Democrats & Liberals Archives

We Need Energy Independence

Now that Democrats will soon be in power, I hope they will embark on a path that will lead America to energy independence. Our oil-guzzling economy is leading to global warming, which will in turn lead to natural catastrophes and to human-made conflicts. Developing new sustainable sources of energy will help the U.S. improve the environment we and everyone else live in, avoid wars over oil and gas and give a huge jolt to reinvigorate our economy.

The number one driver for seeking alternate sources of energy is global warming. Today, everyone (except a few die-hard hold-outs) admits that global warming, caused primarily by burning oil and other fossil fuels, is a huge problem for the world. We already see that icebergs are melting and crashing into the sea; that weather patterns are changing and becoming more fierce; that the habitats of animals, fishes and birds are changing; and that people are running away from sinking South Pacific islands and destroyed seashore areas.

In addition to destroying our environment, burning oil is destroying relationships among countries. The big producers - Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Russia and others - live in highly unstable areas. Most recent wars, including the current Iraq War, have and are being fought at least partially because of oil. Now that production of oil is reaching (or has reached) its peak, we can expect to be be involved in an energy war with fast-industrializing China and other developing countries. This is not a pleasant prospect.

America is being hit by another phenomenon, that though not directly tied to oil, can be solved with a long-range project for the development of sustainable sources of energy: wages of workers are stagnant, plunging or disappearing. Manufacturing has gone abroad. Many jobs are being outsourced. The country is left with lots of low-paying service jobs. The wage trend is down.

Our economy needs a technical boost that will bring high-paying jobs back to America. An excellent way to provide this technical boost is to develop sustainable energy sources together with a new economic infrastructure to support them. We must design a complete system to replace the fossil-fuel based system we are laboring under.

I believe the system should be developed in 2 stages:

  1. Defining the best approach
  2. Designing the System
This is a long-range project, similar to President Kennedy's project for reaching the moon. I can't see President Bush going for this. However, I think we can get Congress to authorize the formation of a commission for executing the first step - Defining the best approach. The commission would consist of technically-oriented people to evaluate all suggestions. It should consist of:
  • Scientists
  • Engineers
  • Economists
  • Capitalists (nobody with ties to energy companies)
  • Politicians
Making America energy independent is crucial to our security, our economy and to the peace of the world. There is no time to waste. We must get started planning for a new future based not on oil but on sustainable energy sources. Let's appoint a commission of experts to help us decide how to proceed.

Posted by Paul Siegel at November 14, 2006 6:07 PM
Comments
Comment #195066

Paul

Did you ever hear of nuclear power?

keith

Posted by: keith at November 14, 2006 6:47 PM
Comment #195067

Paul,
Good article. Energy is the linchpin. As you say, energy independence is a matter of national security as well as a means of addressing Global Warming.

Taking Congress gives us a chance to finally begin addressing the problem. It is a long-term problem, and as you note, first the problem needs to define the goal, strategy, approach, plan, steps, tactics, and so on.

Senator Inhofe, the Republican from Oklahoma who called Global Warming a “hoax,” is no longer chair of the committee. Representative Pombo, Republican congressman from CA, lost his election.

There has not been much said about it, but displacing these people might have been the most significant benefit from taking over Congress.

It is a terrific win for all Americans. Time to roll up the sleeves and get serious.

Posted by: phx8 at November 14, 2006 7:03 PM
Comment #195071

Paul,

Wasn’t eliminating our dependence on Mid East oil a key element of Carters plan?

I’m afraid that we all know it needs to be done but there is no one in power, of either party, willing to do it.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 14, 2006 7:16 PM
Comment #195072

We use oil now because it is the cheapest and easiest large scale alternative. If you want to change our energy usage, change that. All this sound and fury of a plan and a study is a waste of time if you do not take the simple step of making oil more expensive.

The solution to the oil problem is simple, just not easy. We have lots of alternatives. They just mostly cost more than oil.

Posted by: Jack at November 14, 2006 7:28 PM
Comment #195073

Keith-

Did you ever hear of 3 mile island?

I hear the surrounding property values are still low in case you’re interested.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 14, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #195074

Jack,
There are hidden costs which come with oil dependence. How much do we spend to deploy our military in the Middle East? Our dependency warps our entire foreign policy.

Posted by: phx8 at November 14, 2006 7:35 PM
Comment #195077

phx8

Yes. Raise the tax on oil to make it reflect its true cost. I am for it. I have written on many occassions in favor of his gas prices. Not many people want to pick up both ends of the stick. They want to complain about both our dependence on oil and the high prices. They want to pretend that we can just put lots of effort and win ourselves a free energy lunch. The best time to raise gas taxes was 1998. The next best time in always now.

Oil is cheap in what people pay. The only reason we are talking about it is that it is not cheap in external costs.

Kevin

You mean that terrible accident where nobody died or even got seriously ill? Coal and oil extraction cost many lives every year, but we usually do not notice. There is no energy free lunch. If you will not support nuclear, you ARE supporting oil and coal and of course your dream alternative. Good luck on that.

