Saturday, February 2, 2008

Flex-fuel mandates ? No !

The Instapundit has abandoned some of his libertarian tendencies and is vigorously pushing Bob Zubrin's idea of flex-fuel mandates. A poor cause to bend you basic principles for.

Rick Santorum, the ex GOP senator also favors government mandates:
What we need is a government mandate! We need to mandate that all cars sold in the United States, starting with the 2010 model year, be "flex-fuel vehicles" - that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (the so-called E85 blend), or even a coal-derived methanol/gas mixture. This mandate would cost a fraction of the new fuel economy standard with the added benefit of saving barrels more oil.
Seems than installing a flex-fuel kit on cars is a cheap affair - only about $100, so why not ? Especially, since, as Zubrin claims, "it will free us of our dependence on foreign oil".
Of course, this claim is pure hyperbole, there is no way to produce enough ethanol to reduce considerably the use of oil in transportation. It sounds like the cranks who have an instant cure to all our ailments. It's snake oil.

But, but... 100 bucks for a flex-fuel kit is small change, why not install it ? Why not, indeed? Go and install one on your car, if you feel like it. If enough customers will demand it, it will be installed by car producers. If it offers an advantage, it will be demanded by consumers.
Do we need government mandates ? No, we don't. Government mandates are needed to cram down out throats a medicine that we would not use on our own, because it's not beneficial to us. We don't need a "one size fits all" government imposed wisdom.

And, Ethanol is not our energy remedy. It's expensive, it uses up a lot of energy and water in it's production process, and uses up agricultural resources needed for food production. Not a good idea, by a mile.
But who am I to determine the future energy blend ? I'm not endowed with clairvoyant powers or superior wisdom (neither is Zubrin...). Let the markets decide. When oil is scarce, and therefore expensive, market forces will work out some alternatives that will be better. Let's let them work, they'll come up with the best solutions. Avoid hampering the free development of new solutions with government mandates or subsidies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sick and tired of cranks who have a miracle cure for everything, if only government would force us all to follow their superior wisdom.