When it comes to ethanol stories and letters, it seems amazing that we never get to see, read, or hear about the hard problems with this issue.
Steve Templin (Letters, Dec. 17, 2009) was correct in talking about the increase in ethanol use would benefit farmers and the industry, and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. However, like most programs mandated by the government, this has real problems that were not discussed and reviewed ahead of time.
The process of making ethanol releases more greenhouse gasses into the air than anyone wants to admit; it takes millions of gallons of water per day to operate that factory; and that, in turn requires more facilities to clean up the water before it can be returned to the waterways. The government (which is you and I as taxpayers ) pays the ethanol maker 50 cents per gallon beyond the manufacturing cost to make it, and any cost analysis I have seen does not include the trucking costs involved to get the corn ( or whatever biomass is used) to and from the factory.
The storage life of ethanol is much shorter than gasoline, therefore, every state could need two to six ethanol plants, which brings into play the “not in my backyard” syndrome. And most of all, gas mileage is reduced by 10 to 15 percent. Therefore, if you now fill your gas tank every seven days, you will have to fill it every six days (or drive less), and you will have already paid 50 cents per gallon in extra taxes.
If the goal is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we could probably do it cheaper just by drilling for our own oil — we have lots — or convert cars to natural gas — we have lots of that also.
I doubt electric cars are the answer. Where do we get all the added electricity to plug them into, since we cannot build any more generating plants?
Maybe this would be a good project to investigate and report in the Farm and Dairy. Everyone seems to depend more and more on you for the information that affects all of us in this part of the country.
H. Sidney Case