Forget Oil! The Future is in Electricity

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July 19, 2008

By Bob Difley
SolarA lot of experts and theoretical think tanks are looking at ways to quickly and drastically reduce our oil requirements, rather than pursuing ways to increase supply to meet demand with unpopular options like increased drilling in places like ANWR and the continental shelf. They are suggesting that we instead put our efforts into producing most if not all of our energy needs from domestic sources.

  • No to foreign oil.
  • No to war with foreign nations to stabilize their shaky governments and whose oil we want.
  • No deals with disruptive, threatening, unfriendly, and unstable governments and rulers just so we can buy their oil.
  • No to competing with China and India for oil, whose exploding economies have them gobbling up all the oil they can buy from any source at any price.
  • No more oil tanker spills.
  • Reduction of CO2 emissions and air pollution.

A pipe dream?

According to these experts and researchers, the answer to our energy requirement is to convert quickly to domestically produced energy, namely electricity. Half the oil used in this country is absorbed by the transportation sector. If we gave incentives and tax breaks to car manufacturers to produce electric cars, to car buyers to buy electric cars, to energy suppliers (gas stations) to set up the infrastructure to recharge electric car batteries, and started to mass produce (read lower price) cutting-edge batteries, electric car sales would take off like an iPod give-away. And where would these incentives come from? From the subsidies now given to the oil companies, from farmers growing corn to make ethanol, and from the billions of dollars now flowing into Iraq. And I’m sure you can think of even more sources.

What about the 250 million gasoline-fueled cars now on the road? The technology now exists to add an electric motor and battery to standard cars creating an instant hybrid. Granted, the mileage on electric-only power might be just 50 miles (though this figure is increasing rapidly), but for most of us, that would cover a day’s driving of our tow or toad, and even for most commuters. If the daily mileage exceeds 50 miles, the gasoline engine takes over. When you get back home or to the campground, plug it into an electrical outlet to recharge for the next day.

Many small cars would not have the room to install an additional electric motor, but the ones that need it most—SUVs, trucks, delivery vans—do and would see an instant reduction of fuel costs as well as a giant reduction of CO2 emissions—some estimates go as high as 60%. And most if not all of the cost of installing an electric motor would also be covered by incentives and tax breaks. These incentives would be one of the best investments of government money you might ever see as it would result in an immediate reduction of oil imports, a drop in the price of oil, reduced air pollution, and the taking of a giant step toward an electric economy.

So where does all this electricity come from? There are many ways to produce electricity that do not require oil (in fact, none of the electric utilities now use oil to produce electricity) such as hydro-electric, solar, wind, tidal turbines, geo-thermal, coal, and nuclear.

Yes, I said coal and nuclear. Coal as it exists in power generation now, no, but with tax breaks to coal burning utilities to install CO2 sequestration and scrubbing coal could be cleaned up. The advantages include the availability of huge quantities of coal in this country to offset much of the need for oil. Nuclear still needs some work, but with incentive or venture capital money to put study of safety and nuclear waste disposal issues on the fast track, these problems might also be overcome.

Experts say that compared to drilling new sources of oil where the amounts recovered would still be sold at high world market prices, and do little to either satisfy increasing demand or lower prices, through these measures we could quickly  reduce our oil imports by as much as 50%, and since we only get about 20-25% from OPEC nations, that would be the end of that problem.

What do you think?

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  5. Jack

    I look forward to electric or hybrid toads and camp grounds with recharging stations.

  6. Manuel Enos

    Well, we can go out to California and soak up some of that oil seeping out of the ground that the green tree huggers won’t let us drill for. I mean, get off the green ticket until we have a viable source. We can get off foreign oil tomorrow if this country will get off its collective butts and shut the talking heads in government up and let the experts go at it!! Fund it!!! Don’t start trying to scare everyone into the lean green so called mean machine which ain’t so!! We have more natural gas than anyone in the world and we are not tapping it and changing our engines to that clean alternative because the talking heads believe everthing that Al Gore and his so called experts spout daily..People should really study things before they go trying to shove it down our throats..I mean, look at the great economy that change has brought on us because it had to be saved right now!!

  7. Wilkie Cheek

    Califorina– It’s full of Fruits and Nuts— Wind don,t blow it sucks — – Bless there hearts

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  9. John Shelton

    I will add this on the assumption that Wayne is asking a question that he is serious about and not just making a joke. I am not an engineer or a trained expert of any degree whatsoever, but I have been an automobile and/or highway truck mechanic since automobiles – and trucks – had DC generators. The primary problem with generators was the need for significant maintenance due to relatively rapid wear of commutator and brushes. As the automobile required more and more current to power an increasing number of devices, this problem also grew. (the more current that flowed through the brushes, the more rapid the wear.) This was probably the biggest single reason for the birth of the alternator (aka, AC Generator). The actual output from an alternator is actually DC current suitable for supplying the DC current necessary for re-charging a battery. The three phase AC current is rectified by the diode pact so the actual output is a DC current. A couple of other factors favoring the alternator was the ability to produce a given amount of power from a physically smaller package and a device that was significantly lighter in weight for a given output. Ok, so much for history.

    Wayne, to answer your specific question, I would ask you a question in return. What would power this generator in your F-150 pickup? A battery cannot recharge itself. It would have to have some kind of source of power that would be converted to electricity for recharge. Even if it is recharged from an home electrical outlet, it must be converted to a DC current of the proper voltage. The typical source of onboard power to recharge a battery in a full-electric vehicle such as your theoretical converted F-150 is a gasoline or diesel engine. Since you would have your 50 mile battery pack, you could exceed the output of your engine driven battery charger for climbing hills and accelerating and make it back while going downhill and slowing because under these conditions the electric motor would be acting as a generator boosting the output of the engine powered generator. HUGE mileage gains are possible this way over anything that is currently being produced, but there is no dream on the horizon of a perpetual motion machine. Einstein didn’t even have such a dream.

  10. Bob Difley

    Ron – It will be a while before electric power evolves to be able to handle airplane. In the meantime, we can eliminate our need for foreign oil by converting our automobiles to electricity and investing in more efficient engines for trucks, boats, and planes.

  11. Bob Difley

    Good question, Wayne. Does that have something to do with perpetual motion? Any of you engineers or mechanics out there have a good explanation?

  12. Ron

    How long a cord are you going to put on airplanes?

  13. Wayne Berry

    If I put an electric motor on my F-150 and it will go 50 miles before going to gas,
    why can’t I put a generator on it to keep the battery up to power while I’m driving so I don’t need to go to the gas engine? All cars used to have a generator before going to alternators. Just wondering. Any geniuses out there? We need one.

  14. Dan says on Nov. 30th. “Can’t we do green and energy research to help spur the economy as with other projects now being purposed?”
    Seems to me like it would be a good investment by the government to achieve both goals–getting people back to work and forging ahead on alternative energy. You can bet the government will spend the money anyway, whether it be to bail out AIG, Detroit, or others with their hands out. Like, Dan, I’d like to see the money also do some good for the economy as well as individuals and energy policy.

  15. Dan

    To Bob and others,
    Here we are, December is around the corner, gas and diesel prices have moved down to a level not seen in 7 years, and I fear, all the discussion of alternative energy has evaporated. At least from our leaders.
    The cycle continues, the prices get pushed up by the oil speculators, the politicians bemoan the fact that we need more oil, the oil companies make huge profits, demand peaks and declines, and eventually so do prices. We saw this in the 70’s, the 80’s, and now again these last couple of years. But we never learn!
    Energy independence is a long term project. We need to get started now, and follow through. Wind, solar, and geo-thermal may not pencil out now that gas prices are dropping below $2 in places, but we still need to keep developing them. India and China still are demanding more and more resources to fuel their growth, population pressures around the world are not abating either.
    Can’t we do green and energy research to help spur the economy as with other projects now being purposed?

