Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 3: What is cellulosic ethanol; Algae Farming; Most Efficient Way to Travel 350 Miles
- What is cellulosic ethanol and how does it fit with green cars? : There is a lot of controversy surrounding biofuels. Various studies have shown that crop-based biofuels contribute to global warming more than they help prevent it, that ethanol is no better than gasoline, and that South East Asian rainforests are suffering for biofuels, to name just three. The most dramatic recent claim was that ethanol was the worst type of renewable energy.
- Algae Sizzle and Algae Steak : Bionavitas “Light Rod” idea called Light Immersion Technology that looks like a giant tapered optical fiber that places light at depth into algae cultures. Ingenious as ideas go, with a near stunning amount of coverage on Wednesday the idea might get some financial and research legs. What has been left out is the details about the light. The photos seem to leave out the top of the rod or fiber or just show a shaft, whose top area sets the amount of light; no matter how deep it is distributed. The idea solves a problem in algae culturing, getting light deep so that the culture isn’t just a thin layer at the sunlit surface.
- How Many Gallons of Fuel Does it Take to Travel 350 Miles? : GOOD Magazine, in collaboration with Robert A. Di Leso, Jr., explores fuel use by various modes of transportation. In what is essentially a fancied up bar chart, we see how many gallons of fuel it takes for a passenger to travel 350 miles by cruise ship, Amtrak, Boeing 737, Sedan, hybrid, etc. A couple of non-fuel modes of transportation are included as well using caloric conversions. It’ll take about 48 Whoppers with cheese to walk 350 miles. Good to know, especially since I was planning on walking 350 miles today. Totally kidding. I’m walking 360. Like a circle.
Fuelishness! Feed: $81,400,836,908 For a Tank of Gas?, Obama Declares War on Oil, Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus
- Your gas tank’s full; that’ll be $81,400,836,908 : When a commuter pulled into a gas station in Richland, Wash., to fill up the tank of his 1994 Camaro on Tuesday, he thought the $90 he had on his PayPal debit card would easily cover the $26 bill…The transaction, Juan Zamora told the newspaper, was recorded as $81,400,836,908.
- Obama’s budget upsets oil and gas industries : President Barack Obama’s first budget wallops the oil and gas industry by eliminating $31.5 billion in tax breaks while blaming the administration of former President George W. Bush for perpetuating the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels… “I am just absolutely flabbergasted,” said Houston oilman Bruce Vincent, vice chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “It’s like putting a dagger in the heart of the oil and gas industry in America. If you actually did all these things, it would kill the industry.”
- Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus : How about one that’ll create at least a million jobs, give our economy a multitrillion-dollar boost, make our nation energy-secure and won’t cost us a penny? • $8.2 trillion in additional GDP. • $2.2 trillion in total new state and federal tax revenues. • 1.2 million new jobs at high wages. • $70 billion in added wages to the economy each year.
Fuelishness! Feed: Plug-In Tax Credits; Reducing Travel Intensity; Chu Doesn’t Know What to Do; The Electric Car Re-Thought
- Stimulus Bill Provides Major Increase in Plug-in Vehicle Purchase Credit Program : Under current law, a credit is available for each new qualified fuel cell vehicle, hybrid vehicle, advanced lean burn technology vehicle, and alternative fuel vehicle placed in service by a taxpayer during the taxable year. In general, the credit amount varies based on technology, weight, fuel efficiency, and other factors. The credit generally is available for vehicles purchased after 2005. The credit terminates after 2009, 2010, or 2014, depending on the type of vehicle. The alternative motor vehicle credit is not allowed against the alternative minimum tax.
- Two Studies on Regional Options for Reducing GHG Highlight Need for Reduction in Travel Intensity : Achieving targeted regional reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector will require concentrated efforts to change travel behavior and reduce vehicle miles travelled in addition to advances in vehicle technology and fuels, according to two recent studies.
- As OPEC Prepares to Meet, Chu Focuses on U.S. Energy : Energy Secretary Steven Chu — whose agency has long taken the lead on global oil-market policy — said Thursday he doesn’t know what the Obama administration would urge the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to do at its meeting next month.
- Better Place – Electric Recharge Grid Operator : Instead of gas stations on every corner, the ERGO would blanket a country with a network of “smart” charge spots. Drivers could plug in anywhere, anytime, and would subscribe to a specific plan—unlimited miles, a maximum number of miles each month, or pay as you go—all for less than the equivalent cost for gas. They’d buy their car from the operator, who would offer steep discounts, perhaps even give the cars away. The profit would come from selling electricity—the minutes. [ Video : 33min ]
Fuelishness! Feed: Airlines Finds Biofuel More Efficient; Curtailing Ethanol Carbon Loss; Pryolysis-Gasification of Bio-Mass; Venezuela heading for collapse.
- Earlier in the month Continental Airlines completed a test flight using biofuels, and now a few weeks later Japan Airlines has joined a (slowly) expanding number of airlines trying to green their fuel usage. The fuel used was a mixture of jatropha oil, algae oil, and camelina oil (the first time that feedstock has been employed in a jet fuel).
- Scientists at Michigan State University are finding ways to curtail carbon loss when transforming plant waste into ethanol…“These results demonstrate that bio-energy cropping systems, particularly those integrating livestock manure into their management scheme, are a win-win option on both alternative energy and environmental fronts,” Thelen said. “Under proper management, livestock manure can replace carbon lost from corn stover removal and actually provide an environmental benefit, both in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation and the improved soil properties associated with increasing (soil carbon) levels, such as increased water retention.”
- Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) think they have a winner with Bioliq, a fuel produce by pyrolysis-gasification processing of wood, straw, or other substances. They are constructing a pilot plant, to be completed in 2012. process to create relatively affordable biofuels out of common plant wastes, such as waste wood. They hope the technology will yield fuel that costs €0.50 a liter or $2.49/gallon USD.
