American Elephants


Memo to President-elect Barack Obama: by The Elephant's Child

This is delicious.  The federal government, over the past 16 years, has invested billions of dollars in building a fleet of 112,000 alternative-fuel vehicles to serve as a model for the country’s benighted citizens.

It seemed like a good idea, but bureaucratic brilliance has a way of going haywire.  The expensive effort to put more workers into vehicles powered by ethanol and other alternate fuels ran into the minor problem that there were not fuel stations in place to support them. Oops!

“I call it the ‘Field of Dreams” plan.  If you buy them they will come,” said U.S. Postal Service vehicle operations manager Wayne Corey.  “It hasn’t happened.”

Under a mandate from Congress, federal agencies have gradually enlarged their fleets of alternative-fuel vehicles, most of them “flex-fuel,” capable of running on either gasoline or ethanol-base E85 fuel. Many of the vehicles were sent to locations that were hundreds of miles from a flex-fuel station.  Because of this awkward detail, more than 92 percent of the fuel used in the government’s alternative fuel fleet is simply ordinary gasoline.  A 2005 law requires agencies to seek waivers when a vehicle is more than five miles or 15 minutes from an ethanol pump. More paperwork as well.

The newest versions of flex-fuel vehicles often come only with larger engines than the ones that they replaced in the fleet.  So the program has often increased gasoline consumption and emission rates.

Not to mention the little side issues like the climbing cost of food because we are putting food crops in our gas tanks. Or, of course, the hunger strikes in developing countries.  We can look forward to the rules that Congress develops to save the automobile industry.

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1 Comment so far
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A novelist could probably not even dream up such a plot.

Comment by renaissanceguy




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