Government Spent Billions Turning 45% Of American Corn Into Ethanol

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Roughly 45 percent of American corn is now used to produce biofuels like ethanol due to enormous levels of taxpayer support, according to an infographic published Wednesday by a global warming researcher.

America supports ethanol via billions in subsidies and federal programs like Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires gasoline sold in the U.S. to contain a certain amount of ethanol. America’s ethanol mandates cost motorists $10 billion annually in additional fuel costs, according to a study published in March 2015 by the Manhattan Institute.

The original justifications for the enormous taxpayer financial-support ethanol has received was reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and to lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to the Congressional Budget Office, but new research has shown that ethanol hasn’t helped the U.S. meet either goal.

Federal programs  were not responsible for America’s declining dependence on foreign oil according to a report published in March by the Institute for Energy Research (IER).

In 2005, when America became the world’s largest producer of ethanol, the country imported 60.3 percent of its oil. These days, the U.S. only imports 24.2 percent of its oil. The enormous increase in U.S. oil-production is roughly five times the output of all the ethanol distilleries in the country. The decline in oil imports is mostly due to increases in American oil product due to new technologies like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling.

The National Academy of Science is skeptical of the environmental benefits of mandating ethanol production and has found that the programs “may be an ineffective policy for reducing global [greenhouse gas] emissions.”Additional research by the University of Minnesota found that America’s ethanol mandates was actually killing people because it deteriorates air quality, and other studies have shown ethanol can actually damage car engines.

The infographic was compiled by Robert Wilson, an ecosystem and climate change researcher at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wilson has a long research history studying the potential impacts of global warming and energy.

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