Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Brinda Sarathy

Reader 2

Emma Stephens

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2015 Lily A. Simon

Abstract

In an attempt to achieve energy independence, rural economic development, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, the United States has turned to fuels derived from agriculture. The U.S. Congress and Environmental Protection Agency mandated the blending of biofuels into conventional gasoline until 2022 under the Renewable Fuel Standard. However, largely missing from the discussion of biofuels is their feasibility regarding environmental protection and end-use marketing to consumers. This thesis investigates the motive for biofuel mandates in the U.S., the irony in the EPA’s decision to back a resource-exhaustive fuel source, and the questionable ability of the U.S. to supply and consume greater volumes of biofuels in the transportation sector. Barriers to consumption are outlined as increased production costs and high market fuel prices, strong political backing of traditional energy sources, and environmental implications of production on ecosystems in certain regions of the United States. By analyzing Iowa and Texas as two biofuel-producing states held in high regards for biofuel production capacity—yet varying degrees of consumption—the feasibility of reaching federal biofuel mandates and promoting this alternative fuel is determined.

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