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By Staff | Nov 25, 2011

I recently read an editorial written by a man who was pointing out the terrible things ethanol has done since it became a major influence in the corn market.

His article was a rehash of what has been said by many other ethanol opponents. You would think by now they’d have something new to say rather than repeating the same old claims, most of which have been disproven.

For example, the Cato Institute published a book about the fallacies of the green energy movement. I bought the book to read what the Cato Institute said about ethanol and it was another rehash.

One of the criticisms leveled against ethanol by the Cato Institute was that it could not be transported by pipeline, because it is corrosive. Other methods that are more expensive are needed for ethanol delivery.

The Cato Institute used trucking as the more expensive and less efficient means of moving ethanol. Up to this point, everything the Cato Institute said was true.

What the Cato Institute left out was that rail transportation is a major hauler of ethanol and I see entire trains of ethanol pass by on the tracks visible from my home.

Since I had the electronic version of the Cato Institute’s book on green energy, I had it search for the places in the book where the word “railroad” was used. The word was used in the book, but never in describing the transportation of ethanol.

This leads me to ask if the authors even looked at any ethanol plants to see the rail sidings that are so obvious. Did they talk to anyone in the ethanol business?

But then why would you want to confuse yourself with additional facts when your mind is already made up?

The editorial I recently read did have a slightly different approach to an old argument. The author complained about the amount of water used in the creation of ethanol, another argument that has been disproven.

This time the author complained about the “consuming” of water in ethanol production.

Water is not consumed. All the drops of water that there ever were here remains here on earth in water’s various forms of solid, liquid, or gas. Water is never consumed; it is merely relocated.

On the way to Minneapolis, if I stop in Owatonna for a cup of coffee, by the time I reach Minneapolis, I will find a restroom and the water will resume its journey down the Mississippi River. It was never consumed.

Perhaps there is an argument about growing corn under irrigation and what that does to an aquifer.

Then a similar argument can be made about water from the western United States being diverted to keep lawns green in Los Angeles. Now watch the politicians run for cover, but I digress.

A high percentage of corn used for ethanol is not from underground water, but grown from water received from the sky.

It is called rain and goes where it wants to go. Some of it is absorbed by growing plants and the rest is runoff, headed for the nearest stream.

Darn it, there is another one of those annoying facts that gets in the way of a foregone conclusion.

It is not very hard to dispel these ethanol arguments. What is unfortunate is that they keep getting recirculated by people who seem to just talk to each other.

Sadly, it appears that ethanol detractors have the same persistence as a bad case of athlete’s foot. It may go away for awhile, but you just cannot seem to get completely rid of it.

When you believe it is gone, it returns.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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