Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ethanol and Gasoline

It's been awhile since we've talked much about energy, so let's get back into the issue of ethanol/gasoline blends and their impact on fuel economy and certain fuel systems. There are several problems with ethanol blends: (1) they reduce fuel efficiency; (2) they raise the price of all corn food products; (3) they damage marine and aviation gasoline engine fuel systems; and (4) they add to the cost of storing and transporting blend components. Why environmental activists and political progressives continue pushing ethanol escapes me. They keep talking it up and totally ignore reality in the process.

Future Motor Vehicle Power

The internal combustion engine will continue being the primary source of power for motor vehicles, small aircraft, boats, and off-highway equipment. Augmentation of those engines with alternative energy systems is desireable to the extent of current and future technological development provided workable alternatives yield positive benefit/cost ratios. Autos relying 100% on electric power are limited in their usefulness due to the need for frequent recharging of the batteries. They can also pose a serious hazard in bad weather if the vehicle and its operator should become stuck and isolated from help and must rely on heat produced by the vehicle's electric motor to keep from freezing. This became a concern during recent storms that produced record snowfalls throughout much of the nation.

Mass Transit

It's a known fact that mass transit systems are the most energy efficient people movers, but the manner in which our country developed was not conducive to the adoption of such systems. In recent years, such systems have been built here in major population centers, but many have fallen on bad economic times. High operating expenses dominated by high cost union labor and their legacy benefits is a primary factor along with lower than projected ridership. Awareness of such economic factors is one reason why many taxpayers are opposed to new rapid transit proposals.

Foreign Oil Dependency

Middle East political termoil poses a growing concern over our dependency on oil from that corner of the World. The situation in Egypt is the most recent example. Couple that with the spread of Islamic uprisings in several other continental African nations and it is no wonder concern over our dependency on oil from that region is at an all time high. When we first began drawing oil from that region, some in this country urged us to draw even more from foreign sources to preserve what we knew to exist here and in other friendly areas. That reasoning no longer holds water if, indeed, it ever did and we now must get busy producing more oil from off our continental shelf, Gulf of Mexico, ANWR, and the Williston Basin. Of course, that means getting Obama to cancel moratoria now preventing such drilling.


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