(not the actual debate participants)

Michael Caputo, a former colleague of mine over at Minnesota Public Radio, is hosting an online debate this week exploring the merits of ethanol subsidies.

The format begins with a position (“the state and federal government should continue subsidizing ethanol) , then has two experts argue either in favor or against it.

In favor of the subsidies, Chris Thorne of Growth Energy:

American motorists are a captive market – captive to oil. Your choice in motor fuel already made for you by the time you pull up to the pump: gasoline derived from oil, two-thirds of which is foreign.

As long as oil controls the market, then federal and state tax policy should support alternative fuels. And today, the only commercially-viable alternative to oil we have is domestic ethanol.

Opposed, energy analyst Rolf Westgard:

Thirty years of subsidies have not made food for fuel competitive or useful. World population increases by seventy million annually, but there is no increase in arable land. Now hundreds of millions of personal cars and trucks have a seat at the dinner table by consuming biofuels made from the fruit of the plant.

The discussion will continue throughout the week, which will open up plenty of opportunities to delve into other areas of a complex topic that has a big impact in our region. Anyone can participate, follow the link to join in.

Photo by Matt Hintsa via Creative Commons

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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