Letter: Diversify Michigan energy


Regarding “Renewable Fuel Standard has failed, April 16,” Prof. Wolfram has failed to do his homework.

The corn grown to make ethanol is not the same as sweet corn we eat. Field corn is used for livestock feed and ethanol production. When corn goes to make ethanol, the starch and sugars are converted into ethanol and the protein goes right back into the food chain as animal feed.

Also, if corn were a major driver in food costs, we would see food prices drop with corn prices. Instead, food prices continue to climb while average corn prices have fallen from nearly $7 a bushel in 2012 to just under $4 in 2016.

Regarding water, all energy-producing activities require water. For example, electric power production is our largest consumer of fresh water. However, ethanol production is continuing to improve, using new technology that makes the process more water-friendly.

When it comes to land use, the most recent USDA data shows that cropland continues to shrink, and participation in federal farm programs has long included restrictions on converting wetlands and native grasslands to cropland.

On greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), Prof. Wolfram cites a 2009 study that was narrow, poorly done and outdated even then. The most recent studies released by the USDA show corn ethanol reduces life cycle GHGs by 43 percent compared to gasoline.

Energy is essential to our prosperity. But about 85 percent of our energy is from fossil fuels that will be largely gone in just a few decades, taking our prosperity with them. We must act wisely now to ensure clean, abundant renewable energy in the near future.

Bruce E. Dale, Ph.D.

professor of chemical engineering,

Michigan State University

Regarding “Renewable energy myths abound, April 12,” the truth is, the clean energy sector is creating jobs, and renewable energy is affordable energy.

Michigan needs an “all of the above” energy strategy that utilizes a diverse mix of energy sources, helping to provide reliable and affordable power while also protecting against the price volatility of fossil fuels. Making use of a diversified energy portfolio that places an emphasis on transitioning to clean and more efficient energy will lead to greater energy independence for our state and nation, make us more competitive within the Midwest, as well as help keep our state’s beautiful waterways and forests clean.

Prices for renewable energy like solar and wind have consistently plummeted in recent years and are cost-competitive with — and in some instances are cheaper than — traditional energy sources.

Michigan’s new bipartisan energy reforms that passed with overwhelming Republican support in December will take effect this month. These laws remove the spending cap on energy efficiency programs, which will further help rein in electricity costs for ratepayers, as well as increase the renewable energy standard to 15 percent by 2021. Michigan is well on its way toward an “all of the above” energy policy that is good for our economy, grid security, and natural resources.

Larry Ward, executive director,

Michigan Conservative Energy Forum