  16. bob difley

    Well said, Mark. And one of the big advantages of this type American project is that it creates green jobs, right here at home, not out-sourced. The money stays here to provide jobs for Americans. And its good for energy, combating global warming, and a faltering economy. WIN, WIN, WIN scenario we can all get behind. Thanks for your comments.

  17. Mark

    How is creating new energy sources, here in America, that we can all agree does not harm the environment, any different than the Apollo missions to the Moon?

    The machines, rockets, computers, and almost every piece of equipment had to be invented for success in the space race. Every single step was a challenge. Every single person working on the project worked harder and smarter than they had at any other time of their lives. Billions were spent. It created millions of jobs. There were lives that were lost and NASA will remember them for their service. But failure was not an option. Failure was never an option.

    America as a nation reached the Moon for all of humanity.

    Now compare all of that to advancing solar panels, creating wind farms, and creating more fuel efficient cars. I think we have a great task for us, American, but nothing more difficult than what America have faced before.

  18. lobosolo – If those who could commute with an electric car were to use them, that would solve the problem of having to import oil from OPEC. One big problem solved. Then we could work on the rest of it, better, longer-lasting, faster-charging batteries, with the research and development money flowing to American entrepreneurs rather than to unfriendly regimes to buy their over-price oil. Plug-Ins are on their way–readily available with a few years. Diesel. Yes, until EVs can produce as much power for less money and be charged up at any corner gas (fuel) station. Nuclear will come back. Great strides have been made in safety and in re-processing of spent nuclear waste (which is currently illegal in the US, but not in France where 76% of their electricity comes from nuclear). But it may take some time before the public realizes that proper storage of nuclear waste (the size of a football after providing for 20,000 homes for 8 to 10 years) is less dangerous than our current greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks for your comments. I’m going to check out the thorium thing.

  19. lobosolo

    I semi-agree with the premise of the article. For most commuters, they could replace their car with hybrid or electric vehicle and do just fine. They could have second car for long trips if they really need it.

    Personally, I’m holding out for a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). I see no reason why I should have to run a engine to charge my batteries unless I’m out on the road and away from an outlet.

    For my big vehicles … I’m sticking to diesel.

    And I fully support nuclear power … even more so if we use thorium instead of uranium.

  20. Well, Dewey, I guess your comment doesn’t actually fit in with Robert Foster’s comment, “It’s interesting to debate without any antagonism, name calling or other negitive oratory. It’s rare in todays climate.”
    Maybe you would like to explain exactly what you are referring to as “crap.”

  21. Dewey Wilhelmi

    What a bunch of left wing crap………………..

  22. There I agree with you 100%. See, we do agree after all. Thanks for the debate. Bob

  23. Robert Foster

    I guess we can agree to disagree. Anyway I enjoyed it. It’s interesting to debate without any antagonism, name calling or other negitive oratory. It’s rare in todays climate.

  24. Robert – Yes, we do disagree. And if one of us knew for sure, that’s FOR SURE, then we could both bet on the same scenario and get rich. Unfortunately, that’s the caveat. As you say, we really don’t know how much oil is out there, but there are pretty good ways of getting close estimates without drilling. And the ten year figure of getting the oil to market is a figure that comes not only from the government, but also from the oil companies. And with the amount of money flowing into alternate forms of energy, in ten years we might not even need that oil and that investment money would be gone. Regarding drilling ten years ago, the oil companies have had leases they could drill all along, but the extraction process was expensive so they didn’t drill, especially since gas was cheap and it appeared to be in unlimited supply. Hindsight–always a good example of what should have been. But, hey, as this exciting period in our energy evolution progresses, we’ll find out what was the best answer–in hindsight, of course. Thanks again for the comments and contribution to the debate.

  25. Robert Foster

    I beg to differ. If the US Congress stated that the US was going to become free of imported oil. We were going to do this by developing nuclear power and build more refineries on a crash basis. We were going to drill wherever we could find oil. We would develop solar, wind and any other means of power we could use. The speculators in oil would start to offload their high priced oil immediately. The price would be coming down is less then a week. As for how much oil we have in the US, we don’t know. We are always finding new fields. Maybe there are no more fields to find. But how do we know? If you are not going to be allowed to drill for it and pump it. Why even look for it? As for it not coming on line for at least 10 years. Boy do you have a poor respect for industry of this country. And even so, if we had done this 10 years ago, when we should have, we wouldn’t be sitting here now saying we can’t have it online for 10 years. We’d have it online now when we need it. So lets do it now so the next generation won’t be blaming us for leaving then without an adequate supply.

  26. To Robert Foster – You’re right, we can never get completely off of oil, at least in the forseeable future or until synthetic oils replace natural oil. The goal now is to get off of buying foreign oil, which is about 67% of our oil needs. Most of our oil goes into the transportation sector and a good percentage of that is in ground transportation, cars, trucks, RVs, where replacing gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles with electric vehicles or those fueled by biofuels will reduce our oil imports. For now, jet fuel will have to remain an oil product.
    Regarding drilling for more oil in this country, the amount of reserves we have are a small percentage of the world’s oil reserves, and the price of oil is based on the international market–the world’s oil supply–so our small amount would have little effect, and what we would recover would be sold on the international market at prevailing world prices anyway so would not reduce the price of oil. In addition to that, it would take 8 to 10 years for any of that oil to reach the market.

  27. To Chip Martina – Nanosolar is definitely changing the solar game, as are others that we don’t hear about as much. Venture capital is flowing into these type of alternative energy companies, and that is what makes the wheels spin. And I agree, the higher the price of oil goes the quicker we will get off oil as a transportation fuel.

    To Franklin Rice – Oil is sold on the international market at the going price irregardless off what country the oil came from. The difference between the price of gas between countries is dependent on two factors: (1) If the oil industry of any country has been nationalized, the government takes all the oil and distributes within the country what it needs. So, since they didn’t have to buy the oil on the expensive world market, their price of gasoline is much lower, and is based on how much it costs them to extract the oil. America’s oil industry is not nationalized, and (2) Whether the country subsidizes the country’s gasoline usage, as China does. If America decided to subsidize out population’s gas usage by $2 a gallon we would be paying under $2/gallon. Those subsidies would, of course, come from taxes. .

  28. Robert Foster

    I keep hearing we must be free from oil. I don’t think it’ll ever happen. I waiting for them to design an airliner the will fly coast to coast on wind power, elect power. Hydro power. Solar power. Or any other power source that is in development now. Nuclear Might be be a long term answer for larger aircraft.
    But in the meantime, lets find more oil in our own country and use it. It’s there.

  29. franklin rice

    the one thing we need to ask outselfs is why are the american ol con. getting the same price for oil that the these other country’s are getting this is the part i don’t understand . these other contry’s are taking care of thir on the average price is lest than a dollar . i spell a rat in our gov. and is’nt just our prestident .our oil con. have a loop hole that need’s to be plug up . they are not going to do so because thier pockets are being lined by these special interest group like greem i know we have to take care of out land but also our people to if it was up to green and some of these other group the unint ststes would be a nation park wake up people tell your congress man to close these loop holes my spelling is bad but my point stands stronge

  30. Chip Martina

    I recently posted this info on the forums but it is so important and pertinent to this discussion that it is more appropriately posted here.

