsibility comes under the partners in charge, Joe Lockhart andMichael Feldman. The advocacy and image advertising comes under the leadership of partnersin charge, Carter Eskew and Mike Donilon. The legislative affairs part of it is directed bypartners in charge, Joel Johnson and Susan Brophy.
Now, these people are outstanding people. They are going to be able to deliver whatthey have said they could do.
That is why we have to take it very seriously.
I suggest that Democrats in the Senate who claim to support our Nation's drive towardenergy independence should be alarmed by this group's planned campaign and the tactics beingused.
I happen to be one who fought President Clinton during his 8 years in office at everyturn when he tried to undermine our renewable fuels industry. The outstanding example Iremember is when California made application to the EPA for a waiver under the Clean AirAct at the very time that MTBE was being outlawed because it was poisoning the groundwater.
The only oxygenate that you could use in gasoline then was ethanol. California sought anexemption. We were able to win that by the Clinton administration not allowing it. Now, ofcourse, we find ourselves fighting President Clinton's former staff and staff who worked for theGore and Kerry Presidential campaigns, leading an effort for the grocery manufacturers tosmear ethanol, after 30 years of developing an industry because people called for morerenewable energy. They wanted renewable, clean-burning energy. They didn't want to bereliant upon dirty-burning petroleum. They didn't want to be relying upon importing so much.
I imagine that they are leading this effort partly because they are being paid well fordoing so, but they maybe can't stand the fact that President Bush has proved to be the bestfriend the renewable fuels industry has had. Because their old boss failed miserably at craftingpolicies to promote ethanol, they are doing everything they can to tear down the successPresident George W. Bush has helped foster.
There are a lot of intelligent people who have been misled by this campaign and aresimply wrong. They are using in their speeches a lot of the rhetoric that comes out of thiseffort. The facts don't back up the argument. I invite my colleagues to look at the facts,challenge me, have a dialog on this subject so we can use science as a basis for what we aredoing, and economics as well.
It is time to dispel the myths perpetuated by Mr. Kondracke, one of the Beltway boys--he was probably reporting this misinformation because he is a smart person--the Glover ParkGroup, and others.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, I have come to the conclusion, needs anexcuse to gouge consumers of America with higher food prices, and an easy scapegoat forincreasing food prices is, of course, ethanol. One myth that pops up again and again is thatethanol takes more energy to produce than it provides. I heard Mr. Kondracke say that. Let'slook at the facts. In 2005, the Argonne National Laboratory study concluded that it takes onlyseven-tenths of one unit of fossil energy to make one unit of ethanol. That is a positive netenergy balance. In comparison, it takes 1.23 units of fossil energy to make one unit ofpetroleum gasoline. So why aren't the grocery manufacturers of America bringing up the pointthat petroleum processing into gasoline is not energy positive? Because gasoline requires morethan 1 Btu of energy to deliver 1 Btu to your car. That is a negative net energy balance.A 2004 U.S. Department of Agriculture study concluded that ethanol yields 67 percentmore energy than is used to grow and harvest the grain and to process that grain into ethanol.These figures take into account the energy required to not just process grain into ethanol, ittakes into consideration the energy the farmer takes to plant, to grow, to harvest the corn, aswell as the energy required to manufacture and distribute the ethanol.
Of 15 different peer-review studies we have looked at and that have been conducted onthis issue, 12 of the 15 found that ethanol has a positive net energy balance. Only a singleindividual from Cornell University, who authored the other three studies, disagrees with thisanalysis. The Cornell studies have consistently used old data, some from 1979. Remember, in1979, farmers weren't producing as much corn per acre as they do today. Corn yields then were91 bushels per acre. It was at 137 bushels per acre in the year 2000. The average is now up to150 to 160 bushels per acre. The flawed studies also rely on 1979 figures for energy use tomanufacture ethanol. This energy consumption was cut in half between the years 1979 and2000 and continues efficiency gains every year. I could quantify that better than just using abroad sweep.
In the early 1980s, we were producing about 2.3 gallons of ethanol from a bushel ofcorn. Today, we are producing 2.8 gallons of ethanol per bushel. And pretty soon, the industrybelieves they might be able to produce 3 gallons per bushel.