- The collapse in oil prices has hit OPEC nations hard, but perhaps none more so than Venezuela. Hugo Chavez apparently put more of his profits into his socialization programs than in paying contractors for their work. Now they have stopped working altogether as Chavez has no money to pay their past-due notices, which will curtail production just when Chavez needs it most…
Russia reasserts claims to a large area of the Arctic Ocean, indicating the use of military means may be required to secure the new claim.
It seems that Russia, with almost one-third of its territory lying north of the Arctic Circle, is about to prove that the fears of Western nations bordering the Arctic are not unjustified. The nuclear power will soon begin flexing its muscles along the icy shores of its giant realm.
Of course, the area is rich in energy resources:
“We hope to find reserves of oil and gas corresponding to about 20 percent of Russian reserves,” Donskoy said, outlining Russia’s plans for the Arctic.
Under that plan, geologists will first study the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. They expect to find at least two to four large oil or gas fields beneath the ocean floor in each of these two seas. According to Russia’s environment minister, a petroleum engineer by trade, the fields contain an estimated 3.3 billion tons of oil and up to 5 billion cubic meters of gas.
A few weeks ago, Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska issued a statement after members of Congress introduced a bill to permanently prohibit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Governor Palin writes she is “dismayed that legislation has again been introduced in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America – the coastal plain of ANWR, in Alaska”…
…”Americans know that gasoline and other refined crude oil products will keep fueling our transportation system for the foreseeable future. Further, the soaring prices of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products illustrate the importance of petroleum to the health and well-being of America.”
She made the following points, among others…
* Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.
* ANWR sits within a 20 million acre refuge (the size of South Carolina) but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a two-by-three-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.
* Incremental ANWR production would help reduce energy price volatility. Previous price disruptions demonstrate how even relatively low levels of oil production influence world prices.
* Federal revenues from ANWR – cash bids, leases, and oil taxes – would help reduce the multi-trillion dollar national debt, and we’d circulate U.S. petrodollars in our own country instead of continuing to send hundreds of billions of our dollars overseas, creating jobs and stronger economies in other countries.
What do you think:
- Is this political payback time?
- Is banning (forever) drilling in ANWR smart for the country or economy?
- How does banning drilling in ANWR help America?
I’ve recently found a good source of links to main stream energy-related commentary and opionions at the OpinionSource.com website. This edition of Fuelishness! Feed will include some of the best discussion material from the past few weeks.
- NYT Op-Ed: But who will drive them? …with gas below $2 a gallon and recession-ravaged consumers hanging tight to their wallets, even the cheaper hybrids have to compete with cars that run on boring old internal combustion engines. The Prius was the flavor of the month when gas prices soared to $4. But in December, Prius sales plummeted 45 percent compared with the same month a year earlier — more than the 36 percent drop in all car sales…
- Honda Unveils a Cheaper Hybrid Challenger to Toyota’s Top-Selling Prius – It is smaller and less fuel efficient than the Prius, but it is expected to sell for as little as $18,000, about $4,000 less than the Prius. “It’s the first direct competitor to the Prius,” said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at the Power Information Network of J. D. Power & Associates. “And it’s from Honda, so I think it’s going to be a major success.”
- WaTimes Commentary: Oil and the economic crisis – Saudi Arabia said recently that oil prices should be at $75 per barrel, an idea other OPEC members have welcomed with enthusiasm. So when the group met recently, it decided to reduce output again, this time by more than 2 million barrels daily. However, the Saudis clearly did not want to assume all the reduction and insisted other producers, including Iran and Venezuela, not only approve the new cuts, but also implement them, which will lead to additional pressure on Venezuela’s already dwindling export volumes.
- ABG: First stage of Nevada algae biodiesel completed successfully – Researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno have been testing a pair of outdoor algae ponds to evaluate the viability of growing fuel algae in the region. The first phase was a success with algae growing in a pair of 5,000 gallon ponds even with overnight temperatures in the 20s.
- NYT Op-Ed: Geothermal future – [Can we replace coal with geothermal plants? -ed.] In 2006, a panel led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology surveyed the prospects for electricity production from enhanced geothermal systems. Its conclusions were conservative but very optimistic. The panel suggested that with modest federal support, geothermal power could play a critical role in America’s energy future, adding substantially to the nation’s store of renewable energy and more than making up for coal-burning power plants that would have to be retired.
As always, your comments are encouraged and appreciated.
- On Tuesday, The Energized Guyz, a live theatrical production developed by National Theatre for Children which is sponsored by Ameren, visited Mt. Vernon District 80 Primary Center, McClellan Grade School and St. Mary School teaching students about how to be “wise energy users.”
- “We import a lot of our oil and if we could curb consumption, we could actually dramatically reduce those imports and that would affect our balance of trade, which would positively influence the value of the dollar, which would do all sorts of things in terms of what we could afford to buy in terms of imported goods,” said energy analyst Ken Medlock at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
- First Cellulosic Ethanol Plant in USA Up and Running — After a million shot in the arm from oil giant BP back in August, second generation cellulosic ethanol pioneer Verenium has started production of ethanol from non-food sources such as wood chips, grass straw, and trash at their Jennings Louisiana demonstration plant (PDF).
- Earth to Congressman Massa: That’s Not What “Efficiency” Means — First off, the fuel-cell car that Massa selected to drive the aforementioned 300 miles only had a range of 175 – 200 miles (depending on who you believe), and there were exactly zero (0) hydrogen fuel cell filling stations en route.
- Range Fuels Gets $80 Million Federal Loan Guarantee for Cellulosic Refinery — The loan guarantee program is designed to promote development of facilities and technologies aimed at producing ethanol and other biofuels from non-food resources.
