As long as the current Bush administration is obsessed with the dogma that only more oil wells can satisfy the nation's fuel thirst, then new thinking in the states is the only hope for developing workable alternatives.
The Idaho Farm Bureau is out front with its proposal that would mandate 10 percent ethanol for gasoline by the year 2010.
Thinking Idaho lawmakers who would legislate this program should see benefits all around and will regard naysayers with proper suspicion.
Ethanol is the product of corn, wheat or potatoes. Bingo! A plus for Idaho's agricultural economy.
Ethanol is cleaner burning than pure gasoline. Bingo! A plus for Idaho air quality, especially in urban areas where air increasingly is being fouled by growing vehicle fleets.
Using ethanol slows the depletion of petroleum reserves. Bingo! A plus for extending the life of oil fields, reducing imports minutely and arguing against President Bush's ardent belief that only poking holes in Arctic wildlife areas for oil is the nation's destiny.
As for arguments advanced by gasoline retailers that they "believe in the market" to dictate consumer choices, that's piffle.
State and local governments long ago began shaping automotive market forces with laws—such as requiring improved gas mileage, installing seat belts and air bags, emission systems and the like.
Requiring vehicles to use fuel that benefits the environment provides economic benefits for Idaho agriculture and shows the way, albeit modestly, in energy conservation that could become Idaho's model for the nation.