France gets 78% of its electricity from nuclear. We get 20%. You’d think we could do as well as France on this issue.

Posted by: Jack at November 14, 2006 7:57 PM
Comment #195082

Kevin

Jack is right. We readily accept that fact that 23,000+ die each year from pollution caused from coal fired plants. Yet, some wackos (yes by every definition of the word) feel the need to demonize nuclear power as an alternative. Now, if I were a Lib, I would probably think that these wackos were being paid off by the coal industry. But as a conservative I just think they are sadly misinformed.

keith

Posted by: keith at November 14, 2006 9:11 PM
Comment #195083

Just in case you were wondering,

check out

http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update42.htm

or

http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/np-risk.htm

keith

Posted by: keith at November 14, 2006 9:13 PM
Comment #195086

Jack, the first step in getting to realistic oil prices is to discontinue the government subsidies to the oil companies. Let oil rise to its true cost.Use some of the monies to fund loans to those families hit hardest by the rising oil prices to purchase hybrid vehicles.

Wind power is the most feasibile power source for electricity at this time. Use the money the feds save by not subsidizing the oil companies to give grants and or loans to people to set up their own wind power farms on a community or individual level.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 14, 2006 9:42 PM
Comment #195099

j2t2

Yes. Remove any subsidies you can. I want the prices to rise. I do not care for the loan idea. Think of the bureaucracy you will need to administer it. Why not just give a tax break or credit to hybrid buyers? Oh yeah, we do that already. Make it more.

And do not just stop at cutting subsidies; raise taxes on gasolne too. We should have done it a while back.

I wrote a post supporting wind. Kennedy and his buddies are blocking it. So are many environmentalists, seems it kills bats and birds.

Wind power will be feasiible. It is not a replacement yet for nuclear power. Here is what I have on nukes, BTW. That is the clean alternative in the middle term.

Alternatives we have many. Will to use them, we have almost none.

Posted by: Jack at November 14, 2006 10:35 PM
Comment #195100


Anyone who can afford $30 per month add to a thirty year morgage can become totally independent of both the oil companies and the electric utilite companies. For that price, you can have a system that produces all your electricity, recycles and purifies all your water and as a byproduct produces hydrogen which can be used to fuel your vehicle. The price will continue to drop as the price of oil and electricity will continue to rise. So why don’t we all get together and screw them both.

Posted by: jlwilliams at November 14, 2006 10:37 PM
Comment #195102

Jack, getting rid of subsidies should push the price of a gallon of gas to the $5 to $6 range.

Tax breaks dont do much for those that need the grants/loans the most.
Im not agaainst nuclear power I just think long term wind is the way to go, environmentalist and nimby types be damned.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 14, 2006 11:04 PM
Comment #195104

Anyone who can afford $30 per month add to a thirty year morgage can become totally independent of both the oil companies and the electric utilite companies. For that price, you can have a system that produces all your electricity, recycles and purifies all your water and as a byproduct produces hydrogen which can be used to fuel your vehicle. The price will continue to drop as the price of oil and electricity will continue to rise. So why don’t we all get together and screw them both.

And what system is that?

Posted by: mark at November 14, 2006 11:47 PM
Comment #195119

-Jack- I would say you were not born yet when Three
Mile Island had a major melt down, but in the after
math, hundreds of children an many adults came
down with cancers and many other disabilities. This
all happened because they covered all the debris
and built hundreds of homes on top of all that
radioactive material. The entire area still stands
empty, with huge fences all around it. Most of the
residents were provided with different homes.

Posted by: DAVID at November 15, 2006 5:03 AM
Comment #195135

Good posts. A few points Paul. I don’t think it is a wise idea to exclude the oil companies from this commission of yours. After all, they know better than anyone the cost of oil and how to market it. Any alternative your group would come up with would compete against oil, so why not co-opt the industry and make it a partner rather than a competitor, especially when they have a rather large war chest?

I think one way of addressing the problem of oil, in conjunction with a raise on gas taxes such as Jack discusses, is to bring a workable public transportation system to America. I’ve lived in both Korea and Germany, and their public transportation far exceeds ours. Giving people a cost effective alternative to driving their own cars, coupled with a rise in gasoline prices, would probably go a long way to solving our energy problems.

In addition, I do think we should be aggressively working for alternatives. The Midwest is known to some as the Saudi Arabia of wind power. It certainly has the potential to be. Beyond that, advances in nuclear reactor design makes accidents such as Three Mile Island physically impossible. Nuclear power offers a clean and renewable energy source. All of the waste we currently store could be converted to fuel by exposure to a neutron flux such as a nucear reactor generates. Plants could take their own waste and reprocess it into usable fuel, dramatically cutting down on waste while providing nearly limitless electrical power without contributing to global warming.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 15, 2006 9:58 AM
Comment #195136

DAVID,

According to the below link from Wikipedia, the number of cancers attributed to the Three Mile Island accident was one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island

Posted by: 1LT B at November 15, 2006 10:00 AM
Comment #195143

1LTB, I was under the impression that nuclear power would be fairly short term because the known amounts of uranium are very limited.

