Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ethanol Bush

It's a sure sign of the lameness of our national energy policy that all President Bush can come up with to show his concern for our "addiction to oil" and global climate change is photo op after photo op to tout ethanol.

Yesterday, the Prez schmoozed it up with the CEO's of Detroit's Big Three to tout their contributions to increased ethanol use.

GM in particular, had nothing much to offer: a flex-fuel Impala. How advanced! A car that guzzles ethanol instead of gasoline. That's really not going to help much. (Flex-fuel vehicles can run on a blend of ethanol and gas that is 85% ethanol, as opposed to most of today's vehicles that are limited to a blend containing no more than 10% ethanol.) GM is like a big brontosaurus, lazily chewing the tops of trees while a giant asteroid blazes its way into the upper atmosphere.

Chrysler didn't do much better, showing off a biodiesel Jeep SUV. Biodiesel's a little better than corn-based ethanol, but really, are we going to achieve anything with large SUV's guzzling plant material?

Ford, at least, had something different to display: a hydrogen-electric Ford Edge. Can Ford get these into its showrooms anytime soon? Who knows.

If we want to combine energy independence with lower carbon emissions, then a combination of electric/ethanol technology has great promise. Cars powered largely by plug-in batteries with small back-up motors running on ethanol could get over 100 miles per gallon of ethanol, making it fairly easy for us to vastly reduce our dependence on foreign oil without running up the price of corn and other food sources diverted into fuel production.

While we may achieve energy independence, we doubt we'll be buying the autos of the future from Detroit.

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