Letter: Playing politics with energy
Rep. Collin Peterson is playing politics on the nation's energy future with his irresponsible statements about ethanol. Peterson claims bias on the part of the oil companies but the bias exists on the other side of the argument. One of the most o...
Rep. Collin Peterson is playing politics on the nation's energy future with his irresponsible statements about ethanol. Peterson claims bias on the part of the oil companies but the bias exists on the other side of the argument. One of the most optimistic studies on the efficiency of corn to ethanol claims only a 20 percent net gain in energy. This study was done by Professor Graboski who has been affiliated with the American Corn Growers Association. Other studies show a net loss in energy of up to 25 percent. The most probable answer may be that the energy produced is within 10 percent of the energy consumed.
Even if Graboski is correct, converting all of the corn production in the U.S. to ethanol would produce about 1.5 million barrels per day of ethanol. This is only about 25 percent of the volume of gasoline used (2004) of about nine million barrels per day. This indicates that the use of ethanol should be limited to addition as an oxygenate to promote clean burning of the vehicle fuel. At a 10 percent blend, this would consume 40 percent of the corn crop. High ethanol blends such as E85 are impractical to supply.
Peterson's claim of eliminating the need for foreign oil is fallacious and the conversion of that quantity of corn to ethanol would have a disastrous impact on the food chain in this country. In a world of ever-increasing population, "burning" our food to supply our automobile habit is unthinkable.
We need to get serious about alternate sources of energy but these alternatives need to be scientifically sound. Proposals made based on political expedience or wishful thinking are more harmful than helpful.