Im not saying dont use it, I think we should give it a chance in your neighborhood, of course, not mine. I would rather use wind power to generate electricity.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 15, 2006 10:40 AM
Comment #195144

j2t2

You sound as though you support nuclear but in a “your neighborhood not mine” kind of way. Rather lame support I’d say. You like wind power as a solution. Nice, clean and very inefficient when it comes to the space it uses. As populations grow land becomes more scarce. Also, as a possible consequence, an increase in death rates due to falling. You may snicker, but the number one cause of accidental death at home is by falling. You start putting more wind power generators in place and deaths will rise. I am for wind power, but in a “not in my yard” kind of way.

keith

Posted by: keith at November 15, 2006 11:02 AM
Comment #195160

j2t2,

I really don’t have the financial wherewithal to finance a nuclear power plant on my own, but it might interst you to know that my hometown is Beaver Falls, PA. I live about 15 miles from the Shippingport Nuclear Power plant, the first commercial nuclear power plant in the US.

Now that I’m done being a smartass, from my understanding, the known amount of uranium is indeed limited. However, we still have more than enough to power many more nuclear power facilities, especially when one considers that before 9/11 Bush signed a treaty with Russia to halve our nuclear arsenals. Power plants use uranium that is about 5% pure, nuclear weapons use uranium that’s over 99% pure. Also, like I said, spent uranium can be placed in a nuclear flux in a breeder reactor and reprocessed into usable fuel. This would of course require rigorous and robust security, but I think we could afford it.

Also, I wasn’t arguing against wind power, but its not suitable for everywhere. Beyond that, the wind is sometimes fickle in ways that nuclear or carbon fuel based power plants are not. In addition, windpower probably cannot meet the needs of industrial applications. In my opinion, a variety of solutions exist and are best tailored adopted at the local level to fit thier own needs.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 15, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #195161

Short term fixes by market manipulation of oil prices are more dangerous than they are worth. The last time energy prices rose, (remember early this year?) our economy skidded dangerously. We need a replacement first. Spent fuel disposal is a major problem for nuclear, a real deal breaker at this point. I’m not a real believer in the “we’ll figure it out later” schema. that’s what got us the deficit. Remaining existing systems aren’t of sufficient scale or pollute tremendously more than oil or gases.
IMHO, the gov’t must provide incentives to develop alternative systems and start removing the ones for oil. Start by eliminating the credits that even the oil industry said they didn’t need. I know we should have started in ‘73 but the US is nothing if not resourceful.

jlwilliams,

Ummm, yeah, what system is that?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 15, 2006 12:47 PM
Comment #195167

J2t2

Your idea about getting these guys hybrids is valid in itself. But you can see what it would start. We would then have precedent for government subsidies for individual purchases to targeted groups.

On the other hand, you could use the tax credit for anyone who had a job. That would include most of the poor and be definition all of the working poor. For those on public assistance, the higher price of gasoline would just be a component of the CPI. There is no reason to treat it differently than any other “necessity”.

Besides, I do not think the price would go that high, unfortunately, w/o tax.

David

What debris? Nothing exploded. The reactor that had the problem is still there, just not working. The rest of the plant is in operation. NOTHING was destroyed. Nobody was killed. You can find no signifcant health effects in the local population.

Here is a current picture of Three Mile Island. If you can find the houses built on top of the debris or those giant walls, please point them out. You may be mistaking this for some other incident.

More people have died in Teddy Kennedy’s car than in all the nuclear power accidents in American history.

Posted by: Jack at November 15, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #195172

Mark, Dave: This site used to be dreamland, but they have really been working on it. Their place is a hippie dream home (experimental) but they are building a new and very inpressive place. They claim they can build their systems into homes that are conventional enough to fit right into a suburban neighborhood.

Now comes the embarassing part for this dummy. If someone wants to provide a link, the site is www.angelsnest.org and the new commercial site is www.worldsnest.com.

Posted by: jlw at November 15, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #195174


Back at the birth of nuclear power, the claim was that it would be so cheep you wouldn’t be able to meter it. No such claims are being made anymore. Building (right), operating and maintaining a nuclear power plant is a very expensive endeavor. How much would it cost to build the number of plants the industry would want to build if we gave them the OK? What effect will they have on our consumption of oil if we are not willing to throw away all of our internal combustion engines and replace them with electric motors?

Posted by: jlw at November 15, 2006 1:45 PM
Comment #195175

Great comments.

Jack: You want to increase the price of oil. Great idea - up to a point. However, higher prices alone will not solve the problem. We need alternative sources of energy.

You suggest nuclear energy. I have my doubts about how good it would be or how universally useable it would be. The expert commission would evaluate nuclear energy and all the other alternate sources of energy proposed.


