Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

The US Military Going Green, Again Leading By Example…

Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.

From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.

Read the rest at the Epoch Times.



Driver Distraction: New Presidential Text-Messaging-While-Driving Ban

President Obama’s new ban on text messaging behind the wheel of government vehicles and texting in personal vehicles if using government-issued phones or on official business is an important warning to motorists to the dangers of distracted driving.

Federal employees will not be allowed to text while driving, according to an executive order signed Wednesday night by President Obama.

Department of Transportation Secretary Ray H. LaHood on Thursday announced the measures aimed at curbing what he called a deadly epidemic of distracted driving.

The order covers federal employees when they are using government-provided cars or cellphones and when they are using their own phones and cars to conduct government business.

Separately, the federal government plans to ban text messaging by bus drivers and truckers who travel across state lines, and may also preclude them from using cellphones while driving, except in emergencies.

Tragically, distracted driving claims thousands of lives each year. Texting is becoming more and more popular with both teens and adults, and many of those teens who grew up texting are now getting behind the wheel as inexperienced – and distracted – drivers.  

Last year, 5,870 people died and 515,000 were injured nationally in crashes linked to distracted driving – often due to the increasing number of drivers who juggle cell phones, BlackBerries, and other gadgets.

Drivers who talk on cell phones are four times as likely to crash, regardless of whether they’re using a hands-free device, studies show. In fact, a yakking driver is just as much a road hazard as one who is legally drunk. Texting poses even greater risks, since motorists have to take their eyes off the road.

It’s not just cell phones and text messages. The availability and variety of in-car gadgets continues to grow, and with it the potential for distracting drivers long enough to reduce reaction time and rob drivers of that critical second or two that could mean the difference between accident avoidance or tragedy.



Announcing: IOU’s For Clunkers

If you’ve read this blog at all over the last month you know I do not support the CARS program because of it’s excessive wastefulness and questionable effect – perfectly good vehicles and used car parts being destroyed before their normal usable life-span in a dangerous and dirty government mandated procedure.

Now we’re learning that dealerships who participated and “fronted” the $3500 to $4500 government rebate to the customers are now having trouble getting the actual rebate from the government, causing immediate cash flow problems. They basically sold cars at a loss, intending to “make” their profit from somewhere in the rebate check.

If you remember the program works because the government offers consumers a roughly $4500 dollar rebate.

So every clunker a dealership takes in puts them in the red until the government reimburses them. “What you have is hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting out there waiting for the government to pay,” Speers said.
Sheppard Auto has yet to see any cash, “I’m not concerned,” Speers continued, “I think we will get paid, it’s just going to take longer than we anticipated.”

That is fine for big dealerships like Sheppard Motors and Kendall Auto. Kendall’s CEO said they have been paid for 84 of their clunkers, but they have sold about 600.

For smaller dealerships, keeping up with this could be trouble. “A small dealership would have a tough time continuing with this,” Jeff Shutt the GM of Nissan Lithia in Eugene said.

They are doing alright, despite not getting reimbursed for all their clunkers, but there are rumors in the industry that some small dealerships may have to discontinue the program, if they don’t see some cash fast.

Now dealers are waiting on the mailman, hoping that the check arrives soon enough to pay the bills. Wonderful. Payments are so slow that many dealers are opting-out of the IOU’s for Clunkers program.

What are your thoughts? Did you take advantage of C4C? If so, how did it work out for you?

UPDATE: Even more good news over at the LA Examiner

Natasha Bishop: My understanding of the program is that a customer comes in with their clunker and they hand it over to a dealership for a credit of $2500 to $4500 towards a new car.  Does the customer immediately get to take the new car home?

Megan N: The dealership must release the sold car even if government money has not yet been received.

Natasha Bishop:  Your dealership hands over the new car before any rebate money is seen?

Megan N:  Dealerships are having to front the cost and hope that they will get reimbursed by the government. Many dealerships would like to hold onto the sold car until they receive the government money.