- Lexus Recalling 214,500 Cars For Possible Fuel Line Corrosion Caused by Ethanol — Seems that low-moisture ethanol blends can corrode the cars’ fuel delivery pipes, causing a warning light to come on and possibly eating a pinhole through the pipe wall, causing a fuel leak. … Toyota Motors Sales USA, which is managing the recall for the automaker, said repairs will involve replacing the fuel pipes with new ones that won’t be affected by ethanol. the repairs will be done at no charge, the automaker said.
Today as a mass of “global-warming-denying” arctic weather shuts in much of the country with punishing and historic low temperatures; crude oil prices slip again – this time to under $34 – leaving oil companies to float their stock at sea in the bellies of supertankers.
From the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, giant supertankers brimming with oil are resting at anchor or slowly tracing racetrack patterns through the sea, heading nowhere.
The ships are marking time, serving as floating oil-storage tanks. The companies and countries leasing them for that purpose have made a simple calculation: the price of oil has fallen so far that it is due for a rise.
Some producing countries are trying to force that rise by using the tankers to withhold oil from the market, while traders are trying to profit by buying cheap oil now to store and sell at a higher price later. Oil storage has become so popular that onshore tank capacity is becoming scarce.
The crude oil markets are none-to-worried about the “unrest” in the middle east either, it seems. Normally a war (or threat of a war) in that area results in a spike in the price of crude, as futures traders bet on a resulting shortage resulting from direct action or political punishment. But not this time. There was a blip last week, just a hint of warming… but it didn’t last long.
OPEC lowered its energy demand forecast for 2009, with investors already shrugging off production cuts of 4.2 million barrels a day by member countries. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its January report that it expects world demand for crude will fall 180,000 barrels per day in 2009, compared with the previous year.
Is Gaia herself giving us a glimpse into our financial future? Do the record low temperatures foretell the continued glacerialization of world economies, the freezing of credit, and the icing-over of hope?
Even Hugo Chavez can’t believe his eyes, or the bottom line. He’s busy eating a little crow at the moment, hoping to court western oil companies to help bail him out of the mess he’s created in his oil-rich but cash-starved
President Hugo Chávez, buffeted by falling oil prices that threaten to damage his efforts to establish a Socialist-inspired state, is quietly courting Western oil companies once again.
Until recently, Chávez had pushed foreign oil companies here into a corner by nationalizing their oil fields, raiding their offices with tax authorities and imposing a series of royalties increases.
But faced with the plunge in prices and a decline in domestic production, senior officials here have begun soliciting bids from some of the largest Western oil companies in recent weeks — including Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total of France — promising them access to some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves, according to energy executives and industry consultants here.
This economic slowdown, recession, adjustment (whatever you’d like to call it) seems bigger than currently imagined.
Meanwhile, U.S. oil inventories have been rising for months, suggesting that the recession severely cut into energy demand. The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that crude inventories grew by 1.2 million barrels for the week ended Friday after jumping 6.7 million barrels the previous week…
Refineries are cutting back production because profit margins are next to nil.
Flynn said any existing storage facilities could be flooded with crude as the February contract comes to a close Tuesday, leaving little excess capacity.
“We’re running out of places to put it,” he said. “There’s more oil out there now than we’ve had in a long time.”
From our conservative friends up north at SDA:
It turns out 2008 was the second-best year ever for Saskatchewan in terms of actual drilling with 4,045 oil and gas wells created. Most of that attention is focused on the Bakken oil play and the Weyburn-Estevan area.
Part of the reason that sector has exploded in recent years is the advent of horizontal drilling. Once an experimental technique it’s become common-place in our province, accounting for nearly half of total oil production.
Apparently as world oil prices fall the smaller oil drilling companies are increasingly competitive with the bigger companies, thanks to their lower overhead costs and high demand for the sweeter oil they are pumping that requires less refining.
Another example of why you don’t want to rely on your adversaries for you energy supply.
Russian PM Vladimir Putin has said Moscow will resume pumping gas to Europe once independent monitors are in place to check the flow to EU markets. Ukraine, whose dispute with Russia over pricing led to the crisis, said it would guarantee transit to Europe. The Czech EU presidency said monitors would check Russian gas entering and leaving Ukraine but it was unclear if a firm deal had been agreed.
Earlier, talks between the EU, Russian and Ukrainian officials stalled. Ukraine, whose dispute with Russia over pricing led to the crisis, earlier said it would guarantee transit to Europe. The EU presidency did not specify when the monitors would be in place or when gas supplies would resume.
“This deployment should lead to the Russian supplies of gas to EU member states being restored,” the EU presidency statement said.
The talks in Brussels on Thursday were aimed at ending the row that has seen supply to Europe cut off. Ten of thousands of homes in Europe have been left with no heating, a situation which the European Commission has described as completely unacceptable.
It was only five months ago that oil prices hit a record high of $147 a barrel. Now they’re below $40 thanks to slowing global demand. At the same time, gas prices have plunged from over $4 a gallon to around $1.67 nationally. (And some analysts think they’re heading to a buck a gallon.) And just as high energy prices were a drag on the economy last summer, they’re giving it a boost heading into 2009. JP Morgan Chase economist James Glassman estimates that the drop in oil prices represents “a boost equivalent to a $350 billion stimulus.” To bring that down to the average consumer, Glassman explains, think of it this way: The typical household drives 15,000 miles annually. So a drop in gas prices to, say, $1.50 a gallon would represent a savings in their annual gas bill of $2,500 from when gas was at $4. This could boost GDP growth by as much as two percentage points.
Read the rest at:
OPEC wants to prop up the dive-bombing price of oil, to keep their bank accounts flush with fresh cash. Russia is also feeling the pinch, as the rest of the world decides it _can_ live on less oil than previously consumed. OPEC would like Russia to join them in cutting output, in an effort to bring prices up.
