Terry L. Putnam of Young has a number of good points in his recent letter to the Roundup on the free market and alternative fuels, but he also has a number of naive points typical of our present crop of unimaginative, uninformed, dogmatic conservatives always facing squarely into the past.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Three-dollar gasoline is simply not expensive at all. We have all paid the equivalent in real dollars (corrected for inflation) for gas in the 1950s and in virtually every year since. Apparently, Terry is either young or has a conveniently short memory.
2. Terry does not like the measures taken to reduce air pollution, but then I expect that he never visited Los Angeles in the 1960s when the sun was a dim orange ball in the sky and one's eyes watered all day.
3. As to drilling everywhere there is a flat spot -- there is not enough oil under United States lands, public or private, including ANWR, to make any significant dent at all in the United States transportation fuel situation for any worthwhile length of time.
4. Neighbor friendly oil refineries -- Young, Arizona sounds like a great location for an oil refinery. Mr. Putnam will indeed enjoy the aromas.
5. Yes, Terry is right, ethanol at present is not a good idea as a primary transportation fuel.
Anything involving ADM always needs a second, then a third look, then again.
6. No, Mr. Putnam, the free market by itself will never produce alternative fuels, any more than it would have produced nuclear energy -- not that I am so fond of that scourge. The risk of a truly revolutionary new technology is almost always larger than the free market can reasonably accept.
7. As we speak, work is going on around the world as well as in at least one U.S. national laboratory to develop processes to more-or-less directly convert water, air and sunlight into useable transportation fuel, without the intervention of water-hungry, labor-and-fuel-intensive open-field agricultural or other industrial processes. This process is called Artificial Photosynthesis. It does not actually involve any (or at least much) technical voodoo. It just has to be developed sufficiently to go commercial.
This effort will go one of three ways without big-time, but careful government financial support: a) Nowhere b) China c) India.
If you are comfortable with replacing the current Arab/Muslim crowd with Red Chinese or with Asian Indians, then just withhold your support. Both China and India are today entirely capable of developing this process technology, and you had better hope that they are lagging behind our so-far meager effort.
If you think that the Chinese do not represent a technical as well as an economic and military threat to us, take a look at their efforts to escape water shortages in the "independent" city-state of Singapore. They put us to shame. Of course, their backs were to the wall.
Look up "NEWater" on the Web.
Allen N Wollscheidt, Payson