Natasha Bishop:  That seems like a big risk for dealerships.  Why can’t dealerships hold cars?

Megan N:  The government is telling customers to report dealerships as they MUST release the car to the customer at time of purchase.

Natasha Bishop:  How does the dealership get their rebate for each clunker sale?

Megan N:  There are well over 20 pages of paperwork the dealership must fill out for each “Cash for Clunker” sold vehicle.  If there is one mistake on this paperwork the government will deny that dealership the money “rebate” for that sold vehicle. There are NO second chances to re-do this paperwork.

Natasha Bishop:  Sounds like dealerships could potentially lose millions of dollars from this program.  What happens to the clunkers when they are turned over to the dealership?



The ugly truth about the so called “Cash for Clunkers” program

August 3, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Oil & Politics, Twitter, United States · 3 Comments 

c4c2The ugly truth about the so called “Cash for Clunkers” program is that it has very little to do with improving our energy problems, increasing fuel efficiency, or protecting the environment.

The mandated “engine destruction procedure” is dangerous – spewing hot oil and coolant into the air around the engine compartment – and in some cases starting fires in the engine compartment. Wait until someone is maimed for life from a steam explosion during this procedure.

The mandated “engine destruction procedure” is filthy – causing a maximum amount of emissions from the engine during the procedure. High temperatures also cause engine coolant (a poison) to boil and sometimes explode from the engine with an uncontrolled low-pressure steam explosion. 

The mandated “engine destruction procedure” is wasteful – all internal engine parts need not be destroyed to render the car “un-sellable”. All that is needed is a simple annotation in the state’s vehicle VIN record that the car is “scrap”, and you can not get a title for that car – no one will buy a car they can not title.  You can then recycle those car parts into the used-car-parts market.

Here’s a YouTube playlist with over 80 Cash-For-Clunkers “Engine Stop” videos:
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=FEAC2AC1708B4D61

The CARS program effectively buys and destroys your old oil-addicted vehicle, and helps you replace it with a moderately more fuel efficient oil-addicted vehicle – prolonging the overall lifespan of our oil-addicted fleet of vehicles in American garages!

The government jumped too soon… we don’t have viable alternative-fuels established yet to usher in the much anticipated post-petroleum era in transportation… If you are truly trying to fix our problems, you’d have waited to incentivize a change to whatever is “next” – instead of prolonging the history of 100% oil-dependency.

(Of course we could have had at least some choice with FlexFuel, had Congress not failed to mandate this low-cost alternative be built-in to new cars many times over the last few years.) 

Even worse, Congress is so enamoured with the “success” of CARS that they are going to fund it up some more by taking money out for real energy efficiency research programs! 

It boggles my mind really – and I’m a fuel-efficiency nut who spends much of his “free” time promoting fuel efficiency! You’d think I’d love this program… instead I can’t get beyond what and an ugly display of excess it is to needlessly destroy working vehicles that still have value. 

My brain is about to have an  uncontrolled low-pressure steam explosion of it’s own.

The NY Times says Government Can Promote Energy Efficiency – why not start with a program that can actually accomplish a great deal of success w/o a great deal of up-front costs?



Where does your gas money go?

June 19, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, Fuels, Governments, Oil Industry, Oil Refining · 5 Comments 

There’s an outstanding report from American Petroleum Institute (API) called Energizing America. I’m going to cherry pick some of the best and most informative info-graphs from this report and highlight them over the next few weeks. You can download a free copy of their report from their website.

what_consumers_pay_for_at_pump

Click image to enlarge.

The API report wants to emphasis that oil companies only make a 5.5% margin on each drop of oil the buy, refine, and transport to your local filling station.

More interesting are the taxes; nearly a quarter of the money consumers spend at the pump gets fed back to local, state, and federal governments. Any idea why every administration since the 1970′s oil crisis has so far failed to solve our oil addiction? Anyone?