Opec has been eagerly trying to recruit RussiaÂ to join its efforts and analysts say together the two could announce a further reduction of as much as 3m barrels a day of oil production within the next week.
Chakib Khelil, Algeriaâ€™s oil minister and Opecâ€™s president, told state radio on Thursday there was a consensus among Opec members to reduce production when they met in the Algerian seaside town of Oran on December 17. He said: â€œThe Oran meeting will decide a severe production cut to stabilise the oil market.â€Â
Time will tell if they can woo the worlds consumers back to heavy consumption at the same time they bring prices back to “normal” profitability. If they are successful at turning this train around,Â thenÂ it’s likelyÂ the run-up and recovery of recent history were always under OPEC control – then what does it say about their intentions, as America teetered on the brink of the housing investment crisis in an election year…
What do you think?
OPEC is to meet again onÂ December 17th to mandate their members turn back their productionÂ output valves, in an effort to bring the price of oil up from it’s current lows.
OPEC President Chakib Khelil, who is also Algeria’s minister for energy and mines, told the Associated Press that a consensus has emerged among OPEC producers that a “significant reduction” is warranted by the current price slide.
Khelil would not discuss specifically how deep the cut might be. But he used the word “severe,” and noted that some analysts have predicted cuts of as much as two million barrels a day.
OPEC previously announced a 1.5-million-barrel-a-day reduction in October, but the decision failed to halt the fall in prices and markets have been expecting another cut at the Dec. 17 summit.
Why not keep OPEC on the run – regardless the price of oil – conserve as much fuel as possible w/o degrading your standard of living. Use resources like FuelClinic.com ( http://www.fuelclinic.com ) to learn to conserve and track your progress.
Continue to demand alternative sources of energy for your personal transportation. Demand “future-proof” FLEX-FUEL capable cars to take advantage of ethanol and methanol mix fuels w/o expensive new equipment, demand plug-in hybrids that charge overnight using clean electricity, demand small clean diesel engines that can run on bio-diesel that can be produced from algae.
Consumers cut consumption as a result of summers painful fuel costs – and pulled the rug from under OPEC, causing oil to “crash” back down to market value. Keep it going even lower by continuing to curb consumption, and keep pressuring government and industry to bring to market ways we can _replace_ most of oil from our transportation requirements.
Tonight, while scouring the web for the best sources of energy and new fuels information I can find for you, I stumbled upon a gem of a blog ( DOD Energy Blog ) that focuses on the impact of our energy crisis on the Department of Defense – the worlds single largest oil consumer.
And what perfect timing! First up, a post about a report that will get us all right up to speed on current DOD energy issues.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you Dr. Sohbet Karbuz’s “Can the U.S. military move to renewable fuels?” in last month’s Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is perhaps the best, most concise summation of the military’s fuel concerns in 2008.
Over the next few year you’ll see a change at your local gas stations as more alcohol-blended fuel pumps are installed across the nation. Alcohol-blended fuels like E85 are already available in some areas, and more are coming to market as more FFVs are sold in the United States.
US based manufacturers have committed to making 50% of their new autos FFVs by 2010 and and 85% by 2012. In addition, there is proposed legislation called the Open Fuel Standard Act which will mandate all cars sold in America meet the same goals, so this will mean that all imports sold in the US will meet the same FFV standard. (You can help support this legislation here.)
Since FFV is an widely available and mature technology (there are already millions of FFVs on the road in the US – you mayÂ be driving one), adding the capability to all new vehicles sold in the US doesn’t add notably to the cost of making new cars (usually about $100) – and provides a way for auto manufactures to “green-up” their product lines.
Drivers of FFVs will be able to choose what fuel to buy, based on price at the pump, performance needs, personal preference, etc. – just like shopping for any other commodity. You’ll be able to mix E85 with E10 (the current flavor of gasoline almost everywhere in the US) and newer alternative blends like E25 or M50. Using FFV technology, your car will automatically adjust your engines settings to run properly on any combination of gasoline and alcohol fuels.
Unlike more exotic alternative fuels like compressed hydrogen or natural gas, drivers of FFVs are not stuck on a virtual “energy island” of specialized refueling stations. You will be able to travel freely, just like today, as far and wide as you like – choosing your favorite blend of alcohol fuels as you go – or using straight gasoline where no other choice exists.
So if your next car has an engine that burns liquid fuel, makes sure it is “future proof” and check that it’s a Flex-Fuel Vehicle before you buy it, or else you’ll be left withoutÂ options at the pump when the alcohol-blended fuels hit the wider market.
October 29, 2008
ARLINGTON, VA — Governor Sarah Palin today will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery in Toledo, OH, at 9:00 a.m. ET:
Thank you all very much. I appreciate the hospitality of Xunlight Energy, and all the people of Toledo. The folks at Xunlight are doing great work for this community and our country.
Every day, when there are no cameras around to draw attention to it, this company and others like it are engaged in the great enterprise of energy independence. And what we see here is just a glimpse of much bigger things to come. Solar power is one of many alternative energy sources that are changing our economy for the better. And one day they will change our economy forever.
All who work in pursuit of new and clean energy sources understand that America’s energy problems do not go away when oil and gasoline prices fall, as they have in recent weeks. Oil today is running about 64 dollars a barrel — less than half of what it was just a couple of months ago. And though this sudden drop in prices sure makes a difference for families across America, the dangers of our dependence on foreign oil are just as they were before.
The price of oil is declining largely because of the market’s expectation of a broad recession that would lower demand. This is hardly a good sign of things to come, and should only add to our sense of urgency in gaining energy independence. When our economy recovers, and growth once again creates new demand, we could run into the same brick wall of rising oil and gasoline prices — and now is the time to make sure that doesn’t happen. In Washington, we can view this period of lower oil prices as just one more chance to make excuses — and on the problem of energy security, we’ve heard enough excuses. Or we can view it as an opportunity to finally confront the problem.
