Ethanol remains a sensible alternative to oil

August 31, 2011

Karen Hosler's recent opinion piece calling for an end to ethanol subsidies ("End the ethanol charade," Aug. 30) uses sweeping generalizations that distort the truth about grain ethanol's role in fostering America's energy independence and producing food as well as fuel.

Domestic ethanol is the single-best alternative to foreign oil we have today. In 2010, ethanol reduced imports by 445 million barrels of oil — more oil than we import from Saudi Arabia. And America's ethanol industry helped reduce farm subsidy payments by $10.1 billion, added $53.6 billion to the economy and reduced gas prices by $34.5 billion.

Life cycle analysis studies prove grain ethanol is at least 59 percent cleaner than conventional gasoline. And, domestic ethanol creates U.S. jobs by keeping American money in the American economy, instead of shipping it overseas.

If Ms. Hosler wants to know what's driving up food prices today, I would urge her to look to oil. Corn is a fraction of the cost of groceries on the shelf — three cents for every dollar. Meanwhile, the cost of oil is associated with all the costs of processing, packaging and transporting groceries.

And what many don't know is that the production of ethanol creates both fuel and food. As much as a third of the corn used for ethanol returns to the feed supply as distillers grains, a nutritious, affordable animal feed.

Unlike the oil industry, which continues to cling to its permanent tax credits, the ethanol industry has already volunteered to give up their tax credit in exchange for a level playing field. In an open market, ethanol can compete without government assistance.

Bottom-line, ethanol is not a "magic elixir," like so many other alternatives that are being pursued. Grain ethanol is here today displacing foreign oil, creating jobs and lowering harmful emissions.

Stephanie Dreyer,Washington, D.C.

The writer is a senior public affairs associate with Growth Energy which represents the producers and supporters of ethanol.

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