Ignorance or Ignoring is Bliss

Many so-called "experts" fail to account for the contributions of ethanol or, in many cases, simply ignore those contributions in order to make their point, writes Mike Bryan. I guess ignoring can be as blissful as ignorance.
By Mike Bryan | June 17, 2015

Over the years, we have had a host of articles, books, press releases and talking heads highlight the shortcomings of biofuels, in particular ethanol. Almost all of these “experts” fail to account for the contributions of ethanol or, in many cases, simply ignore those contributions in order to make their point, sell their book, or get published in the newspaper.

They ignore the economic impact to the countries in which ethanol is produced and ignore the hundreds of millions, and in some countries billions, of dollars of economic growth that is created by a robust ethanol industry.

They ignore the true cost of fossil fuels, the damage to the environment, the billions of dollars in added healthcare cost as a result of fossil fuel use. In addition, most seem to gloss over the cost of military intervention to protect sources of oil, the pipelines, the oil spills and the utter environmental devastation that fossil fuels have caused in the world. Instead they focus on the small contribution that ethanol has on the price of food, as if fossil fuels had no impact on food cost worldwide.

They ignore the contributions made by the high quality distillers grains that feeds a myriad of livestock for human consumption. Distiller’s grains is shipped to countries rich and poor all around the world. Rather, they focus on the price of corn tacos in Mexico, or the cost of a loaf of bread in Uruguay, and blame ethanol.

They ignore the impact ethanol production has in keeping farmers in business so they can help feed a hungry world. The biofuels industry has helped to stabilize farm prices, has been a tremendous tool in keeping farmers on the farm. It has not only served to keep existing farmers in business, but has been instrumental in encouraging young people to stay on the farm. It’s not just the money, but often for the younger generation the commitment that they have to not only help feed a hungry world, but to contribute to a cleaner environment in the process. It’s a pride thing and they wouldn’t understand.

They ignore the cost reduction to consumers at the pump. Ethanol has been a significant contributor to reducing gasoline prices and has saved consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. This is money that often would have gone to someone outside the country. One can only assume that by ignoring this, they would prefer that we pay more at the pump and make an oil baron a little richer. I’m not sure how that helps a subsistence farmer in the Baltics, but perhaps I just don’t get it.

They ignore the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are created and the impact on the economy that those jobs have. They ignore the contribution capabilities of those with good jobs have to contribute financial aid to a hungry world, or to make someone’s life a bit easier by helping build a home in the U.S. or a foreign country. People in poverty can’t do those things, people who are fortunate enough to have good jobs can and many do. Rather than focusing on the wealth created and the contributions made to the world because of that wealth, they focus on the price of wheat in Chile and make a feeble attempt to pin it on biofuels.

As I have said many times, ethanol is not a perfect fuel, it is a fuel that over time will transition us into an even better fuel, one that probably will be cleaner, cheaper and have fewer negatives. But until that happens, let’s stop ignoring the benefits of ethanol and embrace its attributes. I guess if you are looking for a story, writing a book or publishing a paper on the negatives of ethanol, ignoring can be as blissful as ignorance.

That’s the way I see it.

Author: Mike Bryan
Chairman, BBI International
mbryan@bbiinternational.com