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Letter: America should stop using corn for ethanol

America should stop using corn for ethanol

I would like to follow up on a recent Another Voice article on the new renewable fuel standards (RFS) being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency. I agree with the writer, who points out that moving from a 10 percent to a 15 percent ethanol blend will be harmful to a majority of engines, but I think there is a larger, humanitarian issue to consider.

Ethanol production in the United States recently reached a record output of 1 million barrels per day, primarily produced from corn. Growing corn in large monoculture fields requires high amounts of fertilizers and pesticides to maintain yields. Runoffs from the field enter the water supply. We are seeing this annually with fertilizer phosphates and nitrates feeding the algae bloom in Lake Erie.

The RFS was enacted for national security concerns. Transforming corn into ethanol, however, doesn’t make sense from an energy standpoint. Estimates range from 50 to 400 percent more energy is used than gained from using corn for ethanol when you account for fuel usage on the farm, in transport and distillation. Corn used for ethanol also removes a food source for both humans and animals. Since the RFS was instituted in 2005, the annual inflation rate has been around 2.3 percent. Foods dependent on grain feeds, such as ground beef (6 percent), bacon (11 percent) and eggs (10 percent), show the impact that ethanol for fuel has on our economy.

With an increase in mileage standards, the increasing use of electric and hybrid vehicles, and more domestic oil production, there is no need to use corn as fuel. The national security of the United States would be better served by moving corn back to a food source to decrease domestic food prices, and with increasing world unrest in areas with food shortages, for use as humanitarian aid.

John Szalasny