Taxpayer Dollars To Fund Ethanol Plants
CLEWISTON, FL. -- Local companies seem to be in line to get taxpayer funds to build ethanol plants around the Hendry and West Palm Beach county area. The state legislature and governor are promoting ethanol as a way to ease reliance on oil based fuels and create jobs. $20 million has been allocated to the University of Florida to partner with Florida companys to build a new plant, and talks are in progress with at least one area firm.
The University is now negotiating with Florida Crystals in West Palm Beach for such an undertaking using sugar cane waste to produce the fuel. School officials also may enter talks with a Taylor County company to use wood waste if the deal with Florida Crystals doesn't pan out. Other Hendry agricultural companies are reportedly investigating how they might get their hands on taxpayer funds to produce ethanol from citrus pulp and other locally grown agricultural products.
Plant May Harm Environment?
Environmentalists have countered the hoopla over ethanol plants with claims that the plants could further harm the environment through pollution of the groundwater and soil around the plants. A typical ethanol facility would require from 225,000 to 411,000 gallons of water daily, or about 3.5 to six gallons of water during the cooling and fermentation stages for each gallon of ethanol produced making it one of the largest users of a community's water supply.
The extra water needed to grow the additional crops to be used for ethanol production may be a bigger worry, and hasn't been accounted for, as well as the cost factor, which makes ethanol fuel not as efficient to produce as petroleum based fuel.