    In the next year or so you will see solar panels on the market that are about 1/10th the weight and 1/10th the price of units currently available – in the $1/watt range. They are making them now at a company called Nanosolar. They are now able to make solar panels 100 times faster than conventional glass panels, on thin sheets of plastic using bubble-jet style printing technology with nanoparticle ink.

    Unfortunately for us RVers, all production of both their US and German plants are being used to build giant solar farms for commercial electrical generation. According to Nanosolar, they can now build and produce zero polluting PV generating plants at the same cost/kw as a coal burning power plant.

    Imagine, in the next couple years, covering the roof of your rig with ultra-lightweight, low cost, thin-film solar panels. Not only would it provide power for your house batteries, but it could be used to recharge and power your hybrid TV’s batteries too, extending battery range and improving MPG. Though very few of us RVers have a hybrid TV, nearly every TT has electric brakes. Imagine in a few years that they may be replaced with electric motors, used intermittently to assist your TV with hill climbing and acceleration. These electric motors could also be used for regenerative braking instead of conventional scrub type brakes, putting 80-90% of the power back into the batteries that you just took out when you accelerated onto the freeway. Add the aforementioned solar panels for the remaining 10%-20% of your power needs, along with low internal resistance, high-tech batteries and you’ll have a complete, self-contained energy system independent of your TV, allowing your current TV’s MPG to approach that of when not towing.

    This is currently available technology, just waiting for fuel prices to rise to a point to justify its use. If our fuel prices continue to rise to the level Europeans are currently paying, we may be there sooner than we all think.

  31. Check out this site for what is happening with electric vehicles in the UK. This entry is about the London vehicle show where an electric vehicle (EV) two-seat city car was introduced that will have a top speed of 40mph, a range of 60 miles, recharge in 5 hours, and cost 8,995 pounds (about $18,000). A larger 4-seater car, the Ze-O, was also introduced with a 55mph top speed and and 65 mile range for 14,000 pounds ($28,000).
    There is also a look at the complexities of what initially looks like a slam dunk, in this case the setting up of an infrastructure to re-charge electric vehicles, on the greenBiz blog at:

  32. Lathrop Wells

    “sending billions of our dollars overseas to buy oil for a commodity that lasts 90 days until burned in our gas tanks”.

    It’s sort of going to be the same thing with Budweiser pretty soon except that commodity only sticks around 30 minutes then it’s down the drain.

  33. Justhink

    If every new building, was required to have solar panels on all roof surfaces.All parking lots and parking garages would be required to have solar panels installed too.Also all street lights,parking lot and security lights would be required to be solar powered also.
    The power company’s would be required to purchase your energy at the market rate.
    There would be company’s that would lease roof areas,install the panels and maintain the system while giving the owners free electricity and profiting from the power sold to the utility company
    Most buildings would take less energy to cool because of the shade created by the panels on the roof,which would be more profit for the owners.
    This would be an excellent source of revenue for schools,churches and state and county facilities because of their limited use.
    Perfect for the west,southwest and south.
    Maybe someday.

  34. Jking

    You can quote polls all you want but the bottom line is depending on how you ask the question it can determine the answer.
    Today there was a poll that said 74% of Americans supported drilling for more oil.
    The poll was quoted in a store about Senator Murtha and a Lieutenant Colonel Russel who is running against him but not until August because he is still in the Army.

  35. Scott Wright

    Bob, I’m all for pushing renewables as hard as possible. I also think that efficiency is perhaps the most cost effective mechanism to balance the energy equation available to us now. I have seen reports sighting over 6 to 1 payback for improving building efficiency (new or retrofit) and close to that for some other improvements. But this gets only minor support, in part because it has not concentrated constituency and the payback is delayed. Also there is not a good lobby for homeowners or building owners. Often times the one building is not the one paying the utility bills (apartments, leased commercial buildings).
    We should push all the alternatives and cost effective efficiency upgrades aggressively. However, why not try to increase/maintain the supply also? We should move to limit our need for oil in the long term, but we should move faster to limit our need for oil from places that are unstable or would do us harm. The economic harm is real and now, and could prove to be permanent. Scott

  36. DonF

    I just looked over T Boone Pickens’ plan @

    I quote:
    “The United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power.

    Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains states are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world — by far. ”

    Right now, Scandinavia is the world’s leader in technology and deployment of equipment to harvest wind energy. It should be the United States! For too long cheap oil has stifled the development of alternate energy in this country. The time has come for use to ween ourselves away from it and all it’s doing TO this country.

    Another Quote from Mr Pickens:

    “Our dependence on imported oil is killing our economy. It is the single biggest problem facing America today,” Pickens said. “As we import more and more of our energy, we are participating in the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind, sending billions of our dollars overseas to buy oil for a commodity that lasts 90 days until burned in our gas tanks

  37. TXBrad

    Fred & All; TXBrad is well aware of the possible $5 billion wind farm expansion here in Texas.
    1. A typical Govt project will cost $ 10 billion. And, where is the $$$ coming from?
    2. More $$ leaving US to build the Generators & Blades. Many tower structures are being built here.
    3. The wind speed varies, so will still need current power plants to balance demand.
    Electricity demands varies through out a given Day & usage varies w/ temp. seasons.
    so many issues & to date no way to store large amounts of power.
    How long before elect. pickups motor homes will be on the market & cost ??
    Who will buy your current truck RV ??? What will a KWH cost to pay this cost to build the proposed wind farm.?
    Surprised no one has commented on Hydro power. There are Slant Turbines in use today which require a low head of water.

  38. Fred

    Thanks for you thanks Bob. It is a part of all Free comment blogs to have a variety of people from all walks of life vent their anger in many different ways. Sometimes that’s all they want to do – be heard.

    I see a good number however, that realize that they are part of the problem and are willing to be envolved in being part of the solution. Those are the ones that will contribute intelligent, supportive and positive ideas. I put those on my list and reject the others like I do spam email.

    You seem to be a strong and fair person with some good resources. You hang in there and keep up the good work. I’m going to sign off for a while. But, I still will read every word of

  39. Fred – Thanks for checking further into the Gull Island thing. Who knows if we will ever find out what the real facts are, or whether it was, in fact, a way to promote his book. Reminds me of a friend that mentioned the problems of keeping conspiracies secret when most of us can’t even pull off a surprise birthday party without the birthday person finding out. Thanks for all your input.

  40. Ron says, “Why is it that libs can’t make an argument without distorting the facts or outright lying”

    A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 47 percent of those surveyed rate energy exploration, drilling and building new power plants as more important than energy conservation.

    I guess the other 53% are the “far left of the democrat party.” By any stretch of the facts you care to dis-believe, if 53% of the US population finds additional drilling in sensitive places unpopular, that is a lot of people. And why do you feel that you have to be so virulent against a difference of opinion, and use disparaging remarks like libs, outright lying, democrat party, far left, fairy tales, and suggesting that those that disagree with you want to destroy the American economy. Let’s try to keep this as an intelligent, fact-finding, open-minded discussion, rather than resort to name calling and the assumption that those who differ in opinion are idiots.

  41. Fred

    Bob Difley, it seems right now that the only writen detailed document referencing Gull Island available to the public is Linsey William’s book. The occurence of the cover up happened in the1970s and the book was published in 1980 by Worth Press. Williams did a taped video speech in 2004 I think.

    I found nothing on or The Department of Energy has all the oil records, which I did not go deep into, and the BLM shows a bunch of good stuff on the National Petroleum Reserve.

    Neither those agencies nor the USGS contain any reference to Gull Island when I did a search of their websites. If Williams is telling the truth, then the cover up is not only very old, but very thorough. I guess a phone call to Ken Fromm would clear it all up.

