The GMC asked in Social ScienceEconomics · 1 decade ago

Could ethanol hurt america?

The nation's demand for ethanol is not even close to its peak, and yet we are already experiences shortages in supply. This means as a nation, we will have an insatiable demand for corn. Think about how much people want gas. Should we use our food as fuel? Is the lower price of gas worth a higher price in almost all other food items. All corn products, cereal, cornbread,and tons of other food has corn as a filler. Plus lifestock and poultry are fed with corn, so meat and milk prices will go up. Not to mention other vegetables and produce due to the fact that farmers will need incentive not to switch their fields to corn. It seems that our food aid to other countries would take a dive, because after all we need to burn it. This wouldn't really help our image abroad. I'm not for oil, but our ethanol seems to have a lot of issues not discussed. Anyone heard anything about these problems, or do you think they are insignificant compared to our dependency on oil?

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The answer is YES, Ethanol could certainly hurt America -- if it is net counterproductive to use it, but we are induced to use it anyway due to the several layers of government subsidies around Ethanol. All the issues you mentioned are being much debated now by people who follow alternative fuels.

    First, there's probably no possibility of it completely replacing gas, not enough cropland for that by a long shot. So it's an issue of how much to use?

    The problem is, there are a lot of variables, and finding the optimum solution for the economy is a difficult problem. Increased use of Ethanol would drive up the price of corn and maybe other crops (that in fact is already happening, no question); it would require huge investments to outfit gas stations with Ethanol pumps (can't use the same pumps, ethanol is corrosive); and flex-fuel cars are slightly more costly. Oh, and Ethanol is more costly to produce than gasoline, unless oil is really high in price. Are the benefits of ethanol worth those costs?

    A free market could do what free markets do best: process the information and find the answer. But the government is determined to interfere, with subsidies on farming and ethanol production. With that intrusion going on, it's hard to determine if ethanol does more good than bad, or more bad than good.

    But even the biggest supporters of Ethanol really only view corn Ethanol as an interim solution, until we create the processes to turn stuff like switchgrass into Ethanol.

  • NC
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    First of all, there is no such thing as "hurting America". Whatever happens, someone somewhere always benefits. The last energy crisis was a boom time in Texas and Oklahoma...

    This said, here are some figures.

    In 2004, about 13% of all corn produced in the U.S. was used for ethanol production; U.S. production of ethanol in 2004 equaled roughly 2.5% of the U.S. gasoline consumption. If I did the math correctly, it means that bringing the percentage up to 10% would require a 39% increase in corn production. A large-scale shift to ethanol, therefore, will require a substantial increase in corn acreage... This will benefit landowners and water rights owners and may hurt city dwellers who will be forced to pay more for water.

    Also, sugar cane ethanol is about half as expensive as corn ethanol. But there isn't a lot of sugar cane in the U.S., and Brazilian ethanol (made from sugar cane) is being kept out of the U.S. by tariffs that are designed to make the cost of sugar cane ethanol equal to that of corn ethanol...

  • 1 decade ago

    well ethanol certainly has down sides most notably that it takes alot of crop land to grow the corn from which to make it but as long as it provides jobs at the plants to Americans and does not export the money overseas it it a good thing

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Ethanol can be made from plants other than corn...

    The true value of Ethanol will be when it starts being

    produced from trash plant product...

    This new technology is just now coming on line...

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  • Atlas
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Ethanol would eventually cause our lush breadbaskets to become a barren wasteland. Imagine how many people drive, and how much corn would need to be grown to fuel their cars. It is a horrible idea, and is very inefficient.

  • 1 decade ago

    We should be doing everything possible to be independant fuel-wise.Only the oil companies would suffer.They've made enough profit to last several lifetimes.

  • 1 decade ago

    no, give those farmers some money so the government doesn't have to subsidize their crops. Not to mention less pollution

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