We couldn’t have scripted it better had this been the story line of a movie. Here on the 15th day of January, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied petitions for rehearing in the case of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, et al. v. EPA, which challenged the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to permit the commercial use of E15. Get it? News about E-15 on the 15th? Yup, we’re pretty easy to entertain here at the IL Corn offices!
All that legalese up above boils down to this: another court threw out the nonsensical challenges to E-15, a blend of fuel made from 15% ethanol and 85% petroleum based fuels. In the late summer of 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved E-15 as a new fuel for cars and light trucks, model years 2001 and newer, along with flex-fuel vehicles.
In this case, there were those in the food industry that unsuccessfully tried to resurrect the worn-out argument that ethanol raises food prices. Although one can understand how someone might come to that conclusion based on so much bad information that is available on the topic, it doesn’t make it right.
Wasn’t it Mark Twain that said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Boy, that’s appropriate in the case of ethanol, for sure.
Here are some great points to keep in mind if you hear arguments against ethanol, its performance, its ability to lessen our dependence on foreign energy, its benefits to the local economy, and the fact that it’s renewable.
- Without ethanol, gasoline would cost $0.20-$0.35 cents more per gallon. That translates into an additional $6.00-$10.50 to purchase 30 gallons a month. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy, 2008)
- The U.S. Ethanol industry accounts for only 3% of the world’s grain supply on a net basis, and none of its food supply. (Source: USDA and Renewable Fuels Association)
- In the U.S., only about 1% of the corn grown is needed to meet the demand for direct human consumption (sweet corn). Less than 10% of the field corn grown is needed for processing for food uses. Sweet corn, in fact, is consumed in only a small percentage of the world’s countries.
- One-third of the corn that goes into ethanol production is recycled into the food chain as ready-made livestock feed, a byproduct called Dried Distillers Grains (DDGS). DDGS has a higher protein concentration than pre-ethanol corn, making it more efficient as animal feed.
- Corn is not the sole food source for livestock. Up to 25% of swine feed and up to 30% of cattle feed is comprised of soybean meal. 94% of U.S. soybeans are made into animal feed, but only about 40% of U.S. corn goes to animals.