Ethanol – Boondoggle or savior?

In July 2007, Jeff Goodell wrote an article for Rolling Stone magazine called Ethanol Scam: Ethanol Hurts the Environment and is one of America’s Biggest Political Boondoggles.  In this article Goodell points out several interesting aspects to the Ethanol craze that has not been reported with much conviction by mainstream media. Ethanol

Ethanol is bio-fuel that is create from corn, milo, and/or sugar cane which are cleaner to burn and is biodegradable.  Plus it can be American made instead of relying OPEC and Canada for our energy needs.  Goodell feels three things are pushing US toward it:

  • 1. Panic – the claim by many energy experts that the world’s oil suppliers have already peaked or will peak within the next decade or two.
  • 2. Electionyear politics – being a corn-based product and main crop for Iowa (Primary State), the current candidates see this issue as tool to win votes.
  • 3. Iraq war – foreign oil profits could land in the hands of terrorist that are killing our troops. Using Ethanol, the American farmer is the hero and is the main soldiers for the war on terror.

Goodell also likes to point out that the production of Ethanol uses an enormous amount of fossil fuels which is hindering the benefit of using Ethanol.  The gains in using Ethanol to decrease Greenhouse gasses are not achievable due to the amount of diesel used to plow the fields and transport the crops to the refineries.  Not to mention the amount of natural gas used to produce fertilizers for the fields creatse runoff that pollutes the ground water and rivers.  Throw in that most of the world’s corn crop will be used in production of Ethanol limiting the amount of corn on the market – corn is used to feed the Third World – and starvation will occur.

Some of Goodell points are plausible and might be legitimate; then again if you read the article you might see he is a bit off his rocker too.  Remember Ethanol is a clean-burning, renewable fuel which is biodegradable.  As technology increases, the cost of production will decrease to make this and other renewable fuels even cheaper to the average American.

However, we should be realists, Ethanol is not the golden goose for our countries energy needs, but a first step.  With the combination of other renewable fuels and energies like nuclear power, we can find a solution to our energy problems while helping the environment and our country.  However our energy dependence issue will not be solved overnight but will take years of research and innovation before we can see our dependence on foreign oil decrease.  But, we need to start somewhere and putting money back into our country by creating jobs, increasing tax revenue, and boosting household income is better than paying OPEC for $77 per barrel of oil (1.40 million barrels of oil are imported each day) which could be used to fund terrorist actions against our citizens.  Where would you like see your dollar go?

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