Monday, June 25, 2007

Biofuels Beat Oil by Any Environmental Measure

The DesMoines Register recently ran a special section critical of the ethanol industry. The paper offered sensational "what if worse cases" and omitted the many benefits ethanol provides to the environment. Here's a good letter-to-editor which helped to explain their reporting omissions:
Biofuels Beat Oil by any Environmental Measure, June 24
Letter to the Editor
The members of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association were shocked and dismayed by the recent special section titled "How Biofuels Pollute" (June 3).

As producers of biodiesels we take pride in producing an environmentally friendly fuel in an environmentally sound manner. Yet, by highlighting isolated incidents and hypothesizing worst-case scenarios, the Register left readers with an impression that every gallon of biofuel production harms the environment. Quite the opposite is true.

Since no current or envisioned motor fuel is completely benign, there is really only one question to ask: Does the production and use of biodiesel and ethanol reduce the negative impact of petroleum products? The answer is a resounding yes.

Biofuel production uses less water, and biofuels are biodegradable. Biofuel production is much cleaner for the air, and biofuel use reduces particulate matter and smog-forming emissions. In addition to these clear environmental benefits, biofuels reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs and investment opportunities in rural America.

Governed by strict environmental regulations, the water discharged from biofuel plants is actually cleaner than when it entered the facility. Further, the discharged water is cleaner than the river or stream into which it is released.

The Register's portrayal of the biofuel industry in Iowa did a disservice to the leaders of the renewable-fuels industry. We should not turn a blind eye to concerns regarding the production and use of biofuels, but neither should we distort the positive role biofuels play in addressing some of our most pressing issues: energy security, economic development, clean air and water and global climate change.

While not a silver bullet, biodiesel and ethanol are clearly superior fuels to oil-derived products. As we continue to embrace biofuels, we embrace a cleaner, more secure future.

Monte Shaw
Executive Director
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association,
Johnston Iowa
Source: DesMoines Register
balanced food and fuel ethanol energy security biofuels biodiesel

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