Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Energy Solution That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Does anyone know a good editor? Ray Learsy takes 1200-1300 words to get to his point in a 1700 word posting at the Huffington Post. Here's his idea: ration gasoline.
Jeesh, he was a commodities trader, he should know better.
From the HuffPo:

The one thing the oil patch and their allies fear is something they deem us incapable of achieving. Seriously curtailing demand for gasoline! Were we to take demand in hand as a national mission and to sharply reduce our gasoline consumption we would almost certainly:

- Collapse the price of oil
- Reduce our CO2 emissions in a truly significant and meaningful way
- Free us from our dependence on duplicitous foreign suppliers
- Realign the balance between suppliers of oil and its consumers (us)
- Greatly enhance our national security
- Result in the rebirth and an enormous stimulus to our automobile sector, through the steeply enhanced demand for flex fuel, plug in vehicles. We have some 230 million cars on the road of which only six million have a flex fuel capability.
- Result in a boom to our farm belt whereby the billions we are sending to malign foreign regimes would now stay at home
- Create an immediate boom and new jobs as our economy is forced to focus on clean renewable energy sources be it biomass, wind, geothermal, solar power along with a wave of new and imaginative technological and agricultural innovations.
- The economic benefits of gearing up and developing a national distribution system permitting access to biofuel and plug in facilities throughout the land. We have 160,000 filling stations and only 1002 with ethanol/biofuel capability
- Renewed interest and needed massive investment in our mass transportation system, especially our passenger rail service such as Amtrak
- Not least, revesting us as a nation with a level of moral authority in that we, the world's most gluttonous oil consumer, will have assumed the mantle of conservation leadership.

If you haven't guessed by now what I'm driving at or from, don't despair. In earlier posts ("The Ozone Sized Hole In Al Gore's Global Warning", 07/03/07, and "Capping America's Gasoline Consumption Through a Manageable 'Eco-Fuels' Program", 01/08/07) I called it a "voucher program", afraid I would scare everyone away, myself included. Let me now spell it out for you and for me to see what It looks like on paper, this word " ...that dare not speak its name": "GAS-RATIONING".

By that is meant rationing of petroleum based gasoline. Consumption of alternatives be it ethanol, biomass or biobased fuels generally, plug in electric power, etc. would continue to be open ended.

The leadership for this initiative will not come from this president nor from any in his administration. Certainly not from his Department of Energy. It is an administration totally wedded to the mini step, long horizon approach and to the adage that "market forces will bring about the changes" as Karl Rove said in "conversation" with Walter Isaacson at the Ideas Festival.

"Market forces" is the bromide that the oil industry, and those wedded to its interests, including this administration, cravenly hide behind, in lieu of exercising the leadership so urgently needed to meet our existential challenges. As one Forum participant put it: "the invisible hand of the market remains invisible".

This administration's near 'hands off' policy and lack of any viable effort to immediately curb demand, and its benign indifference to the escalating price of gasoline that continue to enrich the oil companies and our foreign suppliers at the public's expense while exacerbating the risk to our national security, borders on scandal. This while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Venezuela and the rest of their OPEC brethren (controlling 40% of the worlds oil supply) have no hesitation curbing production to manipulate prices ever higher. In the oil game, as ever, the consumer is playing against loaded dice.

That they have the oil resources, while we do not have the inner resources to systematically curtail demand is what the oil industry is counting on. We must show them to be wrong, not only for ourselves but for those generations to come, including the progeny of our oil patch brothers. It is time for Congress to lead.

Oil rationing during WWll brought us a shared sense of mission and dignity to the home front. We didn't fight and win that war to now become vassals of the oil barons!