    Meanwhile, for me its $4.80 a gallon for diesel if I am going to pull my fifth wheel around the country. Fifty-five mph is definately helping.

    I am glad to read so many good comments going on for three days now. I think this is a healthy thing. But, our country’s citizens need to get an unbeleivably massive, 200,000,000 signature request for Congress to quit pointing fingers at each others parties and personalities, and get something done right now. They have been inattentive to our needs for too many years. We need leadership!

  42. JKing says, “You keep saying that ANWR would basically be just a drop in the bucket.”

    The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran this article today entitled:
    Drill more now, pay less at the pump? Not so fast

    Expanded oil exploration and drilling could have a big impact — in the long run.

    By PAT DOYLE, Star Tribune

    Last update: July 21, 2008 – 1:39 PM

    With high gasoline prices jolting summer travel and the economy, many members of Congress are pushing to open up an Alaskan wildlife refuge, the nation’s deep-sea reserves and oil-shale fields for exploration, drilling and mining.

    Few proponents have been more vocal than Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who says expanded drilling and mining could provide “immediate and lasting” relief and slash gas prices to $2 a gallon.

    Yet even as public opinion shifts in favor of more energy production, public and private analysts doubt that it would significantly reduce prices, at least any time soon.

    The Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) holds too little oil to reduce gas prices more than a few cents per gallon, and new sources of oil could take decades to develop, according to government analysts.

    Oil shale in Western states might be significant enough to one day exceed imports from Saudi Arabia, but it faces tough technological hurdles to become reality.

    “It [oil shale] is sort of meaningless in the sense that it’s such a large resource base and we’re so far from producing it,” said Philip Budzik, an oil and gas analyst at the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “It’s not going to be tomorrow, and it’s not going to be in 10 years.”

    Even an advocate of expanded drilling and mining says it should be done in tandem with an aggressive government effort to lower consumption, which he says is the quickest route to lower gas prices.

    “The low-hanging fruit is not energy production, it’s conservation,” said Robin West, an energy consultant who ran the U.S. offshore drilling program while assistant secretary of the Interior under President Ronald Reagan. “The simplest way … is enforce the speed limit … and then drop it.”

    West also favors government action to require greater fuel efficiency than a 35 miles-per-gallon target recently approved by Congress, and more spending on mass transit.

    Drilling in the restricted areas, West says, is a long-run strategy.

    You can read the entire article here:

    Who is right, and can you be sure of any figures, since everyone has an agenda? Let’s all keep open minds and continue to look at the issues. I repeat again, the oil companies have 68 million acres of oil leases that they aren’t drilling. Let’s start with those first. And let’s concentrate on the alternate forms of clean energy where the technology exists now.

  43. Jim Burnett says, “If generating some comments was one of the goals for the blog, I think you’re winning the prize 🙂

    Sorry also that my comment was really too long – I’ll try to keep any others more to the point.”

    Jim – Generating comments and a healthy discussion was one of the purposes of the blog, but the other reason was to try to deepen my own understanding of the problems and to see what others had to say. It sure did raise some ire, but I also learned a lot about how other RVers feel. And don’t apologize for the length of your comments. The more discussion, the more we will all learn. And that’s a good thing. Thanks again.

  44. Fred says, “Bob, a couple of weeks ago I used Google Earth to look at Gull Island – and I got the same out-of-focus view.”
    Fred – I don’t feel really confident about anything, actually. I tend to want to reject all conspiracy theories outright, assuming that intrepid journalists will dig out the truth and expose the bad guys eventually. But on the other hand, we all know that government and corporate cover-ups happen all the time. How do we mere common folk figure out what is and what isn’t? Beats the hell out of me. And what if that Baptist minister’s story about Gull Island is true? Will we ever know?

  45. Tylor Prather

    Those who choose the Tremec 6060 manual will get the LS3 from the Corvette, while buyers opting for the 6-speed automatic will get the L99 V-8 with active fuel management, which cycles back and forth between four and eight cylinders to boost fuel economy. The LS3 is expected to make about 420 bhp and 408 lb.-ft. of torque, while the L99 is estimated at 395 bhp and 395 lb.-ft. of torque. The V-6 will run on regular unleaded gasoline, while both V-8s are specified to take premium. I found it very interesting to be able to view a couple of thousand square miles of high resolution oil and come of those idle wells can be turned on within weeks).
    However, until we hold the politicians in Washington, and all their “underlings”, accountable we will continue to see. Other technologies currently being implemented could be expanded on a larger scale to serve a similar purpose. Even the prototype solar farms where mirrors direct sunlight to heat boilers in the southwest deserts could be as effective as nuclear with no radiation use at home are tiny steps on an individual basis. If Americans would really get serious about those steps, collectively they could add up to enough to be part of the solution.

  46. Tylor

    I found it very interesting to be able to view a couple of thousand square miles of high resolution oil and come of those idle wells can be turned on within weeks).
    However, until we hold the politicians in Washington, and all their “underlings”, accountable we will continue to see. Other technologies currently being implemented could be expanded on a larger scale to serve a similar purpose. Even the prototype solar farms where mirrors direct sunlight to heat boilers in the southwest deserts could be as effective as nuclear with no radiation use at home are tiny steps on an individual basis. If Americans would really get serious about those steps, collectively they could add up to enough to be part of the solution.

  47. Van Carpenter

    I’m all for doing everything we can, right now, to use less oil! I’m all for beginning to develop and perfect alternative energy sources tolday at warp speed. I also believe we can access domestic oil sources in an environmentally safe way (and some of those idle wells can be turned on within weeks).
    However, until we hold the politicians in Washington, and all their “underlings”, accountable we will continue to see nothing happening. My plan of action, in addition to reducing my own consumption, is to not vote for any person presently feeding at the public trough! Maybe the rest of them will wake up and get busy serving America instead of their own career plans.

  48. Ron

    Why is it that libs can’t make an argument without distorting the facts or outright lying as in this statement, “rather than pursuing ways to increase supply to meet demand with unpopular options like increased drilling in places like ANWR and the continental shelf. ”

    Unpopular to who? Only to the far left of the democrat party according to the polls they usually love to quote.

    Come on folks – we need to get more oil online until these fairy tales of alternate energy come to reality. That is unless you hope the US economy is destroyed.

  49. @Jking: You pose an interesting viewpoint here. The hydrocarbons you read about is Methane, which is supposedly a product of organic molecules. And yes, it is flammable and a source of fuel in its way.

    However, how do you propose to collect it in useable quantities within a reasonable time period? I don’t think we can just drop an inverted funnel over the ocean floor where these releases take place… but then, something like that might work. On the other hand, even if we had the technology to send a ship right now to Titan and pump its holds full of liquid methane, how long would the round-trip take? Ten years out and ten years back again? And a single tanker wouldn’t hold enough for even one day’s average use. I agree it’s a valid concept, but not in any kind of realistic time frame.

    Short term we need to re-engineer existing technologies to make what we have go much, much farther. My concept of ‘diesel-electric’ on the road would be a very valid and reasonably inexpensive process. Other technologies currently being implemented could be expanded on a larger scale to serve a similar purpose. Even the prototype solar farms where mirrors direct sunlight to heat boilers in the southwest deserts could be as effective as nuclear with no radiation hazards. These technologies already exist.

    Long term recommendations could take into account Titan’s oceans of methane or maybe some form of directly tapping solar energy outside our atmosphere. Nikola Tesla had some ideas about that, but never realized a practical experiment. Still, a lot of his concepts are in everyday use even now; why not ‘wireless transmission of power?’

