by Pettus Read
I heard someone say just recently that when they return home from a hard day's work, the last thing they want to do is go back out again for a social event. In fact, this same person said, "The other night I came in from work and my wife wanted me to take her out some place expensive."
Of course, I asked him what he did, knowing that if my wife had made that request, I would probably have honored it. He said, "I did just what she wanted. I put her in the SUV and we drove down to the gas station and filled it up. It is about the most expensive place I currently know of."
I still wonder if he got away with that visit, but he is right when it comes to looking for expensive places. Fuel costs have continued to change and checking out what the going price is at the pump has become a national pastime for most of us. It never fails, that once I finish filling up my car, I notice that someone down the street will have it for 2 or 3 cents less.
I currently drive a car that can use E-85 fuel which is a blend of ethanol and regular gasoline. The only problem is that there is only approximately three consumer pumps in the state of Tennessee that dispense E-85 and none are located near me.
For over twenty years the discussion of alternative fuels has been before the public. Even back in the seventies when we all saw energy problems cause the turning out of Christmas lights in major cities, everyone was suggesting the use of alternative fuels. Corn and soybeans became hot items for the production of these fuels, but once the supply levels of oil reached amounts of plenty of supply for demand, interest soon waived.
Once again the United States and its citizens are caught between the Far East and the deep blue sea. Oil costs had already begun to skyrocket before Katrina, but with the landing of the monster hurricane, fuel prices gained a rise that has managed to catch everyone's attention.
Finally, we are starting to see a need to become our own fuel supplier and remove the need for a dependence on oil from other sources. It is way past time that we take the steps to make our own fuel from our agricultural supplies and tell the Mid-East crowd to take a hike.
On Valentine's Day, Governor Phil Bredesen issued an Executive Order to establish The Governor's Interagency Alternative Fuels Working Group. This group has the job of developing a comprehensive, statewide public education and outreach campaign to increase public awareness and understanding of alternative fuels, particularly biofuels.
The governor has instructed the Working Group to develop a comprehensive state alternative fuels strategy that will provide a roadmap to make Tennessee a leader in the production, distribution and use of biofuels in the Southeast. The Group will also seek recommendations from Tennessee's agricultural organizations to help develop their strategy. Some of those named in the Executive Order to contact are: Tennessee Farm Bureau, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Tennessee Soybean Association, Tennessee Corn Growers Association, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Clean Cities of Middle Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and public and private colleges and universities located within Tennessee.
State agencies have also been instructed in the order to strive to use ethanol and biodiesel in state-owned vehicles whenever possible. There will also be efforts made to make biofuels more readily available for the public.
Lacy Upchurch, president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, congratulated the Governor "taking bold and courageous steps" so all Tennesseans can benefit from new alternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. "Creating incentives within government for the use of these fuels will make us less dependent upon foreign oil, grow Tennessee's rural economy and provide for a cleaner environment," said Upchurch.
Upchurch concluded, "The Governor's action lends state government's strong support to encourage the availability and enhance the demand for these renewable fuels. The public seems eager to buy these new fuels but have so few outlets within the state to purchase it. The Interagency Task Force created through the Executive Order will work to develop the supplies and industry within Tennessee."
The governor gave us all a great Valentine that hopefully will grow into Tennessee becoming a leader in alternative fuel development. It's up to us to support it and make it happen.