Guest view: Disparaging ethanol hurts paper's credibility

November 24, 2013 

The Our View: "Good intent, bad results" which ran on Nov. 13, not only praised an AP story that has been found to have many gross inaccuracies but it also completely missed the boat in suggesting remaining dependent upon oil is in some way more environmentally friendly than increasing the use of domestic renewable biofuels.

It's incredibly ironic that the accompanying cartoon to the story represented petroleum refining (not ethanol production, as intended) with a radioactive sticker on the back of a truck and black gunk in a puddle by the plant. Petroleum processes can lead to radioactive waste streams, not ethanol production. There are no black puddles produced near any ethanol production facilities, unlike petroleum spills that contaminate birds and other wildlife. Everyone knows gasoline is a mixture of toxic substances that cannot be consumed. Ethanol is a type of alcohol found in common adult beverages consumed in mass amounts and is commonly referred to as "spirits." It's only when gasoline is added to it that ethanol becomes undrinkable. Thus, the cartoon actually reflected petroleum processing, not ethanol production.

Additionally, the author neglected the fact that ethanol actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50 percent in comparison with gasoline while offering a renewable fuel choice to American consumers. In 2012, ethanol production and use reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, according to energy experts. This is the equivalent of taking more than 20 million vehicles off the road. This reduction clearly offers an environmental benefit to Americans. In characterizing the Renewable Fuel Standard as a subsidy for farmers instead of a successful energy policy, the author demonstrated a clear pro-oil agenda.

In the future, The Belleville News Democrat should strive to present a more accurate representation of ethanol's benefits. Not only does it help clean our air and reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels thereby increasing energy diversity and security, it also generates economic activity in rural America - $13.7 billion worth in 2012.

Disparaging ethanol with stories based in logical fallacies not only damages the paper's credibility, it also shows a lack of respect for the farmers, ethanol plant employees, seed dealers, crop insurance agents, rural bankers, equipment dealers and many others in our community who work hard to fuel our country and sustain our local economy.

Pamela J. Keck is director of Biofuels, National Corn Growers Association in Chesterfield, Mo. She is formerly from Belleville.

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