This article originally appeared in the Southern Illinoisan.
CARBONDALE – A panel of experts will debate the economic, environmental and ethical feasibility of using ethanol as a fuel alternative Tuesday.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale will host "Crosscurrents: Ethanol, Oil and Water in Southern Illinois" at 7 p.m. in the SIUC Student Health Center. The event will be part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council.
"It’s become evident we’re coming to a time where we have to make important decisions about these resources," said Dimitra Tasiouras, director of programs and partnerships for the IHC, referencing the statewide "All-Consuming: Conversations on Oil and Water" program.
The program, which will include about 20 sessions throughout the year, is not designed to promote policy decisions or advocate for causes, but rather to ask interesting questions about the humanitarian dilemmas surrounding oil, water and other related issues, she said.
Committees in each part of the state worked to select the topics for individual events, and events scheduled in Carbondale and Edwardsville will focus on ethanol. An event scheduled for later this month in Carbondale will deal with water use.
Panelists for Tuesday’s presentation include Christopher Lant, professor of geography and environmental resources at SIUC; John Caupert, director of the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at SIU Edwardsville; Kenneth Stikkers, professor of philosophy at SIUC; and Ira Altman, assistant professor of agribusiness economics at SIUC.
Lant, who doesn’t believe corn-based ethanol is a viable economic and environmental option, described the issue as a double-edged sword. The panel will allow attendees to hear both sides of the issue, he said.