So these erroneous Cornell conclusions have been refuted by experts from entities asdiverse as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the ArgonneNational Laboratory, Michigan State University, and the Colorado School of Mines. The factis, studies using old data overestimate energy use by not taking into account efficiencies gainedin agriculture, the greater use of fertilizer, and ethanol production.
I don't understand how intelligent people, then, can continue to argue that ethanol has anegative net energy balance. But that is what I heard on television Saturday night from veryintelligent people. That is what I hear in this smear campaign. The net energy balance ofethanol production continues to improve because ethanol production is becoming moreefficient. A March 2008 study by Argonne National Laboratory found significant gains justsince 2001. Ethanol production since 2001 has reduced water use by 27 percent, reducedelectricity use by 16 percent, and reduced total energy use by 22 percent.
Another myth being perpetuated by opponents of a renewable fuels effort and by Mr.Kondracke is that ethanol harms the environment and contributes more in greenhouse gasesthan petroleum. This claim is likewise hogwash. Science magazine and Time magazine madewildly erroneous claims about corn ethanol that are now being used by these detractors. Theyclaim that ethanol production is the driving force behind rain forest deforestation and grasslandconversion to agricultural production. This is an oversimplification to say the least. How couldintelligent people ignore the effects of a growing global population? How can one simplyignore the surging global demands for food from growing populations in China and India?Wouldn't urban development and sprawl also be a contributor to the increased demand forarable land?
Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and Energy Secretary Sam Bodman stated in aletter to Time magazine, when they ran this outrageous story that was based on a Sciencemagazine article, that it was ``one-sided and scientifically uninformed.'' They further stated thatthe Science magazine article had been ``thoroughly rebutted by leading scientists at theDepartment of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.'' In fact, Dr. Wang at the ArgonneLaboratory stated:
There has been no indication that the U.S. corn ethanol production has so far causedindirect land use changes in other countries. No claim can be made that U.S. ethanolproduction leads to the clearing of rain forests.
In fact, since 2002, U.S. corn exports increased by 60 percent. Even with the growth inthe ethanol industry, our corn exports have steadily increased, meeting growing globaldemands. So when it comes to the United States and food, we allow exports to other areaswhere they need our overproduction.
But one of the things that is driving up the price of rice now is a lot of prohibition incountries that produce rice to exports. So the global trading system is not efficientlydistributing rice to where it is needed to feed hungry people. Think of that as a detraction, butalso think that in the whole world, 95 percent of all grain produced is consumed and not madeinto something else.
While some claim that corn ethanol increases greenhouse gas emissions because of landuse changes around the globe, they need to think again. According to the U.S. Department ofEnergy, today's corn ethanol produces about 20 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions on alife-cycle basis. Ethanol blended fuel emits cleaner tailpipe emissions and, unlike petroleum,ethanol doesn't harm the environment or groundwater the way the petroleum-based productMTBE did for the 20 years it was used in gasoline as an oxygenate, where ethanol can be usedas an oxygenate and it doesn't do that.
In recent weeks, a new argument has come forward about the effect of corn ethanol ondomestic and global food prices. Food prices are going up. Of course, we all have to besympathetic to that, whether it is in America or abroad. People are struggling with higherprices for food is not something we like to hear. But to put all the blame at the feet of the U.S.ethanol industry is outrageous and misplaced, and that is what this smear campaign is all about,just so the grocery manufacturers of America can have an excuse to increase the price of foodhere.
Watching the news and listening to some of my colleagues, there was even a hearing onthis a couple weeks ago in the Senate. I have even heard expressed in this hearing that the priceof oranges was going up because of ethanol. We have heard that the domestic ethanol industrywas blamed for shortages not only in oranges but apples, broccoli, rice, wheat, lentils, peppers,even bananas.
Let's stop to think about the people who are saying: You are growing more corn, so weare growing less wheat or rice. We don't make ethanol out of wheat or rice. But for people tosay that fruits are going up or bananas are going up because we are growing more corn, well,let me assure everybody I do not know of anybody who is plowing up and tearing out an appleorchard, an orange orchard or a banana plantation to plant corn for ethanol . But that is theignorance about the people who are making those mistakes, trying to make the argument thatmore land is going into corn and less going into wheat, so the price of bread is going up.
