Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and up to this day, the issue on corn ethanol has remained contentious. Advocates include corn ethanol producers and critics include anti-corn ethanol environmental groups, among others. Let us take a look at the debatable views of proponents and opponents.
List of Pros of Corn Ethanol
Proponents of corn ethanol posit that the organic make-up of this renewable fuel source makes it highly biodegradable, thus, safer for the environment. This characteristic also lessens the possibility of spills compared to spills from petroleum.
2. Improved Energy Balance
Contrary to what critics say that corn ethanol has negative energy balance, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) conducted an analysis and results came that the net energy balance of corn-based ethanol yielded an improvement of 2.6 to 2.8. This recorded a large improvement of the energy balance from 1995 and a slight yet positive improvement since 2008.
3. Lesser Greenhouse Gas Emissions
According to corn ethanol supporters, GHG emissions have been reduced by 18% to 29% in every mile traveled by a vehicle in comparison with the emissions from other forms of petroleum fuels with the use of corn-based fuel.
4. Great Oil Alternative
Advocates for corn as a source of oil in the form of ethanol say that this can help in the reduction of America’s dependence on other oil-producing countries. With the lesser need to import petroleum products and the increase of the reserves for corn ethanol, there will be a presence of cleaner and home-grown oil. With the increasing demand globally, this is a great alternative.
List of Cons of Corn Ethanol
1. Effect on Fuel Consumption
Despite the benefits attributed to this renewable form of energy, critics say that the distance covered by a car or vehicle to reach a certain place or destination is shorter with the use of ethanol. This means that it takes more gallons of ethanol to cover a certain distance as opposed to using petroleum fuel. This makes ethanol not cost-effective.
2. Shipping and Exportation Issues
Opponents of corn-based ethanol posit that the end-product is corrosive and can melt steel. Because of this, it is not possible to ship ethanol using existing pipes. In order to resolve this problem, dedicated ethanol pipelines are needed as well as road and railroad from of transporting the product. These are expensive.
3. Environmental Hazards
Critics argue that contrary to what proponents say that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions, ethanol results to increased carbon emissions of up to 20%, thus, making it a significant contributor to global warming. Since the production of the E10 in 2014, more drivers consume fuel and burning them.
4. Effect on Food Production
It takes an enormous amount of corn to produce corn-based ethanol fuel. With the increase demand for ethanol, more agricultural lands will be used to plant corn and this in turn will affect the production of other crops. Moreover, with the use of corn to generate fuel, supply of this crop will be consumed to produce ethanol instead of providing food to consumers.
The controversy about corn ethanol still continues with opposing groups pushing their views to each other. It is best that people behind its production should ensure its pros outweigh its cons.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.