More caution against ethanol boom; instead, Montana ecologist pushes conservation

Tom DeLuca is an expert in land and forest ecology for the Wilderness Society. He joins a growing chorus of critics that caution against too much enthusiasm in developing corn-based ethanol. Specifically, he wants his home state of Montana to weigh all the facts and possibilities in making its contribution to reducing dependence on foreign oil and promoting good environmental practices.
DeLuca is not impressed with the production efficiency of corn-based ethanol. One of his arguments states that the amount of corn needed to produce a tankful of ethanol could feed a person for year. I've seen that statement many times before, and I'm hoping someone knows where it originated and can explain it to me. Is that the amount of corn an average person uses annually in all food products? Or is it the amount of straight corn an average person eats at the dinner table? Or is it enough corn to actually keep a human alive for a year? Anybody know where this often-repeated fact comes from?

Even looking at the more-promising cellulosic ethanol, DeLuca again worries that too much land is required to produce enough significant amounts of ethanol. And he doesn't like the water requirements or impact on the soil.

"Yet in a nation that insists on driving large vehicles that average less than 21 miles per gallon," says DeLuca, "the production of grain ethanol at the expense of soil resources and in the face of increasing global populations is, at best, irresponsible."

So he proposes more conservation to reduce dependency.

"As a society, it is our responsibility to learn to conserve fuel before we are entitled to the consumption of soil degrading fuels produced from food of fiber resources," concludes DeLuca.

[Source: Tom DeLuca/New West]

Share This Photo X