Welcome to the Media/Research Center
The past 30 years have provided ample time and attempts by the “free market” to develop alternatives to gasoline and reduce crude oil imports. Today, ethanol appears to be in the forefront of possible solutions to those growing societal problems. Ethanol is at the forefront because of its lower consumer resistance-to-change when compared to dedicated alternative fuel vehicles (e.g., electric, natural gas, hydrogen), it has a faster time-to-market, a lower comparable overall cost, it has privileged infrastructure and vehicle compatibility because it is a liquid and blends with gasoline, it is ease-to-use and is transparent to consumers, and it has a lower cost hurdle to overcome when building large scale public refueling infrastructure.
It is also self evident, that the production and use of ethanol would not exist at this time without federal and state government incentives to hedge against lower cost crude oil and very volatile global oil supply and demand swings. As a result, the past 20 years have provided CFDC with an exhaustive research library that comes from the debate in Congress and in the media about the various public policy merits of supporting the development of ethanol by federal and state governments. CFDC’s Media/Research Center is designed to provide researchers with objective and peer reviewed information to help answer two important and fundamental questions.
In spite of the threats imposed on our society by growing oil imports and air pollution, ethanol and biofuels continue to be subjected to rumors and unfounded concerns based on outdated research and biased public relations campaigns played out in the media. As a result, there is a constant need for high quality and consistent information about clean fuels provided by CFDC and supported by validated research from government, industry, and academia. CFDC works with the media to counter the myths and miscommunications surrounding the development of clean fuels by providing letters to the editors, publications, and other educational information (see publications).
Examples of Anti-Ethanol Media Coverage and CFDC Responses:
Many studies have confirmed the environmental benefits of biofuels such as ethanol and ethanol's ability to mitigate carbon emissions. While the recently published studies in Science, which Jacoby cites, indicate otherwise, a recent study by the US Department of Agriculture shows that ethanol made from feed stocks with low or even no energy inputs emits 94 percent fewer greenhouse gases than petroleum. Ethanol also played a key role in the reformulated gasoline programs of the 1990s, helping to meet Clean Air Act standards. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that these programs have exceeded expectations in significantly improving ground, water, and air quality. The recently passed energy bill calls for increases in ethanol production, but it does so in an environmentally responsible manner. The architects of the energy bill anticipated new developments in research, and built in global warming and pollution reduction standards that ensure that all new technologies meet a carbon benchmark before implementation. The nation will move toward energy sustainability in an environmentally responsible manner. Studies such as those published in Science are no cause for alarm.
~ Douglas A.
Investor's Business Daily
Re "Bio-Foolish Behavior" (Editorial, Tuesday), the media uproar over the studies alleging biofuels do more harm in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels is truly much ado about nothing.
Land-use scenarios of converting grasslands or chopping down forests are simply not where the U.S. biofuels movement is headed. Answering to outrageous hypotheticals is accomplishing what critics who stand to lose market share really want, which is to have the ethanol industry running around stamping out brush fires while they attempt to reverse the public will of reducing our use of petroleum.
Corn yields are steadily on the rise, meaning we are meeting the increased use of biofuels with the land we have. And we have capped the amount of corn that can be used in these programs.
For the few "prominent scientists" who requested that we shape these policies so that they do not increase global warming, at least from the U.S. perspective, we have good news: We did.
Architects of the energy bill included lifecycle global warming-reduction standards that ensure all new and emerging technologies meet a carbon benchmark before policies are implemented.
We stand by our data and the support of the Energy Department and EPA that biofuels such as ethanol significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly when used as E85.
~ Douglas A. Durante
It’s irresponsible to blame water shortages in the Ogallala Aquifer on ethanol production (“Liquid Gold,” Feb. 21, 2008). A number of factors have contributed to water level decreases over the past few years, most significantly the booming livestock industry. A West Texas A&M University study from 2004 cites that increased feed for cattle and a growing hog industry have taken a toll on the underground water reserves. Furthermore, levels have been depleting for years, predating increased ethanol demand, and from varied industries that have made the Ogallala region a destination for operation.
