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LETTER: AP stories about ethanol misleading

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to both The Associated Press story, “Prairies vanish in the push for green energy,” as well as your column, “Time to face ethanol’s future,” that recently ran in your paper. In your column, you exalt the AP story as an “exemplary piece of journalism,” when it is riddled with inaccuracies that mislead your readers.

For example, the story claims that 5 million acres of land have been removed from the Conservation Reserve Program since President Obama took office. What the story failed to mention is the 2008 farm bill that removed funding for roughly 7 million acres of this CRP land. According to USDA data, enrolled acres have been near the new cap every year, between 92 to 98 percent.

Both the AP story and your column claim that ethanol uses 44 percent of the corn crop, when the true number is much lower, approximately 26 percent, when considering the grain that is given back to the market in the form of distillers grains. Distillers grains, used for animal feed, are a byproduct of the ethanol product process.

Both pieces also ignore the fact that a peer-reviewed study from the Argonne National Laboratory states that ethanol, on average, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent when compared to gasoline. This is only one of numerous studies that demonstrates the environmental benefits of ethanol and the progress the industry has made over the years.

Here at POET, we firmly believe that conservation is important to both our environment and the agriculture community. However, we will not apologize for helping farmers make a profit for the first time in decades. The ethanol industry supports 400,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs nationwide and has reduced our nation’s dependence on unstable sources of foreign oil by 15 percent. We will continue to be innovative and efficient in giving consumers additional choices at the pump.