Ethical and Sociocultural Consideration of Ethanol Production

1288 Words6 Pages
With the recognition that the world’s demand for energy will soon deplete fossil fuel supplies, interest in alternative energy sources has greatly increased. In fact, the United States has implemented a plan to reduce the nation’s fossil fuel consumption by 25% by the year 2025 known as the 25 x ’25 plan.1 One way of reaching this goal is to enrich regular petroleum based gasoline with ethanol as an alternative transportation fuel. In the United States, ethanol is one of the most popularized and highly produced biofuels on the market. Since 2000, ethanol production has increased from 1.6 billion gallons per year to 14.9 billion gallons per year in 2012.2 An increase of this magnitude in the demand of corn for ethanol production may eventually have a tremendous impact on the price of food and its availability, in addition to significant impacts on the environment. Although we consider ethanol an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel-based petroleum because of its lower greenhouse gas emissions, the idea of any large-scale use should raise many questions for government agencies, scientists, and farmers alike. When the U.S. government first considered ethanol an effective alternative fuel source they mandated that ten percent of each gallon of fuel we used in our cars would be ethanol. This mandated created a market for the ethanol producers to sell their products to help initiate the industry. As a result of the mandate, the construction of ethanol plants was stimulated and ethanol production began to increase. To further help the initiation of the ethanol industry the government supplied ethanol manufacturers with subsidies to offset the cost of production. These subsidies on average were 52 cents per gallon and assisted in lower overall fuel prices.6 These policies were set in place on the assumption that the demand for fuel would continue to increase

More about Ethical and Sociocultural Consideration of Ethanol Production

Open Document