I love reading Tom Evslin’s blog. There’s always a fresh perspective to twist your synapses a bit. He posted a wonderful piece entitled: Ethanol: Boon or Boondoggle? This subject is near and dear to me as I’m smack dab in the middle of Ethanol Alley. Evslin’s piece talks about the science, environmental impact, and efficiency (or lack thereof) of producing ethanol. I propose that although this part of the discussion is valuable…that the most important piece of the ethanol discussion is the mental shift that the citizens of the United States have undergone in the last 12 months regarding our energy independence.
The debate has shifted away from "Can we, should we" to "How can we, what technology should we use". Over a billion dollars of venture capital has poured into my humble Midwest ( that my family and I adopted last October after executing geographic arbitrage to Des Moines, IA from SoCal) and there’s no sign of slowing.
Those that have poo poo’d the inefficiency of corn based ethanol are sitting back now and watching hundreds of millions more gallons be produced from this method. Additionally, our beautiful and humble state of Iowa is "getting it" by helping the Universities pursue the technologies, methods, and breakthroughs that will likely spawn the next generation of cellulosic ethanol production (making fuel from any plant/vegetable matter like corn stalks, grass, or ground up trees).
Additionally, home grown Iowa start ups will provide supporting technologies and platforms to solve the other inefficiencies in the process of creating ethanol and getting it to the market place (distribution, logistics, etc.) (Contact me via email directly if this last sentence intrigued you)
The bottom line here is that we’ve begun the transformation and it will only take a hero to make it happen in a respectable time line. I had a great conversation with my dad last week (I’m so stoked that my parents live a 12-hour drive away now versus 2500 miles). During that conversation I found myself again stumping for an icon, a Presidential candidate that will arise and cut through the BS of the political process and promise us a Kennedyesque Man On The Moon Plan (this link contains my revisions to the speech appropriate for this discussion) to become 75% independent within 8 years (if we choose to re-elect him/her). I’m a pretty fiscally/socially conservative guy…and I find myself passionately begging for a progressive tax levy on all Americans that will create an energy Independence race fund to drive our global dominance in this category. Every single person I’ve talked to is in favor of such a levy. Is this our rallying cause? Is this the scientific area that the U.S. will dominate in this Century? (Stem cell is too much a political football) Is this my calling to run for office? I think not. Where’s William Katt when you need him?