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Page added on February 27, 2007

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Wishful thinking is no magical energy elixir

Ethanol will not lead to energy independence. If all the corn produced in America in 2005 were dedicated to ethanol production (and only 14.3 percent of it was), U.S. gasoline consumption would have dropped by only 12 percent. For corn ethanol to completely displace gasoline in this country, we would need to appropriate all U.S. cropland, turn it over to ethanol production, and then find 20 percent more land on top of that.


The U.S. Energy Information Administration believes the practical limit for domestic ethanol production is about 700,000 barrels per day — in 2030. In 23 years, that will translate into about 6 percent of the U.S. transportation fuels market.
According to a 2005 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn ethanol costs an average of $2.53 to produce — several times what it costs to produce a gallon of gasoline. Without subsidies, costs would be higher still. A study from the International Institute for Sustainable Development last fall found that ethanol subsidies amount to $1.05 to $1.38 per gallon, or 42 to 55 percent of ethanol’s wholesale market price.


Ethanol does not reduce gasoline prices. If you lived in urban areas that used reformulated gasoline last summer — that’s the environmentally “clean” gasoline required for areas with air pollution problems — you might have paid up to 60 cents a gallon more for gasoline.

Indy Star



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