Fuelishness! Feed: Oil firms above $60; Venezuela builds oil rig with China; The end of the gas guzzler; Will transform US auto fleet; Safety could suffer

  • Oil firms above $60 – Oil prices have been on an upward trend since mid-April on equity-led rallies. They have recovered from below $33 in December after a plunge from record highs above $147 in July.
     
  • Venezuela set to build first oil rig with China – China buys 300,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude every day, and is eager for more from the Latin American country as part of its global quest for a diverse range of energy supplies.
     
  • The end of the great American gas guzzler – President Barack Obama will unveil new fuel efficiency standards today in an effort to limit the release of greenhouse gases by cars and trucks. 
     
  • Obama’s new rules will transform US auto fleet – The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.
     
  • Safety could suffer if we boost mileage by making cars smaller - The National Academy of Sciences, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Congressional Budget Office and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have separately concluded in multiple studies dating back about 20 years that fuel-economy standards force automakers to build more small cars, which has led to thousands more deaths in crashes annually. 


An American Automotive Industry Rescue Plan that Just Might Work

April 11, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Congress, FuelClinic, Governments · 3 Comments 

If you’re like me you’re more than a little disappointed by the early missteps of the Obama Administration’s efforts to save a few of the big American auto manufacturers, and by association, the entire industry.  The Presidential Task Force seems a little out of touch.

Enter Iowahawk. He’s a guy with a clue about what it takes to help rescue the American Automotive Industry… take a hint from the booming American Custom Car Industry… all he needs is “unlimited regulatory powers and expense account“.

imagination

I realize the [automotive] industry is not suffering from a lack of law professors — it is suffering from a lack of  imagination. They gave us cup holders and electric seat warmers when we wanted angel fur and bubble tops. They pushed micro-clown cars and hybrids when the market was rife for chromed 8-deuce Chrysler Hemis. Well, Bucko, all that outmoded thinking is going to end during the reign of Czar Dave. Saving the American auto industry is going to be a big job, but I won’t be doing it alone. I have already appointed my own shadow Council of Automotive Advisors, a select group of successful auto manufacturers whose qualifications appear after the jump. Many are close personal friends of mine, and I can attest to their patriotism, integrity, ingenuity, and wonderful lack of law degrees.

Not too many gas sipping hybrids on display at the link – but there is just as many customizers (both professional and do-it-yourselfers) who’s passion are cars that squeeze every last tenth-of-a-mile from a gallon of gas.

The point is that we need car guys — who know cars and what makes people love cars, not more lawyers and bureaucrats — saving our auto industry. 

Read the rest of Iowahawk’s argument, with lots more photos of hot cars…



Obama Administration’s New Fuel Economy Standards Sued as Too Weak

The Center for Biological Diversity,  an organization of “biodiversity activists” who are keen to use the courts to help “protect the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive” – have appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to declare that the Obama administration’s new few standards for 2011 are violating federal law.

The Obama administration’s new fuel economy standards for 2011 vehicles, the first industry wide increase in miles-per-gallon requirements since the mid-1980s, were challenged in court Thursday by an environmental group, which said the rules are too weak and still don’t consider the impact of emissions on global warming.

The standards, announced last Friday by the Department of Transportation, would boost average fuel economy requirements to 27.3 mpg for all vehicles, up by 2 mpg from 2010 models. Passenger cars would have to reach 30.2 mpg and light trucks 24.1 mpg.

Some environmental groups have said the new standards are a small step in the right direction, but the Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday they’re actually weaker than the requirements that the Bush administration proposed last year for 2011 vehicles…

Our fuel economy standards have been nearly flat since the early 1980′s – while modern engines are more efficient than older models (fuel injection vs. carburetors is a simple example),  cars and trucks have become bigger and more powerful, and actual fuel mileage – miles per gallon – has not increased. 

