Letter: Support ethanol

Farm Forum

In response to Kenneth C. Blanchard’s column Jan. 23, Mr. Blanchard blames most of the world’s problems on the Democratic Party.

Mr. Blanchard blames the liberal Democrats for developing the ethanol industry which is helping the environment by lowering the amount of fossil fuels used. He says ethanol and biofuel development are favorite causes of the environmental left. I have never heard of the development of biofuels used as a political issue.

Mr. Blanchard doubts that biofuels are sustainable and better for mother earth when compared to fossil fuels. In response, grain ethanol decreases greenhouse gas emissions by 59 percent, compared to gasoline. In 2011, the production and use of nearly 14 billion gallons of ethanol in the U.S. reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 21.9 million tons. Ethanol is also more energy efficient to produce than conventional gasoline; for every 1 BTU put into creating ethanol, there is a 2.3 BTU return.

Mr. Blanchard states that the development of biofuels is hurting the world’s poor by using so much grain it has pushed grain prices higher, making food costs too expensive for them. Responding to this charge, the U.S. ethanol industry uses just 3 percent of the global grain supply. The real costs of putting food on the shelf are transportation, processing and packaging — all costs driven by oil. One-third of every bushel of corn used in ethanol production is returned to the food chain in the form of highly valued animal feed (distillers grains).

In addition, ethanol has created and supported more than 400,000 jobs. Also, a 2011 study by Iowa State University found ethanol reduced gas prices 25 cents/gallon over the last decade — a consumer savings of $34.5 billion annually.

Don’t criticize ethanol. Enthusiastically support it. There are four large ethanol plants within 40 miles of Aberdeen creating good jobs and a huge amount of economic activity from which Aberdeen is receiving huge benefits.

Robert Pond