So what should the government do? First off: no harm. Instead of trying to mandate specific technologies—and risk locking us into using the wrong one—Washington should create incentives to help the market choose the best approaches. One step would be to reward consumers for conservation: There are vast opportunities to make our homes, businesses and vehicles more efficient, and to make our economy stronger in the process.
Sounds reasonable enough (maybe because it sounds like what we’ve been saying). So what’s the problem?
The idea is so appealing: We can reduce our dependence on oil—stop sending U.S. dollars to corrupt petro-dictators, stop spewing megatons of carbon into the atmosphere—by replacing it with clean, home-grown, all-American corn. It sounds too good to be true.
Sadly, it is. …
Perhaps someday corn ethanol will prove itself a viable part of our energy mix. But corn liquor is powerful stuff, and it can make people do strange things. Let’s keep it out of Washington’s hands.