…The group asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to declare that the administration violated a federal law requiring that fuel economy standards be set at the maximum feasible level, in light of current technology, economic impact, and the nation’s need to conserve energy. The same court ruled in a similar lawsuit in 2007 that the Bush administration’s fuel standards for light trucks and SUVs for the 2008 through 2011 model years were invalid…

Given the existing “climate of chaos” gripping the government, it’s unlikely that this appeal will make many ripples. The problem is not enough time to do the various impact studies and set the standards based on those findings – while still  giving the struggling manufacturers time to retool and implement the needed technologies. 

…The administration “cooked the books to conclude the maximum fuel efficiency level the United States can achieve in 2011 is the lowest in the world,” Siegel said.

Critics of Obama’s “Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry” pointed out early that the members of the task force generally seem a little out of touch with the importance of improved fuel economy – another example of this administration’s disappointing “do as I say, not as I do” approach to the subject of energy efficiency.



“Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry” Fails CAFE Standards

The was a minor kerfuffle last week as one blogger did the math and determined that the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry would fail CAFE fuel economy standards…

The vehicles owned by the Obama administration’s auto team were released in a list today by The Detroit News. While Detroit is focusing on the fact that the “Big Three” are underrepresented amongst the auto-owners on the federal task force, I just did some back-of-the-envelope math and made a shocking discovery…The federal task force fails CAFE standards.

I’d like to mention that both the CAFE and EPA ratings have very little to do with _actual_ fuel mileage (fleet or personal), and can be exceeded in nearly any car by anyone taking the initiative to practice simple “eco-driving” techniques.

Obama’s task force could track their actual fuel mileage using their existing cars on a website like FuelClinic [www.fuelclinic.com] and use the eco-driving techniques to show the nation the easily repeatable efficiency improvements _anyone_ can make – and it wouldn’t cost a dime.



Fuelishness! Feed: $81,400,836,908 For a Tank of Gas?, Obama Declares War on Oil, Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus

February 27, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, Energy Independence, Fuelishness!, Governments, Oil Industry · Comment 
  • 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


Congress Plans to Block ANWR Forever

January 31, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, Energy Independence, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Oil Industry · Comment 

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?


Fuelishness! Feed

  • 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.


Fuelishness! Feed

January 16, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Tax Credits · Comment 
  • If Our Gas Taxes Go Up, Will Gas Prices Become Unfair?  Faced with dwindling cash reserves, several states are considering raising their Gas Tax. Those with efficient vehicles will come out ahead. Low income families, the trucking industry and the alternative fuel industry will finish last.
      
  • Taxing Motorists Based on Miles Traveled, Not Gasoline Consumed? Oregon… Kulongoski wants motorists in the Beaver State to pay 1.2 cents for every mile they drive regardless of whether their rides chug gasoline and spew rivers of greenhouse gas, or run on electricity supplied by happy hamsters spinning wheel-generators.
      
  • Waxman promises quick action on climate - ”Our environment and our economy depend on congressional action to confront the threat of climate change and secure our energy independence,” said Waxman. “U.S. industries want to invest in a clean energy future, but uncertainties about whether, when and how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced is deterring these vital investments.”  


Krauthammer’s “Net-Zero” Gas Tax

January 10, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Tax Credits · Comment 

This week Charles Krauthammer wrote in The Weekly Standard about a novel new kind of gas tax – a “net-zero” tax. In an effort to keep raw oil prices low, encourage improved fuel conservation, and shore-up alternative energy investment and development,  Mr. Krauthammer suggests we take the current low oil prices as an opportunity to impose a new gas tax.

High gas prices, whether achieved by market forces or by government imposition, encourage fuel economy. In the short term, they simply reduce the amount of driving. In the longer term, they lead to the increased (voluntary) shift to more fuel-efficient cars. They render redundant and unnecessary the absurd CAFE standards–the ever-changing Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations that mandate the fuel efficiency of various car and truck fleets–which introduce terrible distortions into the market. As the consumer market adjusts itself to more fuel-efficient autos, the green car culture of the future that environmentalists are attempting to impose by decree begins to shape itself unmandated. This shift has the collateral environmental effect of reducing pollution and CO2 emissions, an important benefit for those who believe in man-made global warming and a painless bonus for agnostics (like me) who nonetheless believe that the endless pumping of CO2 into the atmosphere cannot be a good thing. 