In reality, volatile oil prices are just the most immediate consequence when foreign powers control our energy supplies. They are an economic symptom of a strategic problem. And prices will stabilize only when we have reached the great goal of energy security for America.
Achieving this objective will require a clean break not just from the energy policies of the current administration, but from thirty years’ worth of failed policies in Washington. As in other challenges that confront our nation, we must shape events, and not simply manage crises. We must steer far clear of the errors and false assumptions that have marked the energy policies of nearly twenty Congresses and seven presidents. Some tasks will be the work of decades, and some the work of years. And they all will begin in the term of the next president.
For our part, John McCain and I are determined to set this country firmly on a path toward energy independence. America has the resources to achieve this vital goal. We certainly have the ingenuity. And if John McCain and I are elected, we will supply the political will to finally get it done.
In my experiences in Alaska, I have seen what American ingenuity can achieve if given a chance. As governor of a huge energy-producing state, and as chair of our state’s oil and gas conservation commission, and chairman of the nation’s Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, I’ve also seen how political pressures, special interests, and corporate abuses can work against the clear public interest in expanding our domestic energy supplies.
Alaska is the one of the most resource-rich places on earth. Yet for many years, our state’s oil and gas wealth was the carefully guarded preserve of the political establishment — the good ol’ boys — rewarded by a few big oil companies and through an oil services company that liked things just the way they were. As you may have seen in the news this week, Alaska’s senior senator is not the first man to discover the hazards of getting too close to moneyed interests with agendas of their own.
For the people of Alaska and their representatives, it had been hard enough to persuade Congress to authorize construction of the original Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. And when Congress finally acted in 1973, it approved the pipeline over the “No” votes of five senators, including a freshmen senator named Joe Biden.
For the next three decades, there had been talk of building another pipeline to transport cleaner, greener natural gas down to the Lower 48. But that’s all it ever amounted to — talk. And one of the main obstacles was big oil itself — ExxonMobil and other companies.
They should have been competing to invest in a new means of delivering their product to market. Instead, they wanted a higher price than fair competition would yield. They were holding out for more billions of dollars — in public money. No one in good conscience could pay them what they wanted to build that pipeline. And that’s how we found things when I became governor: No progress, no pipeline, no gas revenue for Alaska, no added energy security for America.
So we introduced the big oil companies and their lobbyists to a concept some of them had forgotten — free-market competition. They had a monopoly on power and resources, and we broke it.
The result is, finally, progress on the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history — a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence. When the last section is laid and its valves are opened, that pipeline will lead America one step farther away from reliance on foreign energy. That pipeline will be a lifeline — freeing us from debt, dependence, and the influence of foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.
We’ve shaken things up in Juneau. Whatever the good ol’ boys are running these days, it’s not the State of Alaska. And that’s the kind of serious reform that we need in Washington, because the stakes for our country could not be higher.
Energy security is one of the great questions in this election. It tests our ability to confront and solve hard problems in Washington, instead of constantly putting things off. And it brings together so many other issues — from the value of our pay checks to our nation’s most vital interests abroad. Americans blame Washington for doing next to nothing about our energy problems, and they are right.
Abroad, we see Russia with designs on a vital pipeline in the Caucasus. Its strategy is to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon. And there, as elsewhere, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.
To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world’s oil supplies … or that terrorists might strike at a vital refining facility in Saudi Arabia … or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries … we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.
In the worst cases, some of the world’s most oil-rich nations are also the most oppressive societies. And whether we like it or not, the money we pay for their oil only makes them more powerful and more oppressive. Oil wealth allows undemocratic governments to crush dissent and to subjugate women. Other regimes use it to finance terrorists around the world and criminal syndicates in our own hemisphere.
By relying upon oil from the Middle East, we not only provide wealth to the sponsors of terror — we provide high-value targets to the terrorists themselves. Across the world are pipelines, refineries, transit routes, and terminals for the oil we rely on. And Al Qaeda terrorists know where they are.
As if all this weren’t bad enough, there is also the damage that our dependence on foreign oil inflicts on our economy. Over the years, trillions of dollars have flowed out of our country, often to nations or regimes hostile to our country. Through this massive transfer of wealth, we lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year that would be better invested in American enterprises to create American jobs.
All of this explains why, as Senator McCain has said, energy security is not just one more issue on the candidate questionnaire. Energy security is the sum total of so many problems that confront our nation. It demands of us that we shake off old ways, negotiate new hazards, and make hard choices long deferred. And three decades of partisan paralysis on energy security is enough. It’s time we meet this challenge in a way consistent with the character of our nation, and that starts with producing more of our own energy.
In a McCain administration, we will authorize and support new exploration and production of America’s own oil and gas reserves — because we cannot outsource the solution to America’s energy problem. Every year, we are sending hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country for oil imports, much of it from OPEC, while America’s own oil and gas reserves in America go unused. And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we’ve got lots of both.
As a matter of fairness, we must assure affordable fuel for America by producing more of the trillions of dollars’ worth of our oil and natural gas. On land and offshore, we will drill here and drill now!
Another essential means to energy independence is a dramatic expansion in our use of nuclear energy. In a McCain administration, we will set this nation on a course to build 45 new reactors by the year 2030. And we will set the goal of 100 new plants to power the homes and factories and cities of America.
This task will be as difficult as it is necessary. We will need to recover all the knowledge and skills that have been lost over three stagnant decades in a highly technical field. We will need to solve complex problems of moving and storing materials that will always need safeguarding. We will need to do all of these things, and do them right, as we have done great things before.
One of the efforts that will assist in securing our energy future is the development of clean-coal technology. And here we have another big disagreement with our opponents. Last month Joe Biden told a voter — and I quote — “we’re not supporting clean coal.” He says clean coal’s a good idea for China — but sorry, Ohio, Joe Biden says it’s not for you.
