raises the cost of gasoline.
While many predicted the switch from MTBE to ethanol would increase gas prices, there has been no negative impact on gasoline supplies or the cost per gallon of gasoline. Ethanol is less expensive than other additives. In fact, ethanol is usually less expensive than ordinary gasoline. The net effect of blending ethanol with gasoline is normally a product that costs less. A May 2005 report by the Consumer Federation of America notes drivers everywhere would save as much as 8 cents per gallon if petroleum marketers would simply blend more ethanol into gasoline.
Ethanol adds to air pollution
Because ethanol-blended gasoline is cleaner than conventional gasoline, it emits less hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Ethanol reduces carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 25 percent — and less carbon monoxide helps reduce ozone formation and greenhouse gas levels. According to EPA, gasoline is the largest source of manmade carcinogens. Ethanol reduces overall toxic pollution by diluting harmful
compounds found in gasoline such as benzene and other aromatics.
Ethanol contributes to global warming.
Because the energy balance of ethanol production is positive (1.67 to 1), greenhouse gas benefits are also positive. The Argonne National Laboratory has demonstrated that using ethanol produces 32 percent fewer emissions of greenhouse gases than gasoline for the same distance traveled. Ethanol also reduces emissions of other harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide — and it dilutes and displaces components of gasoline that produce toxic emissions. According to a recent study by Smog Reyes:“Ethanol currently is the only compound that can be blended with gasoline to help reduce global warming…”
Ethanol does not benefit
The ethanol industry opens a new market for corn growers, allowing them to enjoy greater
profitability. Studies have shown that corn prices
in areas near ethanol plants tend to be 5 to 10
cents per bushel higher than in other areas. This
additional income helps cut the costs of farm
programs and add vitality to rural economies.
The additional profit potential for farmers created
by ethanol production allows more farmers to
stay in business — helping ensure adequate food
supplies in the future. Ethanol production also creates jobs, many of
which are in rural communities where good jobs
are hard to come by. A 2005 study by LECG found
the ethanol industry powered the U.S. economy
by creating more than 147,000 jobs, boosting U.S.
household income by $4.4 billion and reducing
the U.S. trade deficit by $5.1 billion by eliminating
the need to import 143.3 million barrels of oil.
Those kinds of numbers help farmers and all
Ethanol harms car and truck engines.
Every major automobile manufacturer
approves the use of ethanol blends up to 10
percent (E-10) under warranty. In fact, many auto
manufacturers go so far as to recommend the use
of clean, renewable fuels such as E-10. Cars built
since the 1970s are fully compatible with E-10.
In addition, ethanol in gasoline:
Adds oxygen to the fuel, raising the air/fuel
ratio for more complete combustion;
Eliminates the need and expense of adding
a gas line antifreeze, since ethanol in
gasoline absorbs more water than a small
bottle of isopropyl;
Prevents burning of engine valves because
ethanol burns cooler than gasoline;
Prevents build-up of olefins in fuel injectors,
keeping the fuel system cleaner.
Ethanol takes more energy to produce
than it contributes.
USDA recently determined the net
energy balance of ethanol production is 1.67 to
1. For every 100 BTUs of energy used to make
ethanol, 167 BTUs of energy is produced. The
USDA findings have been confirmed by additional
studies conducted at several universities and
These studies take into account the energy
required to plant, grow and harvest the corn — as
well as the energy required to manufacture and
distribute the ethanol.
The net energy balance of ethanol production
continues to improve because ethanol and
corn production are becoming more efficient.
For example, one bushel of corn now yields 2.8
gallons of ethanol — up from 2.5 gallons just a few years ago.
Ethanol production wastes corn that could be used to feed a hungry world.
Corn used for ethanol roduction is field
corn typically used to feed livestock. Wet mill
ethanol production facilities, also known as corn
refineries, also produce starch, corn sweeteners,
and corn oil — all products that are used as food
ingredients for human consumption.
Ethanol production also results in the production
of distillers grains and gluten feed — both of
which are fed to livestock, helping produce
high-quality meat products for distribution
domestically and abroad. There is no shortage
of corn. In 2004, U.S. farmers produced a record
11.8 billion bushel corn harvest — and some 1.3
billion bushels (about 11 percent) were used
in ethanol production. Additionally, the 2005
crop was among the largest on record. In other
words, there is still room to significantly grow the
ethanol market without limiting the availability
of corn. Steadily increasing corn yields and
the improved ability of other nations to grow
corn also make it clear that ethanol production
can continue to grow without affecting the food