ethanol study, privately funded CALS Impact Statement uri icon

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  • Abstract

    Several studies suggest that the $1.4 billion in government subsidies are encouraging the

    ethanol program without substantial benefits to the U.S. economy. Large ethanol industries

    and a few U.S. government agencies, such as the USDA, support the production of ethanol.

    Corn-farmers receive minimal profits. In the U.S. ethanol system, considerably more energy,

    including high-grade fossil fuel, is required to produce ethanol than is available in the energyethanol

    output. Specifically about 29% more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol

    than the energy in a gallon of ethanol. Fossil energy powers corn production and the fermentation/

    distillation processes. Increasing subsidized ethanol production will take more feed from

    livestock production, and is estimated to currently cost consumers an additional $1 billion per

    year. Ethanol production increases environmental degradation. Corn production causes more

    total soil erosion than any other crop. Also, corn production uses more insecticides, herbicides,

    and nitrogen fertilizers than any other crop. All these factors degrade the agricultural

    and natural environment and contribute to water pollution and air pollution. Increasing the

    cost of food and diverting human food resources to the costly inefficient production of ethanol

    fuel raise major ethical questions. These occur at a time when more than half of the world's

    population is malnourished.

    Issue

    Several studies suggest that the $1.4 billion in government subsidies are encouraging the

    ethanol program without substantial benefits to the U.S. economy. Large ethanol industries

    and a few U.S. government agencies, such as the USDA, support the production of ethanol.

    Corn-farmers receive minimal profits. In the U.S. ethanol system, considerably more energy,

    including high-grade fossil fuel, is required to produce ethanol than is available in the energyethanol

    output. Specifically about 29% more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol

    than the energy in a gallon of ethanol. Fossil energy powers corn production and the fermentation/

    distillation processes. Increasing subsidized ethanol production will take more feed from

    livestock production, and is estimated to currently cost consumers an additional $1 billion per

    year. Ethanol production increases environmental degradation. Corn production causes more

    total soil erosion than any other crop. Also, corn production uses more insecticides, herbicides,

    and nitrogen fertilizers than any other crop. All these factors degrade the agricultural

    and natural environment and contribute to water pollution and air pollution. Increasing the

    cost of food and diverting human food resources to the costly inefficient production of ethanol

    fuel raise major ethical questions. These occur at a time when more than half of the world's

    population is malnourished.

    Response

    Conducted research: See study published in Natural Resources Research Volume 12, #2.

    Also, see below.

    Impact

    Senator John McCain on the U.S. Senate floor cited the results of our Ethanol Study and reported that ethanol production is a major scam in the nation.

    Funding Sources

    • Private (e.g., commodity groups, foundations, companies)
    • unfunded research

    Collaborators

    • None

    Key Personnel

    • not applicable