That’s just nonsense, and there’s plenty more of it in Senator Biden’s record. He’s against drilling off our coasts, for environmental reasons. But he says that offshore drilling holds real promise for the island nation of Cyprus — as if the environmental safeguards of the Cypriots are more rigorous than our own. And so far as he and Senator Obama are concerned, nuclear power’s okay, too — but only for France and other European nations. Our opponents seem to have all sorts of solutions for the energy needs of other nations — now if only they’d focus more on what America needs.
It’s worth asking why Senators Obama and Biden are opposed to the very same production methods in America that they advocate for other nations. Usually, the answer we hear is that they fear environmental harm from domestic production, especially in the case of offshore drilling. But there’s a big problem here, even if we take their argument on its own terms. Technology has made production far cleaner than was once thought possible — by use of such methods as horizontal drilling, carbon capture and storage, and enhanced recovery. And those cleaner, safer technologies are far likelier to be used in the United States and Canada than by China, India, or other developing nations.
So policies that forego domestic production don’t protect our environment. They simply accelerate and reward dirtier and more dangerous methods of production elsewhere, in countries that apply few if any environmental safeguards. While our opponents like to posture as defenders of the environment, in practice their refusal to support more domestic production does more harm than good.
As for our coal resources, America has more coal than the oil riches of Saudi Arabia. Burning coal cleanly is a challenge of practical problem-solving and human ingenuity — and we have no shortage of those in America either. So, in a McCain administration, we will commit two billion dollars each year, until 2024, to clean-coal research, development, and deployment. We will refine the techniques and equipment. We will deliver not only electricity but jobs to some of the areas hardest hit by our economic troubles.
And in the end, with or without the green light from Joe the Six-Term Senator, we will make clean coal a reality. For the sake of our nation’s security and our prosperity, we need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers.
To meet America’s great energy challenge, John and I will adopt an “all of the above” approach. In our administration, that will mean harnessing alternative sources of energy, like wind and solar. We will end subsidies and tariffs that drive prices up, and provide tax credits indexed to low automobile carbon emissions. We will encourage Americans to be part of the solution by taking steps in their everyday lives that conserve more and use less. And we will control greenhouse gas emissions by giving American businesses new incentives and new rewards to seek, instead of just giving them new taxes to pay and new orders to follow.
On energy policy, our opponents are always talking about things we cannot do, because our own government won’t let us. When you look over the energy plans of Barack Obama and his allies in Congress, it’s just a long, labored agenda of inaction. And it’s the same agenda of inaction we could expect under the one-party rule of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. They’re always talking about things we can’t do in America, energy we can’t produce, refineries we can’t build, plants we can’t approve, coal we cannot use, technologies we cannot master. As John McCain has observed, for a guy’s who’s slogan is “Yes, we can,” Barack Obama’s energy plan sure has a whole lot of “No we can’t.”
Again and again, our opponents say that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems — as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.
No, we can’t “drill our way out of the problem” entirely. But this is America, the most resourceful country on earth, and we can drill, and refine, and mine, enrich, reprocess, invent, build, conserve, grow, and use every available means to regain our independence.
The mission of energy security will demand great things of our country. It will require commitment, resolve, and political courage. And John McCain is a man who knows something about hard missions, about overcoming dangers and keeping faith with his country. The stakes are high, and complete success will not come quickly. But I can promise you this: Unless we begin this mission now, the only change we’ll see is a change for the worse. And when we do succeed in the hard work ahead, our children will live in a more prosperous country, in a more peaceful world. Thank you all very much, and God bless America.
I’m home from the Energy Freedom Summit in Chicago with so much material and information that it’ll take me weeks to digest, understand, summarize, and disseminate it to you. Let me start with a “sound-bite” sized summary of the theme of the conference…
Once was a time when nations went to war over salt. Seriously.
Until the 19th century salt was a strategic commodity much like oil is today. Salt was required to preserve meat – and preserved meat was required to allow armies to march. Salt was required for societies to grow beyond traditional collectives, and salt was required to store, transport, and sell meat that could not be consumed immediately. Wars were indeed fought over salt, and those nations with large salt reserves had tremendous political and economic prosperity – and power over those who needed their salt – much like countries with oil do today.
So, what happened to change the world, and strip salt of it’s strategic importance?
New technologies were invented which made salt unnecessary for food preservation. The invention of electricity, refrigeration, canning, and other preservative technologies forever changed the world, and salt became just another freely traded commodity like we are accustomed to today.
You can still preserve your meats with salt if you wanted to, but most choose to refrigerate it.
Today we find ourselves in a 19th-century dilemma again, where oil has replaced salt as a global strategic commodity, and where the trade in this commodity is tightly controlled in order to weild political and economic power.
Oil’s strategic value stems from it’s monopoly in the transportation sector. This monopoly gives the petrocrats that control OPEC and the bulk of world oil reserves unacceptable power over the global economy.
How exactly can we “turn oil into salt”. The answer is surprisingly simple and familiar – by using technology to provide fuel choice thru Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV) and plug-in hybrid w/ FFV engines or new 100% electric vehicles (EV).
“Future-Proof” Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) keep to a liquid-fuels based technology that is no different from the norm today. The element of “choice” is created by allowing drivers to decide what type of fuel to consume, with options ranging from straight gasoline (no change from existing habits) to a variety of blends of alcohol/gasoline like E25, E85, M50. FFV technology does not restrict auto manufactures in any way – they can make any variety of vehicle they’d want, from scooters to Hummers.
Plug-in Hybrids w/ FFV engines (similar to the Prius Plug-In) move the hybrid technology forward by decoupling the vehicle from the gasoline pump. With a plug-in hybrid, you can choose to recharge your car using your residential electricity. For distances greater than your battery capacity, your hybrid will switch to using it’s FFV engine, where you’ll have the same fuel options of non-hybrid FFV’s.
