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Corn+Soybean Digest

NCGA Responds to Exxon Chair’s Misconceptions on Net Energy Balance of Ethanol

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) sent a letter to Exxon Mobil Corporation Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond dispelling several inaccuracies he made during a speech concerning U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

In his June 7 speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, Raymond said 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.” NCGA President Dee Vaughan said a wealth of information exists to rebut Raymond’s statement, specifically pointing to the preliminary results of new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study by economist Hosein Shapouri. The study, “The 2001 Net Energy Balance of Corn-Ethanol,” shows that ethanol generates 67 percent more energy than it takes to produce.

“Shapouri’s research proves ethanol undoubtedly has a positive energy balance, even before subtracting the energy allocated to co-products,” Vaughan said.

The letter also addresses Raymond’s mistaken assertion that corn grown for ethanol takes away land that could be used for food and forests. Shapouri’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 percent of its oil demand by 2010. Domestically produced ethanol can help to expand our nation’s fuel supply, he says. “The increased use of ethanol in our nation’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 country’s overall energy policy,” he said. “And ethanol will play an integral part in finding a long-term energy security solution.”

Vaughan concluded by calling on energy producers to work together in establishing a solution to the mounting U.S. energy crisis. “Ethanol provides more than 200,000 U.S. jobs annually, provides benefits to our environment by reducing pollution, and plays an integral role in contributing to a long-term solution to our nation’s energy security,” he said. “During a time when our nation needs to expand all sources of domestic energy, we should come together and have a serious discussion based on facts, not misconceptions.”

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