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Ethanol an Efficient Fuel for the Nation

Editor, News-Register:

Is Terry Wallace really comparing the renewable fuel standard (RFS), a successful energy policy that has reduced the U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum, cleaned the air and boosted local economies to the atrocious actions of Adolf Hitler’s military in using an entire potato crop as feedstock to fuel V2 rockets at a time when food was scarce (“Ethanol is an Enormous ‘Social Justice’ Mistake,” Dec. 11)? Those comparisons are both wholly inaccurate and massively inappropriate.

The RFS was enacted in 2005 and requires refiners to blend an increasing amount of ethanol and other biofuels into petroleum. The program was designed to help break oil’s near dominance at the pump, providing consumers with a choice when they refuel. But Mr. Wallace seems to hew to Big Oil’s talking points on this issue, trotting out startlingly outdated or just plain wrong comments masquerading as facts.

For starters, ethanol is made from field corn, not sweet corn, which humans consume. Food price inflation has averaged just 2.6 percent annually since 2005, compared to the 3.5 percent average from 1980-2004. It is important to note that one-third of every bushel of grain used to make ethanol is enhanced and used as animal feed.

On a net basis, the U.S. ethanol industry will use just 2.95 percent of global grain supplies — a six-year low. More grain is available for both food and feed use worldwide today than ever before. For Mr. Wallace to say otherwise is just plain wrong.

Mr. Wallace also seems unaware that the U.S. ethanol industry no longer receives any federal tax incentives. Our industry gave up its federal incentive at the end of 2011 and even when it was in place, it went to blenders of the fuel, not ethanol producers. Compare that to Big Oil, which has received federal subsidies for more than 100 years, and continues to be the recipient of $6 billion per year in government assistance.

The use of ethanol boosts octane, something Mr. Wallace seems to ignore. With a 113 octane rating, ethanol is the highest-rated performance fuel in the market and keeps today’s high-compression engines running smoothly. Additionally, 10 percent ethanol-blended fuel can run in all vehicles, including older models.

Apparently, Mr. Wallace lacks a fundamental understanding of the RFS. It isn’t just a requirement for corn-based ethanol. It encompasses a host of alternative fuels, including biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol (made from non-food feedstocks) and a host of emerging advanced biofuels. Consumers deserve a choice at the pump and the RFS does that and more. To use Mr. Wallace’s words, “If we are going to jump on any bandwagons, they need to be red, white and blue.” I couldn’t agree more. I wouldn’t mind sending a lot less money overseas supporting foreign oil and instead using fuel produced right here at home.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO

Renewable Fuels Association

Washington, D.C.

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