With regard to wheat, rice, and lentils, the global demand for food from a growingmiddle-class in China and India have the most impact is what economists are telling us.Weather trends, including a 100-year historic--how to say it--the worst drought in 100years in Australia and poor growing conditions in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe have hada much greater impact on the supply of rice and wheat.
Many of these countries also have government production policies that manipulateproduction, supply, and trading of these commodities. Think of some of the dictators in Africawho want a cheap food policy. Farmers cannot make enough producing food, so the farmersmove to town and live in the slums, when they could be producing something back home, if thegovernments had policies that would encourage the production. There is so much resource inAfrica that there is no reason to have anybody starving in Africa.
The fact is, the global demand and price for all commodities has increased. Some ofthis could even be due to speculation. You read that in the business papers in the United Statesquite regularly.
One of the biggest culprits behind rising food prices is the cost of oil at $125 a barrel.
We had a recent Texas A&M study concluding that the biggest driving force behind the higherfood costs is higher energy costs. So if Texas A&M is saying that, let's look at what the IowaState University Center for Agriculture and Rural Development is saying about ethanol'simpact upon the price of gasoline and energy to move food around. They say, without theethanol we have, you would be paying 30 or 40 cents more for a gallon of gasoline. In turn,then, since Texas A&M says energy is the biggest reason for the increased costs of food, youwould have yet higher food prices without having ethanol.
Joseph Glauber, chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recentlytestified that rising prices for corn and soybeans have had little or no effect on the high pricefor wheat, rice, and other food commodities.
Dr. Glauber cited the worldwide economic growth--that would be China and India, asexamples of a couple countries--global weather problems--that would be the drought inAustralia--rising marketing costs, and a weak U.S. dollar as having a greater role than biofuelsin the cost of food being higher and even being scarce.
A U.N. official has recently referred to biofuels as ``a crime against humanity.'' Mr.Ziegler, from the country of Switzerland, might benefit from a review of European policies thatban or restrict the growth and import of genetically modified crops.
Let me explain that genetically modified crops have had a great deal to do with theincreased production of corn per acre, from 91 bushels per acre in 1979, to 107 bushels peracre in 2000, to 150 to 160 bushels per acre in 2007.
While U.S. farmers are taking great strides, through the use of genetically modifiedgrains, to feed the world, Europe is taking a step backward--the same Europe that Mr. Zieglerlives in, who is saying that biofuels is ``a crime against humanity.''
As a result, you have a ripple effect of the policies in Europe because African countriesare reluctant to grow genetically modified grains, even though their production gains are great,because European countries might restrict their imports from those African countries.I might suggest Mr. Ziegler focus more of his efforts on opportunities lost as togrowing more grains in Europe and focus on GMOs and their use in Europe than our biofuelspolicy.
U.S. farmers responded to these increased demands for grain and produced a recordcorn crop in 2007. Now, we grew more acres of corn in 2007 than any year since 1944. Weproduced 2.6 billion more bushels of corn in 2007 than 2006. Now, out of that 2.7 billionbushels, ethanol only used 600 million of them. So for all the people complaining about nothaving enough corn, are they going to use 2.1 billion bushels more that we raised in thegreatest acreage since 1944 that was not used for ethanol? Are they going to take that intoconsideration or are they going to still complain that there is not enough corn around?
Exports have grown as well. Our U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that thisyear's corn exports will be a record 2.5 billion bushels--up 18 percent over last year. We aregetting that surplus production in the United States around the world, where it is needed. Oneof the places it is needed is in China. They do not export corn anymore. In the 1980s, theChinese were eating 44 pounds of meat a year; this year--while I guess the figures are for acouple years ago--111 pounds of meat. They are going from rice to value-added food products.They have to have some of our corn to do that, and we are glad to sell it to them.
With these facts, it is hard for critics to argue that the domestic ethanol industry isdiverting corn from feed or food markets. Yet that is what this smear campaign is saying.
It is also important to keep in mind that a tiny fraction of the cost of retail food is theresult of farm inputs. Would you think farmers are getting rich because the price of food isgoing up?
