Thursday, January 10, 2008

MinnPost explores ethanol's impact in Minnesota

In a four-part series that ended today, MinnPost, a non-profit source for Minnesota news online and in print, has explored ethanol and what impact the industry could have on the state's economy, especially in rural areas. (At left in a MinnPost photo by Jacob Valento, dried distiller's grain, the byproduct of corn used for ethanol, is ready to be shipped out for livestock feed.)

Over the four parts — including a video showing how corn becomes ethanol — Mark Neuzil and Ron Way trace the history of ethanol in the state, beginning with the nation's first commercially viable ethanol plant, located in Wanamingo, Minn. The four parts of the series are:
  1. Minnesota's corn ethanol industry blends subsidies, politics and lobbying
  2. Despite the hype, experts question corn ethanol's environmentally friendly image
  3. Ethanol reduces need for imported oil, but its energy savings are costly
  4. Beyond corn ethanol: Minnesota's rural economy positioned for enormous gains
In the fourth part, Way explains that the move toward cellulosic ethanol production would have twice as much value for the state's economy as corn ethanol. "Minnesota is poised to gain enormously from 'next generation' ethanol," Way writes. "The state has prairies where needed grasses can thrive, as they did before 30,000 square miles of sod was busted in the Great Plains to raise grain crops during pioneer settlement. Minnesota also has forests for wood biomass and a major urban center that generates copious organic wastes that now goes to landfills."

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