Earth Day and Ethanol

Did you know that April 22 – Earth Day – is the anniversary of an environmental movement? This movement signaled a shift in how we care for our environment. A visit to the Earth Day website will reveal that one of the driving factors behind the actual idea for this annual holiday came after U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson observed “the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.” Senator Nelson, considered the founder of Earth Day, wanted to put air and water quality into the public awareness and in political conversations.

Still important today, these conversations are evolving as new environmental issues emerge. The celebration of Earth Day is “a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.” So what is one of the most prominent issues that comes to mind as far as a threat to the “health” of our planet Earth today? Many will say it is global warming. Climate change.

The author of a recent E and E News article argues that cars are one of the biggest threats to climate change, in part because, nationally, transportation and vehicle emissions have surpassed industry and power plants as the largest sources of pollution. Coupled with the fact that our energy grid is getting cleaner, the author argues the next focus must be on transportation.

He’s right. Vehicle emissions are one of the largest sources of air pollution, and this not only threatens public health, it also threatens our environment. While the article heavily focuses on zero emission vehicles and electric vehicles, another solution available right now that wasn’t even mentioned in the article is ethanol fuels. When you have the choice at the pump, using fuel blended with ethanol, like E85, can help curb vehicle emissions right now.

Here are just a few reasons that ethanol blended fuels are a great choice in observance of Earth Day:
Using fuels like E85 can reduce your tailpipe emissions as compared to regular petroleum fuel. A flex fuel vehicle driver can significantly diminish carbon dioxide emissions as well as reduce ozone-forming pollutants.
Because ethanol is produced closer to home, the fuel you use in your vehicle will not have to be transported as far. Not only does that reduce emissions from other sources that would transport the fuel (like locomotive rail car or tanker trucks), but a shorter distance to transport means a decreased risk of environmental harm from a spill.
In Minnesota, ethanol is produced mostly from corn crops – more specifically, from the starch found in field corn. Because these crops are planted again each year, those plants – kind of like the trees that most people plant on Earth Day – help absorb carbon out of our atmosphere.

Every year on this date we have the opportunity to give extra care to our planet, but why not use your choices at the pump to celebrate Earth Day every day? It might be hard to plant a tree this year on Earth Day in Minnesota, but your choice at the pump each day can make an impact.

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