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Energy back in the limelight

In his address to Congress Tuesday evening, President Obama pushed the subject of energy independence back into the spotlight.. So, you can bet that lots of federal dollars are about to be handed out to all sorts of energy-related projects and pilot programs.

To that end, I have a couple of suggestions for the President:

Dear Mr. President:

I applaud your announced focus on developing renewable energy sources and making America free from foreign oil. A couple of suggestions, if you will.

First, the idea of urging farmers to grow corn to make ethanol was a faux pas (translation: scam) of colossal proportion. It was passed with typical Congressional panic (remind you of any similar actions by Congress?) Moreover, the government’s mandate to continue to increase ethanol production to 36 million barrels annually should be repealed immediately. After all, ethanol hasn’t made us any more independent of OPEC oil. Moreover, it does little or nothing to reduce carbon emissions. But, it has screwed up (or has the capacity to) marine engines and fuel tanks, with the added benefit of producing food shortages for the world’s poorest people and higher prices for everyone!

We now realize that the overwhelming majority of the products in our modern food supply, from beef to Coca-Cola, start with a single crop: corn. Last year, an estimated 35 percent of that crop was turned into fuel, not food. In 2009, that figure will go up more. In addition, as reported in Time magazine, the emphasis on biofuels has ironically created more greenhouse gasses, not less. Ethanol is not only responsible for higher food prices, it has caused food riots in Mexico, Pakistan, Haiti, Egypt and Ethiopia, among others. So, Mr. President, I’m sending you my new limited edition “Chuck Ethanol Now” button. I hope you’ll wear it when you call on Congress.

Second, we should immediately begin adopting some doable alternatives to ethanol. Here’s my suggestion: Drill! It’s a fact that we have enough crude to meet our needs in the United States already. Alaska, the Outer Continental Shelf, and the newly discovered Bakken Formation in North Dakota is an obvious place to start. Bakken is estimated to contain between 200 billion and 500 billion barrels of oil, which could increase America’s oil reserves by a factor of 10!

The Bakken Formation alone represents at least a 30-year supply of oil for us and would, in effect, free us from foreign producers. That would give America plenty of time to work out future energy technologies. Just as important, it would insulate us from OPEC oil price spikes which will surely come again, and keep gas prices at acceptable levels for all Americans.

And, here, Mr. President, is a real bonus: the safe extraction from these American oil fields will not only help solve our oil dependency but will pump a reported $18 trillion to the U.S. economy. That’s a real win-win!

Thank you, Mr. President.


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