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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Magic Bullet Still Missing in Energy Independence

The president made clear that energy independence will be one of his priorities. He laid out a world in which our country was free of our dependence on foreign oil.

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we've fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders - and I know you don't either. It is time for America to lead again.Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history - an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

The President believes that energy independence comes from the government spending tens of billions of Dollars on investment, infrastructure, and research. The President believes that all that is necessary for energy independence is a full commitment by the government. If only it were that simple.

The President, along with most that attempt to solve this problem, continue, in my opinion, to miss the big problem. The bulk of our dependence continues to be oil to fuel our automobiles. There are, and always have been, an abundance of alternatives to fuel derived from oil: hydrogen, biofuels, ethanol, battery, etc. The problem has never been research. It isn't even will. The problem is that there is a monopoly on the manner in which fuel is delivered.(the oil companies) Not only is there a monopoly but that monopoly has created a system in which competition has little chance for success.

In any given neighborhood, there is a gas station every four to eight blocks. Each of these gas stations delivers gas from oil. Every once in a while, there will be an alternative like ethanol but not often. As such, for any alternative fuel vehicle to have any hope of mass market success, fuel must be as readily available for that car as it is for a car fueled by oil. At this year's Chicago Auto Show, Saturn produced a concept car that was a hybrid, electric and bio fuels. This is a concept a long way from being real because there is absolutely no place to fill up on gas from bio fuels. As I have said before, the oil companies have no interest in bringing an alternative fuel to the market. The oil companies will continue to only have fuel made from oil readily available every four to eight blocks. Because of that convenience, it is nearly impossible for any alternative fuel to have any mass appeal. If it is nearly impossible to re fuel, that automobile will NOT have any mass appeal. The problem was in fact crystallized at a Pickens Plan townhall meeting.

This was illustrated by something that Rahm Emanuel said while introducing Mr. Pickens. He mentioned that in 2005, he and Senator Obama secured $1.8 million for the city of Chicago, and that money went to build four, YES FOUR, natural gas fuel stations. Furthermore, Congressman Emanuel seems to think that he actually did something worthwhile. In fact, Congressman Emanuel illustrated the problem as I see it in attempting to move this country from oil to alternative sources as it relates to automobiles. Those four natural gas fuel stations would compete with about ten thousand regular fuel stations that provide gas derived from oil.

How can alternative energy sources compete when oil is so readily available as a fueling option?

We can spend billions and even trillions on investment, infrastructure, and research however all of it will be useless, unless someone figures out a way to bring alternative fuels to the market in a way that is at least close to as convenient as gas from oil is now. Since the oil companies themselves refuse to engage in this, all the government money in the world will have little effect.

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