SHOULD solar energy shining down on crops be considered an energy expenditure when figuring the net energy gain of producing ethanol from corn? Most reasonable people would say no. But others with close ties to the oil industry think differently. Take, for example, anti-biotechnology researcher David Pimentel and Tad Patzek, a former employee of Shell Oil and paid consultant to Shell and Chevron.

Patzek and Pimentel recently teamed up to produce a study on the net energy balance of ethanol. Gaining considerable national attention, the study alleges ethanol production requires more energy than the resulting ethanol fuel contains. Despite a wealth of research to the contrary, Pimentel has repeatedly made this same assertion in the past.

To set the record straight, the National Corn Growers Association has compiled information that questions Pimentel's and Patzek's credibility as well as the oil industry's influence on these studies. Meanwhile, numerous government and university studies demonstrate ethanol's positive energy balance.

To read the NCGA report, visit ncga.com/ethanol/debunking/index.htm.