By Bob Difley
How we RVers rejoiced as fuel prices sank to their lowest levels in years, even for a brief time breaking through the $2 a gallon base. And though these low prices put us back on the road again, it may well be a short reprieve from high oil prices. OPEC waits nervously for the eventual recovery of the global economic crisis when it can again watch with glee as oil pushes back into high profitability at the $90 or $100 a barrel level.
Not just those in the oil business are fretting over the low gas prices. Ethanol producers, biodiesel startups, and all future-fuel laboratories and researchers are feeling the pinch. With low oil prices, the economic viability of alternative fuels has withered like last year’s corn crop.
The economic viabiliy of fossil fuels at low prices has all but destroyed the financial need for these alternate fuels. After all, oil produces more BTUs than the equivalent of any alternate fuel, is abundantly available on the world market, is readily put into a usable state by widespread refineries, and is available on a nearby street corner dispensing station to fuel our RVs and tow vehicles. Why do we need anything else?
We don’t—if you are willing to ultimately again pay $4 a gallon and more when oil rebounds, and if you deny that global warming exists and the CO2 exhausted into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is irrelevant, and if whether our smoggy polluted air resulting from the burning of fossil fuels is an unimportant quality of life issue for you. If it doesn’t bother you that huge oil profits flow to hostile countries and fund terrorist organizations, and that when peak oil—maybe less than a decade away–is reached and supplies drop and prices skyrocket, and—well, isn’t that enough of a reason why we can’t continue our oil gluttony?
Existing alternative fuel companies are also suffering due to low oil prices and a struggling economy. Driving has generally decreased, helping to keep oil demand and prices low. Ethanol follows the gas prices down, so the cost of manufacturing ethanol is no longer profitable. Sun Energy Corp. of South Dakota went bankrupt last fall. Pacific Ethanol closed two of their plants, the one in Stockton, CA open only five months. The use of corn to make ethanol is also being challenged, since it raises corn-based food prices and requires excessive energy to produce.
Free market advocates say let the markets take care of themselves. Let ethanol sink or swim. Keep government from meddling in private business. However, free market advocacy is currently out of favor since the banking debacle and the new environmentally sensitive government believes that in order to stimulate the development of alternative fuels, they must stand up and make it clear that the era of oil dependency is coming to an end, and alternative fuels must be developed to wean us off fossil fuels, and that government will support, help fund, and give tax breaks to alternative energy ventures, even if in the short term it costs us (the taxpayers) money. This is where much of the stimulus money will go. To the development of more efficient ethanol and biodiesel production, such as from algae, switchgrass, and other cellulosic materials, to an upgraded power grid to charge our plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, and to whatever else the scientists laboring in garages and laboratories can concoct.
Seventy billion dollars–$50 billion in spending and $20 billion in tax provisions–of the president’s stimulus package has been designated for energy projects, among them support for the continuation of the development of alternate fuels and for sources of sustainable electricity. The government’s stance is clear. And it is a clear message to clean energy entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and even big oil companies (BP has invested $500 million into biofuels research and development with Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley). The message is, now is the time to invest in green fuel and energy development, and that with the government’s support low oil prices will not wipe out their long term investments. And that means a cleaner, safer, America and planet Earth, fit for RVers of all kinds—including the deniers.
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Dont’ you get enough of this “ragging” on anybody and every body in your “real life”!?!?.
Leave it , and enjoy rving and LIFE in this “other life”, there are so many beautiful thing in this “other Life” to discuss!!!!
Here’s something to “drink” to.
“A gallon of ethanol may require up to more than 2,100 gallons of water from farm to fuel pump, depending on the regional irrigation practice in growing corn, according to the study detailed in the April 15 issue of journal Environmental Science & Technology.“
Thank you all for the great comments and continuance of the discussion. Unfortunately, I am at the Rally in Albuquerque now and busy with working on my seminars and other things so I will not have the time to reply individually. But don’t let that stop the comments from coming in. Thanks again. Bob
Bob, Bob, Bob there you go again. I say drill for our abundance of oil.
Ethanol could be an answer, if we don’t use corn. It is just too inefficent, and affects too many other things. The only reason the country went hog wild with corn based Ethanol is because the infrastructure for growing and handling it was already in place. There are other plants that can be grown that are more efficient, we just need to learn to grow them.
I think that bio-diesel might hold a better answer (using algae for the bio-mass) because creating it can be more efficent, and there are many more sources of vegetable oil that can be used.
But these are short term solutions, we really need to find ways to harness and generate electricity in a more efficent manner. Hydrogen fuel cells could be an answer with more development. And what about those smart college kids back east (MIT, Columbia, I’m not sure) who figured out a way to charge batteries with the motion of shock absorbers, that is real interesting.
