Biofuels a good energy solution

Richard Nieuwenhuis of the New Jersey Farm Bureau
To the editor:
America’s reliance on foreign oil is causing a transfer of the nation’s wealth that is truly frightening, given the sudden surge in price this year. When we have no choice but to buy gasoline at new high prices, a major share of that money ends up in the hands of sovereign entities overseas.
   Yes, among those who welcome these billions of dollars are unfriendly governments in Iran, Venezuela and Russia. Compounding the liability in this massive transfer of American dollars is enormous defense spending to protect American interests in the world oil supply.
   Fortunately, America has assets to combat the situation. In addition to our great technology and entrepreneurial skills, the bounty of American agriculture can be tapped to leverage ourselves into a better position on transportation fuel — currently the largest use of crude oil in the U.S. In fact, the production of ethanol from corn is already making a nice start toward having clean biofuels shoulder a modest but promising share of the domestic motor fuel supply.
   There are skeptics who falsely claim that ethanol is the principle cause for the rise in the price of food, for example. This is a myth. Food inflation now is about 5 percent annually, which is slightly above recent annual norms of 2 to 3 percent.
   We believe that corn ethanol will stand as a stepping stone for future innovations in the development of cheaper, biomass-based feedstocks. In the meantime, we think we are better off paying our farmers for corn made into ethanol than sending those dollars overseas to our adversaries.
Richard Nieuwenhuis,
New Jersey Farm Bureau