Renewable fuels

Any conversation I have lately that starts with fuel always goes right into my use of E-85. I fuel up as often as I can on this corn based renewable knowing that somehow, someway I can support corn growers. It has been a passion of mine since my first flex-fuel vehicle and it will be for as long as the option remains — and let’s hope it’s a long, long time.

The controversy over renewables is with regard to subsidies. Under-writing this in any way either with grants or tax credits has always been a part of that conversation. But if we continue down this path I think we’ll find many new and exciting options that will lift us past any questions as to whether of not this investment is worth the attention.

Case-in-Point: Late last year the Washington state-based Alaska Airlines made history flying the first commercial flight using the world’s first renewable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests. Wow. Think about this a minute … forest residuals? ( — No tree huggers hurt here!)

DuPont is leading development of more efficient, sustainable cellulosic ethanol production. The ability to make fuel from locally sourced, renewable, non-food feed stocks makes cellulosic ethanol an effective strategy for reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

DuPont is finding better solutions for producing transportation fuel from cellulose provided by corn stover, sugarcane bagasse and other crops. Other applicable resources include high-biomass sorghum, wheat straw, switch grass, sugarcane straw, and empty fruit bunch (palm oil process residue).

The opportunities are endless — and I feel the difference every day I use E-85.

The bottom line is this — I have consistently paid less for E-85 then its full-petroleum counterpart. I have never — ever had any engine problems — and we’re talking at least three different vehicles in 12-plus years and hundreds of thousands of miles of operation.

Yes my gas mileage is slightly reduced. But the average savings per gallon when I fill-up, is well worth the investment. Recently for example I’ve paid as low as $1.74 for E-85 while most low-octane petrol (84-87 percent) has been running in the neighborhood of about $2.25 per gallon.

Congress created the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. This program was authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Since 1981, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has been the authoritative voice of the U.S. ethanol industry. Members are committed to helping our country become cleaner, safer, and more energy independent. In creating a forum for ethanol producers and industry stakeholders, RFA has achieved an unequaled record of results through action, advocacy and analysis.

If you still have questions search more information about the RFA. Or if you already have a flex-fuel find an E-85 station near you (The Ohio Corn Growers can help) and try it for at least one month. I really believe you’ll notice and feel the difference — as every American should!

Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!

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By Dan Wilson

Contributing columnist

The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.