LETTER: Ethanol shouldn’t be subsidizedProduction of corn-based ethanol is currently using 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop.
By: Richard A. Peterson , Wewela
To the Editor:
In 2007, Congress doubled down on ethanol as the transportation fuel of the future and passed the Energy Independence and Security Act with a new Renewable Fuel Standard mandating a doubling of ethanol production from 2012 to 2020.
Production of corn-based ethanol is currently using 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop with a 10 percent ethanol/gas blend. If the normal blend goes to 15 percent or more, it seems logical that a much higher percent of the U.S. corn crop would be used given that cellulosic ethanol is probably not going to be a viable alternative for many years, if ever. This reliance on corn-based ethanol may make corn farmers and ethanol producers happy, but not older car owners or livestock feeders.
Higher grain prices would not be good for the world economy or the world’s poor and the rush to bring more land into corn production as corn prices increase would not be good for the environment.
The pollution reduction benefits relative to other additives are not clear and seem to depend on which pollutants are being compared.
Any possible advantage for ethanol is decreased because it has less energy per unit than gasoline with other additives; therefore, vehicle mpgs are decreased, especially with higher blends, and more of it must be burned, thereby creating more pollution.
When you combine these pollution problems with the fact that special infrastructure is needed to transport, blend and store it there does not seem to be a good justification for increasing its use to E15 and certainly not to E85.
Continued subsidies and tax credits cannot be justified for this industry in the light of uncertain pollution benefits and very uncertain sustainability.
Congress needs to repeal the current unrealistic RFS and just maintain the current 10 percent blend, but begin phasing out direct subsidies and tax incentives for both ethanol and oil producers.