In the aftermath of BP announcing the temporary (we hope) shutdown of their main Alaskan oil field, Governor Pawlenty has been all over the local media once again promoting ethanol as America’s savior from the perils of oil addiction. I heard him on NPR this morning wishing we’d started this 20 years ago, we’re leading the way on ethanol & biodiesel production, etc, etc. The usual campaign-year boilerplate from what I could tell. I hope all of the corn farmers in Minnesota are suitable impressed…
The StarTribune has posted a couple of interesting articles on the subject today. While I’m not normally a fan of the Minneapolis paper, I’ll give them props for their editorial today, which is the strongest statement I’ve seen locally about reducing our reliance on oil. While they don’t come out and say we’ve got to get used to using less energy in our day-to-day existence, they do use the following line, which is priceless:
Economics columnist Neil St. Anthony also writes about Dr. Pawlenty’s magical corn elixir, coming out and actually stating that there’s no way the US can produce enough corn to fuel more than maybe 20% of our current gasoline needs. He then pulls me back from my happy place by ending his column with the notion that hybrids and alternative fuels will pull us back from our dangerous reliance on oil and the foreign despots that own it all. I suppose I shouldn’t have counted on an economics guy to actually use the word ‘conserve’ in a column of his; he’d probably get his economist card revoked.
While both stories end up pulling their punches at the last moment, I’m happy they’re at least starting to tell people that there’s no way we can keep living the way we are right now. The editorial piece in particular is doing away with the usual happy-talk that the major papers usually push out. Perhaps this is just the start of a master plan for slowly breaking the news to people in small amounts. A dreamer can always hope, right?