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posted by janrinok on Tuesday August 24, @04:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the its-corn-its-good dept.

The author of this piece has an obvious bias (Geoff Cooper is the president and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association), but does he also have a valid point?

Let's prioritize American renewable fuels over foreign oil and minerals:

After suffering through more than a year of quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and travel lockdowns, millions of Americans have eagerly returned to the nation's highways this summer for long-awaited vacations and road trips. As a result, gasoline demand has surged to record highs and pump prices are at levels not seen since 2014.

In recent weeks, regular-grade gas prices averaged $3.17 per gallon, up almost 50 percent from the same time last year. With higher fuel prices threatening to undermine the nation's ongoing economic recovery, it's easy to see why the Biden administration is looking for ways to ease America's pain at the pump.

[...] Before the Biden administration looks to OPEC+ countries or mineral-rich nations like Afghanistan, China and Bolivia for help, it has an opportunity to turn to America's heartland for a homegrown solution. Renewable fuels like ethanol have a 40-year proven track record of success in helping to lower prices at the pump while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions, supporting good-paying clean energy jobs and curtailing crude oil imports.

Four decades' worth of investment and innovation by ethanol producers has resulted in real breakthroughs in lower-carbon transportation fuels. Today's corn-based ethanol reduces carbon emissions by 52 percent when compared directly to gasoline, according to a recent study from the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. Another study by scientists from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tufts University similarly shows corn ethanol achieves an average carbon reduction of 46 percent compared to gasoline, with some ethanol in the market today achieving a 61 percent carbon reduction.

[...] Before we turn to the Persian Gulf for answers to our nation's energy and climate challenges, let's give the American heartland a shot. The solution to high pump prices and decarbonization lies in the farm fields of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and other Midwest states — not in the oil fields of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East nations.

Journal Reference:
Uisung Lee, Hoyoung Kwon, May Wu, et al. Retrospective analysis of the U.S. corn ethanol industry for 2005–2019: implications for greenhouse gas emission reductions [open], Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining (DOI: 10.1002/bbb.2225)


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by requerdanos on Tuesday August 24, @04:43PM (4 children)

    by requerdanos (5997) on Tuesday August 24, @04:43PM (#1170376) Journal

    I don't see any reason why you couldn't power your ethanol production with wind, solar, or unicorn faerie dust.

    Not saying that's typically done, just pointing out the envirocleanliness potential.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by fustakrakich on Tuesday August 24, @04:56PM

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday August 24, @04:56PM (#1170385) Journal

    Sorry, I was talking more about the agricultural aspects, water consumption, harvesting, soil damage, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc...

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @06:20PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, @06:20PM (#1170452)

    whale oil to ethanol. now that is renewable.

  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 24, @08:13PM (1 child)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 24, @08:13PM (#1170493)

    Ethanol should be past the point where it is self sustaining - if desired. Thing is, the infrastructure is all built out using coal, oil, nuclear, etc. The more ethanol is produced, the more infrastructure will be built to use it.

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    John Lennon (also sung by David Bowie) Working Class Hero
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, @07:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, @07:09PM (#1170933)

      It takes two barrels of oil to produce one barrel-equivalent from field corn*. It is impossible for such a model to become self sustaining. The only reason it can exist at all is because the law requires it.

      *Brazil is the only country in the world with sustainable ethanol fuel production because they make it from sugar cane.