I think that NO energy companies of any sort should be on the commission. We want as scientific an evaluation as we can get.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at November 15, 2006 1:49 PM
Comment #195180

Paul,

By your logic, you wouldn’t want doctors and hospitals giving input to fix our health system because they stand to make a profit from it?

keith

Posted by: keith at November 15, 2006 2:16 PM
Comment #195183

Paul

I am not really making a choice on alternative. I think nukes look good. I also like ethanol from fiber, wind, solar and hydro. People will decide on which is cheapest and easiest when we get more experience. Wind, for example, seemed too good to be true. Now some environmentalists (at least the bat lovers) tell us that it is.

Price IS enough. Of course private industry and government will reserach alternatives, but we do not need a big push for this. A big push is likely to send us down the wrong road and then we will have a hard time getting off.

Think QWERTY

Posted by: Jack at November 15, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #195185

Compare nuclear power to Ted Kennedy? What the f is that? Having a hard time dealing with Bushies “thumping” are we?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 15, 2006 2:51 PM
Comment #195187


Keith: In my opinion, we have gotten ourselves into a hell of a quagmire with our corporations and their profit requirements. About two months ago the chairman of ExxonMobile anounced that his corp. wasn’t the least bit interested in investing in alternative energy sources. What interest would Exxon have in being on this commission other that to try to throw a monkey wrench into the works? Any idea or invention that doesn’t have a large enough profit margin or no profit margin is worthless to the corporations and it will end up in the trash no matter how beneficial it may be to us.

Posted by: jlw at November 15, 2006 2:54 PM
Comment #195190

Paul Siegel,

I really have to disagree again with your assessment of whether or not oil and energy companies should be in on this commission of yours. Like I said before, they are well funded, better to bring them in as partners than to lock them out as enemies. Keith also makes a good point with his analogy about doctors. In the same manner, oil and energy companies make their livings providing a good to the consumer. They know better than a bunch of guys wearing white lab coats how to provide it. A common attack against the Bush administration is that they’re a bunch of chickenhawks, that they never went to war but are making decisions about it. This pretty much sounds like your commission.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 15, 2006 2:57 PM
Comment #195193

Dave

It is just an old joke from the TMI time. Teddy Kennedy was very critical of nukes, so people used to say that more people died in his car (his Chappaquiddick affair) than in the nuclear accidents, since NOBODY died in the nuclear power accidents and a woman did die in his car.

It is probably outdated by now, athough fat Teddy is still standing in the way of wind energy.

Posted by: Jack at November 15, 2006 3:11 PM
Comment #195196

Keith, The reason I’m a nimby on the nuclear is because all the waste from nuclear plants across the nation are already coming to my back yard, as I live in Nevada right now. It has its advantages and I wouldn’t work against nuclear at this point, It’s just not my favorite alternative.
A few years back I travelled fairly regularly between Colorado and Nebraska. The power company has put up a small wind farm near the border in northeast Colorado. Its impressive to see, it works, its generates power to the local electrical grid and if the biggest drawback is the possibility of bats and birds running into them, well its a trade off I am willing to accept.

Jack, I was getting the $5 to $6 figure from a book I had read that put the subsidies into the billions and projected at least that much of an increase should we see the true cost of oil. Its a place to start. If it doesnt do the trick then I would guess taxes would be the next step.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 15, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #195197

j2t2

Good re prices.

You know of course that neither of us nor anybody like us can ever get elected to any office in the U.S. if he/she talks openly in favor of higher gas prices. Gas and cars are the sacred cows of the U.S. That is one reason why a strictly political solution will not work. You can see it on this blog. When I propose higher gas prices, people talk about a pie in the sky miracle cure that will provide cheap fuel forever.

Posted by: Jack at November 15, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #195199

All options should be on the table…period. Hydrogen, nuclear, wind, water, steam, bio….anything. The federal taxes collected on gasoline should be evenly split between highways and alternative fuel development. If industry doesn’t want to get involved, create the industry…as simple as that. We’ve done it before, it’s called American ingenuity.

A point to consider, too: If Detroit increased the mpg on current manufactured vehicles by an average of 7 mpg, we would virtually eliminate our need for imported oil, whether it be from the Middle East or South America. Again, if the industry doesn’t want to take the lead….

Posted by: Won't Get Fooled Again at November 15, 2006 3:39 PM
Comment #195201

1LTB, And i’m not arguing against nuclear power, just not arguing in favor of them. I didn’t think you could afford a nuclear plant as I hear they can get pretty pricey as well as take a while to get built. I watched as that wind farm went up in less than 6 months.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 15, 2006 3:47 PM
Comment #195202

Paul, After seeing how good of a job the oil companies did helping Cheney establish the latest energy policy, why would you not want them on the energy commission? Oh never mind.

Seriously though, The oil executives do know what we can expect as far as oil capacity and demand during the next 2 decades. Although they have a bad record when it comes to climate change and energy policy they should have a voice at the table. They can earn their way off the commission if they choose, but I think they may know more than they are telling. If you beleive their advertising they are already into alternative sources of energy.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 15, 2006 3:57 PM
Comment #195208

Jack-

Here you come with your assumptions again. And you never get it right, do you? You want to attack a strawman? Go use someone else’s name…leave me out of it unless you address what I actually wrote. I’ll take it line by line for you, since I know how hard it is for you to take things for what they are worth.

