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Grassroots Voice: "No More Easy Oil"
by Brian Jennings

The ethanol industry has a positive PR campaign of innovation and sustainable production to pursue with the public, and that story will help expose how biofuel’s competitor – fossil fuel – is declining as ethanol is improving.

Indeed, there’s an unreported narrative of how ethanol is getting better and oil is getting worse. Just as the Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, the writing is on the wall for oil. As reported in an essay by Roger Howard in a November 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal, the “age of easy oil is over.”

The International Energy Agency warns that oil supplies are tightening as major oil fields get older and less productive, particularly so for non-OPEC oil producers. To wit, an official from Russia’s second largest oil company admitted last year that national oil output there had maxed out.

As existing oil fields age, declining rates of production mean companies will spend more money just to keep production rates from falling. Further, as firms are forced to dig deeper and drill more costly wells in hostile places in search for additional supplies, oil will get even more expensive for consumers. Low oil prices and the collapse of credit are compounding these problems for oil companies, as these factors make it harder and pricey to finance new exploration and drilling projects. So when oil prices inevitably increase, the result will be sharp pain for consumers – unless we continue investment in and support biofuels as an alternative to oil.

What about ethanol’s story of innovation and sustainability? Here are but a few of the facts.

· Farmers today apply fewer inputs to produce larger crops on the same land. It takes about 40 percent less land to grow a bushel of corn now than in 1987.

· Modern-day ethanol plants have reduced energy use 26 percent and water use 21 percent, according to DOE.

· A recent University of Nebraska study found that ethanol results in 51 percent fewer GHG emissions than gasoline, and that state-of-the-art technology has improved ethanol’s energy balance ratio to nearly 2:1.

· Technology innovations are saving energy, creating new streams of revenue, and reducing the carbon footprint of ethanol plants.

While oil is becoming more difficult to find, more expensive to drill, and more harmful to the environment, ethanol is becoming more sustainable, more efficient, and cleaner.

It is incumbent upon all ACE members to help tell this story.

© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industry�s hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanol�s carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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