But how exactly do you convince American’s to accept this new tax – especially now as so many still struggle with job losses, mortgage payments, and a skidding stock market? How about establishing a tax-refund proportional to the amount of tax paid at the gas pump.

The rub, of course, is that this price drop is happening at a time of severe recession. Not only would the cash-strapped consumer rebel against a gas tax. The economic pitfalls would be enormous. At a time when overall consumer demand is shrinking, any tax would further drain the economy of disposable income, decreasing purchasing power just when consumer spending needs to be supported.

What to do? Something radically new. A net-zero gas tax. Not a freestanding gas tax but a swap that couples the tax with an equal payroll tax reduction. A two-part solution that yields the government no net increase in revenue and, more importantly–that is why this proposal is different from others–immediately renders the average gasoline consumer financially whole.

Here is how it works. The simultaneous enactment of two measures: A $1 increase in the federal gasoline tax–together with an immediate $14 a week reduction of the FICA tax. Indeed, that reduction in payroll tax should go into effect the preceding week, so that the upside of the swap (the cash from the payroll tax rebate) is in hand even before the downside (the tax) kicks in.

The math is simple. The average American buys roughly 14 gallons of gasoline a week. The $1 gas tax takes $14 out of his pocket. The reduction in payroll tax puts it right back. The average driver comes out even, and the government makes nothing on the transaction. (There are, of course, more drivers than workers–203 million vs. 163 million. The 10 million unemployed would receive the extra $14 in their unemployment insurance checks. And the elderly who drive–there are 30 million licensed drivers over 65–would receive it with their Social Security payments.)

Essentially it’s a redistribution of tax, from paychecks to gas pumps, giving a real incentive to conserve fuel while keeping the price of crude oil in check – since a hike in crude prices would cause too much pain at the pump, and cut demand like we’ve seen over the past few months.

I am concerned with the mechanics of administering such a tax for those in the “exceptional” areas – I disagree that an average of 14 gallons week is even close to fair, judging from a cusory look thru some of the aggregate data here at FuelClinic. Perhaps we’d build a system like FuelClinic – which tracks actual fuel usage – but in a more verifiable way (this site is basically using the honor system, you can add to it whatever you want, but you’re only hurting your own statistics, not stealing any money from the government.)

So… would you support a gas-tax if it was coupled to a tax credit or some sort?



Bush Won’t Impose Tougher Fuel Economy Requirements

January 8, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Congress, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Governments · Comment 

From: Detroit Free Press

The Bush administration declined Wednesday to put into place tough new fuel economy rules for cars and trucks, letting the incoming Obama administration decide how to balance cutting Americans’ demand for oil with billions of dollars in new costs for struggling Detroit automakers.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Transportation said the industry’s financial decline will require the Obama administration to conduct a thorough review of the fuel economy rules, and that the work already done should allow the next administration to finish ahead of an April 1 deadline set by the 2007 energy bill.

The delay, widely expected by the industry, adds yet another variable to an uncertain outlook for 2009.

Read more



Citizens for Energy Freedom

By making America a flex-fuel vehicle market, we will effectively make flex-fuel the international standard, as all significant foreign car makers would be impelled to convert their lines over as well. Around the world, gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels made from any number of sources, including not only current commercial crops like corn and sugar, but cellulosic ethanol made from crop residues and weeds, as well as methanol, which can be made from any kind of biomass without exception, as well as coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash. By creating such an open-source fuel market, we can enormously expand and diversify humanity’s fuel resource base, protecting all nations from continued robbery by the oil cartel.

To save America we need to break the oil monopoly. To break the monopoly, we need to create fuel choice. As the economic disaster unfolds, and Middle East power grows by billions daily, there is no time for further delay. Therefore, we call upon the US Congress to take patriotic action and pass the Open Fuel Standard Act now.



