Due to all of the unrest in the Middle East right now the need for America to become energy independent has been a hot topic lately. One of the most talked about ways to decrease our dependence on foreign oil is the domestic production of ethanol fuels. People all over the country are investing billions of dollars into the production of ethanol, but is this the right direction for the United States to go in?

Ethanol proponents would have us believe that their product is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The pro-ethanol crowd is marketing their product as a way to become energy independent, help end global warming, and reduce pollution, but it’s just not as simple as all of that. The list below illuminates some problems that we are going have to come to terms with if ethanol is going to become the fuel of our future.

(Information from CalGasoline.com)

1. Ethanol is listed as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

2. The cost of Reformulated Gasoline with ethanol will increase 3-6 cents per gallons compared to RFG with MTBE.

3. Spills of pure ethanol or gasoline containing ethanol from leaking storage tanks can create a benzene plume up to 150% larger than a spill from a non-ethanol fuel.

4. Ethanol cannot be shipped by pipeline because of its high affinity for water posing significant distribution costs and hurdles for gasoline blenders.

5. According to a study by Cornell University, for every gallon of ethanol produced, 1.4 gallons of energy is consumed in the process, compared to 0.15 gallons used in the manufacture of gasoline.

6. It takes 1.5 gallons of ethanol (E-85) to drive as many miles as one gallon of gasoline.

7. Every gallon of ethanol removes 53 cents from the Federal Highway Trust Fund because of a special tax break for producers.

8. Ethanol increases the vapor pressure of gasoline by 1 psi. resulting in higher evaporative emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds, while tailpipe emissions of Acetaldehyde increase 150%.

9. Ethanol permeates the hoses and lines of automobile fuel systems resulting in a 50% increase in VOC emissions for pre 1995 cars.

10. Ethanol dissolves oxide scale from the walls of pipes and tanks, subjecting the systems to internal corrosion, which leads to leaks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be thrilled if the Arab oil gangsters never saw another U.S. dollar. Americans should have wised up after the “1973 oil crisis? and started aggressively seeking real solutions to our energy dependence problem. However, instead of finding ways to fix the problem, we did just like Americans always seem to do, and simply made the best of a bad situation.

This latest round of $3.00 a gallon gasoline has sparked a fire under the asses of a whole new generation Americans that happens to be made up of some true visionaries and real go-getters, but in their rush to reinvent the wheel, they may be overlooking the obvious answers to the high cost of foreign oil.

(U.S. Buero of Land Management website)

The United States holds the world’s largest known concentration of oil shale. The equivalent of 2.6 trillion barrels of oil – more than three times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia – underlies a surface area of 16,000 square miles. The enormous potential of this domestic resource is a key to the Nation’s energy security and economic strength, and to the quality of life Americans enjoy today and hope to ensure for future generations.

More than 70 percent of American oil shale, including the thickest and richest deposits, lies on Federal land, primarily in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The estimated 800 billion recoverable barrels of oil in this shale formation are as much as the U.S. would use in 110 years, at current consumption levels. As oil prices rise, there is new interest in developing this resource. The BLM is working to ensure that development is economically sustainable and environmentally responsible new regulations for oil shale leasing. Draft regulations are scheduled to be published in 2007.

Some might argue that it’s too late to go after that oil now because any benefits that could be realized from its exploitation would be 5, 10, or even 15 years down the road. I would argue that mentality is probably the same reason that oil wasn’t gone after 34 years ago when the Middle Eastern oil cartel was holding the U.S. oil companies hostage. If Jimmy Carter would have been the smart leader back then as he now claims he was, we wouldn’t have to depend on Arabs, Africans, and Venezuelans to supply the lifeblood of our American economy.

The development and implementation of new and more efficient forms of energy are very important to the future of the United States, but there is no getting around the fact that gasoline and other petroleum based products are going to be needed for many years to come, and with 110 years of oil still in the ground, there is plenty of time for perusing and developing alternative fuels that really are efficient, safe, clean, and more environmentally friendly.