The Post-Dispatch showed poor judgment in its selection of its editorial cartoon Nov. 14 on ethanol, which reflected a superficial treatment of a critical subject that is both inaccurate and disturbing.
In claiming environmental damage from corn ethanol, the cartoon ignores that ethanol actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50 percent in comparison with gasoline. In 2012, ethanol production and use reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, according to energy experts. This is the equivalent of taking more than 20 million vehicles off the road. Not bad, considering that corn used for ethanol in the United States is grown on only 5 percent of U.S. cropland.
Likewise, the best available data on fuel prices show consumers would have paid 80 cents to a dollar more per gallon for gasoline in recent months if not for ethanol.
There was widespread pushback to the Associated Press story on which that cartoon was based. That story contained many factual errors. The Post-Dispatch did a disservice to its readers by not looking to fact check nor seek the other side of the issue. It is particularly troubling this cartoon would run in the heart of corn country, where we have three decades of positive experience with ethanol. Checking the veracity of the messages it contained could not have been easier, considering the National Corn Growers Association is based here, and St. Louis resides in the heart of the Corn Belt and corn production and its allied industries play a large role in our regional economy.
It’s not a choice of ethanol or environment. With better tools and management, we can and are able to have both and do so while providing consumers a choice in fuel. Ethanol cleans our air and reduces our dependence upon fossil fuels thereby increasing energy diversity and security. It also generates economic activity in rural America — $13.7 billion worth in 2012. That’s a story the public deserves to hear.
Rick Tolman • Chesterfield
CEO, National Corn Growers Association