Obama: The Future of the Auto-Industry, Green-Fuel Surcharge

December 8, 2008 · Filed Under Congress, Governments, News & Reports · Comment 

Barak Obama was on Meet the Press this weekend, and gave some insight into his plans for the US Auto-Industry and possibility of a fuel-surcharge

What do you think about $4/gallon gas mandate that Brokaw puts forth? I think Obama had the correct response, but it’s clear that cheap gas literally kills new investment in alternative energy solutions.



A Real Plan for Automakers and America

Congress will likely consider a “bailout” for the auto-industry today, Monday, Dec. 8, 2008.  It is an opportunity for Flex-Fuel legislation (Open Fuel Standard Act) to pass as well.

tmdsu08120420081206125757.jpg

Congress should require that new cars run on any mix of gasoline and ethanol and methanol.  As a reminder, in the war on oil-dependence, this would be a game-changer.

The facts:

1) Flex-fuel is an inexpensive, proven technology.
   a. Cost is $100 per vehicle for new cars.
   b. The original flex-fuel vehicle was the Model-T (for 17 years).
   c. The US auto industry currently has over 4.4 million flex-fuel cars on US roads (but few would know it).
   d. Brazil consumes ethanol (from sugar-cane) for over 50% of its fuel requirements.

2) The cost of oil will rise again
   a. OPEC has already cut production by 1.5 million barrels per day.
   b. And is considering an additional cut of more than 2.5 million additional barrels per day (later this week).
   c. Demand for oil from China and India, with vastly growing middle-classes, inevitably will rise again.
   d. The easiest to extract oil on earth has been tapped, and it gets more difficult as time goes on.
   e. Oil is still $30/barrel higher than its 10 year historic low.

3) National-security demands that we reduce our dependence.
   a. Russia, Venezuela, and OPEC are repressive, regressive, and often anti-American oil exporters.
   b. We fund their misbehaviors and we end up supporting terrorism.
   c. We cannot hope to modify the goals of a nuclear-intentioned Iran when we are so dependent and while they control the waterway through which 20% of world’s oil passes daily.

4) Economic strength demands that we reduce our dependence.
   a. We are exporting millions of jobs that could otherwise be producing our fuel domestically.
   b. We could be “recycling” these domestically spend dollars-at a time in which we need it so badly.
   c. We could be developing the technologies that will fuel the future of the energy marketplace globally.

5) Many solutions.
   a. We also need solar, nuclear, wind, and drilling.
   b. But we need Flex-Fuel biofuels NOW as the surest short-term path to addressing our dependecies and to create security and economic strength.
   c. The best time to get the auto-makers to cooperate is while they need a “bailout”.

6) Please, contact your Senator today–not tomorrow.
   a. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Senator’s office.
   b. You can make a difference with just a phone call.
   c. Call both of your Senators.

 

Reprinted w/ Permission from MoveBeyondOil.org
E-mail: info@movebeyondoil.org
Phone: 516-717-0000



US Govt gives automakers $25B in loans; drops fuel-efficiency mandate

By Peter Forman
Published: November 14, 2008
New York–This is a Breaking News analysis as of Friday, Nov 14, 2008, 5:30 pm.

The United States continues to “perpetuate” a broken auto industry.

Because of pressure from Detroit, unions, and Michigan lawmakers, the “Big Three” auto makers have been insulated from the real market-place of competition for the past 30 years. The Japanese and Germans have figured out how to build cars in the American South profitably–but not the Big Three.
 
Looking at this from a Darwinian perspective, the US auto makers were protected from the same marketplace pressures to which the world’s other car makers were exposed.  The extra profits they were able to generate by virtue of this protection essentially went to the workers and to shareholders.

That’s fine and good except now we have a completely broken auto industry that is unable to compete.  Now exposed to declining demand and lacking access to “cheap” capital, they are likely to disappear in their current forms–even after we spend untold billions in short-term assistance.
 
