Alternatives to Destruction
Gas prices got you down? They should. However, the rise in petroleum prices is the least of my worries. Our nation's supply of fossil fuels is running out and we're doing more damage to our environment than humanly reversible. Now it's time for the good news, there are alternatives and loads of them. Legislation from federal and state governments along with biofuels are constantly being introduced and researched to the betterment of the environment. These alternatives are hoping to make the world we live in a healthy and safe environment for generations to come.
According to the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy two crisis are arising from the use of fossil fuels; we are rapidly depleting our sources with no way to replace them, and through that rapid use we are producing toxic by-products into our environment (Das 1). Something must be done. Fortunately the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, works diligently with the legislative branch of our government to enact laws that protect our environment and petition congress for money to fund alternative fuel research ("Renewable Fuels"). Currently the EPA is fighting to regulate the benzene levels in gasoline by calling for legislation that pushes the levels of benzene lower than they have even been before ("Renewable Fuels"). Benzene has been found to be one of the leading reasons why the burn off of gasoline is so toxic to our environment. However, the money is never enough and once enacted, even less money is spent to enforce these laws. The states often find themselves with the burden of drafting new laws that fit their budget or by enforcing cutbacks to find the money to enforce these laws themselves, making funding an issue. Focusing on Georgia, I am proud to say that according to the US Department of Energy webpage, Georgia has in place an Alternative Fuels Use and Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Acquisition Requirement' which stipulates that all state owned vehicles should try to use blended gas or switch to Alternative Fuel Vehicles ("Georgia Incentives" 1), which use electricity, hydrogen, ethanol, natural gas, biodiesel, methanol, or p-series fuel to propel the vehicle ("Alternative Fuels" 1). However there is one catch to that requirement, one loophole. It also states that the department should only do what can fit within the realms of their budget, calling funding once again into question. Therefore, not enough money leaves us no change and right back to where we started, ruining our environment. Georgia also has in effect the Ride-n-Share program. This program opened up parking lots along interstate exits for commuters to meet and carpool to work. In Atlanta, HOV lanes were opened to allow people who car-pool a quick and easy route to work with less traffic. Yet, these easy methods were rarely used. If our environment is such a big deal, why don't we do more to save it?
Sure, we're fine for the next 20 years or so, but if we wait that long to try and invent new methods for fuel efficiency, our environment and economy will experience the consequences. In essence, we will suffer in the long run. There are ways to slow the rate of depletion, giving the economy just what it needs, more time. Car-pooling, public transportation, vehicles with electric power or high gas mileage (no SUVs), and ethanol (E10) blended fuels are all an affordable and easy method to slow our dependence on fossil fuels. One click on the American Coalition for Ethanol website caused me to question our government's efforts against our fuel crisis. Ethanol is an additive to gasoline than can be made from corn, grain sorghum, wheat, barley, potatoes, and even sugarcane (How Is Ethanol Made? 1). Ethanol is blended with gasoline (up to 10%) and can be added to any vehicle and covered by the manufacturer's warranty ("Using Ethanol" 1). Blended with gasoline, ethanol does three things; makes fuel cheaper, make the engine run cooler...
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