Posts Tagged ‘alternative energy’

h1

T. Boone Pickins makes point, but disappoints

November 3, 2008

Yesterday, I dragged my unwilling kids out to see T. Boone Pickins speak about his energy plan.  I felt like it would be something of a watershed event where they’d look back and say, “wow, that’s when…”  Unfortunately, Boone was not an especially dynamic (or even intelligible) speaker and they did not get much from it.

Here’s what I got from it:

  1. Boone believes our #1 issue is dependence on foreign oil (70% of our oil is imported).
  2. We need to aggressively switch to natural gas as a transportation fuel to replace diesel from imported crude.

That’s it and I’m disappointed.  Boone is correct in both points, but I don’t think that is even close to a complete plan.  Here’s my 10 point energy plan:

  1. Implement an increasing carbon based tax to create incentives to move away from carbon based fuels.  Reducing the total oil used will dramatically impact the import issue.  If natural gas is more efficient, then we’ll use that instead to reduce the carbon tax impact.  Potentially, imported carbon could have additional tariffs.
  2. Require (fund) a standard platform for nuclear plants so that we can have common practices and economies of scale.
  3. Immediately start increasing the efficiency standards for everything (appliances, computers, HVAC, cars) that are sold.  Provide substantial tax incentives for people who replace these items if they also recycle the replaced unit.
  4. Establish a Sustainable Corps to help implement efficiency & green power projects nationwide.
  5. Fund Power Up Our Schools program to make all school districts energy independent in 5 years.
  6. Impose a disposal surcharge on items that cannot be broken down into recyclable components.
  7. Stop all subsidies for production of corn ethanol.
  8. Take away tax breaks for energy companies – they get to keep the money if they were re-investing it into R&D.  If they won’t fund research then the government gets to use the windfall.
  9. Grant right of way for high-speed passenger trains along existing interstate routes.
  10. 55 mile per hour national speed limit and add pay for access inner-city driving – this alone would eliminate the amount of crude that we import from Saudi Arabia.

These 10 items would make an immediate and signficant different.  They leverage people making economic choices and do not restrict personal freedoms.

h1

You must read Hot, Flat, & Crowded

October 29, 2008

by Thomas Friedman (Amazon).  It’s an excellent discussion about our current challenges with concrete solutions.  I’ll post more about it, but I recommend just reading the source.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded

Hot, Flat, and Crowded

h1

Oil prices up or down? Speculation driving them up?

July 23, 2008

I heard on NPR today that Congress determined rising Oil prices were NOT due to speculation.  Here’s an interesting debate about short & long term future for OilMatthew Simmon‘s, a peak oil advocate, suggests that we should put a floor on the price to prevent short term thinking.  He argues that 1) oil supplies will continue to lag demand and 2) we won’t make the long term changes needed until people stop thinking of this is a oil price bubble.  He says, “stop the witch hunt and start looking for solutions.”

Peak Oil Analyst

Peak Oil Analyst

I believe that our government is highly motivated to find a short term fix to the supply problem.  Inescapable election year politics lead me to predict that we’re likely to have an artificial/short return to low prices to stimulate the economy.  I think this will have much more drastic long term costs.

Alternative energy is the only long term solution .  A price floor will protect investors in alternative fuels because real alternatives need time to reach the mass market.

I’ll suggest again, that we should have a 10+ year “energy independence” initiative like the 1960’s space race where we invest heavily in building the expertise (the people) to solve this problem.  Our nation benefited dramatically from that focus.  A sustainability focus would regain maintain our world leadership.