Nearly nine out of ten acres of corn require no water other than natural rainfall, according to the National Corn Growers Association, and in 2006, 87 percent of corn cropland in the U.S. was non-irrigated. New technologies are making it possible to produce ethanol from non-crop sources like waste and tires, further reducing the minimal demands the industry places on water supply.
Water is a precious resource used in a number of industries. However, it’s simply inaccurate and misinformed to lay the blame of decreasing water levels, which have been transpiring for generations, on corn-based ethanol.
~ Douglas A. Durante
The Hill, Letter to the Editor
~ Douglas A. Durante,
Business Week Letter to the Editor,
~ Douglas A. Durante
Topeka Capital-Journal, Letter to the
~ Douglas A. Durante
CFDC Letter to
the Editor – Atlanta Journal Constitution: Controversial ethanol being
forced on us
It's important to point out that ethanol-blended gasoline is nothing new, contrary to what Tex Pitfield implies ("Controversial ethanol being forced on us," issue, Jan. 28). Pitfield neglects to mention that roughly 46 percent of the nation's gasoline already contains ethanol, which is credited with a 20-year track record of reducing pollution. In a report released in January, the EPA recognizes that ethanol-blended gasoline programs have improved air, water and ground quality beyond original expectations. Furthermore, technologies are being developed that will allow ethanol to be produced from virtually any feedstock at far lower prices. This combination of environmental and economic benefits makes ethanol an essential fuel that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
~ Douglas A. Durante
Durante is executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition
in Bethesda, Md.
CFDC Letter to the Editor -- Christian Science Monitor: The Global
In response to your Jan. 18 editorial on rising grain prices: Naming ethanol as the main driver of rising food costs is misinformed. Multiple studies have shown that a number of factors affect the cost of food, most notably labor, fuels, transportation, packaging, and other nonfarm costs.
A study released in December of 2007 by a Memphis-based research firm shows that corn prices have minimal impact on the US Consumer Price Index for food, based on 20 years of price data.
Additionally, studies by the federal government have shown that one-third of the grain used in the ethanol process is maintained and goes back into the feeding cycle. Increases in corn yields will allow the US not only to meet fuel needs but also to increase both exports and reserves.
The new US energy bill does require the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels within the next 15 years. However, the majority of that must come from nonfood sources including wood chips, switchgrass, and other inexpensive and readily available biomass.
These second-generation biofuels will provide a host of financial, environmental, and energy benefits in contrast to environmentally costly and increasingly expensive fossil fuels.
~ Doug Durante
The Letter to the Editor above was in response to The Christian Science Monitor, The Global Grain Bubble: As Prices Soar, Riots Rise. But It's Not For Lack of Crops. The Cause? A Rush to Biofuel and Grain-Fed Meat
CFDC Letter to the Editor -
Kudos for providing balanced coverage of the energy bill (“As Ethanol Takes Its First Steps, Congress Proposes a Giant Leap,” Business Day, Dec. 18).
The passage of the bill could shine a light on next-generation biofuels, as Congress sets a new standard that cellulose-based ethanol make up 21 billion gallons of the national fuel supply by 2022. This is a critical development, underscoring the importance of investing in the commercialization of the fuel, which can be produced from various biomass feedstock, like wood chips and even waste.
With skyrocketing investment in innovative technologies by private entities and the federal government under way, it’s important to embrace the elements that an ideal cellulosic technology should exhibit: low production and retail costs, ability to draw on a wide variety of feedstock, ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions and other toxic pollutants and be high-performing.
This is a pivotal time to potentially revolutionize the country’s future fueling needs.
~ Douglas A. Durante,
Re "Drunk on ethanol," editorial, Aug. 20, 2007
The editorial, using one-sided arguments that make the pursuit of ethanol look like a fruitless effort, failed to mention that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 20%, has a 34% net gain in overall energy and is the highest-performing fuel. The Times instead focused on reciting environmental statistics from a Stanford University study that has been widely challenged by experts and misinterpreted by the mass media. American farmers have the means and ability to feed and fuel this country. It's unfortunate that The Times would strategically pick and choose statistics to skew the reality of ethanol.
~ Douglas A.