First of all, let's look at all the income from farmers. They only get back 19 centsOut of $1 that you, as a consumer, spend for food, the farmer gets 19 cents. Look at a $5 box ofcorn flakes. For an interview here, I bought a $5 box of corn flakes. I think I had to pay a littlebit more because I bought it on the Hill. But the family farmer's share of that $5 box of cornflakes--and it happened to be a little bigger box than normal--was about less than 10 cents. Ithink the real figure is about 8 cents. That is what the farmer gets out of a box of corn flakes.
Yet the farmer is being blamed for the high price of food because we grow some cornto make ethanol because the American people, 30 years ago, were demanding that we go to arenewable, clean-burning fuel instead of depending upon dirty-burning petroleum, puttingmore CO 2 into the air. The value of corn in a pound of beef or pork is about 20 or 30 cents.Yet some have suggested we should suspend our policies that promote the use of renewablefuels to help drive down food prices.
If all the evidence suggests that biofuels have little, if any, impact on the rising cost offood, what good can come from lifting our biofuels policies? If people look at the facts, howcan a public relations firm of former Clinton employees get a $300,000 contract from a veryrespectable organization such as the Grocery Manufacturers of America, whose Members needan excuse to raise the price of food? How do they get away with it? Well, they get away with itbecause nobody is looking at the facts.
I was pleased to join 15 of my colleagues in signing a letter to the EnvironmentalProtection Agency, expressing our opposition to this misguided idea. We had about that samenumber of Senators in this body--some of them even voting for ethanol in the past years--sending a letter down to the same EPA, saying we have to stop ethanol, probably some of thevery same people who are complaining about the dirty air we have or the global warming.Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a copy of thatletter.
An investment researcher with UBS recently said that lifting the biofuels mandate willnot ease corn or food prices because energy costs and commodity speculation--speculation--aregreater factors. Lifting the renewable fuels mandate will not drive down the cost of corn or theprice of groceries. But it will increase our demand for crude oil--dirty-burning crude oil. Bigoil wins.
A Merrill Lynch analyst recently estimated that oil and gas prices would be up 15percent higher without biofuels. I have already spoken to the Iowa State University study: 30or 40 cents higher for gasoline without having the ethanol industry.
Another economist estimated an even higher price, that gas would go up $1.40 if weremoved 50 percent of the ethanol scheduled to be used this year--as these letters from mycolleagues suggest that we do away with half the mandate.
It is clear, then, reducing the amount of ethanol in our Nation's fuel mix will have little,if any, impact on food prices and will actually increase prices at the pump for all Americans.
So to the critics, let me say loudly and clearly: Ethanol is not the cause of all that ailsyou. While it is easy to blame, it is intellectually dishonest to make these claims. It is time forcritics to take an independent look at the facts. They have a responsibility to brush aside thissort of ``herd mentality'' that is being encouraged by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Iteventually gets taken over by the pundits and talking heads on TV who claim that everythingabout ethanol is bad. And it is getting louder. It is not only bad, but it is bad, bad, bad.
I wish to tell you what is good, good, good about ethanol because the truth is, ethanol isreducing our dependence upon foreign oil. Ethanol has a significant net energy balance. Thesame cannot be said for gasoline. Ethanol is reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol isnot the culprit behind rising food and feed prices here at home or abroad. Ethanol is loweringthe price of crude oil and lowering the price of gasoline. Ethanol is increasing our nationalsecurity, helping our balance of trade, reducing our dependence upon Middle East oil and thewhims of big oil.
It is time we clear the air, look at the facts, and recognize, once again, that everythingabout our domestic renewable fuels is good, good, good--good for agriculture; good for therefinery business, providing jobs in rural America; good for the environment; good for nationaldefense; good for the balance of payments--good, good, good.
Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that ``Ethanol Myths and Facts'' from theU.S. Department of Energy be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, asfollows:
Ethanol Myths and Facts
Myth: Ethanol cannot be produced from corn in large enough quantities to make a realdifference without disrupting food and feed supplies.
Fact: Corn is only one source of ethanol . As we develop new, cost-effective methodsfor producing biofuels, a significant amount of ethanol will be made from moreabundant cellulosic biomass sources.
