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Driving Under the Influence

Driving Under the Influence

Corn Ethanol and Energy Security
Thursday, June 14, 2001

View and Download the report here: EWG Corn Ethanol Energy Security

Claims that corn ethanol is making a major contribution to America’s security and energy independence by reducing oil imports are wildly exaggerated, an analysis by Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows. Between 2005 and 2009, taxpayers spent a whopping $17 billion to subsidize ethanol. In return, they got a reduction in overall oil consumption equal to an unimpressive 1.1 mile-per-gallon increase in overall fuel economy.  

Ethanol’s contribution to reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil looks even worse -- the equivalent of  a paltry six-tenths-of-a-mile-per-gallon improvement in fuel economy fleet-wide. This degree of  energy independence could have been accomplished for free by proper tire inflation, driving sensibly, obeying the speed limit and using the right grade of  motor oil.

In terms of  reducing consumption of  fossil fuels in the transportation sector, including the fuel needed to produce ethanol and transport it to the market, the payoff  is downright dismal. Less than half-of-a-mile-per-gallon increase in fleet-wide fuel economy would yield the same reduction in fossil fuel use as all 10.6 billion gallons of  corn ethanol added to gasoline in 2009.

View and Download the report here: EWG Corn Ethanol Energy Security