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Is Ethanol Good or Bad for the Environment?

  • Date Submitted: 03/18/2010 03:19 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.4 
  • Words: 1375
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The increased use of ethanol to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels has been highly supported for over 30 years. More recently though a rigorous debate has begun over whether or not the advantages of ethanol outweigh its potential consequences.
      One side of the argument believes the expanded use of ethanol benefits the environment because it uses renewable resources, supports the rural economy and it burns cleaner than fossil fuels. The opposing view believes ethanol actually increases greenhouse gas emissions, fresh water scarcity, water pollution, land consumption and food prices. Recently, the Bush administration pushed ethanol as a renewable, homegrown alternative to gasoline, but is the claim that ethanol is more “environmentally friendly” and “economically beneficial” than fossil fuels fact or fiction?
      One of the most important advantages of ethanol as a substitute for fossil fuels is that “it can be created through the fermentation of starch or sugars present in biomass, mainly grain crops such as corn, sugar cane and wheat, which are renewable sources.”   (Tiffany) This would imply that by simply switching to ethanol we would no longer need to rely on fossil fuels and therefore could have cleaner air, less reliance on foreign supply and provide a sustainable substitute for the world dwindling oil reserves. Additionally switching to ethanol would create a higher demand for corn, which in turn would increase its value, boosting economic growth in rural communities. It is believed that the process of planting, growing, harvesting and processing of the corn would create many new job opportunities. Currently in the United States alone the ethanol industry is responsible for more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs, creating more than $1.3 billion in increased household income annually and adding more than $6 billion to the American economy each year
      Along with the economic advantages, advocates of ethanol also claim that it burns cleaner...

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