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The Musings of A Simple Country Man: Corn-Ethanol: A Field of Dreams?

By Hobie Morris  Posted by Charles Sullivan (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
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Who profits the most from corn derived ethanol?

The powerful ethanol lobby has recently added New York's Junior Senator Hillary Clinton to its list of supporters. Seemingly the ethanol bandwagon is on a roll with nothing but open road and blue sky ahead.

It's been widely touted as a can't miss "American Made" solution to our strangling, expensive and highly unpredictable foreign oil dependency.

Billions of taxpayer dollars are already crossing the palms of those vested states and interests who stand to profit the most. America's struggling small and family farmers will, of course, gain the least. But then again hasn't this always been the farmer's historical curse?

While other alternative fuel sources are currently being discussed it's corn that is presently the heart of the ethanol effort.

Is corn the "magic (fuel) bullet," as its supporters claim, or a "field of dreams," according to a growing list of critics? One prominent scientist calls it simply another very expensive and over hyped "scam."

According to a recent anti-corn-ethanol editorial in the prestigious Wall Street Journal American taxpayers pay for ethanol twice: first in crop subsidies to huge corn growers and then in a 51 cent (government bail out) for every gallon of ethanol produced. Without this lucrative (to a relative few) subsidy ethanol would not be cost competitive with gasoline.

The Journal also noted that "ethanol's problem is that it is expensive to make and provides far fewer miles per gallon than gas. So its supporters have worked the political system to subsidize ethanol, and more recently to force Americans to buy it."

Cornell University's World renowned professor Dr. David Pimentel has found that it takes more than a gallon of oil based fuel to produce one gallon of ethanol--29% more! It takes huge amounts of oil to grow, transport and convert corn into ethanol.

Dr. Pimentel noted that 18% of American's corn production provides only 1% of our petroleum needs. If 100% of our corn were used only for ethanol it would provide only 6% of our present needs.

To this simple country man corn-ethanol reminds me of a "field of dreams." Lots of money will be made by a favored few but our oil supply dependency will remain.

As a country man I'm worried about two more nightmares: this year for the first time in its 230 year history America will become a net importer of food and sadly nearly 40 million Americans are going hungry.

I silently weep.
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Charles Sullivan is a photographer, social activist and free lance writer residing in the hinterland of West Virgina.
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