  50. Jking

    You keep saying that ANWR would basically be just a drop in the bucket. That bucket would be the largest producer in the Northern Hemisphere. Saying we “Can’t drill our way out of this mess” is a cop out for if we had been drilling all along the mess would not be such an eyesore.

    As far as oil being a limited resource scientists reported in Science Magazine finding hydrocarbons being release from the ocean floor. They have also found hydrocarbons on Titan a moon of Saturn. So much for just dinosaur oil.

  51. Jim

    Wow, a lot of good comments and information above!

    My attention was especially caught by David’s post on July 19th about the efficiency of the modern diesel-electric railroad locomotive. His point is an excellent one – there’s an existing technology that would seem to deserve a closer look for how to adapt it to vehicles.

    I agree with those who point to the need to a wide variety of solutions – there is no quick, easy fix – and with those who have pointed to one thing all of us can do right now: conserve where we can.

    Yes, driving at a slightly slower speed and taking those measures we’ve all heard about to reduce energy use at home are tiny steps on an individual basis. If Americans would really get serious about those steps, collectively they could add up to enough to be part of the solution.

    Here’s an interesting quote I found today in – of all places – the in-flight magazine from American Airlines, and a reminder about why we should care about this issue beyond the current price of gasoline: “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.”

  52. DonF

    The people that demand we give BIG OIL what they want in the way of unlimited access to our resources sound a lot like drug addicts being deprived of their next fix – maybe worse. Many times the drug addicts will promise to go straight if they can get just one more fix. The oil addicts don’t offer anything to further the development of renewable resources. They want their oil and they want it now. They’ve got a monkey on their back!

    It’s time they get some treatment for their affliction. The future is in alternative power. Wind power generation requires 7-8 years to begin paying profits and the design life of the generations systems is 25 years. We should be building wind farms in as fast as we can in areas that offer prevailing winds to power them. This is proven technology. Banning Pass on I-10 near Palm Springs, CA, is a perfect example as well as Sweet Water, TX.

    Lets do the right thing – lets conserve were we can now and develop alternative energy sources as fast as we can before every drop of crude goes out the tailpipe.

    Bob, you’re on the right track!

  53. Fred

    Bob, a couple of weeks ago I used Google Earth to look at Gull Island – and I got the same out-of-focus view. Just five to ten miles south on-shore are the existing oil wells and the resolution is exeptional. Those well sites seem to contain 40 to 50 individual wells. Within 8 miles in the NW quadrant around Prudhoe Bay airport there are about 10 well sites. So, in that one small area there are about 400 to 500 wells.

    I took some time inventorying that whole oil field. Thewell sites are all tied together with a pipeline grid and that field stretches about 200 miles from longitude 70.127056 at Kaktovik to longitude 70.217950, 62 miles west of the airport.

    Back to Gull Island. I found it very interesting to be able to view a couple of thousand square miles of high resolution oil fields and pipelines, but for the view of Gull Island it was impossible to make out anything.

    Because Google has ownership of its images, in one way or another, only they could replace the Gull Island blur with a high resolution shot. I can’t wait.

    Anyway, I just love to read articles about lies and deceptions by our government. Some of them are crap, but some of them are true. I will be looking up Gull Island on this evening. Bye!

  54. Fred

    Bob, I have not checked out that link yet, but I will. The name of that fired ARCO executive is Ken Fromm. If you Google his name there are a couple sites that have the facts about his getting fired, etc.

    Will be back later.

  55. Fred

    Sid, Bob Difley has a very calming point about charging up our vehicle batteries while at the campgrounds and RV parks. It is a win-win situation. I am totally ignorant about electric vehicles, but to charge up a discharged regular battery as they are right now, only takes from 10 amps to 2 amps overnight.

    Even at 10 amps drawn from the campground’s 120 volt receptacle, that is 1200 watts. Most chargers start at 10 amps and drop to 2 amps after an hour or so. At 2 amps for the remainder of the night, that is 120 watts/hour. Think 100 watt light bulb!

    Your roof A/C pulls 20 amps or 2400 watts every minute you are plugged in to the receptacle.

    Today’s more up-to-date RV parks already provide 50 amp service.

  56. Fred – Unfortunately that Gull Island thing is another half-baked rumor. The whole story is that told by Lindsey Williams, a Baptist missionary, with no facts or verification. He will not even name the oil company executive he claims to have gotten the information from. Then he wrote a book about it. Doesn’t that smell like “book marketing” to you? Check out this story:
    But you are right about the unused oil leases on public land.

  57. Fred

    Although I favor investing more in improving efficiencies and the volume of alternative energies, some of the comments about using existing oil and gas fields leased from the BLM (Interior Department) should not be taken lightly.

    Unused or unexplored oil comany leases on public lands really do exist. But, as has been noted the oil companies are just sitting on them.

    At least one new field on Gull Island fives miles distant from Pruhoe Bay, Alaska is being purposely kept a secret. I don’t know how true this article is, but it is worth reading and it is scarey.

  58. Sid – You may be right. However, most of the experts and people who spend their time studying these things disagree that drilling new sources of domestic oil will do little to affect either short term or long term gasoline prices or availability. On the other hand, many of these experts and think tank people think that the technology to electrify many of our 250 million cars and light trucks is here and now, and only takes the heart and dedication–as it did when President Kennedy decided to put a man on the moon–to move that idea into mainstream transportation. I would like to think that they are right, that we can move away from oil and its 100 year old science, its polluting nature, and its international political problems to a cleaner, better, electrical future. And don;’t worry about the poor campground owners. It will be a new and welcome source of revenue for them. And we will all be glad when we can charge up our rigs while relaxing and enjoying a glass of chilled chardonnay in our camp chair, instead off having to maneuver in and out of crowded, tight gas stations, to get out oil fix.

  59. Sid Burklund

    After reading the article I said to myself what does this sound like? My answer was a command and control solution or in an other time we called it the Soviet Union’s answer to their needs.

    I agree though that we will move to new sources of energy. Not just because some bureaucrat says so but because the market will find new ways to solve our problem. However, all of this takes time and while the clock is ticking we need to drill new sources of oil to help during the transition.

    As a final thought. Imagine the poor RV park owner faced with having to increase their electrical capacity so we all could charge our batteries. Add to that the need to do the same through out the rest of the country so once again we all could recharge our Batteries. A process that will take not years but decades.

  60. William Martin

    Fred……. The use of our abundant supply of natural gas would be to expand it’s use directly into our homes and businesses for heating and cooling (instead of oil) (e.g. Spectra Energy for the pipelines) but a major use would go to the power companies, to heat the water, to make the steam, to turn the generators, to make the electricity…… then recharge the batteries which would be used as described above. Nuclear Energy supplies the heat, coal supplies the heat, oil supplies the heat, natural gas supplies the heat, drilling into the earths core supplies the heat,, ALL methods used today to create steam to turn the generators. And, Natural gas CAN run your Fridge, and it can run your air conditioner to cool your home as well as heat it. I too….am waiting for T. Boone Pickens. My use of TBone was not a mistake, it was used frequently years ago.

  61. Fred

    William Martin, it will be impossible 9i THINK) to convert my new diesel truck to natural gas, but I wish I could. I can’t get rid of it now because it is a ranch vehicle, but there a few ranchers in my county that are using combustion engine trucks that have been converted to LPG. Even though they get less power from LPG, the fuel only costs $3.50 per gallon. Not great, but less than the $4.80 I’m paying.

    I don’t know what’s next for T. Boone Pickens’ Plan, but I am anxiously waiting. He is starting a nationwide ad campaign as we speak.

