Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias There was talk at the last legislative Cracker Barrel meeting in Vermillion about the failure of legislation related to ethanol.

A member of the Saturday morning audience noted that, to him, requiring the use of ethanol only makes sense.

Such a requirement, naturally, would create even more demand for the fuel. More demand for the fuel would mean more demand for the farmers� products to make the stuff � mainly corn.

The ag industry in South Dakota would get a big boost. And, as an added bonus, South Dakotans would help wean our nation from its dependence on foreign oil.

In essence, we could boost our economy and thumb our noses at Saddam simulataneously every time we pumped ethanol into our vehicles.

Guess what? We don�t need a mandate to do that. Motorists have ample opportunity to fill their automobiles� fuel tanks with ethanol-blended fuel every time they pull into a service station.

It�s rare to find a gas station these days that doesn�t offer ethanol for sale. Since it is so readily available, there is no need to mandate its sale.

The ethanol industry is also growing rapidly without such requirements. More than half the gasoline sold in South Dakota already contains ethanol, which is distilled from corn.

The blend contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.

The legislation rejected in Pierre approximately three weeks ago would have allowed the sale of gasoline without ethanol for airplanes, boat motors and antique cars and trucks.

Everything else on the road would have been required to burn ethanol.

Supporters of this mandate argued in Pierre that it is the patriotic thing to do these days.

Ethanol, they said, is the key to economic development and national security.

State Sen. Paul Symens, D-Amherst, said economic and national security depends on alternative energy.

Currently, South Dakota produces 20 million gallons of ethanol per year.

If the legislation had passed, it is estimated that 20 million more gallons would be sold.

But we�d be forced to buy it.

There�s something eerily unAmerican about forcing people here in the land of the free to do something by taking their ability to make a conscience choice away from them.

There are exceptions to that observation, naturally.

Society has accepted some rules, such as driving at posted speed limits and using seat belts, as matters of health and public safety.

Ethanol use should remain a decision that all motorists make of their own free will.

Instead of increasing the fuel�s consumption by forcing a regulation down our throats, why not simply try boosting ethanol sales by doing a better job of promoting it?

When did you last hear or read an advertisement stating that ethanol causes less air pollution than regular gasoline, reduces dependence on foreign oil and helps South Dakota farmers?

Ethanol is now in 58 percent of the gasoline sold in South Dakota.

We believe government should not interfere with the free market by requiring that all gas contain ethanol.

Such a requirement, you see, affects more than just the marketplace.

It also affects the free will of South Dakota citizens.

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