“You mean that terrible accident where nobody died or even got seriously ill?”

Yes, that one.

“Coal and oil extraction cost many lives every year, but we usually do not notice.”

Sure we do…every time miner’s get trapped, I see it on TV and read about it in the paper. Sometimes they die.

“There is no energy free lunch.”

Great, because I never said there was one.

“If you will not support nuclear, you ARE supporting oil and coal and of course your dream alternative.”

Horse shit! You should know all about that being from a rural area. There’s a big hole in that logic…you don’t see that?

“Good luck on that”

Thanks. I don’t even know what “that” is, but whatever you say Mr. know-it-all.

“France gets 78% of its electricity from nuclear. We get 20%. You’d think we could do as well as France on this issue.”

Or we could strive for better. I don’t see how setting an arbitrary benchmark has anything to do with my pointing out an example of WHY people don’t like nuclear power.

My reference to 3 mile island was purely to make the “not in my backyard” point. Nuclear facilities sounds like a great idea until you try to build one. Period. That was the whole point I was making. I’m sorry if you felt the need to invent a position for me so that you could knock it down and be the bigger man or something. But that is your problem, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with what I wrote, the point I was making, or my personal views on the matter.

You need to start writing with more wisdom and less emotion, Jack. And unless you want me to tear apart your vastly oversimplified and lame-brained economic theories every time you bring them up by using the same straw-man techniques (which take zero effort and very little time to concoct) you seem to enjoy using, I’d be more thoughtful and responsive to my posts from now on.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 15, 2006 4:35 PM
Comment #195209

There is one alternitive fuel vehicle I’ll bet nobody has heard of. If you have natural gas piped into your home for oven stove and water heating, You can go down to your local Honda dealer and order a Honda and a hookup to your natgas and run your car on fuel produced right here in US for about a buck a gallon.
I would not have known about this innovative vehicle had I not read about it in Popular Science Mag. So why doesn’t Honda advertise this car in every publication on the planet? I dont have the answer, but I imagine the oil companies might have a hand in silencing what should be loud cheer of aproval for the R&D at Honda.

Posted by: wolfey at November 15, 2006 4:36 PM
Comment #195210

Wolfey-

This month’s edition of Popular Science? Any chance you have a link? I’d like to read about that.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 15, 2006 4:45 PM
Comment #195211

kevin

You wrote:

“Did you ever hear of 3 mile island?

I hear the surrounding property values are still low in case you’re interested.”

I did not know you were making a joke. I thought you were implying that it was something that caused widespread death and destruction, as someone right after said.

I am sorry if you do not hold to the other points. It is true that opponents of nukes usually forget the fatalities caused every year by other forms of energy. If you recognize that, I appologize.

It is also true that give the REAL alternatives, if you oppose nukes, you are asking for oil and coal. The dream alternative (with the good luck) is meant to support that statement. People who oppose nuclear power AND oil and coal usually have some dream alternative that does not currently produce enough energy to fuel our country’s industries.

Re not in my back yard, like most people, I would prefer to live in a place w/o much industrial plant at all. But in the real world we sometimes have alternatives that are not optimal. If I had the choice between coal, oil or nuclear power near me, I would take the nukes. Since we CAN (must and do) build plants somewhere, nukes are among the best options.

Posted by: Jack at November 15, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #195216
It is just an old joke from the TMI time…Posted by: Jack at November 15, 2006 03:11 PM
I get it now, thanks. Kind of like the joke about how more people died in Iraq in the last 10 minutes in the stupid chimps war than died in fat Teddys car? Neither are funny, neither are applicable. Excuse the bad humor. Maybe I’d be happier if we buried the nuclear waste in Brunswick County. Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 15, 2006 5:04 PM
Comment #195217

Keven23:

Popular Science, November, Page 30.

Natural Gas Guzzler.

“The American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy calls it the cleanest-burning internal-combustion vehicle on earth.”and at one third the cost of gasoline.

Posted by: wolfey at November 15, 2006 5:06 PM
Comment #195219

OK Jack. Apology accepted. I got a little testy there.

Your last post is true enough, and I dare not dispute that more power must be supplied, and we have quite the incentive to make it independent of fossil feuls. But the looming question which I meant to jokingly address earlier still remains. Where will they be built? People take their property values pretty seriously these days, after all.

My view is that we cannot force a particularly dangerous technology upon people. Economically speaking, more nuclear power looks good. Practically speaking, people are scared of what they don’t understand…especially when the worst case scenario is a literal 100 year nightmare for the locality.

Statistically speaking, flying is much safer than driving. But that does not ease the minds of the millions like my wife who feel much more nervious in the air. I’ve heard many people complain that they’d never get near a hydrogen car because they do not want to spontaniously explode. The point is that because most people do not understand the way it works, they feel uneasy … as if complexity or novelty equates directly correlate to stability and predictability.

