Ethanol's Environmental, Economic, And Social Impacts

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In a time of energy crisis and a subsequent search for a renewable replacement for crude oil, biofuels have arisen as a source of hope. Currently, the largest source of biofuels in the United States is corn-based ethanol. The large scale of corn-ethanol production and the potential promise of finding a domestic, reliable source of energy, requires the fuel’s viability as a replacement for crude oil to be evaluated. However, there is debate surrounding corn-based ethanol’s environmental, economic, and social impacts. The scientists and governments who support the development of biofuels claim that it will not only provide a new and sustainable source of energy but also that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is therefore better for the environment. However, although corn-based ethanol continues to harbor support from the United States government, environmentalists argue that ethanol is not substantially better for the environment, especially when the effects of its production are taken into account. Also, while some larger farms profit from ethanol production, it places economic stress upon smaller farms and the agricultural industry and leads to higher food prices that are a great detriment to those living at the level of subsistence. Therefore, in order to produce energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly fuel, the United States must work towards developing cellulosic biofuels and those produced by microbes as they have fewer consequences than corn-based

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