Harbison: Ethanol is not the answer

Jim Harbison
Like many others in Las Cruces I am an avid motorsports racing fan. I must admit I spend much of every weekend watching the wide assortment of racing events on the television. This past weekend it included the 24-hours of Le Mans, Formula 1 of Canada, and the NASCAR Pocono 500. I also know every weekend that I will have to compromise between races and other activities my wife enjoys.
As I watched the Sunday NASCAR race I was continually bombarded by the message that ethanol is good for NASCAR and good for America. Here is another case where an original American institution has been co-opted by the environmental movement. Ethanol is clearly inferior and far less efficient than regular gasoline. It does not deliver the same level of miles per gallon as regular gas. Furthermore, it is considerably more expensive to produce and according to the CBO it costs $1.68 more per gallon than regular gas.
The last several races have become gas mileage races where the drivers and the crew chiefs had to develop race strategies based on the poor ethanol fuel mileage. Some fans may claim that this has made the races more exciting and others, like me, would claim its purpose isn’t to make racing more exciting but to promote an environmentalist agenda. What is the advantage of ethanol? Proponents claim it is better for the environment because it produces fewer of the harmful pollutants and that may be true per gallon. I would ask how effective it is if you are required to user more gallons to drive the same distance. In the final analysis does it truly have any significant impact on the environment? Just think about this. The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days by the recent volcanic activity in Iceland, has totally erased every single effort the environmentalists have made to reduce carbon emissions. Furthermore, there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out carbon at any one time - EVERY DAY.
Converting our grain supplies to Ethanol has driven up the cost of food for every person in America and disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable in society. The EPA has concluded that ethanol subsidies have increased corn prices at least 8 percent. Ethanol currently receives triple protection: with a $6 billion per year tax subsidy, an import tariff and a usage mandate.
The current economic realities demand that government policies be reality based, cost effective, and encourage job growth. Production of ethanol fails on all counts. Those who stand to benefit the most from this government policy are not the public or even the environment but the farmers that receive ethanol subsidies. These policies are designed to environmentally re-engineer American society and are based on unreliable scientific studies.
Even many green groups now oppose ethanol subsidies because they do nothing to improve the environment. Again, where is the cost benefit analysis of this program? The increasing costs on the food supply to the public alone should nullify this government intervention in our free-market system.
This is another example of the government providing subsidies to special interest groups to dictate ineffective economic policies. Ethanol is not about reducing our dependence on petroleum but rather it is an environmental scheme to eliminate petroleum related jobs in America. To achieve a better balance in society and reduce our dependence on FOREIGN oil we need to make the most effective use of our abundant natural resources. We need to re-invigorate our petroleum industry and use our agricultural crops for food production and not the production of Ethanol.



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