As the United States government has grown, so has its influence on our society. An area that the government has had an increasingly large influence is energy. The government influences the type and quantity of energy and fuel sources we use today. In order to finance ethanol producers the federal government has bolstered ethanol, a fuel source, through laws requiring its usage and through subsidies. The strong support from the government has created a market for ethanol, but the large demand for ethanol would probably not exist if the government was not involved. As many of you know ethanol offers a low Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI); corn-based ethanol is roughly 1 and at worst has a negative EROEI. Would a fuel that behaves like an energy converter be in high demand if the market were allowed to decide? I would probably say no. I believe the only thing that has been propping up ethanol is the strong support it has been getting from the federal government. If the government were not supporting ethanol, it would have probably failed by now and we might see other more viable options. Ethanol is not the only case, but ethanol is one of the best examples of why government should not be making energy decisions.
With promising advancements in fields like algae, diesel engines, and ammonia, it makes no sense for the government to endorse a fuel like ethanol. Many of these more promising advancements are in the background operating quietly, which is a shame. These advancements are competing with every other energy advancement on the market, but they have one major disadvantage, they have not yet gotten the full attention of the U.S. government. Even without the full support of the federal government many of these other energy advances are progressing. Imagine what might be if these energy technologies were only competing against other energy advancements, and not the government too. While the government is out supporting things like ethanol in our gasoline and battery powered electric vehicles, which aggravate our energy problems, individuals are working hard trying to come up with real energy solutions. It amazes me that our country is relying on politicians to dictate our energy future, when the free market should be.
In a free market profit motive is typically at the forefront of the decision-making. This is directly related to EROEI without the people making the decisions even knowing it. That is because typically a good EROEI will equate to a profit. This is the type of force we need driving our energy future, not politicians that are swayed for personal and political reasons. In the end the market will hopefully prevail and the energy advancement of the future will be chosen, but this is only if the federal government doesn’t make it impossible to exist. The federal government should not be making decisive decisions about what energy we should use, but the government can help all possible alternative energy technologies by giving tax incentives. Stopping the subsidizations of alternative energy would be ideal, and instead implementing tax incentives so the free market can have more freedom to work. I believe that in order for new energy advancements to be successful, government must have as little interaction with them as possible. Government is not capable of choosing the correct energy path for our future.