Indiana State House Speaker Brian Bosma announced a $50 million plan to promote the use of corn-derived ethanol and other alternative energy sources.
But ethanol made from corn and other grains has already been established to be more trouble than its worth. Very few people are buying the E85 fuel because even though it costs the same as regular gasoline, vehicles do not get as many miles per gallon. So it cost more per mile to use E85, a bad deal for consumers.
Growing and processing the corn uses petroleum-based fertilizers and fossil-fueled powered tractors. Converting the grain into ethanol takes up even more energy. Last year, a study was conducted by a Cornell University ecologist. The study shows that producing ethanol from corn takes 29% more energy than is produced when the ethanol is finally used. Think of it this way: It is more or less like burning 5 gallons of gas to create 4 gallons. It just isn't a very efficient way of doing things.
Its a national problem, not just a state problem: Fuel consumption in Los Angeles has just as much an impact on gas prices as local fuel consumption. One possible solution is already being tried in Brazil. There, ethanol is being produced using sugar, and it is proving to be a lot more efficient than corn. There is of course more energy in sugar than there is in corn, as anyone who has been around children can attest to.
So why aren't we doing the same thing? Because import tariffs on sugar keep the price of sugar artificially high, making it cheaper to continue to pay $3 a gallon for gas. As long as these import tariffs are in place, this country is prevented from trying a potential new energy source.