The Letter to the Editor above was in response to Drunk on Ethanol here. Click here for the PDF
CFDC Letter to the Editor – Detroit
Free Press: Michigan Must Lead The Way On Alternative Fuels
While The Detroit News should be applauded for its forward-looking editorial on the virtues of homegrown, renewable fuels ("Michigan must lead on alternative fuels," Aug. 5), it also missed an opportunity to correct a wildly exaggerated myth that ethanol has caused some food prices to double or triple.
We couldn't agree more with the editorial's theme that ethanol has provided tremendous benefits. From a significant reduction in greenhouse gases to the decreased reliance on foreign oil; from the estimated creation of 147,000 jobs to the economic income from additional tax revenues; it is without debate that ethanol has ushered in a new era of fuel economy and efficiency for all Americans.
However, contrary to the misinformation, the pursuit of expanded ethanol production does not greatly impact retail food prices. This latest myth is likely promulgated by special interest groups with specific agendas.
In fact, a recent study done by independent economist John Urbanchuk found that oil and gasoline prices have twice the impact on consumer food prices that corn prices have. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects overall food prices will increase 1.9 percent in 2007 and 2.8 percent in 2008.
This compares with food price increases of 2.4 percent in both 2005 and 2006, and an average of 2.9 percent in the past 25 years. It is also interesting to note that corn prices have been down more than $1 since the beginning of this year.
The News is right on when it said America must lead on alternative fuels. We can accomplish this through sensible policies that will both feed and fuel our country.
~ Douglas A. Durante
Why Support the Development of Ethanol?
It stated in 1973 when the United States suffered its first domestic energy crisis directly caused by international forces. With the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, Americans witnessed the effects of our dependence on imported oil: long lines at gas stations; lost productivity; declines in the stock market; economic recession; and general economic uncertainty. Today, we are now also concerned with the effects of climate change and a long term conflict in the Middle East – part of the world with the largest crude oil reserves. Because of its proven benefits ethanol has a long history of support from the White House and United States Congress. The Energy Tax Act, Energy Security Act, Alternative Motor Fuels Act, Clean Air Act, and the Energy Policy Act and the Renewable Fuel Standard all identify ethanol as a way to achieve a variety of important public policy goals. Today, The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will create a market for 36 billion gallons of renewable ethanol. Learn more about the societal and public policy benefits of ethanol in the Ethanol Fact Book.
On the state level ethanol has proven to be a great economic development tool creating millions of jobs and billions of dollars in state tax revenue support to help decrease taxes and increase services. Economic Impact of Ethanol Production. Every region in the country with it abundant biomass, waste and other renewable resources stand to gain tremendously from ethanol and the development of cellulose based ethanol production from government research and private research and development.
What is fuel ethanol?
Ethanol is currently blended into half of the nation’s gasoline in nearly every state in the country. Ethanol, otherwise known as ethyl alcohol, alcohol, grain-spirit, or neutral spirit, is a clear, colorless and flammable oxygenated fuel. Ethanol is used to increase octane and improve the emissions quality of gasoline as required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 for carbon monoxide and ozone non attainment areas. Thus, in areas of the country where clean air standards are not met, which include many metropolitan areas around the country, ethanol is mixed into conventional gasoline. You may see a sign on your gas pump- “This fuel contains ethanol”, or a percentage ethanol may be noted. It is blended with gasoline to extend fuel supplies at volume levels of 5.7 volume percent, 7.7 volume percent or 10 volume percent, in reformulated gasoline or conventional gasoline. Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline, and reduces a number of priority pollutants, including carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and hydrocarbons. It is considered carbon dioxide neutral, since, though carbon dioxide is produced when ethanol burns, the plants used to make ethanol use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Some studies show a very slight increase in aldehydes from ethanol combustion.
Ethanol is also considered an alternative fuel when used in an 85% blend (E85) to meet goals outlined in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. E85 uses ethanol blended at 85% in the summer time, but uses a slightly lower 70% in the winter. E85 can be used in numerous vehicles currently on the road, called Flexible Fuel Vehicles, or FFV’s for short. The major automobile manufacturers produce numerous models of FFV’s; you may even own one. Many retailers become interested in E85 when they see the many FFV’s coming into their stations, and seek to bring in E85 to serve these customers. You can tell by looking in the fuel door of the vehicle, where a small sticker may state: This vehicle runs on E85 or gasoline. You may also check the owner’s manual or VIN number. You can switch between E85 and gasoline in your FFV with no problem. These fuel formulations are approved by all automakers and the Environmental Protection Agency. In the future, ethanol can be used as a fuel to power fuel cells, airplanes and other energy applications.
