Finding Alternatives to Bush’s Alternative Fuels

Corn is the main feedstock used for producing ethanol fuel in the United States.
Corn is the main feedstock used for producing ethanol fuel in the United States. Wikimedia Commons

Much was made of President Bush's energy-consciousness in his recent State of the Union address. The President has said he is dedicated to reducing the country's dependence on oil.

The only problem lies with the President's alternative fuel of choice: ethanol produced by corn. Just last week experts in the energy field informed a Senate panel that corn-based ethanol cannot be the only solution, in part because there's just not enough corn to meet the demand.  A representative from the National Commission on Energy Policy reported that corn-based ethanol production is capped at 15 billion gallons a year, yet Americans use approximately 21 billion gallons of gasoline every 2 months. Despite this apparently irreconcilable difference, there are currently more than 70 corn ethanol refineries under construction.

Bush has come under fire from environmental authorities for his single-minded devotion to corn-based ethanol, when in reality there are a variety of biofuels, including ethanol produced by other plant sources. "We are moving toward electricty being the fuel of choice for vehicles," Reid Detchon, executive director of the Energy Future Coalition, told the Environment News Service. "If you get clean electricity from the grid, supplemented with clean biofuels, then petroleum is out of the picture completely and your greenhouse gas profile is very good."

Bush's extensive alternative energy goals, detailed here, are ambitious and a first for a historically environmentally-unfriendly leader. But the Prez's plans totally ignore one issue: maybe if we funded more mass-transportation initiatives, we wouldn't have to drive so much in the first place.

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