Iowa officials want to boost ethanol consumption in the state using taxpayer funding, even as motorists continue to show little interest and a major Iowa newspaper publishes an ethanol editorial saying ethanol isn't the answer.
Gov. Terry E. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, agriculture Sec. Bill Northey and DOT Director Paul Trombino recently announced a new biofuels pilot program called “Fueling Our Future,” a public-private partnership that aims to assist in expanding the market for mid-level biofuels blends, building on Iowa’s history as a leader in ethanol and biodiesel development and production.
Through the use of current funding, the initiative will redirect federal funds to further leverage state dollars in the existing renewable fuel infrastructure program, establishing more blender pumps containing E-30 and biodiesel at gas retailers around the state.
Motorists have long despised ethanol, at least according to feedback I hear about daily from GasBuddy members. So it's interesting that it isn't because motorists desire more ethanol that's fueling the movement, rather the farm lobby, who didn't try to deny that more ethanol use means more money for farmers, saying it “will help our farmers, communities and economy in producing, processing and profiting locally.”
Meanwhile on the flip side, the Iowa State Daily recently published an editorial by the ISD Editorial Board titled "Ethanol: Not the best solution".
Ethanol occupies a special place in the hearts, minds and wallets of many Iowans. Pride is usually inspired when we look to our fields and see not only food for the world but also an energy source that has been touted as the potential successor of fossil fuels as the world’s standard of energy. Sadly, that pride is misplaced. Ethanol, more specifically corn ethanol, is undoubtedly a source of energy, but its viability as a stand-alone energy source is much more questionable. While there are conflicting accounts available on the overall efficiency for the ethanol products of today and tomorrow, it can be safely said that ethanol is not the miracle energy fountain hoped for decades ago.
Those of us in states like Iowa are all too ready to accept the billions in federal subsidies and research grants that come along with programs as large as the ethanol industry. A desire to see that funding continue is only aggravated by the heavy investments already made in ethanol production, which just so happen to provide much-needed jobs in states like Iowa.
Despite the ease with which we could accept the nation’s money, ethanol is simply not the energy source we hoped it would be. Regardless, we in the agricultural states have more to be proud of than ethanol.
Increasing ethanol has seen wide apprehensiveness from motorists who would like less ethanol-laced gasoline, so why is Iowa so keen on making more ethanol available? Tell us what you think in the comments!