Electric cars are not new, and some of the old ones were not just relics from the early 1900’s. Dr. Porsche, in the late 30’s had an electric car, with an electric motor on each wheel, used for power and braking, and it ran fast! We just need to get off this kick that we need an engine that burns something.
For the big Class A rigs, I would like to see a power arrangement similar to locomotives, a diesel engine that runs a generator that powers electric motors that drive the rv. Then as better power sources are found, the diesel engine can be dropped from the equation.
To Thomas Becher,
Here at Apache Palms Rv Park in Tempe, they have a huge container for just recycling only. It fills up every day and is removed by the city of Tempe every day. That container doesn’t care one bit that you separate your recycling – just throw all in.
It’s is SO easy. I thank the City’s leadership for that service.
Your last paragraph was a good synopsis of the big picture. Whether you re-publish Congressional Bill spending and tax figures or not, your messages are informative and might well be a bit of an awakening for the uninformed and the predisposed.
We are all interested in good news and you are merely passing on to us what our elected officials are finally now doing. They’re taking these measures because they have been listening to us voters for the last couple of years.
Fortunately, given the time to first unravel the mess we’ve been in, it now appears our leadership, of both parties, actually wants to do what’s right for the country (and the world). Regardless of which party is the majority for a majority of years, their decisions should have a positive affect on the long-term outcome for our country. I don’t perceive that it’s been that way until now.
This past year the majority of voters decided that it was time to end the era of satisfying lobbyists and the closed-circle of the rich and the politically-powerful.
Because the law of supply-and-demand has been cross-bred with greed and incompetence, it hasn’t had much of a chance lately.
When I use the term greed, I am not referring to the need exhibited by all organisms to protect their resources; I am referring to the solely human trait of conscious selfishness. That trait alone would seem to set humans apart from the rest of the “other” animals.
However, just for fun, are you and your readers aware that humans are really not that far apart from all of the other animals? Genetically, we possess 99.999% of the same genes as an earthworm. That says to me that we are really not that damn special.
Come on folks, start showing that you prefer to be stewards of the only planet we will ever live on.
To the readership; even if you kill Bob the messenger, the message will still be there – use it wisely.
Keep it up Bob, the debate must go on!
Go to biosphere II north of Tuscon Az. Learn all about CO, ice ages, and global warming. No political agendas just FACTS. Then judge for yourself what you want to do about it. The world is constantly changing(think earhguakes). We know that the earth wobbles on it’s axis. A little further away from the sun would be cooler a lillte closer, warmer. Try that with your hand near the gas burner of your stove. same thing. to save the earth how about mandatory recycleing at resorts and campgrounds. I take the garbage out and see more alum cans cardboard steel cans etc. And YOU (the reader) are the one that can do something about it.
I think it would have been possible to present a discussion on the future of alternate fuels without perpetuating the unfounded “science” of AGW. By using the term “deniers” you have cast your lot with those who would have us believe that “there is no debate” . There is, in fact, a very vigorous debate in the scientific community. Over 31,000 american scientists, including over 9000 Ph. D.s, have signed a petion urging the U.S. government to stay away from any Kyoto like treaty because there just isn’t any convincing evidence that the release of greenhouse gases will cause catastrophic warming of the atmosphere. The dire (and grossly exaggerated) predictions of Al Gore and his disciples made at the beginning of this millenium have failed to happen. Climate models that the AGW enthusiasts rely so heavily on for “proof” that AGW is real are great at confirming the past but utterly useless in predicting the future. Any reasonable person that took the time to look at both sides of this debate in an objective way would quickly come to the conclusion that we are being railroaded into policies that satisfy the poitician’s desire for control and revenue but have little basis in proven science. In future discussions, I think it would be more accurate to describe those who don’t buy into the unfounded, politically correct AWG nonsense as realists instead of deniers.
What you drinkin’ Bob, I could use some.
This is the kind of unwanted liberal ranting that I do not care to read on the RV Blog. I am interested in enjoying my RV, the journeys it allows me to enjoy. I want to hear about RVing, technical help, suggested resources and sights to see. Keep politics, conservativism vs. liberalism out of the blog. What I believe in and value are not a source of interest to anyone on the RV Blog. If that is what you prefer, I’ll go elsewhere. THIS WAS BORING!!!
Spoken like a true liberal who doesn’t know the first thing about our energy problems. Well, you got what you wanted, in a President that also doesn’t know if he is coming or going.
God help us……….!
See everyone at the Tea Parties April 15th !
We’ll be sure to include a strong show of support for the unscienced Kool-Aid drinkers in the new religion of anthropogenic Global Warming.
