I’m really not into the whole super hero craze which seems to dominate movie screens every summer. But if I had to choose a superhero to admire, I’d go with ethanol.
Think about it: Ethanol has all the elements of a superhero.
Like most good superhero stories, ethanol has humble origins. Farmers in Iowa and other states built the first distilleries a few decades back to build an alternative market for corn and reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil.
Few believed in the future of ethanol. But, of course, the skeptics were proven way wrong by the biofuel that today constitutes 10 percent of the country’s motor fuels supply, is exported all over the globe and is a major factor in supporting crop prices.
Second, like all good superheroes, ethanol is a strong force for good. Besides propping up crop prices, research shows that ethanol significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions when compared to gasoline. It saves consumers cash at the pump and provides badly-needed jobs in rural communities. The list of benefits goes on, but you get the picture.
Finally, ethanol has successfully overcome formidable obstacles and fended off hit jobs from some of the most powerful opponents around, the federal government, environmental activists and the petroleum industry.
Now, some well-connected folks in the petroleum industry are again on the attack against our superhero ethanol. Their latest tactic is to try to get the Environmental Protection Agency to shift the responsibility of blending a minimum of ethanol into the motor fuel supply from refiners to fuel blenders and others in the distribution chain.
It may sounds like some mundane regulatory change. But the result, according to a recent letter co-signed by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, would be an increase in compliance headaches for companies that blend and sell gasoline and an almost-certain reduction of ethanol blends and choices for consumers. That would mean higher prices at the pump and more emissions.
So, it’s time for ethanol to strap on its cape. (These days, there aren’t many phone booths superheroes can use as changing rooms.) It’s time to fight off another misguided attempt to eliminate all the benefits that the plucky alternative fuel offers to consumers, the environment and the rural economy.
You know, a superhero’s work is really never done.
By Dirck Steimel. Dirck the News Services Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and editor of the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman.