I like to read the Trib because its stated aim is to report the facts. After reading the editorial “The ethanol ruse: Will a damning report be the final nail in its coffin?” (Nov. 16 and TribLIVE.com), its statement that federal ethanol mandates “divert more than 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop” needs to be updated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated on Nov. 8 that the 2013 domestic corn crop will total around 14 billion bushels and that ethanol production will consume approximately 4.6 billion bushels ( usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/latest.pdf) or 33 percent.
Of those 4.6 billion bushels, one-third or 1.5 billion bushels will be a residual product, distillers dried grain, sold as feed for cows and pigs. Subtracting those 1.5 billion bushels from the 4.6 billion bushels leaves 3.1 billion bushels of corn consumed — 22 percent of the 14-billion-bushel 2013 corn crop or almost half of the editorial's “40 percent.” In addition, a gallon of ethanol is also lower cost than gasoline.
The per-gallon futures prices in the Nov. 16 Business section were $1.77 for ethanol, $2.66 for unleaded gas — an 89-cent difference. In the Pittsburgh area, this translates to prices for E85 fuel (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) 30 to 50 cents lower versus regular gasoline. In the Midwest, where E85 is more readily available, the savings can be as much as $1!
As an E85 user, my auto-fuel expenditures are supporting domestic agriculture, helping reduce the U.S. trade balance and importation of foreign oil, contributing to a cleaner atmosphere and keeping the internals of my engine pristine.