Ethanol’s corny appeal


The mirage of energy independence has beckoned every president since Nixon. Today, we are more dependent on foreign oil than ever, but political reality necessitates that President Bush deliver a strategy for oil alternatives while the country sends young men and women to fight in the Mideast. Thus the presidential photo-ops with ethanol-fueled cars this past week

That political benefit aside, it is hard to think of a more cynical, wrong-headed program than corn-based ethanol.

As I’ll detail in subsequent blogs it will not effect energy dependence, it is not a viable alternative, it will have no effect on alleged global warming – in fact, its only discernable value is to provide a bio-fuel infrastructure should another alternative (switch grass or sugar) prove viable on the distant horizon.

Not even corn-ethanol’s original justification– as a federally-mandated gas additive to assist urban air quality – holds water anymore. As Car & Driver magazine’s brilliant engineer, Patrick Bedard, explained in July, 2006:

“Feedback-fuel-metering systems (in engines) . . . became the norm roughly 20 years ago. As a result, the benefits of the oxygenate rule have decreased as newer vehicles’ fuel systems have replaced the older, more primitive ones. Today, as any engine engineer will testify, the rule has virtually no pollution benefit and has become nothing more than a backdoor mandate for the ethanol industry and corn farmers.”


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