10/24/2005: Time to Remove the Two Foxes in the Oil Henhouse
Today’s editorial in The NY Times
“There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. And there's no disputing that America's oil consumption fosters both. Oil profits that flow to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries finance both terrorist acts and the spread of dangerously fanatical forms of Islam. The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse emissions that provoke climate change. All the while, oil dependency increases the likelihood of further military entanglements, and threatens the economy with inflation, high interest rates and risky foreign indebtedness. Until now, the government has failed to connect our crises and our consumption in a coherent way. That dereliction of duty has led to policies that are counterproductive, such as tax incentives to buy gas guzzlers and an overemphasis on increasing domestic oil supply, although even all-out drilling would not be enough to slake our oil thirst and would require a reversal of longstanding environmental protections.
Now, however, the energy risks so apparent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have created both the urgency and the political opportunity for the nation's leaders to respond appropriately. The government must capitalize on the end of the era of perpetually cheap gas, and it must do so in a way that makes America less vulnerable to all manner of threats - terrorist, environmental and economic.
"We know that the days of unlimited, inexpensive gasoline are over," William Clay Ford Jr., chairman and chief executive of the Ford Motor Company, said last week. So be it. Cheap gas is no longer compatible with a secure nation, a healthy environment or a healthy economy - if ever it was. The real question is whether we should continue paying the extra dollar or two per gallon in the form of profits to the Saudis and other producers, or in the form of taxes to the United States Treasury, where the money could be used to build true energy independence.
-- Gas Taxes: Lesser Evil, Greater Good
And not that these proposals to painfully reduce the consumption of petroleum-oil based fuels are not a temporary solution - BUT -- it doesn’t really go far enough in weaning the petroleum dependency at all and removing the root cause of this issue – Petroleum based fuels.
To read further, click on the “more” button.
So, this is a conglomeration of a few collective bits on this issue:
I saw this interesting segment in September Real Time during Bill Maher’s interview of Willie Nelson:
MAHER: All right. Speaking of raw producing and stuff like that, I know you drive a biodiesel bus, which I think is great.
MAHER: And one of the tricks of the oil companies and the people who they bribe to run our government is to pretend that alternative fuels are something way, way far in the future. But they're not, are they? You're driving it right now.
NELSON: Yeah, our buses run on 100% biodiesel. Our cars run on—
MAHER: What is biodiesel? Tell the people.
NELSON: Biodiesel is a fuel that's made from vegetable oils, and you can get it from – the original diesel engine was designed to run on peanut oil. So for all these years, we've been thinking that we had to have oil. We don't. Our farmers can grow our fuel.
MAHER: I mean, this is literally oil from a fast-food restaurant, right? You can go up to a fast-food restaurant – I'm serious about this – get the severed fingers out of the vat—[laughter]—this is French fry oil, basically, right? And we're never going to run out of – out of that.
NELSON: We have two cars, my wife and I, that run on vegetable oil. She has a Volkswagen; I have a Mercedes. They've never had anything in them except 100% vegetable oil. Our buses run on 100% soybeans. So there's no reason for us to be so dependent on foreign energy when our farmers can be growing – we can be saving our agriculture.
Right now a consumer of bio-diesel *unfortunately* has to modify the diesel vehicle themselves, and thin the oil to the appropriate level for a fuel. See this link.
"There's a choice to make for running diesels on biofuels:
• make biodiesel and just use it, no need to modify the engine, or
• buy a ready-made conversion system for your vehicle or build your own so you can run it on straight vegetable oil (SVO) -- no need to process the fuel, just put it in and go.
Does the SVO option work? Yes -- IF you go about it the right way. It's not quite that simple a choice. For one thing, if you want to use waste vegetable oil, which is often free, you're going to have to process it anyway, though less so than to make biodiesel. And it still might not be a very good fuel.
But read on -- you CAN run your diesel motor safely on straight vegetable oil, just put it in and go. There are pitfalls and provisos, but we'll help you to steer your way through them.
Or read more about this at this link or at this site on biodiesel fuels.
But the real issue is two fold: WHY does the U.S. Government NOT act on this as the MOST vital national security issue of our age and do something to help transform the nation to a fuel based economy we can grow the fuels and replenish our own? This is not a technology yet to be created, out of reach, or somewhere off in the distant future - IT's here TODAY.
This IS a most important National Security Interest. And as this interview on MSNBC illustrates, a policy to convert to biodiesel fuels would help STOP FUNDING TERRORISM today.
Tim Russert: David, we have a situation in Iraq. We have Saudi Arabia perhaps in a difficult disposition. We have a terrible relationship with Venezuela. Gasoline is now heading to $4 a gallon. Is it possible for Democrats and Republicans to come together, to bring in the automobile executives, the oil executives, the gas executives, energy executives and sit down and say, "We need a Manhattan Project to wean ourselves off of foreign oil"?
Mr. Brooks: Once again, no. You keep asking me questions I have to say no to. Well, it's possible, but it ain't going to happen. I think the Bush administration thinks the price signals will be the thing that creates the most important change to alternative forms of energy. With gas as high as it is, there's just tremendous incentives. And their argument will be, that will create the move to alternative energy sources.
Mr. Friedman: I just want to say one thing in response to market forces--letting market forces send the signal for you to go buy a hybrid. When market--when you leave that to market forces, what you do basically is take all that money that we could be galvaniz--that we could be gathering with a gas tax, and you transfer it to Saudi Arabia. We are funding, Tim, both sides in the war on terrorism. And we had a gas tax on the morning of 9/12, 2001, a $1 a gallon gas tax--that money would have gone to our deficits, our schools, our budgets, our infrastructure. Instead it has gone to the infrastructure of Saudi Arabia, some of the worst regimes in the world, who are using that money to kill our soldiers on the ground. We are funding both sides in the war on terrorism. That's what happens when you leave it to the market.
Mr. Russert: Is there the political will for Democrats and Republicans to come together and try to wean ourselves off of foreign oil?
Mr. Friedman: Well, there should be. It's obviously the centerpiece of something that could solve many problems at once. It can deal with the climate change issue. It can deal with our status in the world. It can be an inspiration to get young people to go into math, science and engineering, which we're desperate to do. I'm not saying it's the cure-all of everything, but it can be the centerpiece of an administration which, clearly, to me, not only has no agenda going forward but no way to respond to the real problems facing this country today.
So, just HOW interested is our country [and government] in stopping terrorism at it source? In dealing with the worldwide problems that are interconnected and underpin much of the critical issues we face?
I’ve already written on this one and the bottom line is that we have Two Foxes in the Oil Hen-House in this Bush-Cheney administration.
So - no REAL solutions from our government and no chance to ever get this situation going as long as they remain at the top of our government policy making.
IF there ever was another reason – aside from the criminal actions at the highest eschalons of the White House for which indictment may be forthcoming this week – to GET RID of this administration, this is the OTHER national security issue of our day for which they ought to be thrown out of office for failure to act in the best interest of the country.
Karen on 10.24.05 @ 07:36 AM CST