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Lamberty Report: Environmentalists’ Reaction to the Oil Spill
by Ron Lamberty

I have never fancied myself an “environmentalist.” I’m no defiler of nature, either. I mean, I throw my bottles and cans in the recycling thingie, but mostly because Shannon would be very disappointed if I didn’t. And like the hotels that try to convince you that not washing your towels and sheets is about saving the environment, I’m mostly environmentalist out of cheapness. I don’t want to pay someone to separate what I could just throw out “correctly,” and I don’t want to waste gas, because gas costs money.

Yet even with that mindset, I look at today’s “environmentalists’” and their continuing attacks on ethanol – especially in the shadow of the Gulf Oil spill – and I keep coming back to one inescapable question:

Huh?

Seriously? What? It was one thing when Big Oil and Big Food were making up stuff about ethanol to keep from losing market share and maintain cheap input prices, respectively. Compared to environmentalists, those selfish goals are practically noble. At least they’re understandable. But when todays enviros – who are supposed to be all about saving the world from polluters – say virtually nothing about the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, and instead take the opportunity to attack ethanol with comparisons to the (incorrectly named) gulf “dead zone,” you gotta wonder…

That “dead zone” argument is an entire column of its own, but suffice it to say that there’s a huge difference between an area that is temporarily uninhabitable each year (ask birds why they fly south in the fall), and one that will kill you. Victims of the dead zone are inconvenienced – victims of oil pollution are dead.

Ironically, because these so-called environmentalists have joined traditional polluters in poisoning the water (pun intended) when it comes to ethanol, they may have put the brakes on a cause they claim to support. If more markets were available for ethanol, perhaps the algae in the “dead zone” would become a major source of cellulosic ethanol.

Real environmentalists recognized the value of a clean, renewable fuel like ethanol. Ethanol is cleaner than oil. Even with all of the wacky theories that try to diminish how much cleaner it is, ethanol is absolutely cleaner than oil. Unless we can harness the energy of real environmentalist as they spin in their graves over those who claim that title today, we must realize that we can’t rely on others to promote our fuel, and we probably shouldn’t waste our time (he says after devoting an entire column to the topic) trying to convince them – or those who listen to them – that they are wrong.

Maybe our approach needs to like another militant group that has had some success: “Ethanol’s here. We’re clear. Get used to it!”

 
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The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industry’s hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanol’s carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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