The Future of Crude Oil and Alternative Energy

     Fueling up the family car should not strike terror in the hearts of men. A trip to the grocery store should not cause entire families to starve to death. The resources being spent on transitional fuels are being wasted. Biofuels are disastrous “Oil-ternatives” to quashing the American dependency on oil.
     How to fuel a combustible economy- it is time to take a “road trip”. The price at the pump is an average $3 per gallon for regular gasoline nationwide. The average S.U.V. has a 25 gallon gas tank. This means, every fueling has the potentiality of costing the owner, of said S.U.V., $75. The preceding statement is common knowledge and simple multiplication.
     The price listed at the pump is not necessarily the actual cost of the gasoline when considering: “Pollution from gasoline engines accounts for 10,000 deaths in the US each year, along with thousands of cases of respiratory disease and even cancer”(Biofuels par.2). When the variable of war, or more to the point, the United States government swapping lives for oil (Wong par.1), and when, “filling the 25-gallon tank of an SUV with pure ethanol requires over 450 pounds of corn-which contains enough calories to feed one person for a year”(Runge par.6). The price per gallon is significantly higher.
     The fear that there will always be some type of conflict in the Middle East propagates the necessity to pull away from foreign oil. Now, combine that necessity with an ever increasing population, and a limited fuel supply to arrive at an urgency to explore American “Oil-ternatives.”
     The appeal of self-sufficiency is a compelling argument in the quest for evading foreign oil. However, the notion that ethanol (a biofuel) can be the “fix-all” is seriously misguided. Currently, 53 million tons of corn is being processed by 116 ethanol plants (Gas 1). The administrative push is for 90 more of these plants, and that will require half of next years projected harvest (Gas 1). Keep in mind that the planet is not going to get any bigger in the years to come, but population will. So, any increase in the demand for corn will increase the demand for other grain crops, and in doing so, will decrease the food supply (Gas 1). The law of supply and demand kicks in and prices for everything will skyrocket.
     Just think of all the commodities that involve some form of corn. Even if the United States farmers devoted all of the corn crops to ethanol related production, the benefit would be marginal for U.S. fuel needs. The scariest misconception of all of the propaganda that surrounds biofuel is that ethanol is safer and cleaner than gasoline. The argument for cellulose ethanol becomes compelling, “cellulosic biomass ethanol differs from corn-starch ethanol in that it is more energy efficient, using the lignin in the biomass to fuel its conversion process” (ABA par.6). This means, that organic household and industrial waste can be converted into ethanol by extracting lignin from the material and then refining the remaining sugars (Nash par.9). “While ethanol-burning cars will emit fewer carcinogens such as benzene and butadiene, they will spew out 20 times as much acetaldehyde as those using conventional fuel” (Biofuels par.4). The United States should consider electric cars that involve absolutely no type of combustion whatsoever.
     In fact, electric cars are in production right now. While, this grade of automobile may not be faster than gasoline burning versions, both will get a person from point a to point b. Sure, there are tradeoffs with going completely “green”. But, take into consideration the other “Oil-ternatives.”
     The question becomes, how fast do Americans really need to go? The only vehicles that actually require the speed and torque provided by gasoline burning engines are emergency and military vehicles. Instead of developing a transitional fuel, the United States government would do better at demanding all non-emergency consumers to upgrade to fully electric transportation as an immediate resolution to the dependency on oil. In reality, the United States citizens have to take a long hard look at their own energy consumption and then force the government to avoid gasoline and biofuel as far as the average consumer is concerned.
     America may never reach absolute independence from oil. The need for foreign oil might diminish, in the years to come, and in fact, completely disappear in the distant future. However, the jump to a transitional fuel that severely threatens the food supply, is just as polluting as gasoline, and does not offer much in the way of economic sustainability without extensive federal subsidies is foolish and wrong. In a truly industrial setting, this project would be scrapped out due to rework costs.

Works Cited
“ABA Supports Tripling of Ethanol Market, Warns Proposed 10-Fold Increase Might Be
Biting Off More Corn Than the Market Can Chew.” US Newswire (July 24, 2001): 1008205n8105. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Walters State Community College, R. Jack Fishman Lib. 30 June 2007 .
“Biofuel’s Dirty Little Secret. (Upfront: News in Perspective)(Side Effects of
Ethanol- Based Fuel E85)(Report)(Brief article).” New Scientist 194.2600 (April 21, 2007): 7(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Walters State Community College, R. Jack Fishman Lib. 29 June 2007 .
“Gas Tanks Could Guzzle Half of U.S. Corn Yield (Brief article).” Science News 171.5
(Feb 3, 2007): 78(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Walters State Community College, R. Jack Fishman Lib. 29 June 2007 .
Nash, Steve. “Decrypting Biofuel Scenarios: An Energy-Food-Environment Maelstrom,
an a Prairie Plan.” BioScience 57.6 (June 2007): 472(6). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Walters State Community College, R. Jack Fishman Lib. 30 June 2007 .
Runge, C. Ford and Senauer, Benjamin. “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor.”
Foreign Affairs Vol. 86 Issue 3 (May/Jun2007): p41-53, 13p.Academic Search Premier. Walters State Community College, R. Jack Fishman Lib. 30 June 2007