Illinois corn farmers are writing a letter to Santa; what’s on our list?  Today we continue with item four… ethanol infrastructure!  Thanks to Thomas Martin, SIU student, for this series focusing on IL Corn’s top priorities!

Biofuels are simply amazing. When included as a part of a comprehensive domestic energy plan, biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel allow us to seek out alternatives to carbon-polluting fossil fuels often sourced from outside of North America. It wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t mention the Grinch and there certainly have been some big Grinch figures battling domestic renewable fuels this year. So many have decided that it would be hip and cool to denigrate renewable energy and laud oil instead. While these party poopers want to keep us from the freedom to choose our own fuel, we’ve had some great successes as well as some wake-ups this year.

biofuels, energy independence, new science, alternative fuel
Cassava chips being made into ethanol!

There was the loss of VEETC, which was a blender’s credit so … big deal. I don’t consider it

a loss to hear that giant oil companies aren’t going to be paid to blend ethanol into their gasoline. We finally got a great label that doesn’t demonize E15 and we will hopefully see this next step in energy independence come online soon. We continue to see leaps in the science of ethanol from a variety of sources including corn, sweet sorghum, and I even got to see a pre-operational tangerine ethanol plant in the Sunshine State of Florida and cassava-based ethanol research at CIAT in Colombia.

alternative fuel, biofuels, ethanol, energy independence
Tangerine ethanol …

Ethanol is at a crossroads where there is increasing sentiment that the government should let ethanol walk on its own two feet. While I generally agree, we can’t be too hasty either. Let us remember that the infrastructure is not in ethanol’s favor as oil has pipelines to efficiently transport it across the country. We have to ensure that ethanol truly does have level playing field and that includes infrastructure and ending government support of oil companies. It sounds easy enough but if it is as easy as it sounds why hasn’t it been done already?

While these seem like impossible challenges at times, we must continue to fight because the future is bright for our energy independence. We must educate and advocate. There is so much misinformation out there and we have to help people to know the truth. The truth is that studies in ethanol quickly become outdated as the industry perfects efficiency.

I absolutely love driving my flex-fuel Chevy HHR that we’ve affectionately named “Ethyl.” Ethyl is an alcoholic but unfortunately for her (and my wallet) the options to fuel up with higher ethanol blends is limited in several parts of the state. We need to keep the course and ask for E85/E50/E30/E15 etc. when we visit a station without it available. That’s why this Christmas I am asking Santa to bring another E85 station to Carbondale, as well as stations to Anna, Pinckneyville, Hillsboro, Carlinville, Raymond and every community in our state deprived of fueling freedom!

Thomas Martin, Raymond, IL
Senior in Agricultural Systems
Southern Illinois University


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