When gas prices in the United States topped $4 a gallon in the summer of 2008, motorists were aghast. Many drivers began thinking long and hard about buying alternative fuel-powered vehicles, including those that run on ethanol and biodiesel. For example, a flex-fuel car that runs on both ethanol and gasoline gets about 40 miles (64.37 kilometers) to the gallon, according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration [source: Consumer Reports].
While fuel economy is one way to measure the economic benefits of biofuels, there are others. For instance, biodiesel production has had a positive impact on the economy. Biodiesel production in the United States increased from 500,000 gallons (1.89 million liters) in 1999 to 545 million gallons (2.06 billion liters) in 2009, adding $4.28 billion to the gross domestic product [source: Biofuels Journal, Biodiesel.org and PBS].
While biodiesel remains more expensive than regular diesel, consumers need to look beyond the cost per gallon to really gauge the economic benefits. Biodiesel vehicles get 30 percent better fuel economy than gasoline-powered vehicles [source: Consumer Reports]. Biodiesel creates fewer emissions, including cancer-causing benzene, and it also produces less pollution by decreasing the amount of particulates suspended in the air [source: Biodiesel.org]. Less pollution means lower healthcare costs. In addition, as biodiesel becomes more fuel efficient, many businesses that use diesel engines, especially the trucking industry, could see more profits by gassing up with the green fuel.