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Kuntz: My beef with ethanol

BY KATIE KUNTZ | SEPTEMBER 07, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowans are beginning to realize the very serious consequences of what has been the worst drought in Iowa history in many years and the fourth-driest July on global record.

Currently, with so little corn produced because of the drought, Iowans are going to have to make a choice between producing more ethanol or using the corn as feed.  It is vital that Iowans support using corn to feed pork, cattle, and poultry, which in turn feed the masses, rather than used to create inefficient fuel.

As reported by KCRG, ethanol producers this year are feeling the squeeze and are creating ethanol because of the Renewable Energy Standard enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. Ethanol plants fear they will be forced to close if requests to waive the standard pass this year.

Those who advocate the waiver include Iowa Pork Producers Association and the International Food Policy Research Institute. They argue that if the EPA continues to require nearly 40 percent of this years’ corn crop be used for biofuel production, it may cause a world food crisis.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the United States is the leading exporter of corn and soybeans, and many nations rely heavily on our products for their livelihood.
The world needs Iowa farmers, not ethanol plants.

To illustrate the futility of ethanol, as of 2011, ethanol accounted for only about 9 percent of total gasoline consumed at the pump. It can actually decrease mileage by about 3.3 percent and should only be used in light-build cars produced after 2001, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is particularly unfortunate — the average age of a car today is 11 years, which means that a significant number of U.S. cars are older than 2001 and really shouldn’t use ethanol at all.

Though reducing ethanol may seem problematic to those looking for cleaner, cheaper energy, Iowans should not forget that there are a great many different sources of clean energy that also need our support, including solar and wind. Ethanol is neither the only option nor the most efficient, and because it is required by the EPA it is not necessarily the best market-based product, either.

Iowa can still feed the world and produce clean, renewable energy. Ethanol simply isn’t the way.


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