U.S. must get busy finding alternatives to crude oil
Fuel prices are falling, but the recent price peak may just be a glimpse of what the future holds for Americans who continue their love affair with large, powerful gas guzzlers.
When fuel costs rise, it's always appropriate to bring up the need for more research into alternative fuels, including one Valley farmers could make a few dollars from.
Most drivers are familiar with gasoline that contains alcohol made from corn. It's been available for years, but not much has been done because fuel prices have remained relatively low. Another biofuel that needs more attention comes from soybeans, also a crop grown here in the Tennessee Valley.
Soybeans are an ingredient used in bio-diesel fuels. They seem to work well, and the 1 or 2 cents more per gallon cost is usually offset by a slight increase in fuel mileage.
A blend of bio-diesel called B20 is being sold this summer in North Dakota. It's the first time the blend of 20 percent bio-diesel fuel and 80 percent petroleum has been offered at the pump there.
President Bush, with his long ties to the oil industry, hasn't shown much inclination to insist on research and development of alternative fuels. In fact, his idea of an alternative fuel is to open up more oil fields in sensitive environmental areas like Alaska.
But research needs to not only continue, but increase to record levels. If we don't find alternatives to crude oil, this country will one day find itself lined up at the pumps as drivers did in the early 1970s. Or, refineries will continue shutting down and raising prices because America no longer has production facilities to keep up with demand.
Soybeans, corn, oil slate, hydrogen, electricity and other means of supplying energy is the technology we need today.