Letter to the editor: Biofuels an environmental dead end


To the editor:

I couldn’t disagree more with Tom Vincent’s view of biofuels.

Electric vehicles will replace most cars. California’s grid might be problematic, but that is a result of lax regulation and is fixable.

Biodiesel might be ok, but ethanol is a mess. It uses almost as much energy to produce as it provides. It drove producers to till marginal lands for greater production, when producers already mismanaged land by over-fertilizing it in trying for bigger yields.

This mismanagement has led to the degradation of Iowa’s water to the worst in the country.

The worst part about the proposed legislation is the requirement that only one pump be allowed for non-biofuel. There will be a line there. Many people never use ethanol-blended fuel.

Eric Wessels
Dallas Center


  1. Sure, coal-powered electric cars are a great alternative. We can pretend the electricity they use is not produced that way but, alas, it is. The vast portion of this nation’s electricity is not produced by renewables, plus these vehicles are not easily and or safely recycled, nor are the rare earth metals required to produce them mined under humane condition, that is, child labor is used to mine these metals. But maybe…someday…in the future…it will be better and even humane. In the meantime, we have biofuels to help replace petroleum use, and it has been successful. A call to increase their usage is wise while we try to get to electric vehicles solely powered by renewables in the distant future as you desire and the needed minerals to make them are mined under humane conditions as I desire, and I’m sure you do, too.

    • They say that an electric vehicles is so efficient that even when coal is used as the power source, it is cleaner than a gas-powered car.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Ethanol is a racket. It takes burning carbon fuels to plant, cultivate and harvest it. It requires ungodly volumes of water to produce it. When it’s used as fuel, it still releases greenhouse gasses. If the powers that be would get out of the way, we could be almost completely green in fewer years than most think. Still, like Tom Vincent said, there are many issues with the grid now. If we as a people put half as much effort and money toward upgrading our infrastructure as we did to win World War II and the Cold War, future generations will thank us. Part of the solution would be to resume taxing the super wealthy and corporations at rates similar to those during the Eisenhower years. It was their fair and equitable share that paid for the best school systems in the world and our interstate highway system. Just how much money and power do they need? If they make $50 million and are taxed at 90%, they still get $5 million. Compared to us, they could still live like royalty. I don’t mind them having more. They just can’t have it all. They shouldn’t have enough to use as a weapon to keep the rest of us under their control. We could have been all green by now if we had got more serious beginning in the mid-1970s. The solution here isn’t new biotechnology as much as it is socioeconomic justice. If we had more of the latter, the former would probably have been in place by now just as it already is in most of Western Europe.


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