Well… easy come .. easy go.. I am sorry I don’t feel bad for the Sand people. They smiled as the price went up… and now are miffed because the price is coming back down after the market was diddled with. Oh well…
As to your preaching about CO …AGAIN… ya just don’t learn it Bob… It isn’t us that is doing the global warming.. matter of fact .. one of them so called envrionmental science people suggested that we increace the Global CO so it makes a …unbrella.. and reflects the UV away into space… ahhh ya that works… The guy has been reading too many DC MARVAL comic books. If this is what we are getting in a science leading persone today… ahhh help!!!
No.. instead the powers to be such as the Clintions, Gores and POPhead in congress.. who got a bigger plane… uses more fuel and puts out more CO so she doesn’t have to stop going from home to work and back a couple times a week… These people should take a long look at the electricity production here in this country… Its up by a whopping 300%. Now most are going on coal or Nat Gas… for the big rush to move away from OIL.. but, the CO still remains… and at the rate that the powerplants are putting tons of CO into the air every 24 hours a day 7 days a week… one would soon think Cars and RVs are just a drop in the bucket … so to speak… which they are…
So what about going back to Nuc fuel.. ahhhh here we don’t produce CO… we don’t have the burning of O2… nope… everything is contained except for the heat generated … remember change of energy state… neither created nor destroyed only changed from one form to another… old physics thing in college…
Well… NOW IF THE POWERS TO BE… INCLUDING BO … wanted to really do something to not only get us off of Sand Oil… and also at the same time kill the generation of thousands of tonns of CO… one simple thing.. go Nuc power…
Ever wonder why.. we have not… WELL ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY… YOU FORGET AGAIN THAT OIL PEOPLE CONTROL THE DEMO’S… and so while its dispeckable to have cheap oil.. why did they recend the off shore drilling.. just when we were getting back to low prices that it caused… and of course the ever .. you can’t really do anything about it.. CO emissions… baloney…
Go beat up on the Demo’s for not getting with the program and getting all them nuc plants going… OB said he would… but yet… ops where did the money come from??
You want to make a change… get the powerplants off of coal, oil and nat gas… and start using nuc power… that doesn’t produce CO…
The real problem here Bod is that again the land of fruits and nuts elected a toothless leader and leadership .. which really is a joke… when it comes to the question of leadership.. what leadership… all they do is restrict… I have yet to see a leader come forth with a plan to help all us out…
If solar is so good why arn’t we making megawatts of panels.. putting people to work building them.. and enjoying the great savings not only to mother earth but also to the user…
those are things you should talk about and not the corn harvest which was sold to others off shore…can’t make fuel if others are eating it… given to the same country that now has our ships captain held hostage…
Yep your still the same… listen to Rush and then pick a subject and wrtie about it… something like a parrot… thing???
You should instead of whimpering here… start demanding that our government do something that will help us out.. instead of just selling credits which again are going to cost us all… lot of good credits are going to do… when you still need the energy to TRY AND MAKE SOMETHING IN THIS COUNTRY…
Ya getting better though… least your not making as many mistakes… must be the fosters instead of miller… grin…
By the way are you too into this health kick… seems that all the other writers are jumping on the .. lets lose the lbs stuff… ask your wife … if she has consulted with the others… as they are all into hardware and eating … non-good tasting foods…
Hut Hut… get out their and push that bike… again…
Bob if you run into someone who is for the things you talk about above, take a picture. We have not long ago voted in a new President, we have given him enough Senators and Congress to do as he will’s, of his own party. He ran on a lot of the things you talked about, along with education, low paying jobs, people on the streets with no home or food, high cost of everything. As we all know, Mr. Clinton did not cure these things. Now, we have elected another President who has ran on the same things. Given him a majority to push anything, i do mean anything he wishes thru. As a 64 year old person, who has been regestired Demotratic all my life, and will be till i die, i shake my head in wonderment and wonder if these folks who voted in Carter, Clinton, now the big O? even looked at their voting record, what they stood for. We will probally have 8 years of this one, then we can look back to see how many of the things he ran on, and the world’s ill’s he has pushed thru. Or, like Clinton, will he know what is, is.
Four years and out, for the President, Senate, And Congress.
This is not, NOT, our Father and Mothers demotratic party anymore
I agree that we need alternative fuels, government supported ethanol is not the answer. The additon of ethanol to gasoline lower fuel economy and increases the amont of fuel burned.
You know something, Bob! We may be closer than we think to a better, tho perhaps less than ideal, motorhome power system. Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as a few other cities are currently using 100% electric buses on certain routes in the city transit systems. It would seem that adding an onboard generator to this system MAY provide a suitable chassis for a motorhome with much less than “ground zero” engineering and start-up costs. I wonder how many motorhome manufacturers are in regular contact with these bus manufacturers (and users) and looking at them with an eye toward motorhome use.
I will pass on a couple of URLs for you and any others who are interested. Hopefully, this post may stir up just a tad of interest in this area. We must not let the dust settle on this issue regardless of the price of gasoline and diesel fuel.