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Dailey: Ethanol, soy biodiesel offer alternative energy solution for future
Guest Opinion
A rash of advertising campaigns by auto manufacturers touting the benefits of alternative fuels have spotlighted something Ohio farmers have known for decades - biofuels are a practical answer to some of the biggest challenges we face with the environment, the economy, and energy security.

“Live Green. Go Yellow.”®
While U.S. automakers are building more cars and trucks that run on higher blends of corn-derived ethanol and soy-based biodiesel, the State of Ohio has made a $300,000 investment over the next two years to make it easier for our citizens to fuel those vehicles with higher-blend alternative fuels, such as 85 percent ethanol, or “E85,” and 20 percent soybased biodiesel, or “B20.”

The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Grant Program, championed by Governor Bob Taft, provides incentives for fueling stations to convert or install pumps that can dispense alternative fuels.

Since last summer, eight new fueling stations throughout the state have begun selling E85, and we expect that number to triple by the end of 2006. It should soon be easy for every Ohioan to access alternative fuels.

State of Ohio employees are even fueling with E85 and B20. The Ohio Dept. of Agriculture has used E85 on our campus since May 2001 when we first filled our 2,500-gallon tank.

Governor Taft recently announced the state is committed to using one million gallons of biodiesel by 2007 and increasing its use by at least 100,000 gallons each year after that. He has also committed the state to purchasing only flex-fuel vehicles that can run on both regular gasoline and E85 ethanol blends as state vehicles are replaced.

The need for fueling outlets in the private and public sectors represents a true change in our society – Ohioans driving vehicles that can run on environmentally-friendly, renewable fuels produced with Ohio farm products.

Penny-pinching
Alternative fuel vehicles appeal to our greater sense of environmental responsibility, but there is an even more practical reason to purchase them. Gasoline prices have hit where it hurts us most - in our wallets. Over the last year, biodiesel has been trading at or below the price of petroleum.

Not only does the use of biofuels save us money, it supports local grain and livestock farmers, which is good for our economy. About 13 percent of the nation’s corn crop is used for ethanol production. And, 20 million bushels of Ohio soybeans are used each year to produce biodiesel at Peter Cramer and Associates in Cincinnati.

That very fuel even helps support auto manufacturing jobs – every Jeep Liberty diesel that comes off the assembly line in Toledo is fueled with up to five gallons of B20.

Harvesting energy
With several biofuel production plants under construction in Ohio, one plant already producing soybased biodiesel in Cincinnati, and another plant already producing ethanol from beverage waste in Medina, it’s evident we are embarking on a new industry. Not only will Ohio farmers continue to produce the world’s safest and most abundant food supply, our farmers will efficiently harvest energy, making us less dependant upon foreign oil.

Biofuel producers are locating in Ohio because for a plant to succeed, its location must include an abundant supply of corn or soybeans and ready access to rail, water, and major roadways.

While our grain production is modest compared to Nebraska, Iowa or Indiana, Ohio’s location on the eastern edge of the Corn Belt is a big advantage for serving East Coast markets. Our abundant rail and highway access is crucial to the success of the emerging biofuels industry.

We’ve worked hard to lay the groundwork for biofuels production in our state. Right now the bulldozers are ready to begin construction on at least five proposed Ohio corn ethanol plants. Five plants at full production will produce 275 million gallons of ethanol and require 110 million bushels of corn. That will take over 20 percent of Ohio’s corn crop! They will also provide distillers grain for our livestock industry.

Farmers have known for years why renewable fuels make sense – they lessen our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, enhance our economic stability, and are friendly to the environment.

-Fred L. Dailey, Director, Ohio Dept. of Ag

This farm news was published in the April 12, 2006 issue of Farm World.

4/12/2006