HARTELY, Iowa - A study conducted by the University of Tennessee says corn ethanol may not be as eco-friendly as once believed and may be leading to water and soil problems.
Valero says that studies like this are frequent and that they make an extra effort to communicate with farmers to ensure that the corn crops are of good use. With anything there are positives and negatives, but right now corn is the most suitable for Valero's ethanol purposes.
"Studies like this always talk about things that could be, or what we should do in the future or here is a different alternative. We're more concerned with what's happening right now and making sure that our customers can pull up to our stations and get filled up and get on the way", said Bill Day, the Vice President of Valero Communications.
The study also found that the Renewable Fuel Standard, a law put in place to monitor how much renewable resources are used, might not be helping at all, and Valero seems to agree. As of now, the RFS allows 10 percent of renewable fuel to be combined in the mix.
"First of all, that mandate should be based on a realistic number. It should be based on how much fuel the country actually uses and then decide how much that is going to be and if you want to use 10 percent ethanol, then 10 percent of that, that should be your mandate. Not pick some random number or some aspirational [sic] figure and try to hit it because that hasn't work, we've done that in the past and that's not really working," said Day.
The demand for corn ethanol, which has increased by about 10.3 billion gallons since 2005, seems to have a non-existent future but that could not be any more false says Day. Corn is not the only renewable source that can be transformed into a fuel Brazilian ethanol, which is made out of sugar cane, is another alternative available, but its not as cost efficient for the U.S.
"So you're talking about importing fuel from South America all the up here to the United States, where we have plenty of corn ethanol production?"said Day.
Currently the U.S. is exporting corn to other countries, such as Brazil, to use for ethanol purposes. Valero says right now, it doesn't make sense to start viewing other options.