Henry Payne looks at our consistently failed efforts to find viable alternatives to oil: Despite massive federal subsidies, alternative fuel cars have been a disappointment. So on Wednesday, President Barack "Put algae in your tank" Obama promised to burn even more taxpayer dollars for alternatives.
Algaeman landed at a bailed-out Chrysler truck plant in North Carolina to save America from gasoline, which he called a "fuel of the past." Huh? So passé is oil that global markets have bid its price to $120 a barrel in their thirst for more. ...
Obama pledged a whopping $4.7 billion to fund more alternative vehicles and more alternative infrastructure - including broadening his $10,000 tax credit to buy alt-fuel cars to include, not just the Chevy Volt he covets, but also cars powered by natural gas, and ... biofuels like algae.
"We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks," said the president. But wishing for alternatives doesn't make them work. Before President Algae there was President George "Cellulosic ethanol" Bush who in 2007 pledged billions to fund his vision of an alternative fuel future. But $1.5 billion of grants and loan subsidies later cellulosic is a bust - even with the help of big private investors like GM, which have also invested heavily into cellulosic ... Bush promised - no, mandated - 250 million gallons by 2011. How much did the industry produce? Only 6.6 million . ...
Undaunted, the Obama Administration has doubled down on more cellulosic subsides: $510 million for a Navy program, $134 million to Abengoa Bioenergy in Kansas, and $105 million for ethanol producer POET ...
Algaeman announced that he was expanding the $10,000 tax credit for alternative cars beyond electrics to include natural gas and biofuel power. Why? Because natural gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has been lobbying Republican and Democrats alike hard for natural gas car subsidies ... And biofuels include algae, which the president says might work because "you've got a bunch of algae out here."
And we've got a bunch of carpets out here that could fly, too.
To read more, visit www.themichiganview.com.
Copyright 2012 The Detroit News. All Rights Reserved.
(Originally published March 10, 2012, in The Detroit News.)