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Letter: Some interesting thoughts about ethanol

As Minnesota looks to decrease its reliance on foreign oil and increase its use on renewable fuels, ethanol is once again a hot topic of discussion at the State Capitol.

Recently, ethanol producers testified in front of the House Agriculture Committee about the challenges facing agriculture today, and the group released some interesting statistics.

Many of us are aware of how ethanol is made, but few of us likely know some of the facts and figures regarding this homegrown product. Ethanol is making many positive contributions to our state and nation, and the facts spell this out.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if the U.S. ethanol industry were a foreign oil producer, only Canada would supply the U.S. with more fuel.

In terms of water usage, the Iowa State University Extension estimates that ethanol production utilizes approximately three gallons of water for every gallon of ethanol. Most of this water is released back into the atmosphere in the form of steam. In comparison, one can of fruit uses 9.3 gallons of water; one pound of plastic uses 24 gallons of water; and your Sunday newspaper uses 150 gallons of water.

In addition, a typical 40 million gallon per year ethanol plant uses on a daily basis about the same amount of water as an 18-hole golf course.

Studies are also finding that as advancements are made in ethanol production, alternative energies and agriculture, less fossil fuel is being used to produce ethanol.