Common Sense in Oregon

In General by Ken

In Oregon, far-flung from the Corn Belt, the ethanol debate rages as lawmakers consider state legislation that will alter the state’s 2007 renewable fuel standard. Carol McAlice Currie, a columnist from the Salem Statesman-Journal newspaper covers the brouhaha and quotes a state official:

“You don’t get from zero to cellulosic ethanol (created from wood thinnings or agricultural waste such as grass straw, not corn) without steps,” said Brent Searle, special assistant to the state’s director of agriculture. “You build the refining plants, and then they adapt to other feedstocks. It’s just like computers or computer software. There’s always Version 1, which is then tweaked to produce Version 2 and so on. Corn is in abundance, so that what we’re using. Technology is still being pushed for cellulosic ethanol, and hydrogen is years beyond that. With the government incentives in place, we can build capacity. But it takes time.”

The columnist opines:

“And to the naysayers who claim that ethanol really isn’t a cleaner fuel when its feedstock has to be imported (as it currently does in Oregon), a few words: Oregon is a feed-deficit state. We import corn anyway to feed farm animals. One of the byproducts of ethanol production is the creation of wet distillers’ grain, which is a livestock feed, so we would be adding value to an agricultural process already happening.”