Reducing U.S. Dependency on Foreign Oil:

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 240
  • Published : May 8, 2008
Open Document
Text Preview
“Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.” -President George W. Bush, 2006 State of the Union Address. In the past five years we have seen the devastating effects of our dependency on foreign oil. The average price of a crude barrel of oil has steadily increased and nearly tripled from $23 in 2001 to $60 in 2006. To combat this problem our government has come up with two ways to decrease our dependency on foreign oil, and become less subjective to OPEC. The first way is to increase the amount of oil we produce in the United States. Relaxing some of the government restrictions on oil drilling would help promote more production, such as the Bush Administration’s proposal to open some of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Unfortunately relaxing government regulations in any industry can be a very slow political process. The other way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil is to find alternative sources of energy. This seems to be a solution that is supported in almost all political realms. In this list of alternative energy sources is Ethanol. Ethanol is a combustible substance that exists in small amounts in about one third of the gasoline sold in the United States. Many domestic vehicles have flex fuel engines that will run on gas that is up to eighty-five percent ethanol. The good thing about ethanol is that it can be refined out of products like corn or sugar. Because ethanol is a legitimate alternative to traditional fossil fuel, support for ethanol producers in the United States is very high. Congress has taken much action in recent years do what they think will help the ethanol industry, however if we look closely at the policies they have set into place we will see bureaucratic market controlling systems that limit the ethanol industry’s capability.

Ethanol is a compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It was used by humans in early history as the intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic beverages. In 871 A.D. the discovery of distillation allowed the separation of ethanol from water. The product was a substance that was ninety-six percent ethanol. Pure ethanol was first obtained in 1796 when distilled ethanol was filtered through charcoal. A synthetic form of ethanol was first produced in 1826 in a process similar to that used for industrial ethanol today. Ethanol has been used as fuel in the United States since the early 1900’s with the introduction of Henry Ford’s model T. The model T could be modified to run on either gasoline or pure alcohol. It was described back then much like it is today as the “fuel of the future.” Ethanol was used well into the 1920’s and 1930’s alongside an effort to sustain a U.S. ethanol program. Automakers ultimately decided to build engines that ran on gasoline because imported petroleum was much cheaper than ethanol.

Today, ethanol is the only proven commercial scale renewable transportation fuel available on the marketplace. It has the potential to replace at least 10 percent of the nation’s gasoline supply. The production of ethanol in the world has been constantly increasing since 1980. The U.S. ethanol industry has built the capacity to produce more than 3 billion gallons per year of high octane clean burning ethanol. Over five billion dollars in capital investments have been made in fuel ethanol production facilities. We currently have seventy-five fuel ethanol plants in twenty states, and almost half as many being developed. According to Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol, “Every Single automobile on the road today is...
tracking img