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Columns

November 19, 2013

Assault on ethanol misses its mark

By U.S. Sen.

Chuck Grassley

As its market share dips, Big Oil is doubling down to swat down its perennial piñata. This time around, petroleum producers and food conglomerates are using environmental groups as political cover to gain traction on efforts to pull the plug on the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Despite the ridiculously transparent and self-serving assault by these special interest groups, the relentless campaign to discredit ethanol undermines America’s longstanding efforts to diversify its energy landscape, fuel the economy and strengthen national security.

The predictable efforts to smear ethanol’s reputation ignore the renewable fuel’s valuable contributions to clean energy, rural development, job creation and U.S. energy independence. The latest round of misguided untruths disregards the plain truth. Ethanol is a renewable, sustainable, clean-burning fuel that helps run the nation’s transportation fleet with less pollution. Yet, critics continue to hide behind distortions that claim ethanol is bad for the environment.

Let’s talk turkey and separate fact from fiction regarding ethanol’s impact on the environment.

Critics say farmers are putting fragile land into production to cash in on higher corn prices at the expense of soil erosion and clean water. They point out that 5 million Conservation Reserve Program acres are no longer enrolled in the conservation program since 2008. They want to pin the blame on ethanol.

First of all, fewer acres enrolled in the CRP has more to do with federal belt tightening than land stewardship decisions by America’s corn farmers. The 2008 farm bill built upon other stewardship incentives for America’s farmers and ranchers administered by the USDA, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, wetlands restoration and wildlife habitat programs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, no new grassland has been converted to cropland since 2005.

Fact: The Wetlands Reserve Program in 2012 had a record-breaking enrollment of 2.65 million acres. WRP lands cannot be farmed for 30 years.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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