" The wildlife result of raising the usual row crops such as corn is well-known. The greatest impact of enhanced corn ethanol would be that much more land would be converted to agricultural use as well as the additional erosion and fertilizer application that goes hand-in-hand with agricultural production. Increasing ethanol production through the use of corn may lead to negative effects on wildlife, the degree of which this occurs based on production levels and if the land put aside for this enhanced production had previously been idle, in a natural state, or planted in other row crops.
Bies (1205) sees the strengths of the ethanol use. However, the use of the product and how it is produced are two different things. President Bush signed the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 that included a provision concerning the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), in addition to other biofuels provisions. The VEETC gives a $0.51-per-gallon excise tax credit for each gallon of ethanol blended with gasoline. This credit tax was extended by the American Jobs Creation Act through to December 31, 2010. In addition, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 also includes a number of provisions regarding renewable fuels. For example, one of the provisions requires that the amount of renewable fuels, such as ethanol that is blended with gasoline increase from 4 to 7.5 billion gallons nationwide from 2006 to 2012. The Act also extends the biodiesel tax credit through 2008, where fuel blenders receive a 1-cent credit per gallon per percent of agricultural-based biodiesel blend. Also, incentives exist to encourage production of cellulosic biofuels, to reach the goal of being capable of making a billion gallons every year by 2015. Bies (1205) says that "Some research programs have already begun to look at the effect of biofuels production on wildlife, such as the Chariton Valley Project in Iowa, but this and similar work must continue to ensure that any increase in biofuels provides not only green energy but also wildlife benefits." In other words, one cannot go into this situation fast and blind.
Sakr (64) asks pointedly about this quick move to ethanol: "As the rise of ethanol as an alternative fuel begins to stress commercial corn supplies, risk managers need to ask themselves-at what point does sustainability become unsustainable?" He questions what if achieving sustainability in one industry started to actually vie with the sustainability of another? That is, the growing ethanol industry shows that the competition between the creation of the alternative fuels and agriculture is having its own effect.
Imagine being forced to choose between filling your gas tank and feeding your family," Sakr (64) states. This may appear like an unrealistic ultimatum, but a number of analysts and economists warn that this may actually become more of a reality than renewable energy source. The hurry to develop new ethanol facilities has been encouraged by the government's request for increased production of renewable fuels. "Everyone from farmers to Wall Street investors have been pouring billions of dollars into the new industry and hurriedly building more ethanol plants." As is always the case, however, it is impossible to throw a boomerang out and not expect it to come back. In this situation, the rapid rise in ethanol production has resulted in concern about the possibility of significant food shortages. Reports state that plants could use as much as half of America's corn crop in the coming year, and the mounting need for corn for the production of ethanol could be much greater than the government realizes. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the national trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry, reports to respond to the quickly increasing expectations for ethanol production, the industry will need approximately 60 million tons of corn from the 2008 harvest. This could greatly increase the cost of food products, not only corn, but, for example, meat (because the cattle are fed corn) and other related products. This is not only a problem for the U.S., but especially for developing countries. The bottom line is that it is necessary that in attempting to solve one problem -- the dependence on imported oil -- the country does not create a much worse scenario -- a complete turmoil in the world food economy.
Ethanol can be a positive alternative for the strong reliance on other countries for fossil fuel, as well as the other problems as global warming. However, history shows that humans have the tendency to wait until the problem becomes severe and then go full speed ahead without looking at all the ramifications. In most cases, those who are negative about the ethanol situation are not saying "don't consider it completely." They are saying look carefully at this alternative and how it compares to others and the impact this alternative will have on other factors. It appears that the energy issue is not going to be solved by one silver bullet. It will take a combination of factors in addition to ethanol. Although the ethanol industry is founded on the hope of creating a sustainable, renewable energy it is not possible to also look at the possible negative effects from the high consumption of corn.
Bies, Laura. The Biofuels Explosion. Wildlife Society Bulletin. (2006) 34.4 1203-1206
Dinneen, Bob. Vital Speeches of the Day. New York.(2007) 73.4, 167-171.
Cothran, Helen. Energy Alternatives. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002
Ethanol Across America. 18 July, 2007 http://www.ethanolacrossamerica.net/
Jozefowicz, Chris. Fuel for Thought. Current Science. (2007) 92.11,…
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