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Cornbelt Common Ground: Biofuels

October 19, 2009

MADISON, Wis. - New research at the University of Wisconsin indicates that there is at least one area critical to the energy, agriculture and environmental future in that state and much of the Midwest that most people agree on, regardless of their politics. Researchers asked hundreds of people a series of questions about bio-fuels - and Dietram Scheufele, professor of life sciences communications at the University, says they found general agreement on the need to make use of this renewable energy source.

"No matter if we're talking about a Republican platform or a Democratic platform, they agreed that it's good for the environment and it's good for the economy. There aren't that many issues out there that really get support from both sides."

Scheufele says Democrats support fuel from crops like corn because of the environmental and scientific benefits, and Republicans like the positive impact on markets and the economy. He feels the research he directed at the University of Wisconsin is representative of opinions across the Midwest and the nation.

The researcher says a majority of both Democrats and Republicans (60 percent and 51 percent, respectively) believe that without governmental pressure, the oil industry will never invest in bio-fuel development.

"Everybody agreed, again, that without that kind of regulation and government involvement we really wouldn't get anywhere."

According to Scheufele, biofuels are appealing to both ends of the spectrum because they offer something for everyone.

"The Democrats come out and say this is an issue about global leadership and science and technology. Republicans come out and say this is an issue about markets and about helping the economy."

Scheufele says the research indicated no difference between counties that were heavy corn producers and counties that weren't.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI