Pro/Con Paper: Pros of Ethanol
Ethanol was first used in 1908 on Henry Ford's Model T. The Model T was designed so that it could be run on either gasoline or pure alcohol. When asked why he wanted to run the Model T on alcohol, Henry Ford replied by saying, “It is the fuel of the future.” The use of ethanol continued through the 1920's and 1930's in an effort to keep a United States ethanol program alive. Although the effort was unsuccessful, oil supply problems in the Middle East and environmental issues and concerns on the use of lead as an octane booster in gasoline brought focus back on to ethanol in the late 1970's. Ethanol production in 1998 was at 1.4 billion gallons compared to 175 million gallons in 1980. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 made a contribution to an economic crisis that revealed our dependence on imported oil. Lines at gas stations lengthened, stock markets slowly started to decline, and our nation was faced with an economic recession. Congress then passed the Energy Tax Act of 1978. This act provided made the 4 cents to the gallon federal fuel tax on gasoline exempt if the fuel was 10 percent ethanol. Congress continued to show and reveal Acts to promote fuel development in the domestic sector and energy conservation. Through the Clean Air Amendments of 1990, Congress acknowledged changes in fuels and their composition would contribute to reducing exhaust pollution. Two new gasoline standards were put into place to reduce fuel emissions in the polluted areas of our country, with an emphasis on that of cities. The Acts required gasoline to contain clean-burning additives that include ethanol. Ethanol is a great alternative fuel for our country to invest in. Ethanol and E85 fuels produce more energy than it takes to make them. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley examined six major studies of ethanol production and concluded that using ethanol made from corn would lead to a moderate 13 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions as opposed to using gasoline. An estimated 1 million vehicles were sold in the US in 2007 that were E85 capable. Nathanael Greene, senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New York, reports that ethanol statistically produces 1.3-1.6 times the energy it consumes, according to an article by Jerry Edgarton. As America rolls towards tens of millions of cars on the road being E85 capable, our destructive pollution will lessen in power. Nathanael Greene also points out that the use of cellulosic ethanol, ethanol derived from switchgrass, wood chips, and sometimes the byproducts of lawn maintenance, could produce as much as 3-10 times as much energy as it takes to produce the ethanol. In Brazil, the people and the government have turned to ethanol derived from sugarcane as their main fuel source. 45 percent of the vehicles in Brazil use ethanol and 80 percent of the ethanol produced in Brazil goes towards the domestic market. Bagasse, a byproduct of used sugarcane, is used as the fuel source for steam turbines that generate electricity. Ethanol has proven itself as an alternative fuel source that is capable of producing more power than what it costs to make it. Ethanol is also a nontoxic and biodegradable fuel. If it were to be spilled, granted if it were only ethanol and not a mixture, it would swiftly break down into a harmless substance. An article written by Ned Haluzan states, “Big domestic production of ethanol would ensure that domestic money stays in country instead of being spent on foreign oil.” Producing ethanol in the United States means that the money that goes into ethanol, stays in the United States. The United States went from having 81 ethanol plants in 2005 to 189 ethanol plants in 2010. Over a span of 5 years, the ethanol plants in the United states more than doubled. This is a fantastic step in the right direction for the United States and for the economy. In 2012, we are projected to...
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