from an expert in the field:
Matt Hartwig is the director of public affairs for the Renewable
Fuels Association (
www.EthanolRFA.org), the national trade association representing the U.S. ethanol industry.
JUNE DEBATE RESULTS:
Should you seek medical
AS OIL PRICES reach record heights, and turmoil sweeps North Africa
and the Middle East, Americans have an alternative to imported oil.
Last year, the U.S. produced 13 billion gallons of ethanol. This domes-
tic biofuel was blended into nearly every gallon of gasoline sold in the
The most recent analysis by economists at Iowa State University and the University of
Wisconsin found that increased use of ethanol reduced gasoline prices by an average of 89 cents
per gallon last year. For the average American family, that translates to more than $800 that
wasn’t spent at the pump. On average for the past 10 years, ethanol has kept gasoline prices 25
cents per gallon cheaper than they otherwise would have been, saving nearly $35 billion annually.
Why? First, ethanol is less expensive than gasoline. Second, by replacing billions of gallons of
gasoline, the nation reduces the demand for oil, one of the few factors holding gasoline prices down.
Producing and using 13 billion gallons of ethanol also meant that the nation needed to
import 445 million fewer barrels of oil in 2010. That’s more oil than the U.S. imports from Saudi
Arabia each year.
American ethanol helps make the U.S. more self-reliant because it’s made in America by
American farmers and workers. According to the economic consulting firm Cardno Entrix,
70,600 Americans are employed directly in producing ethanol and in industries providing
goods and services to ethanol producers. Meanwhile, the economic activity generated by etha-
nol production supports a total of more than 400,000 jobs nationwide and adds tax revenue that
lets state and local governments invest in roads, schools and first responders.
The real promise of domestic renewable fuels such as ethanol is the evolution of the industry.
New technologies and better efficiencies are making ethanol even more environmentally friendly
and cost competitive. Before long, ethanol production will involve a wide range of sources,
Lower prices at the pump. More jobs that stay in the USA. And less dependence on dicta-
tors from Tehran to Caracas. American biofuels are good for America. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by June 10, 2011.
MAY DEBATE RESULTS:
Should literary classics
YES: 3% NO: 97%
Percentage reflects votes received by
May 31, 2011. Results may reflect
Debate being picked up by blogs.
from an expert in the field:
C. Ford Runge is the McKnight University Professor of Applied
Economics and Law at the University of Minnesota and has written for Foreign Affairs (
A CLOSE LOOK at ethanol’s impact on food security and the environment suggests that the biofuel bandwagon is anything but green.
In the U.S., biofuel production is soaring even as food crop export
demand remains strong, driving prices upward. In 2005 the average price
of corn was $1.96 a bushel. In mid-April 2011, it was $7.78.
Biofuels are propped up by mandates, known as “renewable fuel stan-
dards,” to force production to 36 billion gallons by 2022. In the U.S., blenders are paid a 45-cent-
per-gallon “blender’s tax credit” for ethanol—the equivalent of more than $200 per acre to
divert scarce corn from the food supply into fuel tanks. The federal government also pays a
$1-per-gallon credit for plant-based biodiesel and “cellulosic” ethanol. Finally, there is a 54-cent-
per-gallon tariff on imported biofuel to protect domestic production from competition.
The rapid increase in grain and oilseed prices due to biofuel expansion has been a shock
to consumers worldwide. In March 2011, the Food Price Index of the Food and Agriculture
In the U.S., water shortages due to the huge volumes necessary to process grains or sugar
into ethanol are not uncommon.
A 2008 study in Science focused on the question of greenhouse gas emissions due to land-
use shifts resulting from biofuels. It said that if land is converted from rain forests, peat lands,
Sadly, as in so many areas of policy, Congress and the administration prefer to reward
inefficiency and political influence more than pursuing cost-effective, and sustainable, energy
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are presented to foster discussion.
Costco and The Costco Connection take no
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