Monday, July 09, 2007

Magical Energy Policy

Dan Scott is requesting our political class take a good hard look at the facts when it comes to our gasoline supplies. A good starting point is understanding “the "paradox of fuel efficiency" -- the tendency of consumers to drive more miles when they acquire a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Face it, we love our mobility, and can't get enough of it”. Anyone paying attention knows, however, the public desire for freedom is not a serious concern to our lawmakers. Most assuredly ethanol is not the answer to any looming issues.

Magical Thinking on Energy Policy: There is an even more fundamental reason why we simply cannot provide sufficient ethanol to displace enough gasoline via the existing refineries to meet the increasing demand of a growing population. Ethanol can't be combined with gasoline after the refinery process is over, in a simple mixing process. Unfortunately, the combining of ethanol and gasoline is integral to the refining process; therefore the maximum capacity of fuel production is limited to the existing refinery output.

For every grade of gasoline, whether E10 (10% ethanol), E85 (85% gas) or straight gasoline, there is a specific process that must be performed after the initial refining. All gasoline mixtures must go through the Reforming process to specifically adjust the Octane level prior to adding the final specific amount of ethanol. One can not simply take straight gasoline and mix in 90%, or 15% or 5% ethanol to sell at the pump.

The last thing any national energy policy should do is ignore the facts by pretending that ethanol or mileage improvements can possibly offset any reasonable estimated increase in annual vehicle mileage. Such policies might have had some chance for success if the vehicle mileage traveled were stagnant for the next few decades. But this is simply not in the cards, so the premise fails in light of the facts.

Interesting; ethanol without refinery capacity is useless for expanding gas supplies. Public demand for gasoline is going to increase, not diminish, so it is very troubling that entrenched special interests in our country truly believe it is their duty to suppress the peoples demand for transportation fuel. Ironically, the loudest cheerleaders for the amazing power of ethanol are the same ones who have effectively prevented the expansion of our refinery capacity that might allow ethanol to perhaps do some good for the whole country. Politicians beware; the angriest people are the ones who can’t get where they want to go.