Moonshine? Ethanol is just a waste


A new campaign promoting more ethanol (should be called moonshine), as well as the industry’s all-important American Boating Congress, are notable today.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. (I suspect that subject isn’t going away). But today I can say I’m tired of hearing about damn ethanol. Still, it’s a likely subject attendees will hear about May 9-11 at the 2016 American Boating Congress in Washington.

It’s not surprising that Growth Energy, the producers of ethanol, recently launched a six-figure advertising campaign to promote ethanol. It features Iowa farmer Chris Soules, star of TV’s “The Bachelor” and “Dancing with the Stars,” and it will appear nationwide on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, as well as in a digital campaign.

“It’s important now more than ever that we recognize ethanol’s critical role in America’s energy policy,” Growth Energy co-chairman Tom Buis said. “Ethanol makes up 10 percent of the current motor fuel supply and it is continuing to grow as we see widespread adoption of higher blends such as E15. American-made ethanol cuts our dependence on foreign oil and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, creates jobs and provides consumers with a choice at the pump.” Really?

The truth is ethanol is moonshine. Literally, that’s what it is — ethyl alcohol. Now, I’m not saying I have any personal experience with moonshine, but they are exactly the same chemical. Ethyl alcohol is made from corn, a starch product with a small amount of protein and oil. This moonshine (ethanol) has some limited energy content, but the truth is it takes more ethyl alcohol to produce the same energy as gasoline and the claim that ethanol is good for the environment is like saying there’s great redemption in a Three Stooges pie fight.

In fact, the Des Moines (Iowa) Water Works is pursuing a lawsuit against upstream Iowa counties for polluting local waterways with billions of tons of nitrate pollution, as the ethanol industry pushes for higher levels of ethanol in gasoline, according to the Environmental Working Group, which is adamantly opposed to ethanol.

In 2015, a record number of Iowa beaches were closed because of bacterial levels unsafe for swimmers. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources also reported a record number of Iowa waterways that failed to meet publicly adopted water quality standards (“impaired waters”). Several water systems were unable to meet safe drinking water standards for nitrate. While Des Moines Water Works met or exceeded regulatory requirements in 2015, the utility was forced to operate its side-stream nitrogen removal system for 177 days in 2015, surpassing its previous record of 106 days.

Let’s face it: the only solution to the ethanol debacle rests with Congress and a long-overdue revision of the Renewable Fuel Standards. That’s why it’s bound to be among the major topics at ABC in May and it must be.

And, speaking of ABC, kudos on the selection of two keynoters for the industry gathering — namely Fox & Friends Weekend anchor Tucker Carlson and CNN commentator Paul Begala. These personable guys couldn’t agree on a date for a New Year’s Eve party. That’s precisely why attendees at ABC will have a blast getting both sides of the upcoming 2016 presidential nominating conventions.

Carlson also is editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, one of the fastest-growing news sites in the country. He joined Fox from MSNBC. Apparently his conservative views weren’t appreciated there. Previously he was co-host of “Crossfire” on CNN and he was the host of a weekly public affairs program on PBS.

The affable Paul Bagala is on CNN as part of a political team that’s won Emmy and Peabody awards. He was an adviser to President Bill Clinton and a senior adviser for the pro-Obama Super PAC during the 2012 election campaign.

These two keynoters should be both informative and fun. Indeed, this year’s ABC should be all of that and more as the industry gathers to make an impact on public policy in Washington. Registration is now open and all segments of the industry — dealers, manufacturers, marinas, suppliers, trade associations and more -- should attend.

ABC will be held May 9-11 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.


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