It’s very difficult to have a calm discussion about ethanol as a fuel. The loudest voices in the room usually belong to someone with a stake in ethanol’s success or failure: Read more
Marc J. Rauch likes to argue. But his best attribute is that he’s patient, willing to wait out an opponent in a debate and lay out the facts to support his position. No matter how long, and how many back-and-forth volleys, it takes.
This devotion prompted Rauch, the executive vice president and co-publisher of The Auto Channel website, to create a blog on his site called the Ethanol Chronicles. Its purpose is to counter misinformation about ethanol.
It’s a painstaking task, because the myths about the fuel keep sprouting up, like weeds in a driveway: Ethanol will hurt my car’s engine; the fermentation process produces more greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline; it makes my mpg fall of a cliff; corn-based ethanol takes food out of the mouths of starving babies; corn farmers get rich off subsidies from the government.
The Brooklyn-born Rauch takes these fact-free assertions one by one and eviscerates them.
Take the latest entry on the Ethanol Chronicles, from Tuesday: The submission from someone called “Erocker” is actually 17 separate myths.
Rauch begins his reply with: “All of your points are either outright lies, gross exaggerations, or just plain irrelevant. I presume you found this list somewhere and have merely re-posted it.”
What follows is a lively “Crossfire”-style point and counterpoint that ends with Rauch performing a victorious mic-drop. Many such conversations involving Rauch end this way.
In the first entry on the blog, from July 2, Rauch responds to a laundry list of the usual ethanol jabs, including the subsidy issue, from someone called “Lance.”
It is true that American farmers are among the top beneficiaries of ethanol production; and this is true whether the ethanol is made from corn, sugar, beets, or any other crop. But the thing I always say is that I would rather have my fuel money go to support American farmers than to foreign regimes and terrorist countries. If we’re talking about doing what is best for the U.S., the best is to keep as much money as possible here and to employ and many Americans as possible.
Also, remember that no American service men and women have ever died defending domestic ethanol production and distribution. Depending upon which wars you can subscribe to be oil related it could be said that more than a million Americans have died defending Arab oil countries and Russia.
I welcome any and all replies you would like to make Lance. I only hope you will carefully read what I just wrote and avoid inventing facts or taking my words out of context. If need be, please read the sentences two or three times to get the context correct.
You got served, Lance. See you next time.
Rauch is well-armed with facts and research on ethanol and other biofuels, which makes his job easier.
“Many of the seemingly strongest criticisms of ethanol can be effectively dismissed with the simplest application of common sense and rudimentary mechanical experience,” he told me by e-mail. “It’s as if the critics forgot, or didn’t know, that the problems inherent in internal combustion engines exist with or without the presence of ethanol.”
At the end of the blog — which runs as one long, extended conversation, like an acrimonious cocktail party — Rauch writes, “Check back often for updates to the Ethanol Chronicles blog.”
We will indeed. And we don’t mind the bluster, because made-up facts about ethanol need to be countered, and quickly. This is too important an issue to let falsehoods spread without challenge.
For more of the wit and wisdom of Marc Rauch, check out PUMP the Movie, in which Rauch serves up his usual well-reasoned mots bon about ethanol, national security and other issues that take on the oil monopoly.