Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs made his mark on Mount Vernon. Many in town made their mark on him, too. Wirfs and his mother, Sarah, took The Gazette on a tour of his hometown, revisiting scenes around what essentially is the one square mile where he grew up. This story is a little about what can hold you back. This is mostly about what moves you forward.

Guest Columnist

Front group taking aim at biofuels

At a time when Iowa farmers and the ethanol industry need good news, there’s a dark cloud coming toward our farmers and others living in rural Iowa.

I’m concerned that Mighty Earth — a group based in Washington, D.C. — is starting to campaign locally against ethanol and other biofuels.

The group claims to care about the planet, but their entire campaign seems designed to drive a wedge between Iowa Democrats and family farms.

They claim that demand for clean, renewable energy is eating into food stocks and driving farmers to plow up untouched grassland. Never mind that total farmland is down, not up, over the last decade, according to the USDA. Never mind that a massive surplus of crops has driven many farmers closer to bankruptcy than expansion.

NPR reports that grocery prices recently fell for “the longest period in about 60 years.”

Like many Iowans, I am a champion of biofuels and ethanol, a product of energy-rich corn from farms across the heartland.

It’s good for farmers, it’s good for the rural economy, and, after accounting for the energy and land that goes into farming, homegrown biofuels reduce carbon emissions by 43 percent or more.

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The truth is that genuine environmentalists, like the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, report that ethanol “reduces harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, displaces cancer-causing emissions, and reduces smog-forming potential, as well as cuts greenhouse gas emissions.”

That’s something Iowa Democrats and Iowa farmers can all be proud to support.

• Kevin Kinney is a Democrat elected to serve in Senate District 39, which includes Keokuk County as well as portions of Johnson and Washington counties in Eastern Iowa.

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