There may be a certain amount of truth to SOME of these claims, but it is mostly a mental thing. While I can look on paper and see a need to build a nuclear plant to provide metropolis X more power, I find it much more difficult to argue that this should be done against the will of a community. After all, land is unique and they’ll never find an identical place to relocate to.

Now when energy prices start souring and it affects people’s ability to live their lives, people will come to their senses pretty quickly and make hard choices. But at least they’ll be free choices. What we should hope for is that there are communities willing to go nuclear immediately, and that it works out so well for them that others follow suit. Provided we don’t have another “incident”, people will become more comfortable living with it. Pretty soon, it will be as old-hat as driving…but hopefully safer. But innevitably, there will be some newer and cleaner technology that will cause “nuclear towns” to be in less demand again.

The energy problems are real, some solutions currently exist. But I don’t blame those who would opt for holding out for something better, even at the expense of having a more expensive and less reliable energy supply in the meantime. They’ll simply have to buy available power in the open market for a premium. Its a game of pick your poison.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 15, 2006 5:33 PM
Comment #195220

wolfey-

Thank you.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 15, 2006 5:35 PM
Comment #195232


911 was our wakeup call supposedly. Our borders are wide open to infiltration by terrorists. The electrical grid in this nation is a sitting duck. With a relatively small amount of comp C explosive, 6 to 12 substations could be destroyed easily. That could shut down the entire electrical grid in this nation for weeks, months or longer and that my friends would be just about all she wrote for this nation.

If we are serious about the terrorist threat, then we should get every household and community that we possibly can off the grid as soon as possible. That means wind, solar and water power. The technology is available now, today and it is constantly improving. We also need to breakup the grid into smaller units to protect our industry.

We need a Manhattan Project, a Kennedy moon project and a Marshall Plan all rolled into one if we are serious about the threats to America.

Posted by: jlw at November 15, 2006 6:22 PM
Comment #195234

Because of the Hindenburg disaster we are not travelin by derigible.

Because of Three Nile Island we have no new safe nuclear reactors in the US.

I could not think of any more enjoyable or safe way to travel than by a lighter than air hotel, the lift supplied by non flammible helium, nor could I wish for a less non poluting and safer way of producing energy than a 21st century technology nuclear reactor as opposed to the 50’s first gen. nukes.

No matter how far technologies advance the people will allways remember the failures of the past.

Posted by: wolfey at November 15, 2006 6:26 PM
Comment #195246


A natural gas car would be great for a few people. On a large scale, the price of natural gas would shoot through the roof.

We could have thousands upon thousands of new small farmers growing willow and other crops to produce ethanol and biodiesel. We could have co-ops to turn the crops into fuel for use on a local basis. But, I guess we should just let ADM do it with half the work force and double the cost.

Posted by: jlw at November 15, 2006 7:28 PM
Comment #195255

jlw

I grow trees. Ethanol from fiber is a good idea, but not currently viable in competition with oil. We will develop better technologies. But even then we still have to grow trees. Trees take space. Trees require some fertilizers and lots of water. Trees require people and machines to harvest.

You can - in theory - grow quick rotation willow to produce fuel. But there are ecological consequences. If you harvest every five years, you are in the woods every year doing something. Big machines are compressing the soil AND you clear cut every five years. Taking that much fiber off the land requires fertilizers.

I really am not trying to be a naysayer. I believe in ethanol from wood fiber. I have a personal stake in its success. But I just do not believe it will be the panacea some people seem to think. Fossil fuels will be the big fuel for our lifetimes. If we are lucky, we will have a lot of nukes and some renewalbles.

Posted by: Jack at November 15, 2006 8:19 PM
Comment #195268

Paul:

Come on. In China, a new Coal Power plant comes on line each week. China and India are the 2 largest countries, and the veicles they drive do not have catalytic converters.

China and India are exempt from Kyoto.

In the US, there has not been an oil refinery built in 30 years.

We prevent dilling in Anwar, we prevent refineries from being built, then we complain about the high price of fuel. Then there are protests of offshore drilling and natural gas drilling.

It seems that the only energy approved by the environmentalists are wind and solar. We can’t run a country on wind and solar.

What is wrong with a comprehensive energy plan that includes oil? And why exclude oil from a comprehensive energy plan? Isn’t it possible that they might have some energy insights? Especially when it comes to emissions, and geological knowledge.

Here is what we need A comprehensive nergy plan that includes ALL energy sources. We help current companiesmove away from foreign oil by letting them build more refineries and drill.

Then we offer tax incentives for companies to build Ethanol refineries and pursue alternative commercial energy needs.

We need comprehensive energy needs because we need to be diverisified. What happens if the Midwest experiences a drought? Last summer, Illinois had such a sever drought that we were 7 inches below normal rainfall. What happens to the corn crop and thus ethanol prices?

Be careful about leaving these energy companies out of it. Don’t leave BP out of it.

