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THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Ethanol an excellent way to ease gasoline dependence

Increased ethanol production is a sensible way to ease the U.S. dependence on gasoline.

Ethanol comes primarily from corn, a renewable resource that America is good at producing. Scientists expect to add wood chips, grasses and garbage to the list of materials that can efficiently be processed into ethanol.

The American public has adjusted to gas-ethanol blends with little difficulty. Most of us do not know how much, if any, ethanol is in the gas we pump.

One of the most important benefits of ethanol is it provides us with an alternative to reliance upon the increasingly hostile Middle East for the bulk of our petroleum consumption. A day will come when OPEC uses its control over oil to penalize America. We need to be ready when it happens.

Ethanol may be less expensive. In January, gasoline sold for $1.75 per gallon while a gallon of ethanol cost $1.20. Increased demand for ethanol would push corn prices up, but low production costs give hope the price would not be higher than gasoline.

One of the most attractive aspects of ethanol is that its use as an additive requires no significant changes in car design. That means drivers do not need to fork out money for a new car and manufacturers need not make drastic changes to vehicle assembly.

Production of ethanol could also help end the political insanity of paying agribusiness and mega-farmers for leaving their acreage fallow. Twenty billion of our tax dollars go to agribusiness and large farms every year. Pushing subsidized non-farmers into corn production would increase ethanol supply while reducing tax-funded agricultural windfalls.

President Bush wants to up federally required ethanol production. That would be a wise move that would, at the least, buy the United States more time to develop other fuels. Congress should support his efforts.

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