Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maybe I'm just full of gas

Those that have been reading this blog have noted several postings regarding what it’s like to be in the middle.  Well, I can tell you there is enough BS flying out there to give you whiplash while you’re trying to keep your head down.  This posting will focus on energy.  President Obama has said on numerous occasions that he supports an all of the above energy policy.  A policy that includes: nuclear, natural gas, clean coal, shale oil, deep well drilling, solar, wind, geothermal, etc.  Immediately the right attacks the renewable sources of solar and wind as too expensive and the left attacks nuclear, gas, and oil as enemies of the environment.  I guess that leaves, well nothing.

Let me start by saying that natural gas is the most critical component of our long term energy strategy.  Why?  It’s plentiful, it’s cheap, it’s versatile, it’s relatively clean, and we have a shit load of it.  Yes we have 8 trillion cubic meters, projected to be a 70 year supply, of natural gas reserves but only 112,000 NG powered vehicles on the roads.  Some industry experts expect to see legislation make it through Congress that could add 700,000 – 800,000 more vehicles on the roads in the coming decade.  If Pakistan can put over 2million NG powered vehicles on the road, why can’t America?  Further, if you think coal is dirty, unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly, then natural gas is a reasonable and necessary replacement now that natural gas funded lobbyists were able to get stricter coal emissions standards established by the EPA which will shutter existing coal fired power plants and potentially kill any chance of new plants coming on line.  It is not perfect, and the way the gas and fracking industries steamrolled legislation through Congress to be exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act exemplifies why special interests and lobbyists really rule DC and why Americans have every right to be skeptical.  Natural gas and fracking are not perfect and work needs to be done in insure environmental and worker safety, but in the grand scheme, it needs to be part of the energy plan.

Michele Bachmann took a few minutes to divert herself from her anti-Affordable Care Act shtick to declare the Chevy Volt a failure.  Yes just like the first automobiles were met with criticism by those who couldn’t imagine or envision a future, Congresswoman Bachmann proved that intelligence is not a prerequisite to be a member of the House Intelligence Committee.  What is unmistakable and indubitable, the number of all-electric vehicles will continue to grow as the variety of vehicle makes and models increases along with the commensurate recharging stations.  The Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV will be joined by the Toyota RAV4EV, Coda, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV, and the Tesla Model S this year.  In the U.S., the number of charging stations is projected to increase from 2,300 to 12,000 in 2012 and by 2020 it could top 50,000 at a time when the number of all-electric vehicles in the U.S. tops 1.4million according to industry research firm LMC Automotive.  And like all new technology, the costs will come down quickly.  The projected battery cost will drop from $800/kw-h to under $200/Kw-h by 2020.  Yes the all-electric technology is expensive and charging stations are focused mainly in large urban areas, but all new technologies must pass through the early adaption phase before becoming mainstreamed. 

What is undeniable is alternative fuel sources along with increased fuel efficiency vehicles is reducing the U.S. demand for crude oil based petroleum products.  In terms of national and economic security, that is a good thing.  It would be wise for our leaders to continue think about the long term while they run their negative campaign ads.

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