Major Papers


Biofuels, ethanol, environmental policy, mandates, taxes, Renewable Fuel Standard.



In the past decade, the usage of biofuels as an alternative transportation fuel has grown in manifolds. This rise in the production and use of biofuels is owed to energy insecurity, high prices of gasoline, and constantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, biofuels have become the all-encompassing solution to all these issues. Likewise, the benefits of biofuels include their renewable nature, energy security, and a means to rural prosperity. However, the increase usage of biofuels was not just because of their benefits but also a combination of political instruments like government targets, mandates, blending quotas, as well as subsidies and incentives for farmers to grow feedstock. Biofuels just like another fuel also has its own cons. They are becoming increasingly controversial, as the process of growing biofuel feedstock and creating ethanol, biodiesel, etc. is responsible for significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, virtually nullifying most of its benefits. Also, biofuels are putting pressure on the available agricultural land, and endangering forest areas and wetlands. Furthermore, an increased reliance on biofuels is causing food security issues among developing nations. However, despite these overwhelming disadvantageous qualities of biofuels it continues to be a policy area strongly promoted by the government of United States, and other countries throughout the world. Therefore, this paper seeks to argue, and prove, that biofuels, because of their influence over a range of policy areas, tend to provide a good political rhetoric in terms of planting vote banks and gathering masses to rally behind a plethora of ambiguous issues. However, they are not good policy in terms of environmental sustainability. To demonstrate the same, this paper uses the case study of the United States government and evaluates the changing rationales over time used to justify the production and usage of biofuels. As well as critiques various biofuel policies (not all) for their use of methods like mandates instead of taxes to impose binding decisions on the public.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Lydia Miljan

Program Reader

Dr. Joanna Sweet

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Internship Paper