  62. Fred

    Bob Difley, my wife and I voluntarily started driving 55-60 just recently. I really don’t sense a significant increase in time from point A to point B. But, my diesel fuel pickup truck milage went from 22 mpg to 24.7. A measured average on the highway and in the city, over a two month period of time. At the old 22 mpg we used about 10 gallons for a trip of 220 miles, we now use about 9 gallons. Hey, it ain’t much, but it let us keep the $4.80 in our pocket, by not putting it in some rich oilmans pocket.

  63. William Martin

    Drill away….We have enough oil in this country to eliminate ALL oil imports. On the continental shelf the rigs are so far from land, you can’t see them and there is little or no impact to the environment.. Open Anwar…we can drill horizontally from just a few acres and it won’t hurt one caribou. Today’s drilling technology is such that there is almost NO impact on humans or animals. And, if we don’t watch out, China is going to drill horizontally from Cuba into our huge oil deposits in the Gulf, while Congress keeps coming up with reasons “why we CANNOT drill” instead of developing solutions “so we CAN drill” AND develop our energy future.

    AND, my understanding is that there is very little oil on the existing leases…..just dry holes. The oil companies can drill where there is no oil and they can’t drill where there is oil.

    Remember, a lot of the oil we took from Prudhoe Bay was sold and shipped to foreign countries. Stop that immediately! We won’t buy it and we don’t sell it. We have the largest coal deposits of any country in the world and we can retrieve oil from it.. We have huge natural gas deposits and the pipelines to move it.

    Our fuel costs now are up to $5 a gallon. If we don’t get our heads our of the sand and quick, it’s going to be $10 a gallon and a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk will be $20 and there’s going to be a thousand trucks on Pennsylvania Avenue.. Congress just holds hearings and talks about it. While we’re trying to figure out what to do for the future, we had better get those drill bits turning. or we’re going to be “up the creek, without ANY paddle”. If we can just get the “government /congress” out of the loop, we can get the job done. They keep pandering to the environmentalists/lobbyists, so they can keep their re-election money coming in. (18% approval indeed). The net result of their inadequate action is the “cost” to us, because WE have to pay the bills to live.

    Also, we cannot keep sending these huge amounts of our money offshore…. the dollar is becoming worthless, and our credibility is shrinking with it. No one will want to invest in this country anymore. Natural gas and coal and wind is the long term future…..that’s where the electricity will come from.!!!!

    God Bless TBone Pickens, a real entreprenuer who puts his money where his mouth is. We need to listen and work with him. And please don’t blame President Bush for this energy problem. His #1 job is to keep us safe….and he has been magnificent at that!

  64. Fred

    TXBrad, have you read this article from the Dallas Morning News? It shows the proactive steps being taken now by the Texas Public Utilities Commission.

    01:02 PM CDT on Thursday, July 17, 2008. The Texas Public Utility Commission has drafted an order for a $4.9 billion investment in wind power transmission lines. The Texas PUC chose the middle option of five scenarios to build a new grid of transmission lines. “The move will add more wind megawatts to Texas than all the other 14 wind-producing states combined”, noted commission member Paul Hudson.
    The Texas Public Utility Commission Thursday approved $4.93 billion in new power transmission lines to bring cheap wind power from West Texas to consumers in north and central areas of the state. “It’s a big bite,” Mr. Hudson said from the meeting in Austin. “It’s a pretty big day for me. We’ve been working on this for three years.”

    The approval ends the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone process related to establishing a bigger wind grid. Many advocates wanted the state to pick more aggressive — and expensive — plans to put some of the wind power as far southeast as Houston. The scenario chosen doesn’t include building lines that far southeast.

    Other parties wanted the state to take it slower and authorize the building of fewer lines. Commissioner Julie Caruthers Parsley disagreed with the choice of Scenario 2, saying it may add too much power for the system to handle and potentially stalling other new power plant projects.

    “The state will have to decide who builds the lines and how quickly; the new grid could be in place as quickly as 2012 or 2013 depending on other factors”, Mr. Hudson said in the meeting this morning.

    Also, check out this wonderful plan as layed out by billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens. After you get your fill, send the above story and this link to all of your friends that care.

  65. David says, “Stop calling for more oil. It’s not going to fix the problem. We need to call for new uses of existing technologies until new technologies can be developed to replace them. Is that so hard?”
    Great comments and more information to to ponder. This is a complex problem that does not have easy solutions. But the solutions would seem to be multiple options, not a “one size fits all” approach. And as David says, lets not over-complicate the technology when modifications of existing technology might just work fine. Thanks David for your input.

  66. John Ahrens offers the following Web site: (
    Good idea John. I wonder what it would take to finance and launch orbital solar platforms that would provide solar power 24 hours a day. The billion dollar price tag mentioned on CNN seems do-able considering what we are spending in Iraq to protect oil supplies.

  67. Jim says, “I find it significant that a few recent suggestions to return to a 55 mph speed limit have been met largely with complaints and derision. Sadly, I think that points to the larger, underlying problem. Speaking in broad terms as a society, we Americans are simply not willing to make any real changes in our lifestyle to deal with our energy crisis, if those changes inconvenience us. Hence, the calls for an “easy” solution – to drill our way out of the problem.”
    We seem to be on the same page, but I wanted to comment on the above last paragraph of your post. This is a subject that unfortunately gets too little media attention. We Americans are so inflexible having led “the good life” for so many years, that we are unwilling to make changes to our current lifestyles to effect important changes, like reducing our addiction to oil, changing our bad or wasteful habits (not slowing from 70 to 55mph), and adjusting our standard of living. I wonder how we would have made out if we had to live under the conditions that Europeans had to during WWII. There is no reason why we couldn’t collectively “bite the bullet” and conserve a little bit, cut down our driving a little bit–all those little things that could make a difference. But I guess we’re set in our ways and are unwilling to change, even at the cost of our environment, air, pollution, global climate change, and all those other things we think don’t really affect us.

  68. MikeT

    I don’t like the fact that we are so reliant on foreign oil, either. We are held hostage by middle east thugs! But, It has to be a gradual transition or you risk destroying our economy . Drill here, drill now and the price of oil will drop and we can develop common sense alternatives like coal,nuclear and hybrid cars etc. If we just switch cold turkey we are headed for a collapse! Also, alternatives such as like wind energy and corn based fuels are nothing but pipe dreams.

  69. Roger Morgan says, “Drill for it.”
    A couple of things you may have overlooked. (1) Hardly any credible sources, from oil companies to environmentalists, believe that oil is a sustainable source of energy, and that be we shouldn’t be striving for independence from foreign oil. We use 20.8 million barrels of oil a day, 67% of which we import, and about 21% of that comes from OPEC nations. (2) If we made a major push to convert private vehicles (cars and light trucks) to electric power, that would more than eliminate our need for OPEC oil. With that much reduction of our oil imports, prices would drop, and it would enable us to continue to develop alternate sources of energy. (3) No matter how much oil we drill for and produce domestically, oil is still an international product, sold on global markets at the going price. There is not enough domestic oil production, nor do estimates of future production, predict enough oil to make more than a small change in the price of oil–especially when the demands of China and India, as well as oil, speculators that know oil prices are not going to come down, are what is driving and will continue to drive the market price of oil. (4) As I’ve said before, if the oil companies wanted more oil they would be drilling the 68 million acres of leases they already have. (5) I’m a skeptic. I don’t fully believe what “sources” who have their own agendas report, but I do tend to lean toward those sources that have a lot to lose–reputation, authority, credibility–if the figures they report are false, misleading, or in error, and which are quickly disputed or refuted. I believe we all need to keep an open mind on a subject that is extremely complex, and not just accept what seem to be simple answers.

