Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Great Corn Debate

We're kicking off Envi Blog's premiere with a Q&A by an advocate and an opponent of corn ethanol, the hotly disputed alternative fuel.

Ann Peck, former executive secretary of the New York Corn Growers Association, supports corn ethanol production.
Peck's points:
- The increased demand for ethanol has increased the price of corn, helping farmers make financial progress.
- The residuum of the corn-to-ethanol process can be used as a low-cost, high-protein feed for livestock.
- It's going to take a variety of alternative fuels to help improve the country's carbon emissions.

David Pimentel, chair of the U.S. Secretary of Energy's corn ethanol study since 1980 and professor at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, does not believe that corn ethanol is a viable fuel option.
Pimentel's points:
- Corn is one of the most environmentally damaging crops. Corn farming causes more soil erosion and uses more nitrogen fertilizer, insecticide, and herbacide than any other crop grown in the United States.
- "It takes 43 percent more fossil energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than you get out."
- Corn ethanol is not helping the U.S. become oil independent. "In fact we’re importing oil from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere to produce ethanol."

How do you feel about the pros and cons of corn ethanol? Does one outweigh the other? Let the debate begin!


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