Letter: Gas tax, new oil rigs rather than all in alternative fuels
Your Feb. 9 editorial, "Renewable energy gets a big boost," points out that the Minnesota Legislature has joined the growing chorus singing out for alternative energy by requiring utilities reach 25 percent renewable fuels by 2025. The source of ...
Your Feb. 9 editorial, "Renewable energy gets a big boost," points out that the Minnesota Legislature has joined the growing chorus singing out for alternative energy by requiring utilities reach 25 percent renewable fuels by 2025. The source of that 25 percent is obscure. Your last paragraph, which calls for conservation, makes a lot of sense.
Sens. Harkin, Obama and Lugar announced recently that they have introduced legislation to increase production of renewable fuels like ethanol, saying, "We must wean ourselves off our dependence on foreign oil."
Unfortunately, there is no way to replace the 13 million barrels of oil that we import each day. "Energy independence" is a slogan, not a policy. A new study from the U.S. Department of Energy is more realistic.
Its 156-page report ("Economic Impacts of Liquid Fuel Mitigation Options") states simply: "It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to become 'energy independent' in the true sense of the phrase anytime in the coming three decades. Liquid fuels from biomass do not compete economically with production of fuel from crude oil. Biomass processes also present a significant environmental burden (green house gases, soil depletion and erosion, waste water, etc.)."
Ethanol supporters point to Brazil's ethanol and its "energy independence." But Brazil actually gets 10 times the energy from its 2 million barrels/day oil production, than it gets from ethanol. Twenty percent ethanol in U.S. gasoline needs our entire corn crop.
The DOE study recommends four programs to hold imports at the current level: (1) Raise CAFE mpg standards for cars and light trucks 50 percent by 2015; (2) Enhanced recovery of more oil from existing wells; (3) Coal to diesel facilities; (4) Research to recover oil from the low-grade oil shale in the western U.S.
Good ideas, such as a gas tax with the proceeds going toward public rail transit and opening areas like the eastern Gulf of Mexico to drilling, were rejected as politically unacceptable. For politicians it's easier to talk about subsidized alternatives rather than face gas taxes or oil rigs off the coast of Florida.