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Learning Something from High Fuel Prices

Retail gas and diesel fuel prices in 2009 are projected to be $2.03 and $2.47 per gallon respectively, reports the Energy Information Administration. Given what fuel prices were last summer, this is good news. The bad news is that these lower prices may cause consumers to forget the pain they experienced every time they went to fuel up last summer.

Even though retail prices are now about half of what they were, they will in all likelihood rise again. Meanwhile, technological advances have continued to help reduce the cost of producing biofuels.

If we neglect energy policy and the promise of biofuels, solar, hydropower, geothermal and other renewable energy developments now, we will again pay the price of our addiction to oil.

In a recent editorial to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), wrote “basing our energy priorities on this ever-fluctuating price [gas prices] would be foolish. With so many global unknowns, we need to take ownership over our nation’s energy future and capitalize on the domestic resources that we can guarantee.”

I agree with Cornyn, although I think we need to capitalize much further on biofuels, particularly cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, than relying too much on domestic oil reserves that are non-renewable.

Cornyn also wrote, “I hope Democratic leaders will roll up their sleeves as soon as the 111th Congress begins, and work with me and my Republican colleagues on completing a plan that will finally put America on the path to energy independence.”

That’s a point on which I think we all can agree. We have come far in making renewable energy economically viable. Further technological advances supported by sound policy will help us continue on that path.

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