Facts to fuel holiday conversations

Before the holiday gatherings with family and friends, take a moment to look a new website giving ethanol facts and supporting resources, particularly if you have one of those fancy phones.
By Susanne Retka Schill | December 17, 2012

National Corn Growers Association has a new resource at that I think might be quite useful.

First, they say they designed it for mobile devices. Each page is clean and simple – it gives a few of the most salient talking points, and includes a link for more information.

Second, those links take you to original data and other solid sources. So if the topic of ethanol raising the price of food comes up, you can follow the links and get the USDA report everyone cites. There you will find the information that says the cost of transportation adds more to the cost of food than the commodities used in it. The high cost of oil has much more impact on food prices than ethanol’s use of corn.

There are similar links regarding flex-fuel vehicles, jobs and the economy, lower toxic emission, energy security and E15: tested and safe.  Essentially, these six topics are the main talking points for the industry in both defending and promoting ethanol. The bottom of each page also gives links to the websites of key organizations involved in the fight: National Corn Growers Association, Fuels America, FFV Awareness Campaign, Clean Fuels Development coalition, Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, American Coalition for Ethanol Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association.

Before the holiday gatherings with family and friends, take a moment to look the website over, particularly if you have one of those fancy phones. I can just imagine a discussion about ethanol over holiday cheer. Whip out your phone and type in, an easy URL to remember. For the tentatively supportive folks, you will be able to give them a powerful resource to use for ammunition. For the more hostile, you can support your argument by showing them the original documents from  USDA, DOE, EPA or the materials created by the various organizations working in the ethanol space.

I remember well one such discussion at a family gathering a few years ago with a mechanic who was rather hostile towards ethanol and biodiesel. (I was writing about both at that time.) I write about these issues all the time, but for the longest time I had a hard time coming up with concrete examples and hard facts to counter aggressively negative comments. I am not a debater, nor am I quick on my feet in a discussion.  I could have used a resource like this one. Of course, I didn’t have a smartphone then, and I still don’t.

What did the trick with this guy was talking about race cars burning ethanol blends, and racers liking the advantages provided by ethanol’s high octane and cooler combustion characteristics. Plus, what racer with a $60,000-plus engine is going to mess with something that will ruin it?

The longer I write about ethanol, the more I can remember convincing facts and details. But I know that it is not easy to remember the numbers. Having a new resource like this is most helpful. Now, I wonder if Santa has a smartphone on his list for me?