Energy Realities

As the Senate debates offshore drilling legislation, senior fellow Dana Gattuso says Americans — “even with gas prices rising and Chicken Little-like speculations that we’re tapping out supplies” — are not quite ready to quit their oil habit.

What’s more, at least one highly-touted “alternative” may make no sense whatsoever.

Dana notes that although “$3.00+ a gallon at the pump is hard to swallow, it is still inexpensive compared to alternative sources of energy like ethanol, solar and wind, and hydrogen technology.”

About ethanol, for example, Dana says:

Take corn-based ethanol. In the U.S., the industry currently produces 3.4 billion gallons, used mostly as an octane-boost additive in gasoline. Billions of dollars in annual federal subsidies doesn’t change the fact we don’t and — due to limitations on the amount of land, can’t — grow nearly enough corn to meet our food and energy needs.

Some experts question whether the production of ethanol even nets a positive amount of energy. Scientists David Pimentel of Cornell University and Tad Patzek of University of California Berkley found after considering energy inputs to separate, ferment, distill, and extrude the corn, that ethanol uses 29 percent more fossil fuel in its making than it yields for energy use. If the findings are true, it makes absolutely no sense for the government to spend billions of tax dollars subsidizing an entity that uses more energy than it gives off.

There’s more. Read Dana’s full piece, “Oil Addiction Fiction,” on the web at National Review Online.

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