September 22, 2012
Dan Sanders Jr.: Ethanol isn’t pushing up prices, drought is
Six governors of livestock and poultry producing states have now called for the EPA to temporarily waive the renewable fuels standard for ethanol being blended into our gasoline.
They claim that the ethanol industry is responsible for the cost of rising grain, livestock and food prices because our industry uses 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop, and this year, there is a shortage of corn because of extreme drought conditions. This is inaccurate. The ethanol industry uses only 4 percent of the world corn crop supply. In the U.S., our industry is the first user of 40 percent of the harvested corn crop but of that 40 percent we are only using the starch out of the kernel to make ethanol. The world is not in short supply of starch, it is in short supply of protein. All of the proteins, fats and fibers are returned by the ethanol industry back into the food chain in the form of a livestock feed called distillers grain. When this is factored in, the ethanol industry is only a net user of about 16 percent of the total U.S. corn harvested, according to a Monsanto study.
Corporate livestock and food producers are behind this waiver request, and are seeking it in the hopes that they can get back to gouging the consumer with higher food prices while purchasing cheap, artificially manipulated grains prices. If these companies are really concerned about keeping food prices down for consumers, then why aren’t they calling for lifting trade restrictions on meat imports, or asking for restrictions limiting our grain and food exports? The answer is because they don’t want manipulation of their market for their products, they just want it for their inputs to insure them of future record profitability.
The Natural Resource Defense Council recently reported that Americans waste $165 billion in food annually, nearly 40 percent of the county’s supply. The average American family of four wastes more than $2,000 in food each year. Ethanol production didn’t cause that, and we don’t hear governors of livestock and poultry states creating hysteria over it either.
The ethanol industry isn’t the demon it’s made out to be by all of the well orchestrated special interest smear campaigns. Our American ethanol industry takes American-farmed grain and returns both fuel and food to the American consumer. The renewable fuels standard isn’t driving up corn prices, an extreme drought is. The standard is the only domestic energy policy that has worked to curb our dangerous dependence on foreign, often hostile, sources of oil. Ethanol displaces 14 billion gallons of gasoline from oil today. All of which would have had to be imported from foreign sources, transferring that much more of our wealth overseas.
Even more disturbing is that the gasoline we burn today has American blood on it. America has fought three wars at a cost of 6,000 military men and women, and $3 trillion to protect our oil dependence and supply in Middle East.
The real fuel mandate today is that federal law requires that 90 percent of every gallon of gas sold in American be from petroleum sources. With hurricane Isaac bearing down on our oil producing states, and gas prices set to skyrocket even further, how come these governors aren’t calling for an end to our 90 percent gasoline mandate?
I suppose the ethanol industry and the Renewable Fuels Standard are also the cause of hurricane Isaac and rising gas prices.
Dan Sanders Jr. is the Company Manager of Front Range Energy in Windsor. Front Range Energy is a six-year-old local company producing 48 million gallons of fuel ethanol and over 400,000 tons of livestock feed annually.