The Genesis of Corn-Fed Cars

Iowa Corn Indy 250

Also contributing to this story is Dennis Keeney, PhD, MS. | Over the next six months, this bimonthly blog series, “Corn-Fed Cars: On the Road with Ethanol,” will initiate a conversation about ethanol and the current environmental and economic impacts of its use.  This first post addresses the progression of ethanol use in the U.S., and the forces that have gotten us to where we are today.

This June at the “Iowa Corn Indy 250,” flags touting “Iowa Corn” and t-shirts promoting “Corn Power” were a common sight at the Newton, Iowa racetrack. The slogans are no surprise, given two facts: first, that the race is sponsored by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, and second, fellow racing giant NASCAR’s  announcement last year that they will partner with American ethanol producers to fuel its fleet with a gasoline blend containing 15 percent corn ethanol.

At a time when the buzz about corn ethanol seems to have died down on the coasts, its advocates are speaking up, and production in the Midwest continues to ramp up to record levels in light of government subsidies and mandates that spurred the growth of the industry over the last decade. Today, 40 percent of the corn crop in the U.S. goes to ethanol production. Read More >

Farmers Can Help Re-Localize Our Energy

Pelletized grasses can provide a low-tech, renewable heating fuel.

Pelletized grasses can provide a low-tech, renewable heating fuel.

Rather than helping to produce liquid fuel (ethanol) for vehicles, a better future for some of the nation’s farms may be in growing grass for use as a heating fuel, according to Jock Gill, president of Pellet Futures, a bioenergy consultancy.

Gill spoke Saturday in State College, Pa., at the 18th annual conference of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, in a talk entitled “Getting the Miles Out: Relocalizing Energy,” in which he envisioned a “community supported energy” model similar to the increasingly popular community supported agriculture. He advocated a shift away from an energy system that involves centralized control of production, then distribution through a vastly inefficient electrical grid, to a system that is more locally controlled – a more democratic energy system. Read More >