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E.P.A. Insists on Ethanol Use Despite Global Fears

August 11, 2008

You’d think with all the truths that we have learned about ethanol, especially about what it is and what it isn’t, would drive truth in action by the government. The efficiency of ethanol doesn’t matter, nor the additional cost of producing said ethanol. Food shortages don’t matter, nor increased prices. Government has a mandate and they are going to meet that mandate come hell or high water.

The Environmental Protection Agency rejected a request to cut the quota for the use of ethanol in cars, concluding that the goal of reducing the nation’s reliance on oil is more important than any effect on food prices from making fuel from corn. The agency’s mandate is considered to strengthen the nation’s energy security as well as support American farming. On one note, it is nice to hear that America is looking after itself above other concerns in a rare moment.

On the other hand, rising corn prices made some ethanol operations unprofitable, especially as oil prices have recently started to fall. The fact is that ethanol was promoted as a national panacea. Corn does not convert to ethanol as efficiently as sugar cane does. The U.S. cannot compare its ethanol production to Venezuela, not expect to achieve similar yields and results.

The bottom line is that the United States cannot continue to produce corn to run the country on ethanol without a dramatic change in corn production nationwide. There simply isn’t enough corn-growing farmland or ethanol refineries. Even if there were ample supply and enough conversion refineries, ethanol is not as efficient as gasoline, at best a expensive temporary solution rather than a permanent one.

It is commendable and necessary that the United States is seeking to take care of itself for energy security purposes. However, there is plenty more that can be done that Congress won’t touch. Instead, some politicians look to the promises of renewable resources only. That is exactly what it is: promise. Ethanol was a sure thing and we know the truth about that. There are no guarantees on the road to energy freedom and security. Setbacks are likely as we discover unknown truths about new technologies.

For thirty years the nation has sat on its fanny doing little to nothing about energy, even when prodded by the people and a few forward-thinking politicians. Now we are in an energy bind that politicians expect to profit from in the hopes of profiting the nation. We need to think twice about that one buddy. The only real option for the time being is to pursue a mix of old energy applications while promoting new ones without subsidies. There is much more at stake than the environment. The nation’s national security and ability to function is really at stake. Politicians would do well to remember that. Green is good. Reason is better.

~ E. Manning

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