As production and usage of biofuels grows, so does debate about them within the public, media, and scientific community. As a means to understanding the overall potential benefits and drawbacks of the use of biofuels here is a basic summary of the debate. For additional exploration of the issues surrounding biofuels usage read this article.
Biofuels produce environmental, social, and political benefits:
- They are renewable and produced domestically, reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil.
- Ethanol and biodiesel emit less particulate pollution than gasoline and diesel fuels.
- Biofuels do not contribute to global warming, as they only emit carbon dioxide (CO2) that was already present in the atmosphere.
- Biofuels do not require structural changes to vehicles or home heating equipment to use. (Flex-fuel vehicles are required for a complete transition from gasoline to ethanol. Most regular diesel engines can utilize biodiesel just as they do regular diesel.)
- Biofuels are not yet poised to completely replace our reliance petroleum.
- It would take a considerable amount of time to see a major shift from gasoline to biofuels, due to the massive number of gas-only cars on the road and the considerable lack of ethanol or biodiesel pumps worldwide.
- There are concerns that it might be challenging to grow enough crops to meet the demand for biofuels.
- There are also concerns the production of biofuels requires more energy than they can generate.