I’m Number 5!

I am still in Europe through the end of the week (today in Germany), but working on several articles and trying to get caught up on correspondence. Today I started getting a lot of e-mails calling my attention to this:


The story was written by a Lindsay Mitchell, who apparently works for the corn lobby (Illinois Corn Growers Association). Based on what she wrote, I will henceforth refer to her as Miss Information (because her article is just really that informative). Miss Information writes:

We receive a publication here in the office called The Ethanol Monitor and Friday’s edition featured a front page story by Editor and Publisher Tom Waterman that named the top 10 enemies of ethanol.

Here is the full Top 10, with me sandwiched between David Pimentel at #6 and Tim Searchinger at #4:

#10: Business Week/Ed Wallace (Bloomberg)
#8: “Big Oil”
#7: Grocery Manufacturers Association
#6: David Pimentel
#5: Robert Rapier
#4: Tim Searchinger
#3: Wall Street Journal (editorial board)
#2: California Air Resources Board
#1: Time Magazine (Michael Grunwald)

Miss Information goes on to explain what it is that makes me so darn evil:

Robert Rapier and his blog, R Squared Energy Blog, is ranked as the number five worst enemy of ethanol for time spent discrediting every positive development in the ethanol industry. He is a big fan of the indirect land use theory and according to Waterman is very influential. Also, he’s a former Conoco Phillips employee and is definitely a Big Oil fan.

That’s just unadulterated bunk. Everyone knows there is no space between Conoco and Phillips: It is ConocoPhillips.

Sadly, that’s not the only thing she got wrong. I have never been a proponent of the indirect land use theory. I challenge anyone to find something I have written that supports her claim. I am neither a proponent nor an opponent; I just don’t feel I am knowledgeable enough about it to argue the case either way. And thus, I haven’t. So her point there is flatly wrong.

And me, influential? Come on. You are ruining your credibility.

She did get the part right about me being “a former Conoco Phillips [sic] employee.” But a fan of Big Oil? My job is to find a way out of our oil dependency. I spend a great deal of my time every day trying to figure out how NOT to use oil. So I am not sure in what context Miss Information thinks I am a fan of Big Oil. (I am also a former farm boy, so it must naturally follow that I am a fan of Big Ag.)

I am a realist, though, and recognize that we presently live in a society in which Big Oil allows us to do a lot of things that would otherwise be out of our reach (yet with lots of negative baggage attached). In fact, I would go so far as to say that if Big Oil decided to cut off the taps tomorrow, there would be complete chaos in just a few days. For instance, Illinois corn growers wouldn’t be able to run their tractors.

But this is exactly why I am NOT a fan of Big Oil. We have grown completely dependent upon a substance that isn’t going to be around forever, and it is hard to imagine what things will be like when oil starts to seriously deplete. I will be addressing some of those issues in the next week or so with a short series on peak oil keying off the talks I just gave in Italy.

For the record, I am not an enemy of corn ethanol at all. But I am an enemy of misinformation. And given the often close ties between the two, I can hardly blame someone for failing to distinguish the difference.