A Modest Proposal for Methanol and Ethanol Powered Cars
"We need more stringent regulations on car emissions... Let's add MTBE to the fuel- that will reduce pollution... If people would just stop driving so much, pollution wouldn't be so bad..." People have long recognized the problems with the gasoline we used now. We have tried everything from putting regulations on emissions, to putting additives in the gasoline (only to discover later that MTBE got into the groundwater), to campaigns to get people off the road. However, more and more cars are on the roads as the population increases, and people are not going to stop driving. Additives are as likely to cause problems as they are to prevent them. Just changing the regulations is not going to fix the environment.
The United States can decrease its dependence on oil-producing nations and improve the environment without robbing every citizen's pocketbook. The gasoline used in most cars today produces pollution, endangers people's health, forces us to be dependent on OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Companies) or other oil production organizations, and contributes to global warming. The main reason people have not converted to cleaner, healthier fuel is that hybrid and electric cars are more expensive than the cars and gasoline we are using now. However, we could implement a program for selling cleaner fuel at a lower cost than it is now offered. If this program were organized correctly, the increased costs would be minimal in the long run and the benefits would be enormous. After considering several possibilities, I concluded that alcohol-burning cars are more practical than other environmentally friendly options because electric and hybrid cars or cars that run on natural gas are more expensive and are less convenient to refuel. Propane is another available fuel, but it is limited in supply. To help protect the environment, our health, and our economic independence, the government should use all the revenues from the taxes on dirty fossil fuels to subsidize research and the production of alcohol burning cars.
Problems with Cleaner Fuel
Of course there are reasons why we have not converted to alcohol burning vehicles before. Ethanol costs more per gallon than gasoline. However, new technologies have the potential to produce ethanol at significantly smaller costs. Methanol, a high-performance liquid fuel made from wood or coal, can be produced at prices comparable to the prices of gasoline and natural gas. In addition, oil does not occur naturally in unlimited supply, and just in the past few years, gas prices have been increasing dramatically. Those prices will not fall back down. However, the introduction of an inexpensive alcohol-based fuel would provide an alternative means of power and give consumers more choices.
Some people argue that decreasing the oil we use would harm the economies of countries like...