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Letters to the Editor / Online Comments

BY DI READERS | SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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“My beef with ethanol” (DI, Sept. 7) opinion has many errors.

“Iowans are going to have to make a choice between producing more ethanol or using the corn as feed.”

This is not a one or the other choice but balancing between the major uses — which, in addition to transportation fuel and animal feed, includes corn sweeteners.

This is a market decision, not just for Iowans but all consumers of corn products, on what they are willing to pay.

Use your car less, walk or bike more, and the demand for corn (and petroleum) will decrease, and you will be healthier as a benefit.

Reduce your meat consumption and eat more fruits, vegetables, and even corn, and the demand for corn will decrease, and you will also be healthier. Reduce your consumption of soft drinks containing corn sweetener, the demand for corn will decrease, and you would be healthier, too.

“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.”

To efficiently feed the masses you would provide staple foods; root crops, grains, legumes, not meat, certainly not the quantity Americans eat. Passing a staple food through an animal is an inefficient use of food. U.S. corn exports are primarily used to feed animals in counties rich enough to afford meat. It does little to help the hungry in poor counties.

Cattle are naturally grass eaters, so they can be raised without corn. The distillers’ grain left over after making ethanol is itself animal feed.

“To illustrate the futility of ethanol, as of 2011, ethanol accounted for only about 9 percent of total gasoline consumed at the pump.”

What would happen to gasoline prices if 9 percent of the supply disappeared? That compares closely with the 10 percent of our petroleum use (22 percent of imports) that came from the Persian Gulf region in 2011.

“… [ethanol] 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.”

The 2001 model year guideline only applies to the just approved E15 blend. E10 has been widely used for 30 to 40 years. What the Energy Information Administration actually said is “All gasoline vehicles can use E10, but currently, you need a light-duty vehicle with a model year of 2001 or greater to use E15.”

“Ethanol is neither the only option nor the most efficient.”

There are several processes and materials used to make ethanol, don’t lump them all together.

Cornstarch is the most common in the U.S. now, but others are coming online. The renewable-fuel standard requires increased production of “advanced biofuels” that cannot be based on cornstarch and must have lower greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Because it is required by the EPA, it is not necessarily the best market-based product, either.”
Congress set the renewable-fuel standard and gave the EPA authority to temporarily waive parts of the mandate.

Studies indicate that removing the fuel-standard mandate would have little effect on corn prices.
To secure the oil supply from the Persian Gulf, the U.S. has maintained a military presence in the region for generations, even when we are not at war. Not paying those costs in the price of fuel is a subsidy that distorts the market.

David Bond
Marion

RE: “Mason urges UI students against distasteful Penn State apparel”

Mason charges us “to be respectful toward opposing teams, especially Penn State”; what about being respectful of the tremendous number of victims that have already suffered?

TiggerHawk

Yes, you're right. People should be respectful of the assault victims by wearing crass apparel to a football game. This isn't really a pick-a-side story and yet your logic is still baffling.

Markus Kirky

I agree with Markus. At this point all those who were guilty are gone from the Penn State program, so we can be respectful of the team, school, and victims all at the same time. There's no conflict there.

However, maybe they need to take a harder line in Kinnick Stadium about offensive shirts.

Yesterday in the student section I saw one that said “Iowa State girls are c*nts.” If they asked him to turn it inside out, he obviously changed it back once inside (of course).

Janelle Beswick


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