  70. Tim Teresa

    I think every one is right. What do I mean? We need to drill, whether it be new off shore of places already cleared. If it takes ten years then so be it. We need to develope new technology. Yes some are already in work and might be here in 3 to 5 years. I think GM said it’s new Chevy would be ready by 2010. Anyone that has been waiting for the new Camaro knows that really means 2012. LOL But still in the future is when we benefit. We also need to conserve. I’m lucky enough to live close enough to work so I’ve been shopping electric bicycles. I could ride a regular bike to work but don’t want to start the day sweaty.

    But, back on point. If we start to conserve and get use to it… If we do what we can to get away from oil usuage and teach that to our kids… By the time ten years rolls around and these new wells actually start producing maybe we can totally stop buying foregn oil all together. Ok, maybe that’s unrealistic but we could buy a whole lot less.

    I would rather start working towards a solution rather than sitting here talking about what if bill clinton spent more time in the oval office with his pants zipped up…

  71. Fred

    Bob, I just read from a source called the Hirsch Report that the transportation sector in the U.S. takes 69% of our oil purchases. That is a lot of gas guzzlers.

  72. TXBrad

    1. Fuel cells discharge water. What happens to water on the road below 32 degrees? At a stop light = ice ! Wreck a vech w/ fuel cell ?
    2. Elect rates in parts Tx gone from $. 11 to 19 KWH in 2008. Plug in Air Planes? How many batteries to fly from Boston to Paris ? As kids we had Rubber -band Planes !
    3. Wind power: Had some days w.o. good wind & almost caused brown out here in TX. Another area had too much wind, so stopped hydo gen. & let water pass.
    Wind mills being used in Tx, built in Europe , shipped to Houston & trucked. Back log now at 2 years ! Big cost w/ wind is building the Lines to Transmitt.
    4. Leases not being drilled: Need to be cost effective on getting it to market; build a pipe line for each well ? Oil can go via ships. Natural gas ships ??? most via pipe lines. Plus pipe lines save fuel for trucks & ships. I guess we can build “plug – in Ships” ???
    5 On & On: All above have issues problemsdraw backs; but need smart people to not KNEE JERK and think thru work the areas. It is going to take many systems “alternates. Come to Texas an see how fast a gas/oil well can be put in operation & watch pipe lines built while wells are drilled & wells grouped to pipe lines. Rigs/people coming from Canada. Experts/ materials coming from Japan & other countries. 10 years is just liberal talk ! tXBRAD

  73. Overall, a nice concept. It is also correct in intent, but the execution methods described would all take too long to implement, with one exception I will explain in a moment. We have GOT to reduce our oil usage drastically, and since our everyday driver, two vehicle or whatever is the biggest single group of users, this is where we need to make the biggest difference.

    Deep well steam power (his Granite graphic) would take too long to build even one self-sufficient plant and it seems to ignore that at least part of the power produced would have to go right back into pumping water down the feeder. So its efficiency is questionable until a practical test can be done. In other words, not likely for at least 15 years.
    Coal. Well, one of our biggest coal areas, relatively clean-burning coal, in the northeast has a fire in the mine… that’s been burning for almost 50 years now. A number of mines are working as quickly as possible to dig out everything around the fire, but they’re not going to last for much longer. The next largest mine is a placer mine out in Utah, I believe… a huge operation, but the coal is softer and not nearly as clean; meaning the scrubbers and other things have to work harder and be replaced more often because of it; increasing the cost.
    Nuclear, too, will take too long to bring new reactors online. Almost all of our current reactors have already outlived their design operational life and are being required to extend just to supply the current demand. With all the checks, balances and regulations involved (and all needed, believe me) it would take a minimum of 15 years to bring a new plant online from conception.

    @Ronald Schultz: How long do you think it will take to get new wells online, assuming they started drilling today? One year? Two? How about 5 at the minimum? We’ve already overshot the point where new wells can even delay the issue.

    Bob Difley, a later commenter, is much more accurate in his estimations. We already have the technology, it just needs to be modified to a different use.

    Let me ask you one simple question. How much diesel fuel does a modern locomotive use to move one ton of lading one mile? This is how our railroads calculate their fuel usage and it works out to something like 1000 ton-miles/gallon! Sure, that locomotive probably drinks about 2 or 3 gallons a mile as it’s pulling its load, but it’s usually pulling in excess of 100,000 tons! And that diesel engine isn’t doing the pulling. All it’s doing is powering a massive generator that feeds electricity to four, six or maybe even eight axles driven by massive electric motors. The equivalent horsepower exceeds, in some cases, 6,000 horses.

    Ok, how can we use this on the road. Well, it’s easy. General Motors is coming at it from one direction… but the first ones to reach the road will still be, essentially, prototypes. A single electric motor is powered by a battery pack, which is charged by a tiny three-cylinder engine if they run low before you can plug it in again.
    The drawback here is that they’re creating new technologies when they could easily reuse old ones. Why design a 3-cyl engine to power the generator when there are millions of tiny 4-cyl engines already on the market at next to no real cost? Chevy even sells a car with a perfect engine under the hood; the little Aveo.
    There doesn’t need to be all the complicated computer gimmickry that you see in the Prius… in fact, you end up wasting more power on the control systems than you’re really saving. And why is it so slow? An electric motor creates its greatest torque at 0rpm (that’s Zero) and by using a mere 20 hp electric motor on a conventional manual or automatic transmission, you could realize the equivalent of a 150 hp gasoline engine… powered by maybe a 40 or 50 hp gas or diesel engine.
    This alone could let everyone have the kind of performance and power they’re used to at probably 25% of the fuel used through just this one change. Individuals have already done it. I watched an off-road race on TV just the other day between an all-electric 20hp Land Rover vs a 150hp diesel model and the all-electric outperformed the diesel in acceleration and in a climb up a very steep (and rough) hill. If it can be done in a 4×4, why can’t it be done in a 4×2?

    Stop calling for more oil. It’s not going to fix the problem. We need to call for new uses of existing technologies until new technologies can be developed to replace them.

    Is that so hard?

  74. jerry seder

    i think the oil companys and the speculaters are s——–ing us real good there is plenty of oil , its all being capped and stored waiting for the price to get right, wake up and smell the roses.

  75. Robert Ferris

    It is true that big rigs need oil today. But what will you use in the future if gas/diesel is the price in Europe? We have to start today in order to reach the future. Neither political party has had the back bone or the fortitude to do what is best for the future of the country. They are similar to the auto industry and can only see the bottom line this quarter or this year. None of them are looking down the road ten, twenty or fifty years from now. You can not change tomorrow but maybe you can change five years from now.
    Look at Brazil. They have vehicles and service stations that use/have available dual fuels. If oil is too expensive they switch to alcohol or vice versa. We could import alcohol from Brazil cheaper than making it here. Of course, that would make us dependent on Brazil. Why do we have an import duty on alcohol from Brazil?
    Drilling for more oil here will not solve the problem. The companies would only sell it to the highest bidder. We would not see cheaper prices. If you want to drill for more oil here then I say that all oil from US wells must be sold and processed in the US and all products from US wells must be sold in the US. All profits from US wells must be reinvested in the US. Oil companies have not been increasing refinery capacity in the US. Why? We need to think farther into the future and do more to wean ourselves off oil. We will not be able to remove ourselves but we could help ourselves by doing things that will remove us from using imported oil.

