Not long ago, there was an editorial from Investor’s Business Daily entitled “EPA Says Ethanol Damages The Environment – Isn’t It Time To Kill The Program?” In it, IBD poses the question:
The Environmental Protection Agency says ethanol made from corn and soybeans and added to our gasoline has become an environmental disaster. So why do we continue to make it?
A very interesting point, since most of of us have been led to believe that ethanol burns cleaner. IBD goes on to describe the EPA’s findings:
The devastating report — based on, yes, actual “science” — shows that the forced addition of ethanol to the nation’s gasoline is making our air dirtier.
The idea of using food to produce fuel has always resonated with most as a bit weird, but IBD goes on to explain further that:
The increase in ethanol has been significant. In 2008, the U.S. produced roughly 10 billion gallons of ethanol; by 2016, that amount had grown to 16.6 billion barrels, a 67% rise. One of the most unexpected developments of the ethanol experiment is the loss of millions of acres of natural habitat to grow corn and soybeans, not for the dinner table but for the gas-station pump.
This doesn’t even begin to touch the subject of the runoff or other environmental effects based on the fertilizers and other chemicals put on the fields. In fact, the pollutive effects of producing ethanol are real:
As American Enterprise Institute fellow and economist Mark J. Perry noted in IBD all the way back in 2015, “countless independent studies have shown that corn ethanol is far worse from a greenhouse-gas emissions perspective than traditional fuels.”
As a Yale report last year summarized: “Higher-ethanol blends will produce significant levels of air pollution, reduce fuel efficiency, jack up corn and other food prices, and have been treated with skepticism by some car manufacturers for the damage they do to engines. Growing corn to run our cars was a bad idea 10 years ago. Increasing our reliance on corn ethanol in the coming decades is doubling down on a poor bet.”
How can we begin to be stewards of the environment if the fuels we put into our cars do more damage than good, not only through direct but also indirect ways? Before you fuel up next time, look at the sticker on the pump and see what percentage of your fuel comes from ethanol. You’ll likely be surprised.
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Reality Changing Observations:
1. How integral to your life is your car?
2. What could you do to reduce the amount of gas you use?
3. As we consider the future of energy, what options most interest you as potentially cleaner, and safer?