Electric Vehicles (EVs) (like these from an auto show earlier this year) are quite different and have no engine and require no liquid fuels on board. Instead they have bigger and better batteries and electric motor(s) which meet commuting needs of most Americans, and are recharged at home or at specialized recharging stations around town. This option allows a “no-oil” choice, as your car is recharged by the power grid. (The power grid is of course fueled somehow, in the U.S. usually natural gas, hydro-electric, coal or nuclear.)
At this point, when there are a variety of ways to power your vehicle, gasoline will have to compete with other forms of fuel that are not completely controlled by “big-oil”. As in Brazil, market forces will control costs and create a vigorous new-energy economy. Consumers decide what fuel to buy, based on a variety of reasons they get to determine.
When consumers have a choice and a real alternative to replace 100% gasoline, oil will no longer be a strategic commodity and it will be forced to be valued competitively, just like salt.
As oil prices continue to slide away from the peak crude costs earlier this year, and as the price at the pump lags downward, will American’s forget the hard lessons of the summer’s high fuel prices and lapse back into the sleepy denial of the true nature of our current energy crisis?Â
Judging from recently released data from USÂ DoT, theÂ “mileage bubble” has yet to burst.Â
The U.S. Department of Transportation said Friday that Americans drove 5.6 percent less, or 15 billion fewer miles, in August compared with same month a year agoâ€”the biggest single monthly decline since the data was first collected regularly in 1942.
But it’s not uncommon for market factors like these to lag behind one another. As fuel prices start to look “cheap” again to your average American driver, will they start forgetting the pain of $4+ gasoline?
Many experts I spoke with at the Energy Freedom Summit in Chicago believe that these lowered prices are very temporary, and that our energy strategy is so inherently weak that almost any “glitch”, storm, or supply chain attack will send prices soaring, probably beyond the record highs of this summer.
Robert McFarlane, former National Security Advisor for Ronald Reagan, went as far as to predict a massive attack on oil infrastructure in the next six months that would causeÂ crude oil costs to soar over $200 per barrel, and cement the looming world recession, noting that a 5% cut in current production would mean oil would cost about $200/bbl.
While not everyone agrees with the certainty of the event, most did agree that should such an event occur, the damage to worldÂ population would be devastating – especially to the parts of the world where higher oil costs mean starvation and death,Â in addition toÂ here in theÂ West where it will mean job-loss and economic hardship or ruinÂ forÂ many.Â
It’s my hope that the oil market have overplayed it’s hand with the American people, and that the lessons of the summer of ’08 will not be quickly forgotten.Â
What do you think? Comments are open…Â
SINGAPORE (AP) – Oil prices fell to 17-month lows at $63 a barrel Monday in Asia as investors weighed Friday’s OPEC output cut against growing evidence of a severe global economic slowdown that would undermine crude demand. Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell 32 cents to $63.83 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore. Investors brushed off a 1.5 million barrel-a-day cut announced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Friday, focusing instead on falling crude demand as economies across the globe reel from the impact of a credit crisis. On Friday, oil fell $3.69 to settle at $64.15. Prices have plunged 57 percent from a record $147.27 on July 11.
Today and tomorrow I’m in Chicago attending the Energy Freedom Summit,Â organized by the Set America Free Coalition. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this summit, not knowing much about the organization until just two months ago.
Â My first impression after today’s panels; I’m impressed with the knowledge, experience, focus and pace of this organization – they have a laser-lock on what they intend to do, and are efficient in getting the message out as powerfully as possible.
The panels are impressive leaders in their fields, from geo-political security experts to plug-in hybrid magazine editors. I’m taking many notes.
The attendees are an ambitious and eclectic group of people from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in understanding andÂ solving the current energy crisis. Authors, government officials past and present, entrepreneurs, concerned citizens fill the conference hall – about 150 in all.
I’veÂ met several authors, a frog farmer,Â a history professor, a few lawyers,Â andÂ several “regular joes” who are attendingÂ in an effort toÂ “do something” about this problem.Â
I’m not yet sure where I fit in here, but I keep talking to people, and am learning quite a lot.
(Update 10/27/08 – I’m home from Chicago, with enough new information to fill this blog for weeks. I’m currently writing a few entries, and will begin posting themÂ as they are completed.)
Â Youâ€™ve probably noticed oil and gas prices are the lowest theyâ€™ve been all year. Demand has slipped not just here at home, but around the world. Even Chinaâ€™s demand is showing signs of cooling.
At the beginning of the year, OPEC producers felt confident that strong economic growth and tight supplies would keep oil prices high. When oil crossed the $100-a-barrel threshold in February, the cartelâ€™s president blamed speculators and said there was not much OPEC couldÂ do.
But now, panic is gripping producers as prices drop. Oil is down by half since July, and the speed of the decline has stunned oil-rich governments that have become dependent on highÂ prices.
OPEC is worried that prices are going to slip too far. This, of course is great news for consumers, who have been suffering for months paying balooning prices at the pump. Itâ€™s also a confirmation that basic rules of supply and demand still workÂ to determine the cost ofÂ commodities like fuel. Of course lower fuel prices would be even more welcome if not for the globalÂ economic downturn.
Were fuel prices a contributor to the economic crisis -Â a perfect storm of the housing creditÂ and oil bubbles? Iâ€™m sure that high fuel prices helped push consumer confidence down. How can you be optimistic about weathering your other economic problems when every day the price of fuel rises, and never seems to fall.Â High fuel costsÂ may have pushed us over the economic edge we have be teetering at for the last few years.