Future ethanol will be produced increasingly from cellulose found in crop residues(e.g, stalks, hulls), forestry residues (e.g., from forest thinning), energy crops (e.g.,switchgrass, sorghum), and sorted municipal wastes. Some promising energy cropsgrow on marginal soils not suited for traditional agriculture.
A high-protein animal feed, known as Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS),is produced in the process of making corn ethanol.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) requires that U.S.transportation fuels contain at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. Ofthat quantity, 16 billion gallons must be cellulosic biofuels, while ethanol from corn iscapped at 15 billion gallons.
The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture's Billion Ton Study found that wecan grow adequate biomass feedstocks to displace about 30% of current gasoline use by2030 on a sustainable basis--with only modest changes in land use. It determined that1.3 billion tons of U.S. biomass feedstock is potentially available for the production ofbiofuels-more than enough biomass to meet the new renewable fuel standard mandatedby EISA.
Myth: In terms of emissions, ethanol pollutes the same as gasoline or more.
Fact: Ethanol results in fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than gasoline and isfully biodegradable, unlike some fuel additives.
Today, on a life cycle basis, corn ethanol produces about 20% fewer GHG emissionsthan gasoline. With improved efficiency and use of renewable energy, this reductioncould reach 52%.
In the future, ethanol produced from cellulose has the potential to cut life- cycle GHGemissions by up to 86% relative to gasoline.
Ethanol -blended fuels currently in the market--whether E10 or E85--meet stringenttailpipe emission standards.
Ethanol readily biodegrades without harm to the environment and is a safe, highperformancereplacement for fuel additives such as MTBE.
Myth: More energy goes into producing ethanol than it delivers as a fuel.
Fact: In terms of fossil energy, each gallon of ethanol produced from corn todaydelivers one third or more energy than is used to produce it.
Ethanol has a positive energy balance that is, the energy content of ethanol is greaterthan the fossil energy used to produce it--and this balance is constantly improving withnew technologies.
Over the last 20 years, the amount of energy needed to produce ethanol from corn hassignificantly decreased because of improved farming techniques, more efficient use offertilizers and pesticides, higher-yielding crops, and more energy-efficient conversiontechnology.
Most studies that claim a negative energy balance for ethanol fail to take into accountthe energy contained in the co-products.
Myth: Rainforests will be destroyed to create the new croplands required to meet food,feed, and biofuels needs, thus accelerating climate change and destroying valuableecosystems.
Fact: Biofuels have the potential to significantly reduce global GHG emissionsassociated with transportation, but--as with all types of development--controls areneeded to protect ecologically important lands.
In Brazil and elsewhere, laws have already slowed deforestation, and for the pastdecade China has converted marginal croplands to grasslands and forests to controlerosion.
Links between U.S. ethanol production and land use changes elsewhere are uncertain.
We cannot simply assume that increases in U.S. ethanol production will lead toincreased crop production abroad. In fact, since 2002, during the greatest period ofethanol growth, U.S. corn exports increased by 60% and exports of Distillers DriedGrains (DDGs) also increased steadily. In part, improvements in U.S. corn yield (about1.6% annually since 1980) have enabled simultaneous growth in corn and ethanolproduction.
Greenhouse gas emissions will decrease dramatically as biofuels of the future areincreasingly made from cellulosic feedstocks and as the associated farming, harvesting,transport, and production processes increasingly use clean, renewable energy sources.
Myth: Ethanol -gasoline blends can lower, fuel economy and may harm your engine.
Fact: Most ethanol blends in use today have little impact on fuel economy or vehicleperformance.
While ethanol delivers less energy than gasoline on a gallon-for-gallon basis, today'svehicles are designed to run on gasoline blended with small amounts of ethanol (10%or less) with no perceptible effect on fuel economy.
Flex-fuel vehicles designed to run on higher ethanol blends (E85 or 85% ethanol) doexperience reduced miles per gallon, but show a significant gain in horsepower.
As a high-octane fuel additive and substitute for MTBE, ethanol enhances engineperformance and adds oxygen to meet requirements for reformulated gasoline.
Next Article Previous Article