Kick the Oil Habit Campaign

The American Progress Action Fund launched its "Kick the Oil Habit" campaign with an announcement by Robert Redford on Larry King Live, and a new website complete with a fairly frightening video that underscored the connections between American oil dependence and global political instability, corporate and political corruption, global warming and, of course, high gas prices. The campaign touts E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline mix) as a viable alternative for the near term, and asks supporters to sign on to a letter asking major oil companies to double the availability of the fuel nationwide. The campaign provides a list of reasons why E85 is the preferable alternative to importing foreign oil:

There are a number of reasons why E85 ethanol is better than gasoline:

* It is cheaper. With gas prices at their current levels, ethanol typically sells at 60 or 70 cents less per gallon of fuel.
* Lots of cars can use it. Already 5 million American cars on the road can run on E85. It is relatively easy and inexpensive for car-makers to tweak existing models to run on E85. (Source: CBS News, 60 Minutes, May 7, 2006
* E85 is clean. E85 is much cleaner than gasoline, and emits a smaller amount of smog precursors and greenhouse gases for every gallon of fuel consumed.
* E85 is renewable. Getting more homegrown ethanol is simply a matter of planting new crops. The United States has the capacity to produce an enormous amount of ethanol
* E85 is American. Instead of supporting foreign regimes that can hold our foreign policy hostage, E85 promises to help liberate us from foreign energy dependence. At the same time, E85 can help create jobs in the US for farmers and refiners.

While I certainly think we can't do enough to both educate Americans on the complex problems that arise from our dependence on foreign oil, and to promote alternatives, I've still got mixed feelings about the heavy promotion of corn-based ethanol that we've seen lately. Yes, it's renewable in the sense that we can always grow more corn, but it's also the most energy-intensive of biofuels, and we have to wonder how diverting much of our corn crop to energy production will affect the fight against hunger in developing parts of the world. Corn-based ethanol is an alternative, but I don't know that we can call it a solution. ::Kick the Oil Habit via Gristmill. See also ::Have You Reduced Your Dependence on Cars?

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