Early in the year there were numerous reports fromÂ government transportation agencies and commercial groups like AAA thatÂ AmericansÂ were curtailing driving, driving less that they had the year before,Â indicating the first decrease in driving inÂ decades.Â In any case, the oil market is finally reacting to months of run-ups, where weÂ found ourselves paying over $140 for a barrel of oil just a few short months ago.Â We stopped buying as much, and the price slips.
Now OPEC,Â the largestÂ oil cartel,Â may attempt to flex its muscleÂ to prop up falling oil prices and protect their profits, byÂ purposely reducing oil supply.Â
IsÂ it possible to demonstrate more clearly the need to find alternative supplies for energyÂ than this? Is it possible to demonstrate more clearly the effect ofÂ energy conservation than this? We all participated inÂ the grandest supply and demand experiment of modern history.
Conservation works – and works quickly, without any new technology required. Finding alternative sources of energy, or just stating the intention of finding alternative sources of oil, also works to reduceÂ prices. It doesnâ€™t take years, as predicted by politicians from each side. Speculators and cartelsÂ are discouraged when they hear the largest customer has decided to shop around a little.Â Sellers tend to sweeten the deal in order toÂ keep the customer.Â Itâ€™s less about actual drops of oil, and more about managing human greed. Letâ€™s not be lulled back into old habits by lower prices.
Letâ€™s also remember that relatively small changes in demand led to fairly substantial changes in price. Itâ€™s true that Americans are driving less than last year – but itâ€™s only by a small percentage.Â Look around, there are cars everywhere – moving around all hours of the day. Americanâ€™s havenâ€™t abandoned their cars, they are just using them a little less, or using them a little more efficiently. Iâ€™d like to think we contributed, however slightly.
A day after plunging as much as $5 a barrel in a dramatic sell-off, crude continued its downward trend Tuesday as traders sold oil contracts on the belief that prices are still too high in relation to demand and have further room to fall.
Is the Option to Drill enough to stop sky-rocketing gas prices?Â
(For the record, politics stink. Oil is now a hugely political issue, and I try very hard to avoidÂ “politics” on this blog and website. It’s truely meant to be a resource for everyone, without aÂ personal politicalÂ axe to grind. SometimesÂ politics areÂ unavoidable. When the facts speak one way or another, and it coincides with a certain political bent,Â I’ll do my very best toÂ indicate why you should at least consider the points being made by “the other team”.)Â
Some say we “can’t drill our way out of high oil prices” and that “it will take 10 years to see a result” of renewed off-shore drilling here in the United States. Apparently, however, our government can do a little paperwork and revoke drilling moratorium restrictions – creating an “Option of Drilling” – and immediatelyÂ see a “correction” to the price of oil – without anyÂ actual drilling.
- Since George Bush rescinded the federal moratorium on off-shore drilling and since demand for higher domestic production has increased in the face of $5 per gallon gasoline, the price of crude has dropped over $20 a barrel in less than two weeks.Â
- The correction for oil prices has lasted two weeks with Brent down 16.3 per cent since hitting a record $147.50 on July 11 while WTI has sunk 16.8 per cent since reaching an all-time high of $147.27 on the same day.
- Technically, the $128/bbl support on WTI did not hold very long, and crude is pushed down further to test how strong the $122/bbl support can be. If $122/bbl does not hold, then we would face another accelerating wave to the next significant support level at $110/bbl.
There is another ban on off-shore drilling – a Congressional ban. Lifting this ban wouldÂ indicateÂ a strong intention and commitment to the “Option to Drill” – and help continue the “correction” of oil prices.Â To lift the ban requires a vote. But, Congress being the mess that it is, there are people who’d just rather not vote one way or another on this right now…
- WHY NOT have a vote on offshore drilling? There’s a serious debate to be had over whether Congress should lift the ban on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf that has been in place since 1981.
The “correction”Â has certainly had some help form the currentÂ high prices. “Pain at the pump” has changed the habits of many drivers. Demand has reduced 2.4% from this time last year. Many people are driving less. It’s not hard to imagine why, when the cost of a fuel stop can easilyÂ approach $100 for a full sized pickup or SUV.
- â€œPeople have changed their driving habits, and theyâ€™re not going to change back anytime soon,â€Â said James Cordier, president of Tampa, Fla.-based trading firms Liberty Trading Group.
- Gasoline price changes typically lag behind oil prices. The price of oil has risen more than 72% over the last 12 months. But as the high cost of fuel cut into demand, crude prices have shed more than $23 a barrel since hitting a record high on July 11.Â Â
Without options, America’s economy can be held hostage by the greed of others. FuelClinic is obviously a stong proponet of consumer education, fuel conservation, new fuel technologies, electric cars, and other alternatives to help wean human civilization from the giant oil tit. At the same time, we do not need to needlessly (or stubbornly) slow the world economy by refusing to recognize the power of markets to correct themselves when artificial constraints are removed.
July 23 (Bloomberg) — The Arctic may hold 90 billion barrels of oil, more than all the known reserves of Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Mexico combined, and enough to supply U.S. demand for 12 years, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
One-third of the undiscovered oil is in Alaskan territory, the agency found in a study released today. By contrast, a geologic formation beneath the North Pole claimed by Russian scientists last year probably holds just 1.2 percent of the Arctic’s crude, the U.S. report showed…
…“Most of the Arctic, especially offshore, is essentially unexplored with respect to petroleum,” Donald Gautier, the project chief for the assessment, said in the report. “The extensive Arctic continental shelves may constitute the geographically largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum remaining on Earth.”
Source: Yahoo News
But the Arctic’s oil is not intended to replace all the supplies in the rest of world. It would last much longer by boosting available supplies and possibly reducing U.S. reliance on imported crude in the future, if America developed the resources.
The Arctic accounts for about 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas liquids, the agency said in the first publicly available petroleum resource estimate of the entire area north of the Arctic Circle.