I Must Be Missing Something; I Just Don't Get the Why Not of Corn Ethanol

Kansas Viewpoint

Regulation is the only thing preventing corn ethanol from providing more renewable fuel

Published on: October 7, 2010
I don't get it.

I sat through a conference of ethanol industry leaders this morning where a lot of the talk was about the challenge of meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard that calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022, 21 billion of that from feedstock other than corn.

That number, in case you missed it, is a requirement to outstrip current corn ethanol production of about 15 billion gallons, which took a decade develop from technology proven for three decades, by 6 billion gallons a year. And, we need to do this using we aren't sure what feedstock, transported from where, with what starch value by processes we hope to have developed, at least for pilot production, in about a year.

Here's reality -- we already have to bump up the blend wall to put 21 billion more gallons of ethanol in the fuel supply. Why not let corn ethanol grow?

We've already proved "food or fuel" a fallacy; we've gotten past the plowing-up-the-rain-forest nonsense. Why not just let what we know really works well, just work?

Maybe down the road, cellulosic is the answer to solid waste management and we can bring it up and running as the answer to another whole problem. But why force something unknown into a slot where we desperately need something that we know works?

And why put a deadline on figuring how biomass handling and densifying (a new word I leaned today), on a deadline? We already have an over-abundance of the feedstock we know how to use, just like we did 10 years ago.

I say wake up, shake off the political blanket and go for it already.