Biofuels can provide a number of environmental advantages over conventional fossil fuels, most notably a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The transportation sector accounts for approximately two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption and contributes to one-third of the nation’s GHG emissions. Developing technologies to produce cleaner biofuels to supplant petroleum-based fuels can reap significant rewards in addressing climate change.
There are two major environment benefits from producing biofuels over petroleum-based transportation fuels. Throughout the fuel life-cycle, corn ethanol has the potential to reduce GHG by 52% and cellulosic ethanol by 86% over their gasoline counterpart. Infrastructure-compatible hydrocarbon fuels are being developed and show promise as well. Additionally, the fossil fuel inputs required in the life-cycle, from feedstock production to end use, to produce ethanol is less than required for petroleum-based fuels, thus reducing fossil-fuel dependence in the same stroke.
The nation’s heavy dependence on imported oil for energy increases the vulnerability for the U.S economic and political position in the world.
The United States accounts for only four percent of the world’s population, yet it consumes 25 percent of all petroleum production. Additionally, the nation’s reliance on foreign oil is only deepening, as the level of imports increases, but domestic production decreases. Our dependence on foreign sources of oil has left us vulnerable to a shortage of petroleum-based fuel and products due to natural disasters, political disruptions, and price volatility.
Complementing the nation’s energy supply with a renewable, sustainable, and domestically-produced sources of energy, such as bioenergy, can ensure our energy security.
A strong U.S. biomass industry can deliver important economic benefits including trade deficit reduction, job creation, and strengthening of agricultural markets.
In 2007 alone, the ethanol industry helped create more than 238,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy, boosted U.S. household income by $12.3 billion through increased economic activity and new jobs, and added an estimated $4.6 billion in federal tax revenue and nearly $3.6 billion in state and local tax revenues. The growing industry for the next generation of fuels that are compatible with today’s infrastructure will expand these benefits.
Oil imports are the largest component of the U.S. trade deficit, accounting for more than 65 percent of the entire trade deficit in 2007. The production of nearly 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol means that the United States needed to import 228.2 million fewer barrels of oil in 2007 to manufacture gasoline.
- The United States spends approximately $400 billion/year on imported oil; that’s more than $1 billion/day
- The U.S. transportation sector accounts for more than 70% of U.S. oil consumption
- U.S. transportation relies almost exclusively on refined petroleum products-95% of U.S. transportation energy comes from oil
- Only about 40% of a barrel of crude oil goes toward light duty petroleum gasoline
- In 2006, U.S. production and use of nearly 5 billion gallons of ethanol reduced dependence on imported oil by 170 million barrels equivalent, valued at more than $11 billion.
- In 2007 alone, the ethanol industry helped create more than 238,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy, boosted U.S. household income by $12.3 billion through increased economic activity and new jobs, and added an estimated $4.6 billion in federal tax revenue and nearly $3.6 billion in state and local tax revenues.
- Ethanol made from cellulosic feedstocks, such as switchgrass, or agricultural residues such as corn stover, has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 86%.