Have you missed me? I have been on the road for 7 weeks conducting training, attending conferences and putting a lot of miles on vehicles! I shared our Eco Family work with folks all over the nation, from Alaska to Florida and many places in between!
On my travels, I learned that E85 fuel stations are also in Minnesota and you can find them with your smart phone app. At the pump, the E85 fuel hoses are yellow, and the gasoline hoses are black. E85 fuel is a blend of 85% ethanol (produced by corn grown in the Midwest) and 15% gasoline. It is an efficient energy source, decreases fossil fuel use, but is considered by some, a highly subsidized energy source for transportation. I traveled to North Dakota and learned they are having trouble sharing water for drinking, farm use, and for fracking because of the newly discovered oil. I made many pit stops along the way and found myself pondering how to dry my hands. Should I use a paper towel, a renewable resource, and often made from a percentage of post-consumer waste, but that takes lots of water and land to produce? Should I use the air dryer that uses electricity produced by coal or nuclear power?
This photo is from one of my stops in northern Iowa. I was in the middle of a wave of the oldest wind generators in Iowa and realized that the electricity in this area was likely wind powered! So, this is easy, I said to myself, I will use the electric hand dryer powered by clean wind energy! Feeling so good about my choice and having freshly clean and germ-free hands, I turned to leave the public restroom. But, alas, I needed a paper towel to grasp the handle to open the door.
Energy choices are complex. Our energy generation, transmission, distribution and storage systems must be diverse and localized to be sustainable. I am in favor of my tax dollars being used for alternative energy research, like solar power. I do not believe we will find one energy source that fits all of our energy needs. I am in favor of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels in general because they are not renewable, at least in a human lifetime. And they create air and water pollution in its production process. I am also in favor of reducing our demand on electricity and fuel, but in our global society and consumer culture it is a daunting task. I still need to travel for my job and to stay connected with my family. I do what makes sense to me, but sometimes the choices are not very clear or do not leave me feeling good.
What conundrums have you been in? How do you make your energy decisions? What are your concerns? Where would you spend your tax dollars? Share your comments with me at http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/isuecofamily or on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/ISUEco-Family
Energy, Environment, Health, Public policy, Waste Prevention, Water quality & conservation