For years they fought everything from seatbelts to higher mileage standards to bio-fuels.  The unions and the companies are victims of their own self-inflicted damage. 
 
Now there is breaking news that President Bush, later this afternoon, has called on Congress to give U.S. auto makers quick access to a $25 billion federal loan program by dropping a requirement that the money be spent on converting to fuel-efficient vehicles. (emphasis mine) 

The move, aimed at ending what the White House called partisan “gridlock,” represents a significant escalation in the political battle over aid to the Big Three auto makers.  This is ahead of an expected showdown next week in Congress between Democrats and Republicans.
 
We taxpayers, the investors-of-last-resort, should at least expect that these bail-out monies be invested in a way that prepares the car companies for the future and that serve our national-security and economic interests.
It is the very least we can demand and expect. 

While we are unlikely to ever see a return of these funds, the car companies could at least agree to manufacture all cars beginning in 2012 with flex-fuel compatibility and continues progress towards EVs (electric vehicles).

Without at least those commitments, what will we have to show for this “investment”?

Demand that your Congressperson and Senator act–call today!
Demand loans only in exchange for the Open Fuel Standard Act.
Demand that, for once, we begin to move beyond oil.
 
MoveBeyondOil.org
The bi-partisan, not-for-profit source for energy independence information and solutions.

Used w/ Permission: MoveBeyondOil.org



Citizens for Energy Freedom Founding Conference, January 2009 at Florida Atlantic University

November 8, 2008 · Filed Under Congress, Do-It-Yourself, Energy Independence, FuelClinic · 1 Comment 

Join me at the The Citizens for Energy Freedom Founding Conference this January at Florida Atlantic University for the founding meeting of this new grassroots energy-independence campaign.

The Citizens for Energy Freedom Founding Conference
January 17th & 18th, 2009
at Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter, Florida

Announced last month at the Energy Freedom Summit in Chicago, this two day convention will feature a series of talks and panels by leading experts on energy, economics, technology, national security, and politics.

Invited guests include:

  • Sen. Mel Martinez
  • Sen. Bill Nelson
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton
  • and Former Speaker Newt Gingrich

If tailored after the Energy Freedom Summit, this will be an intense two day collection of industry and government experts at panels, presentations, discussions, and workshops focused tightly on educating and motivating attendees to help organize to support a workable energy independence plan. Bring a notebook!

Sign up today at the bottom of this page to reserve your seat at this conference. 

I’ve already reserved mine. :)



What Should Obama’s Energy Policy Include/Exclude?

November 5, 2008 · Filed Under Congress, Energy Independence, Fuels, Industry, News & Reports, Tax Credits · Comment 

Senator Obama ran a brilliant campaign and yesterday a majority of Americans voted him in to the Office of the President of the United States. While there is certainly reason to celebrate today, in a few short months he will inherit a failed energy policy, one in desperate need of change – but exactly what kind of change?

cooip.jpg

The Obama-Biden comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:

+ Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump
+ Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
+ Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
+ Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars — cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon — on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.
+ Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
+ Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

In the past Obama has been a friend of the ethanol industry, supporting the subsidies that enabled the young industry to flourish in his home state (and surrounding states) early by encouraging private investment and innovation. He recently said corn ethanol is not “optimal” when compared with sugar cane ethanol, a comparison that is not entirely fair, since corn ethanol production produces feed for livestock as a byproduct.

Will he continue to support the ethanol subsidies, and work to raise the “blend wall” on E10 from 10% to a higher figure? (Ethanol production is about to “cap” out due to the lack of market for it’s excess product.) There is no mention of the Flex-Fuel Vehicle in the bullet points above, although it would be the cheapest fastest method for reducing (in a meaningful way) America’s transportation reliance on oil.  

So, besides encouraging fuel conservation and mandating FFV’s w/ the Open Fuels Standard Act, what else should President Obama’s energy policy include and exclude?

Comments are open, but moderated to reduce spam.



Remarks by Governor Sarah Palin on Achieving Strategic Energy Independence

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.

###



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