BP happens to be the worlds largest producer of solar panels. Why would you exclude them?

Many of these energy companies have diversified into other areas of energy and can provide insight.

What about natural gas? What about nuclear?

Who can you make these decisions without the input of these industries?

We need to stop villifying these enregy companies. I am not defending them as they are by no means perfect, but to exclude companies on decisions that impact their industries, their employees and shareholders will cause more problems.

Posted by: RedStapler at November 15, 2006 9:32 PM
Comment #195275


I guess those people in Brazil are just stupid for using ethanol instead of cheeper oil.

Posted by: jlw at November 15, 2006 10:01 PM
Comment #195296

JLW:

That ethanol in Brazil had to be refined somehow.

I bet US Oil companies could probably build ethanol refineries better than non-energy experts.

Why not use the existing knowledge from the oil industry and adapt it to new energy ideas.

That’s why we shouldn’t dismiss energy companies as whole.

BP is worlds largest solar panel manufacturer.
Oil companies can help build ethanol refineries.

One thing no one is discussing - What kind of waste / pollutants does and ethanol refinery create. I bet there is some waste, I wonder how that is handled?

How come no one is asking this question?

Posted by: RedStapler at November 16, 2006 12:05 AM
Comment #195312


RedStapler: BP is is also one of the great poluters and they don’t give a damn about their employees. As to your question about pollutants, search ethanol plant pollutants and bingo there is your answer. To be more specific, there are lots of air born carbon dioxide and carcinogins and just like many other companies that put profits above peoples health, the EPA is having to bust them to do what is right and install scrubbers.

Posted by: jlw at November 16, 2006 1:59 AM
Comment #195315

—Jack— Sorry about three mile island article, I
was not even in the right Country. I was thinking
Churnable Plant in Russia. For got to engage brain
before putting mouth in gear. I do apologize.

Posted by: DAVID at November 16, 2006 6:20 AM
Comment #195325

DAVID,

Chernobyl was a disaster that was unique to that particular design. Beyond this, the Soviets never gave the same thought to insulation as we do. Had the Chernobyl reactor been built with a reinforced concrete shield around it, as all US reactors are, the disaster would not have been nearly as bad as the contamination would have been contained within the shielding. No doubt it would’ve been bad for the plant itself, but the surrounding area would not have been contaminated, at least not on the scale that it is, had such a simple and rudimentary precaution been taken.

Designs for new nuclear reactors are far more advanced and would make such an accident almost physically impossible. Like freedom, nuclear power requires constant vigilance, in this case from well trained operators, but it can be a safe and viable addition to our energy needs. Unless we as a nation decide to all give up our modern lifestyles and live like the Amish, our energy needs will increase. Carbon based fuels, such as oil and coal, will continue to be a vital part of our energy consumption. We still have time before they run out to find alternatives. At the same time, we need to improve efficiency across the board to both extend the usable life of carbon and to minimize the environmental damage.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 16, 2006 9:11 AM
Comment #195331

dear keith,
yes, i have heard of nuclear power and to prove it, please pull up the may 29th edition of the boca raton news (www.bocanews.com), where you’ll see me standing in front of the chernobyl nuclear power plant, as i was unknowingly taking in 100+rem. this graphite core reactor has been duplicated many times over, but even newer types shall never be totally free of disastrous potentials…espescially in a world of terrorism. for a more realistic,less simplistic and extremely comprehensive approach to this issue contact sen obama’s office for a brilliant speech he gave about 6 weeks ago, exactly on this topic…and no, this is not a plug for his candidacy. hawaiian don

Posted by: hawaiian don at November 16, 2006 10:06 AM
Comment #195344

jlw

Check into the history of Brazilian ethanol. The project has been in development since the 1970. It nearly died in the last 1990s, when the price of oil was low. Recent price rises have revived its prospects.

Two things you want to think about. Brazil uses sugar cane as a feedstock. Sugar cane is much easier to distill than most of the things (like corn) we can grow. Sugar cane is tough on the environment. It takes water and fertilizer and every hectare in sugar is a hectare not in forest or food production. It is not a free good.

Second - Brazil is not energy independent due to sugar ethanol AND recent oil discoveries AND abundant hydropower capacity coming on line. In fact, it has produced a mix much like we might end up with. But it is not so easy as it seems now and the price of oil is what saved the ethanol program.

Posted by: Jack at November 16, 2006 12:10 PM
Comment #195357


Jack: I wasn’t implying that Brazil has a perfect setup, nothing is perfect. Brazil saw the problem and tried to do something about it. We saw the problem and did nothing. Have you heard of Dextrose? Have you ever seen a sugar beet? They are big, many as big as a football. They are an excellent source of sugar and they grow remarkably well on the harsh plains of North Dakota. I think the big push to use corn is a ADM thing. There are many crops that have a higher sugar content than corn and that can be grown here. Corn is king but that can change. Depletion of soil nutrients—crop rotation.

Posted by: jlw at November 16, 2006 12:57 PM
Comment #195359

JLW:

BP is still the worlds largest producer of solar panels. Are you going to leave them out?

