That’s the question examined by Florida Trend in a recent issue. Not only is this question of interest nationally, but it should be of particular interest to Floridians (and I am one). All the “go green” popularity led to our Legislature mandating that by December 31, 2010, all gasoline sold in Florida for vehicular use shall be blended with ethanol at 9-10%. The only exception is for vehicles classified as “collectible” since ethanol will damage their engines.
From a Libertarian and free market perspective, I’m completely opposed to this type of “government knows best” mandate that removes any consumer choice from the gasoline market. Blended gasoline reduces fuel efficiency because ethanol has lower BTU than gasoline. Depending on the price difference, pure gasoline may give you more miles per gallon than blended gasoline.
But there are other problems with ethanol. Newsweek recently reported that about 25% of this country’s 2008 corn harvest will end up as ethanol. Corn is an important food crop and we are seeing how its diversion to fuel production has caused, and continues to cause, escalating food prices at the grocery. Are you better off if rising grocery prices more than offset the few cents you save at the pump? I think eating is a little more important than driving.
Fortunately, ethanol can be produced from many products that would have little, if any, impact on food prices. But even if all ethanol production shifted to non-food sources, there is a real question of just how “green” it is to produce any type of ethanol. But I’ll let you decide that issue yourself by providing some links at the end of this post.
As for me, ethanol is another example of government rushing to embrace a solution based on appearance rather than substance. I believe in environmental responsibility; but I do not believe in environmental appearances, often called “greenwashing.” And I believe ethanol is being greenwashed, albeit with good intentions… which is the favorite paving material to a certain place.
Here’s the Florida trend article: Ethanol: Miracle or Mistake.
Here’s another ethanol article from the St. Petersburg Times.
Now, what do you think?
(Coming next Sunday: Think you know how to select a President? Come back in time with me to a past Presidential election and see if your choice from 3 candidates would have been the correct one. You won’t know their names or the election until you’ve “voted.” See you next Sunday!)