Odds are, your stance on the viability of renewable fuels depends on whose information you've read.
When farm groups produce a study, the results depict biofuels as a clean, efficient alternative to petroleum. When a study paid for by an oil company gets released, it says the same fuels are less efficient and take crops away from food production, raising prices at the kitchen table.
Even government studies have been accused of bias. Critics claim all pro-biofuel results have been tweaked to support the federal Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires a certain amount of renewable fuels to be blended into traditional fuels. Meanwhile, anti-biofuel results are dismissed as bought-and-paid-for by the oil lobby.
Sometimes it seems like it's all a matter of whose science you trust.
Here's what we believe: Agricultural producers in the Midland Empire are champs at adapting to new conditions and meeting market demands for their products. They and the biofuels industry in these parts have excelled at producing renewable fuels and developing new technologies that advance the nation's interests in diversifying our fuel sources.
Besides, as long as renewable fuels standards exist, someone has to make this stuff. So why not us?
St. Joseph boasts three facilities that produce renewable fuels, with Lifeline Foods making ethanol and Ag Processing and Blue Sun producing biodiesel. ICM's research facility alongside Lifeline Foods strives to develop cellulosic ethanol from resources like corn stover and other materials.
Drive a few miles outside the city, and you'll find Golden Triangle Energy producing industrial ethanol in Craig, Mo., and MGP Ingredients making food grade ethanol in Atchison, Kan.
Not only do these facilities provide local jobs, they give farmers in the region an additional market for their corn and soybeans.
The group Fuels America published a study in April that claimed renewable fuels account for $1.4 billion in direct economic output and a combined 9,200 agriculture, manufacturing, wholesale and retail jobs in the 36 north Missouri counties of the 6th Congressional District. It also linked the industry to roughly $208 million in annual wages.
If the renewable fuels industry is destined to grow — as most industries do when time and technology advance — the investments made in our region will help us grow with it.
Copyright St. Joseph News-Press. Distributed by The Associated Press.