LETTER: Move over, ethanol

In response to Monday’s opinion poll, ‘Should Illinois invest more money into ethanol as a clean fuel alternative?’:

The DI readers’ response to this question (71% Yes) illustrates the power of lobbying groups on Capitol Hill. Lobbying groups. The National Corn Growers Association want the public to think that corn derived ethanol is a promising fuel alterative, but these soothsayers candy coat the truth of the matter. To get the same amount of energy from ethanol as from gas, you would have to burn 10 times as much and produce the same amount of carbon dioxide. Imagine gas tanks 10 times bigger to travel the same distance, or the price to fill up when E-85 cost a few cents more than regular unleaded on average. These arguments are only based on the consumer’s point of view and do not take into account the production of ethanol.

In the production of ethanol, the corn is planted and harvested by tractors, distilled and then trucked to the pumps. Each of those steps requires some form of fuel, and if we just think about the tractors and trucks running on ethanol, the feasibility of ethanol as a fuel is implausible.

Instead of blindly listening to puppet-bureaucrats babble about the benefits of ethanol, give some thought to what they say. You might just find out who is really pulling the strings. The only true fuel alternative is solar energy. Everyday, 120,000 terawatts of energy from the sun strikes the earth. To have an idea of how much energy that is, a modern nuclear power plant produces only about 1 gigawatt.

Richard Helmich

Graduate Student