Rising oil prices, energy security considerations, and concerns over global warming are all contributing to the current hype surrounding biofuels. With fuel demand expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades and oil prices on the rise, biofuels are being promoted as the way to curb greenhouse gas emissions and develop homegrown energy sources that reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
As a result, farmers and investors alike are barreling into a new gold rush:
- Ethanol production is experiencing record growth and reached nearly five billion gallons in 2006, an increase of 25 percent from the previous year.
- Dozens of new ethanol refineries are currently under construction nationwide and production capacity is expected to more than double current levels as soon as 2008.
- Twenty percent of all corn grown in 2006 was dedicated to ethanol production, raising concerns over the impact on crop prices and competition with food uses of corn.
In this context, corn ethanol has emerged as a leading contender to reduce dependency on gasoline. At first glance, ethanol produced from corn seems simple, even patriotic. The ethanol industry and other proponents of biofuels claim that these new fuels will result in lower tailpipe emissions. They say that this boom will revitalize farm economies and promote energy independence. However, upon careful examination of these claims, it becomes clear that biofuels are not the silver bullet solution that some say they will be.
Continue Reading: Frequently Asked Questions: Biofuels