The American people are at last waking up to the fact that Dr. Kissinger’s detente is a one-way street by which the Soviets eat our grain and we swallow their baloney. Many people have urged that we use our grain power as a lever to restrain Soviet aggressions in Portugal, Angola, and elsewhere.
The trouble with this strategy is that American farmers have been encouraged to plant many additional acres of wheat in reliance on Agriculture Secretary Butz’s promise that they would have an almost unlimited foreign market.
The farmers argue that it is unfair for President Ford to change policies in the middle of a growing season, suspend grain shipments, and leave our farmers holding the bag with unsold wheat.
Now American resourcefulness has developed an ingenious solution to the twin problems of grain surpluses and oil shortages. It is a blend of gasoline and grain alcohol called gasohol. It serves the same purposes as gasoline, but its fuel economy is five to seven per cent better.
Nebraska, the first state to plunge ahead with the gasohol idea, is now trying to raise $27 million in order to build a gasohol re finery that eventually will supply a fourth of the state’s gasoline needs.
Recent successful experiments with gasohol have blended ten per cent grain alcohol with ninety percent gasoline. Gasohol engineers advocate a 25 percent-75 percent mix, claiming a 33 percent fuel economy factor plus a reduction in pollutive exhausts.
If we use gasohol nationally with the 25 percent blend, this would mean a domestic cash market for 46 percent of the U.S. grain crop, and would completely eliminate our dependence on uncertain foreign markets.
It has been known for many years that gasohol is technically feasible. Until now it has been economically impractical because the cost was so much higher than gasoline. Now that gasoline prices have risen dramatically, gasohol can be produced at a competitive price, and still bring fringe benefits and useful by-products.
Gasohol has the potential to make us independent of the OPEC cartel and give us the option of cutting off grain shipments to the Soviets without hurting American farmers. It might well be that gasohol could do more to restrain Soviet and OPEC aggression than all the Kissinger diplomatic shuttles can ever hope to accomplish.
We are now importing more than 40 percent of our gasoline needs. This represents a tremendous drain on our balance of payments. Solu tions in addition to gasohol include permitting offshore oil drill- ing off our Atlantic, Pacific and Alaskan coasts, using more of the new long-mileage Diesel engines for trucks and even automobiles, and using public service announcements and advertisements to pro mote carpools as part of good citizenship.
Another approach would be to require the Soviet Union, which produces more oil than we do, to swap its oil for our wheat, corn and soybeans, instead of obtaining our grain mostly on credit. The Soviets are indulging in their customary stalling tactics in the current negotiations to sell us 200,000 barrels of oil a day.