Letters to the Editor

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ETHANOL: Oil industry promotes propaganda

Letter by John E. Nelson, Graham on July 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm | 12 Comments »
July 6, 2010 10:01 am

Re: “Ethanol wrongly promoted as solution” (letter, 6-30).

I’d like to offer a rebuttal to this anti-ethanol diatribe. The letter writer refers to the “science” against ethanol. What he’s really doing is regurgitating propaganda from the American Petroleum Institute. Please get the real facts.

Alcohol can be made from almost any organic source, even lawn clippings. Big agriculture promotes corn, but it is not the best choice. Many crops produce much more alcohol per acre, and they can be grown on marginal, arid or marshy lands, not just farmland. Brazil uses sugar cane grown on 1 percent of its land and imports no oil.

Contrary to oil industry propaganda, alcohol is a superior fuel to gasoline and takes much less energy to produce. It is 105 octane, less flammable, cooler burning and 98 percent pollution free. Engines optimized to burn alcohol actually get up to 20 percent better gas mileage than gasoline-burning engines. Since alcohol deposits no carbon in the engine, alcohol-burning engines last up to three times longer.

Virtually non-toxic (no spill worries), alcohol can be easily produced, distributed and sold locally for much less than gasoline. The dollars stay here, offering huge benefits for local economies.

Moving to an alcohol-based economy will have another profound effect: It will remove the oil industry’s power base. That is what scares big oil much more than anything else. It has expended enormous effort and resources to discredit alcohol.

A petroleum-based economy is highly toxic and unsustainable. There is a better way. Education is the first step.

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