Oregon Corn Ethanol

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted April 21, 2009

Oregon’s legislature is seeking to limit corn-based biofuel’s fixed presence in the state’s energy mix.

In keeping with many comments on my article in Green Chip Review last week, corn ethanol has quickly fallen out of favor with the U.S. public and plenty of politicians, after an initial blitz of favorable media exposure a few years back.

Among the top criticisms, users of small engines in lawnmowers and boats complain that ethanol is harmful, if not destructive, to engines.

According to a report on www.beyondfossilfuel.com, "Law in Oregon permits boaters, antique car owners and pilots to buy ethanol free gas, but stations selling the ethanol free gas are hard to find." So there are five separate measures now pending in the state legislature to push back against ethanol’s impact and advance.

Despite that, will Oregon be forced to adhere to national ethanol guidelines? 

The National Commission on Energy Policy is pushing for a quadrupling of the proportion of biofuels in the national energy blend by 2022, from 9 billion gallons to 36 billion. 

While a greater number of flex-fuel vehicles should help mitigate the potential damage of corn ethanol to the country’s auto fleet, this mechanical hazard is only the latest in a series of gripes against corn ethanol.

Other objections across the U.S. and internationally include ethanol’s impact on the global food supply when using competing feedstock, reduced mileage-per-gallon compared to standard unleaded fuel, and high water usage.

I’ll be blogging from the Renewable Energy Finance Forum for Latin America next week in Rio de Janeiro. There, I’ll bring you the latest data and case studies from the Brazilian sugar ethanol industry, which has become the international standard for biofuel integration into a national energy market.

Sam Hopkins

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