    Producing electricity by other means than oil. Improving housing so that we do not heat with oil but use other alternative energy resources. Reduce the use of plastic packaging and recycle more. We can improve our use of energy. It would take politicians with a lot of back bone and fortitude. It would take politicians that cared more about this country than about being re-elected to a life time position. I personally have not heard or seen a politician that fills that bill in a long time.

  76. Roger Morgan

    Drill for it. Govt get out of the way NOW. Let private business solve the problems in 1-2 years and the price will fall just by saying so. Truckers are the lifeline for our country and they are getting killed. Everyone forgets how our country gets its products. A truck with a windmill or battery will not work in this century. Call your representive and express your opinion. I have and you would be supprised at the answers of the likes of Feinstein, Boxer, Reed, Pesossy, and most Dems, the written answers on email are all the same- WE CAN’T

  77. Jim

    Bob –

    Nice job of bringing some interesting information to the blog. I’d agree that we need to move as quickly as possible toward alternatives to oil for any many uses as possible, recognizing that neither new technology nor expanded drilling for domestic oil will bring quick relief to either supplies or prices.

    In the meantime, we also need to do what we can to decrease demand. Political realities will also drive efforts to increase supplies of oil and natural gas, which I can only hope will occur with some degree of responsibility. As pointed out above, oil companies have huge areas of federal land already under lease, but little activity is taking place in many of those areas. Why?

    Here’s one explanation: companies must pay royalties to the landowners for new wells drilled on public or private lands on-shore, and royalties mean lower profits. However, in 1995, when oil prices were down, Congress agreed to let energy companies extract oil and gas from new off-shore wells without paying ANY royalties to the landowners – in this case, the taxpayers, since off-shore lands are public lands.

    Even though the price of oil and gas has risen dramatically, the energy companies are still getting free oil and gas from off-shore public lands. A recent estimate of the lost revenue to the treasury is $60 billion over 10 years. If additional areas are opened to off-shore drilling, the companies would continue to get a free ride, unless Congress reverses the existing policy.

    It’s interesting that the big energy companies have gone to court in the past year to retain their “right” to pump oil and gas from public lands for free – and then sell it back to us at record prices. Here’s a link to one article on this subject :

    I’d suggest that any supporters of increasing off-shore drilling at least contact their elected officials and demand that as landowners we receive the same royalty payments that private landowners receive. That revenue could be put to good use to help off-set the impact of higher prices or to develop alternative energy sources.

    Finally – we need to recognize that it is not possible to bring enough new sources of oil to market in the next decade to lower prices. The only solution to higher prices is lower demand.

    We can all have an impact on energy needs in the short term, but what has been lacking is an effective challenge to the American people from our leaders to pull together for a range of solutions, including better conservation of existing energy and a serious commitment to find the best, new technology.

    As an example, I point to the national effort to put a man on the moon – we did it from essentially a cold start in 8 years. We could make a similar big dent in our energy problem if we could get that same level of consensus in the country – but so far we’ve not had an effective call to action by leaders of either party.

    One small example: I’ve become conditioned to getting to my destination as quickly as possible by a 70 mph speed limit on most major highways in my state. It would be an adjustment – but not truly a hardship – if I would consistently allow a little extra time and cut back from 70 to 55. If we all did so, we’d save a significant amount of fuel. Yes, I’ve know it would be a hardship for long-haul truckers and others, but it would be one step toward an immediate solution.

    I find it significant that a few recent suggestions to return to a 55 mph speed limit have been met largely with complaints and derision. Sadly, I think that points to the larger, underlying problem. Speaking in broad terms as a society, we Americans are simply not willing to make any real changes in our lifestyle to deal with our energy crisis, if those changes inconvenience us. Hence, the calls for an “easy” solution – to drill our way out of the problem.

  78. I agree that we need to open up drilling in the areas that Congress has closed to us. It will reduce some of the speculative portion of the current cost of oil. And if you looked at the area that they want to open up, compared to the total ANWR, you’d see that the environmental knee-jerk reaction is just that.

    I also believe electricity may be the long term solution. Not just batteries, but fuel cells may have the long term best solution. Fuel cells produce electricity and water vapor. And they have better range than battery storage techniques.

    i believe that all sources of electric energy need to be considered, including coal and nuclear. And we may eventually get some form of fusion, although I don’t hold out much hope for the government funded big science approach.

    Another potential source is orbital powersats ( They are clean, more efficient than terrestrial solar (not subject to day-night cycles and weather). But the solution to that problem is low cost access to space. Again, we need to encourage the entrepreneurial solutions that several companies are working on to lower the cost and improve access to spac.e

  79. Bob Difley

    Bob says, “Just think if Clinton was a forward thinker we would have the resources now!!”
    The facts are that combined, oil and gas companies already hold leases to nearly 68 million acres of federal land where they are not producing oil and gas. This 68 million acres of leased, inactive federal land could produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil. That would nearly double total U.S. oil production. The 4.8 million barrels of oil equals more than six times the estimated peak production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So explain why the oil companies don’t drill for the oil that they already have leases on, and why they want to grab even more leases and drill in unpopular areas.

  80. Bob

    10 years ago it was the same story… it will take 10 years to get new resources on line. Just think if Clinton was a forward thinker we would have the resources now!! The 10 year argument is just a cop-out.

  81. DAN


  82. Bob Difley

    Ronald Schulz says, “If we had the luxury of unlimited time to develop alternative energy sources than maybe these ideas would work but we need fuel now, so lets drill away and use some of what we have available already. …..”
    The alternative energy sources have already been developed and are improving daily. These sources will work now, it just takes political will and an acceptance by the public–even skeptics such as yourself–to put it in place, and a lot of money to set it up. Tell me this: (1) Why are we subsidizing oil companies instead of using that money to develop electric energy systems? (2) Why aren’t the oil companies drilling the 68 million acres of leases they already have, where on the Outer Continental Shelf, 82% of the natural gas and 79% of
    the oil is located in areas that are currently open for leasing?
    (3) Why aren’t they drilling onshore, where 72% of the oil and 84% of the natural gas resources are either fully accessible under standard lease stipulations, which have been designed to protect lands and wildlife–or isn’t that important to you? (Source: US Congressional report of the Committee on Natural Resources, June 2008)
    Right now, half of our oil usage goes to the transportation sector. If we could wean ourselves away from oil in our cars and trucks with electric power, we would go a long way in ridding ourselves of dependence on foreign oil and toward completely domestic energy sources. And I don’t think there is anybody out there on either side of the political spectrum that would not think that would be a desirable goal.

  83. Lee Marks

    If we “:drill away” as a previous commenter suggests, the resulting oil would not come online for years, and meanwhile our refinery capacity is already overstretched. We need alternatives in addition to existing domestic oil sources. Yes, it will take time and money to move towards solutions to our global energy crisis and our dependence on foreign energy sources, but we have the American ingenuity and determination to get the job done. We should immediately divert the immense subsidies we give to big oil (and the hidden costs of trying to defend our access to foreign sources)–let’s put our resources into solving our problems, not just more of the same failed policies.

  84. Daryl

    Oil is also our source for plastics and many other products we use besides fuel. All these latest attentions to different sources to propel our vehicles is good, but it will take time and gobs of money.

  85. Ronald Schulz

    What we have here folks is a clone of Barrack Obama and Al Gore with a touch of Leonardo DiCaprio thrown in. Everything would be just ducky if we stopped using oil and converted our 3/4 to pickups to an electric drive system. Imagine the wonderful trips we could take going almost 50 miles in a day?
    If we had the luxury of unlimited time to develop alternative energy sources than maybe these ideas would work but we need fuel now, so lets drill away and use some of what we have available already. …..