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Ethanol is still a good investment for region

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Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

A new University of Minnesota study of ethanol is raising concerns, especially about corn-based ethanol.

The study's conclusion was that corn ethanol is no better than gas and has some economic and health concerns. The study also concluded that ethanol produced from switchgrass or other plant materials is cheaper and more efficient than gas or corn-based ethanol.

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This is the latest study from the university, which is critical of ethanol produced from corn. This is a little frustrating for Minnesota corn producers. That is understandable.

Corn-based ethanol is a significant player in Minnesota as a $6 billion industry with 17 plants. Five of those plants are located right here in west central Minnesota -- Benson, Atwater, Granite Falls, Buffalo Lake and Morris.

This is $6 billion in revenue that is generated in and cycles through Minnesota's economy, instead of being transferred to foreign entities and/or countries. That's a good thing, right?

In addition, the ethanol industry knows that it has to develop cellulose-based ethanol. The industry is aware of the importance of cellulose-based ethanol and it is working on developing a suitable process to achieve that.

West central Minnesota farmers and ethanol-related companies deserve credit for developing the ethanol industry to this point.

If ethanol is "no better than gas," we still think it is better to stick with ethanol rather than send our dollars overseas for foreign oil.

America needs to develop every energy source domestically it can in the future and that includes ethanol.

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