Ethanol took a blow last week when Exxon Mobil Corp. Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond says in a speech that corn-based ethanol is "neither an economic or energy-efficient choice, as it can require more energy to produce than it generates in the end." To counter the attack, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) sent a letter to Raymond dispelling several inaccuracies he made during his speech concerning U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
NCGA President Dee Vaughan says a wealth of information exists to rebut Raymondâ€™s statement, specifically pointing to the preliminary results of new USDA study by economist Hosein Shapouri. The study, "The 2001 Net Energy Balance of Corn-Ethanol," shows that ethanol generates 67% more energy than it takes to produce.
"Shapouriâ€™s research proves ethanol undoubtedly has a positive energy balance, even before subtracting the energy allocated to co-products," Vaughan says.
The letter also addresses Raymondâ€™s mistaken assertion that corn grown for ethanol takes away land that could be used for food and forests. Shapouriâ€™s study points out that corn yields will continue to increase, thereby increasing not only the net energy value of ethanol production but also increasing the production efficiency of the land.
Vaughan pointed out that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates the United States will import as much as 68% of its oil demand by 2010. Domestically produced ethanol can help to expand our nationâ€™s fuel supply, he says. "The increased use of ethanol in our nationâ€™s fuel supply is not the singular answer for U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but ethanol is already playing an important role in the countryâ€™s overall energy policy," he says. "And ethanol will play an integral part in finding a long-term energy security solution."