NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Corn-Based Ethanol Production Should Cease

January 24, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) justification for mandating an increase in E15 production, a fuel comprised of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, is weaker than ever, says Mark Perry, a University of Michigan at Flint economics professor.

  • A recent American Automobile Association report found that using E15 causes accelerated engine wear.
  • Accelerated wear on the internal parts of a combustion engine results in costly repairs for consumers who believed they were being environmentally-friendly.
  • Ethanol produced from corn is the only widely-available biofuel that meets federal guidelines.

Enacted in 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard requires increasing ethanol production capacities and predicted that the biofuel industry would be booming by now.

  • As a fuel source, corn ethanol is far less efficient than gasoline, providing 27 percent lower fuel economy than traditional gasoline.
  • After a 51-cent-per-gallon tax credit companies receive to produce ethanol, it still costs 70 cents more per gallon.
  • With 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop being used to produce ethanol, retail food prices for the average American have increased.

While the ethanol lobby has claimed that the production of ethanol will move America toward energy independence, the National Research Council found that it requires significantly more water in its production process than gasoline, as well as requiring large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides that deplete water and soil quality.

  • The EPA refuses to rescind the ethanol mandate and has set production to increase from 13 billion gallons this year to 36 billion gallons by 2022.
  • By 2022, the nation's entire corn crop would be devoted to ethanol production.
  • Advances in cellulosic ethanol, which is made from wood chips, switchgrass and other sources, could reduce demand for corn.

Source: Mark Perry, "Production of Corn Ethanol as an Automotive Fuel Source Should Cease," MLive, January 16, 2013.


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