Ethanol Industry Counters Attacks

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association countered attacks from the food processing and petroleum industries this week with fact checks.

RFAReferencing news stories about statements made by officials with Valero Energy and Pilgrim’s Pride, RFA President Bob Dinneen said, “To put the blame for rising commodity, food and energy prices solely at the feet of the American ethanol industry is misleading and diversionary. This kind of overheated, chicken little rhetoric is meant to distort the truth and deliberately misinform the American public.”

In news stories this week, Pilgrim’s Pride Chief Executive Clint Rivers in a statement blamed high feed costs causing plant closings and layoffs on “the U.S. government’s ill-advised policy of providing generous federal subsidies to corn-based ethanol blenders.”

RFA says, “What is not included in Mr. Rivers statement is that a host of factors, ranging from record global demand to poor weather conditions around the globe, are driving commodity prices. Moreover, Mr. Rivers conveniently ignores the processing, packaging, and transportation costs associated with oil prices climbing to record highs near $110 a barrel. In addition, no mention is made of the calculations by Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University that estimate the broiler chicken industry specifically was able to save more than $11 billion between 1997-2005 by purchasing corn and feed well below the market cost of production.” (Re: “Feeding at the Trough: Industrial Livestock Firms Saved $35 billion From Low Feed Prices.”)

Citing studies by Argonne National Laboratories and Environmental Defence, RFA also responded to a Reuters story this week in which Valero Energy Chief Executive Bill Kleese made the claim that, “Corn and ethanol production and the resulting high prices will impact the world in a much more acute negative way than greenhouse gas emissions and climate change ever will.”

Fact Check: Compared to gasoline, ethanol is reducing global warming gas emissions by more than 20 percent. As the world continues to irresponsibly deplete its reserves of traditional petroleum, new sources like tar sands in Canada must be developed. The conversion of the tar sands into a usable petroleum products produce 300 percent more greenhouse gases than traditional oil production.

Ethanol, News, RFA