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Shift from gasoline to alcohol

July 12, 2008

To the editor:

In considering the energy problem, I stumbled upon the book "Energy Victory" by Robert Zubrin. I bring it to your attention because he starts with the political fact that Saudi Arabia has us over a barrel.

They can charge what they wish and then use the money to support terrorism. Oil is trump in their hand. Then he asks what we can do to get trump back in our hands? He says that we must take the world off the petroleum standard and put it on an alcohol standard.

Cars have been developed that will use ethanol (alcohol) and/or methanol in any combination with gasoline. He calls them flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV) - 24 models of flex-fuel cars are already made in Detroit and they are only $300 more than the ordinary model.

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You can make ethanol from any sugars, or hydrocarbon, even honey. You can make methanol from leaves, roughage, stalks, coal, natural gas which is just burned off now and aquatic plants. Corn stalks will run our cars. We have so much coal we can replace the gasoline for 250 years. Also the chemical knowledge is available to make our own diesel fuel.

Zubrin proposes a law that must be mandated for three years that all new cars must be flex-fuel vehicles. This will require that the filling stations have pumps that handle everything.

Even foreign new cars will have to be flex-fuel in order to be sold here in the U.S.

This can be done because Brazil has already done it. They make alcohol from their sugar cane and run their cars on 100 percent alcohol.

Gasoline will have to compete with alcohol and each customer will buy whatever is cheapest when he fills his tank. Saudi Arabia will not be able to jack the price up artificially as it is doing now.

It will be great for poor countries, too. Guinea Conakry, for example, has to spend more than 50 percent of its gross domestic production for gasoline. But Guinea has palm trees and roughage from which to make methanol. Then they could buy other things like tractors or medicine.

A small start has been made. The gasoline sold by Ritter's in Waynesboro, Pa., has contained 10 percent alcohol for several months and Sheetz started just recently. I feel very strongly that the U.S. Congress should take this action and in three years we will have trump in our hands.

Some action has been taken by Congress. As of April 9, 2007 the DRIVE Act has 82 sponsors in the House and 26 sponsors in the Senate, notably including senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Barack Obama (D-IL), and Sam Brownback (R-KS).

The text of the bill and a complete list of sponsors can be found at http://www.setamericafree.org/pc0118.htm (accessed April 9, 2007).

This bill needs to be passed. This is a bill which can be acted on in a bipartisan manner. If you are a sponsor, that is good. If not, I request that you act immediately to become a sponsor and encourage all your fellow representatives to take action. This action requires almost no money. A $300 increase in the cost of a flex car is nothing. The cost of multi-fuel pumps for the gas stations is also medium.

We need action. With gas at $4 a gallon, we should act today. Maybe we should go on strike and state that we won't vote for anyone who doesn't join the action.

If Brazil can replace 100 percent of its gasoline needs from sugar cane, we can do it, using corn for alcohol and corn stalks for methanol.

Let's get cracking!

William F. Campbell
Waynesboro, Pa.

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