Letters to the Editor

May 27, 2014

There's no beef with ethanol

The editorial from the Chicago Tribune, "How ethanol boosts the price of your hamburger," blames ethanol for rising beef prices and claims that the Renewable Fuel Standard has "failed miserably." There's plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Rising beef prices are a result of supply and demand. Cattle numbers in this country hit their peak in the 1970s. They have steadily declined since then, due recently to severe drought in the South and West. Cattle numbers today are the lowest in 63 years. Expect it to be at least two more years before the cattle herd grows substantially, providing relief at the grocery store.

The editorial points out that 40 percent of the United States corn goes to ethanol production. It fails to mention that one-third of that corn produces livestock feed as a co-product. Ethanol's net use of the country's corn supply is 26 percent.

The editorial calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to lower mandated ethanol production. Doing so would have severe economic and environmental consequences. Such a cut would increase demand for gasoline by nearly 950 million gallons and, according to Louisiana State University study, would increase gas by 5.7 cents per gallon. Studies by Argonne National Laboratory and by a half-dozen universities have shown that ethanol significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline. Also ethanol won't pollute ground water like MTBE.

Ethanol is good for the environment and gives consumers choices at the gas pump. Hardly sounds like a failure to us.

Paul Beisiegel

President, St. Clair County Farm Bureau Belleville

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