Point is many of these companies aren’t just oil companies. They produce plastics and other petroleum based products. Wouldn’t it be better to get their participation rather than simply dictate to them?

And why can’t their expertise be tapped to build ethanol refineries.

About Corn Ethanol - The plan should be comprehensive and diverse. If we put all our focus n corn ethanol and there is a drought, then we ‘ve got a national energy problem. If we only use sugar cane and the gulf coast gets hit with another hurricane, we’ve got problems there.

Our ethanol policy needs to be diverse. We can use beets, cane, and corn. Wind, Solar, and Hydrogen.

Why not offer an incentive, use competition to force these companies to make the technoloy energy efficient.

The Department of Defense has a contest every year. The contest involves self-powered robotic cars that travel across the desert. The winner gets a large amount of money (I can’t remember the exact amount). To date, every self-powered robotic vehicle has broken down.

No one has won it. But they keep trying.

Posted by: RedStapler at November 16, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #195388

jlw

We did not do nothing. Energy efficiency of U.S. economy is much higher than it was in 1979. Brazilian ethanol is just another type of response. As I wrote, it was not a success until the price of oil went up again. If prices had remained at their 1990s level for much longer, the Brazilian project would have been dead.

I think they call that the survivor bias in analysis.

Posted by: Jack at November 16, 2006 3:21 PM
Comment #195666

Jack, I’m with you on this.

Raise the priceofoil by taxing it, and use the money raised to fund development of clean alternatives.

I also believe in using our natural resources. People that live in many of the pristine regions want to develope their resources. The coal miners of Kentucky would be thrilled if morecoal was used. The Alaskans would welcome drilling in Anwar.

Being from a Physics background, I do not have the phobia of nuclear. It is a manageable energy source. Like Jack has said, all energy has trade offs.

With regards to global warming, which I don’t think is anything but alarmist conjecture, there were recent articles about solving the problem by cooling the earth by adding pollutants to the atmostphere, reducing heating. Why wait? Do it now.:)

I think Agricultural sources would be great if they can be produced without excessive fertilization. Sugarcane used to be grown in Kentucky, and could be grown over much of the midwest and south. We might need Haitian immigrants to harvest it, though.

J.L. Williams,

You said you could produce household energy and water for $30 a month. Want to expand on that? I’ve looked into solar enery, wind energy and passive techniques and have no idea where you come up with those numbers. Simply spreading out the high initial costs and maintenance cost would be much higher than that, unless you’re amortizing over 200 or 300 years.

Posted by: gergle at November 19, 2006 11:01 AM
Comment #195718


gergle: No, I didn’t claim that I could do that. The people at angelsnest.org claimed that they could do that when the technology is built into a new home by adding $30 per month to a 30 year morgage. They have a new commercial site at worldsnest.com

Posted by: jlw at November 19, 2006 5:39 PM
Comment #195887

Gergle-

“Jack, I’m with you on this.

Raise the priceofoil by taxing it, and use the money raised to fund development of clean alternatives.”

I doubt very much, as evidenced from prior threads on this topic, that Jack advocates that position. Maybe some token spending, but nothing in the realm of government grants. Unless he’s had a revelation in the last two weeks that I’m unaware of. He is all about “natural” market forces raising the price of oil and then having the private sector invest in renewables out of percieved economic necessity.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 20, 2006 2:09 PM
Comment #196066

Energy independence and global warming have to be the largest issues of our century, however due to the long term nature of both identifying cost effective/politically acceptable solutions and the hard cash investment for the country to change over “user” and “delivery” systems, it seems that a solution is nearly impossible. But, one has to look at Brazil which changed over some 90% of their autos to some bio-mass fuel (corn, wheat, rice?) so that 1) they no longer send enormous amounts of $$ to the MIddle Eastern folks, and 2) profits and job generation for this conversion were retained within the Country. Even if this is costlier than using existing fuel sources, consider the very real geo-political benefits of keeping those revenues within the Country, allowing Brazil to set its own energy strategy without consideration of hostile fuel sellers, and being able to positively address pollution issues within their country.

I suspect that this also has had a signficant long term impact upon their economy, with Brazil being the strongest economy in South America. The US’s economy may become a vassal to our fuel suppliers, while our “mighty world dominion” can easily be threatened by exhorbitant fuel and energy prices. I would not wish to become a shrinking power as Britain was at the end of the 19th century as its sea power and military powers were challenged by their Russian and German opponents, on thru WW2.

Our proudest moments have been when we lead the world in conflict in WW2, and through the cold war. Now we have an energy war, and it is being treated as the next administrations or the ‘next geration’s’ problem. We have a terrorism war, we have a religious war with militants around the world seeing America’s religions as targets for mass conversion, and we have an energy war. All of these ‘WARS” must be won. Most importantly, we cannot ignore the importance and the critical need for American solutions to be uniquely tailored to fight the Amercan energy war.

Posted by: Reingorm at November 21, 2006 2:11 PM
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