Will Ethanol perform well in my customer’s vehicles and is it covered under their automobile warranty? YES
All automobile manufacturers approve the use of ethanol/gasoline blends. Approval of ethanol blends is found in the owner’s manual under references to refueling or gasoline. General Motors Corporation states in its owner’s manual they recommend the use of fuel oxygenates, such as ethanol, when and where available. Fuel ethanol blends are sold in nearly every state and can be found in 46% of the nation’s gasoline. Fuel ethanol blended gasoline has achieved nearly 100% market share of all gasoline sold in certain carbon monoxide (oxygenated gasoline) and ozone non attainment areas (reformulated gasoline, RFG). Minnesota has adopted a statewide oxygenated fuel program that has resulted in ethanol being blended in over 95% of the State’s gasoline. Therefore, fuel ethanol is successfully used in all types of vehicles and engines that require gasoline.
Does ethanol take more energy to make than you get from using it?
No, contrary to various media pronouncements, ethanol does not take more energy to produce than is gained from using it. The most recent comprehensive study performed by researchers in California reviewed the previous studies regarding this issue, and concluded that ethanol does not take more energy to produce than you get from it. An article explaining the study was published in Science Magazine in January 2007, and can be reviewed here: http://rael.berkeley.edu/EBAMM/FarrellEthanolScience012706.pdf The authors found that reports to the contrary “incorrectly ignored co-products [other things produced during ethanol distillation] and used some obsolete data” (see article referenced above, on page 1). The United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Energy agree with this position.
What is E85 and a Flexible Fuel Vehicle?
E85 is a mixture of 85% ethanol, and 15% gasoline. It is an alcohol-based fuel that can run in six million vehicles that are on the road, right now. Standard model vehicles that can run on either E85 or gasoline are called “flexible fuel vehicles” or FFVs. These vehicles do not have to run solely on E85; they can go back and forth between E85 and gasoline with no problem. They are made by the major auto manufacturers, including General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Ford, and Nissan. There are currently more than 6 million of these vehicles on the road, and you, a friend or relative may have an FFV. To learn more about E85 and see a list of the many vehicles that are able to use E85, go to National Ethanol Vehicle Coaltion Vehicle List or Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center. To find and E85 station near you go to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.
Production Hits 1 Billion
A new research study “Net Energy of Cellulosic Ethanol from Switchgrass” was released on January 7, 2007 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers from US Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska found that switchgrass yields more than five times the energy used to grow it and produce it, which makes it even more efficient than then the existing positive energy balance in corn-based ethanol plants (see http://rael.berkeley.edu/EBAMM/FarrellEthanolScience012706.pdf for more details). The five year study also found greenhouse gas emissions from cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass were 94 percent lower than estimated greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline production.
EPA Says Ethanol Helps Clean the Air and Water
Ethanol Industry Quick To Respond to Health Claims
Transportation's Effects on Global Warming:
More than 5 million
jobs and $700 billion in economic activity could be generated
if the U.S. pursued a plan to get 25 percent of its energy from homegrown
sources by the year 2025.
Nebraska ethanol industry creates thousands
Nation’s First Commercial Cellulosic Ethanol
Cellulosic Ethanol: Not Just Any Liquid Fuel
The federal government has 20 tax incentives and states offer nearly 400 incentives for the production and sale of renewable fuels like ethanol and E85 for use in flexible fuel vehicles . These incentives are designed to accelerate the development of ethanol plants, reduce the cost of installing E85 refueling infrastructure, reduce the cost of selling ethanol and E85 to consumers, and encourage fleet owners to purchase alternative fuel vehicles like FFVs.
The following link will take you to an up-to-date list of federal and state incentives for ethanol which is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Missouri Implements New Ethanol Mandate
CFDC Releases New Harris Poll Results
Ethanol Helps Lower
Change: What Americans Think
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Says E10 Ethanol Saved Iowa Drivers
$120 Million in 2007
(See Ethanol Fact Book, pages, 45-48)
Happy "New Energy" Year
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