The US Ethanol and Biofuels boom

This article was written in the summer of 2008, at the time when gas prices were extremely high; therefore there was a tremendous increase in construction of ethanol plants and a significant interest in biofuels as an alternative to crude oil. I thought this article was going to give me a deeper understanding of the need for biofuels, but the article focuses more on the impact the government and current prices of crude oil has on the production of ethanol.

I knew that this article could not be completely comparable to today’s situation, since the price of gasoline has since decreased considerably. However, the article is useful in understanding what ethanol production depends on. The article mentions that the hope for the future is ethanol derived from cellulosic feedstocks instead of, or in addition to, corn.  Also, the article discusses the significance of government subsidies on the attractiveness of ethanol as a source of fuel. My knowledge of government subsidies is very limited; I believe it would be interesting to discuss the impact of these subsidies on ethanol production in class (perhaps giving the non-science majors a chance to teach us a few things).

Finally, the article touches on how recently agriculture supplies not only food to humans and livestock but also now, fuel.  This relates to a similar news article that I found that argues the consequences of increasing ethanol production. Since we are increasing ethanol production to meet the needs for biofuel production, the price of corn is shooting up around the world and leaving people hungry. The author of the article believes that Washington must conserve more and diversify ethanol’s production inputs.

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