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Thursday, February 02, 2006 


This is what I am talkin' about, Willis!

current U.S. energy policy is a scandal. There is no reason the United States should remain helpless, allowing itself to be looted by people who are using the proceeds to undermine us. A much higher degree of energy independence is possible, even apparent, yet victory is not being pursued.
To illustrate, I applauded the State of the Union address for the mention of Ethanol and a 6 year plan to make it "competitive". Small steps like this are big news to those of us that understand the danger the country is in due to the petroleum economy.
To liberate ourselves from the threat of foreign economic domination, undercut the financiers of terror, and give ourselves the free hand necessary to deal with Middle Eastern extremists, we must devalue their resources and increase the value of our own. We can do this by taking the world off the petroleum standard and putting it on an alcohol standard.
Mr. Zubrin is a bit down on the prospects of Hydrogen and is rightly scornful of conservation efforts, but does make an extremely strong case for Ethanol/Methanol as a solution to many of the problems the US faces today. His simple proposal to require all cars sold in the US to be Flex-Fuel capable is one that should get serious play in Congress. This would create a market for ethanol and thus spur the deployment of retail outlets.

One problem that he didn’t address is the transportation problem. Ethanol requires special handling which makes pipelining impractical. Given this, rail and barge transport from the Midwest to the rest of the country is indicated. The railroad systems will have to be severely upgraded in order to handle enough traffic to make ethanol viable as a large replacement of petroleum. For more on the transportation issues, see this article from the Department of Energy.

Mr. Zubrin also brushes aside the input problem, which is a greater problem than the transport issues. This is where switchgrass and cellulose technologies need to come to bear. Using waste material and plant material that grows on land that is currently unsuitable for farming is the way to energy independence. This research needs to be supported, heavily and immediately. It needs to be seen as a National Security Issue and not a farm issue.

If we can require auto makers to conform to CAFE standards as a sop to the conservation lobby and seat belts and air bags for the safety lobby why not require Flex-Fuel capabilities for NATIONAL DEFENSE? At least it would be a start, a simple step to a great American future.

(I ran across this article via Professor Reynolds.)

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