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Water usage for ethanol production is low

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To the editor:

Mr. New’s letter to the editor on March 7 contains several inaccurate statements regarding environmental damage from ethanol production. I hope to attempt to share the facts with the readers.

Ethanol production does utilize ground water in the production process. Most ethanol plants use 2-3 gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol. The water is then recycled.

Let’s put this into perspective though. Relative to other processes, water usage for ethanol production is low. The EPA states it takes 1,851 gallons of water to refine one barrel of crude oil, 97 gallons to produce one gallon of gasoline, 518 gallons to produce one car tire, and 2.6 gallons to produce one sheet of paper.

As for land use impact due to ethanol production, here are the facts:

Thanks to advances in technology, corn farmers have consistently increased crop yields. Today our farmers grow five times as much corn as in the 1930s on 20 percent less land. Average corn yields have increased from 91 bushels per acre in 1980 to 157 bushels per acre in 2013. Similarly, ethanol yields have increased from 2.4 gallons to 2.81 gallons per bushel.

Today farmers plant 2-3 percent fewer acres for crops like corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton than they did in the 1990s. How could Mr. New argue that farmers are converting wetlands and filtration buffer areas into corn production when cropland is actually shrinking? Furthermore, native grasslands, wetlands, and other sensitive lands are protected by certain Farm Bill conservation programs.

The truth remains, American farmers and ethanol plants continue to do more with less each year, opposite of the oil industry. Please consider this the next time you read a negative article about American farming and ethanol production.

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