Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Governor’s column: Time to explore merits of ethanol

May 9, 2001

This past winter saw natural gas prices soar to record levels, and it looks like energy costs will continue to provide a challenge.

As the summer travel season approaches, prices here in Kansas are inching up to the levels of last summer, and the trend is well established nationwide.

Consumers have legitimate reasons to be concerned.

As more and more of our personal budgets go into the gas tank, we are left with less money for other goods and services, regardless of the price.

And a sustained increase in gasoline prices will only serve to hike prices for other consumer products as transportation and shipping costs soar.

Who is to blame for the high fuel prices? Fingers have been pointed at Arab oil producing nations, the oil and refining industry, any number of "middle men," and finally, the government.

I'm not sure it does us much good to assign blame.

I'd rather address the problems and look for solutions that will benefit us in the long term.

There is no doubt the United States has an economically unhealthy dependence on foreign oil.

Our higher energy costs have actually served to reduce that dependence.

The higher prices have made domestic oil and gas wells more profitable and domestic pumping has increased. Every barrel of domestic oil we can refine means there is one barrel of foreign oil we can do without.

This summer's gas prices may also serve to focus our policies on more permanent solutions.

I have long been a supporter of economical, clean-burning, renewable ethanol motor fuels.

Ethanol is produced from grain crops grown right here in the Midwest, and I can assure you that Kansas agribusiness can produce ethanol at prices cheaper then we will pay at the pump this summer.

We Americans love our automobiles and value our mobility. Even with the higher prices, the demand for gasoline through the summer will be high.

I have a feeling it won't take too many months of high prices before we take a serious look at better ways to conserve energy and more efficient methods to find, produce and refine motor fuels.

It's time to rekindle our American ingenuity to find better ways to satisfy the demand.

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