The United States faces many challenges as our consumption
of gasoline increases. While ethanol alone will not solve these challenges,
it can play a significant role in an overall solution.
Reduces Dependence on Foreign Countries
In the year 2000, for the first time in our history, the US imported more foreign oil than we produced domestically. As our gasoline consumption continues to increase, our dependence on foreign nations is also projected to increase. Most people agree that something must be done to reverse this trend.
Ethanol blended into our gasoline extends our fuel supply, which reduces
the amount of oil the US must import. Since ethanol is produced from domestically
grown corn, utilizing our own resource shifts some of this dependence
back to the heartland of the United States.
Cleaner Air and Water
The 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act require that the gasoline sold in our country's most polluted cities must contain some form of oxygenate to reduce auto emissions. Today, there are only two economically viable oxygenates available to meet this requirement - MTBE and ethanol. While both assist in cleaning our air, MTBE contaminates ground water and is a suspected carcinogen; it has been banned in 13 states, including California, New York, and Illinois.
As states struggle with MTBE clean-up efforts, ethanol is being viewed as the only safe and economically viable alternative to MTBE. It provides a similar clean air characteristic but without any potentially harmful side affects. Ethanol demand is projected to grow significantly over the next several years as it replaces MTBE throughout our nation.
Ethanol is a high-octane, anhydrous (water-free) alcohol produced by
fermenting converted starch from corn with yeast. Ethanol can help reduce
global warming because less carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere
than with conventional gasoline. Because it is an environmentally friendly
source of high-octane fuel, it is widely used as a blending ingredient
in gasoline more than two billion gallons per year. All car manufacturers
approve the use of ethanol in their warranties, and both General Motors
and Chrysler recommend its use for environmental reasons. Certain cars
and trucks can use ethanol blended up to 85% with gasoline (called flexible-fuel
As our gasoline consumption grows, the search for new oil resources expands. To gain access to these precious reserves, we are drilling deeper into our oceans and threatening to destroy our protected lands. The pristine wilderness lost may never be restored, and it will take literally millions of years to replace these oil sources. Ethanol is produced from corn, which is harvested and replanted annually. Portions of the kernel that are not converted to ethanol are dried and sold as premium, high-protein cattle feed known as distillers grains. CO2 is another useable and marketable byproduct.