Archive for March, 2007

Unhelpful distractions

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
There's a reason the Set America Free blueprint has focused on the 80% of solutions to reducing our oil dependence that everyone can agree on rather than going for the options that have put politicians at loggerheads for years. Today a bill was introduced in the Senate purporting to provide a so-called "grand compromise" by combining increased domestic drilling with increased CAFE standards. A cursory scan of Florida papers today offers a prime illustration of why policies that are controversial don't end up making progress but just serve as an unhelpful distraction:
"Like a monster in a horror movie that has been shot, stabbed and blasted into oblivion, the specter of drilling close to Florida's shores is rising from the dead once more to lunge for a state that thought it was safe. Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho%2

Biomass gasification: let’s talk methanol

Friday, March 9th, 2007
The Methanol Institute reports: "President Bush has set an aggressive goal of increasing alternative fuels use in the transportation sector to the equivalent of 35 billion gallons. However, the Energy Information Administration forecasts ethanol output to reach only 11.5 billion gallons in 2017. Only 2% of this projected ethanol supply will come from cellulosic ethanol. One way to fill this gap is through biomass gasification for methanol production. Cellulosic ethanol may someday be able to produce 60 gallons of ethanol from a ton of biomass material. Using technology available today and largely developed for coal gasification, methanol yields could achieve 165-185 gallons per ton of waste wood. Methanol biomass gasifiers are also highly energy efficient (50-60%), and can use a wide range of feedstocks from forest residue to municipal solid waste. Rather than completing with weather-dependent food crops for transportation fuel feedstock, it is estimated that 250 million tons of waste wood is generated in the U.S. each year. That’s enough wood to produce 41 to 46 billion gallons of methanol, or roughly one-third of the 140 billion gallons of gasoline consumed in the U.S. last year. North Shore Energy is looking at building a plant in Mississippi capable of producing 50 million gallons of methanol per year from 260 tons of wood per day. Air Products is looking at a dozen potential gasification projects around the world, nine of which involved biomass feedstocks.[...] this is a mature technology that is potentially decades ahead of producing ethanol or Fischer-Tropsch diesel from synthesis gas." This is yet another reminder of why automakers should make as many new cars as possible GEM flexible fuel vehicles, cars that can run on any combination of gasoline, ethanol, methanol (and other alcohols as well) and cost an auto manufacturer less than $100 extra to make - would be a huge step forward to reducing oil dependence and increasing energy security by opening up the transportation fuel market wide for competition. This 2003 article from Ford Motor Company's Roberta Nichols about GEM flexibility is a must read. Detroit has already committed to 50% flex fuel vehicles by 2012 - faster and bolder please!

Water and oil

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007
Some interesting information about recycling plastic bottles: "The vast majority of water and plastic soda bottles consumed in the world are made of PET, aka polyethylene terephthalate. And perhaps contrary to expectations, this is one petroleum byproduct that is eminently recyclable. Indeed, and here's a second baffling peculiarity, producers of ground-up recycled PET "flake" cannot keep up with demand. Prices per pound are strong, propelled by Chinese buyers who will buy all the flake or bales of flattened bottles that they can get, to turn into pseudo-polyester and other materials. " The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) reports that the total number of pounds of plastic bottles and jars available in the United States for recycling in 2005 was 5.075 billion, of which only 1.170 billion pounds, or 23% were collected and sold for recycling. As the price of oil and natural gas has increased, using recycled resins as a feedstock in the production of plastic products has become increasingly competitive. While only a very small portion of oil demand is accounted for by plastics production, recycling is an easy way to save some oil. Another interesting point: "It takes 20-40 percent less energy to manufacture plastic grocery bags than paper ones. And, since plastics are lightweight and take up so little space, it is much more efficient to transport them. It takes seven trucks to deliver the same number of paper bags as can be carried in one truckload of plastic bags. " But best of all is to bring your own bags!

Good news on the plug in front

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007
Reuters reports: "Toyota Motor Corp. is working on developing a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is open to joining with other automakers in battery development, the president of its North American operations said on Friday." Meanwhile, GM has set 2010 as the target date for production of its plug in hybrid, the Volt. Kudos to both. Faster, please!

Oil dependence facts and figures

Monday, March 5th, 2007
How does foreign oil dependence impact our economy and security? Which sector of the economy consumes the most oil? How will China's growing oil dependence affect the U.S.? Click through to our newly posted oil dependence quick reference guide to learn more about the impact of foreign oil dependence on America and the rest of the world.

Silva Raps U.S. Tariff on Brazil Ethanol

Monday, March 5th, 2007
AP: "Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday that a [54 cent a gallon] U.S. tariff on Brazilian ethanol does not make sense and that he will complain about it to U.S. President George W. Bush when the American leader visits Brazil later this week." Earlier discussion of the issue, and a video clip you really do want to watch, here.

Plug in for America!

Friday, March 2nd, 2007
Watch a two part series by Chuck Scarborough about how how using electricity, only 2% of which is generated from oil, to fuel our cars can drastically reduce America's oil dependence. Set America Free Coalition members Frank Gaffney and Felix Kramer talk about the importance of getting plug in hybrids out on the roads A hot little oil free sports car goes 0-60 in four seconds

Interview with Jim Woolsey: Kicking our oil addiction

Friday, March 2nd, 2007
Set America Free Coalition member Jim Woolsey: ""We're sending [petrodollars] in part to Saudi Arabia and the states of the gulf, and number of which have wealthy families that support the Wahabi's of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government certainly does. And they have several billion dollars a year to run the Madrassahs in Pakistan for example, to teach the Pakistani boys to be suicide bombers. This is the only war we've ever fought, besides the civil war, where we pay for both sides." Watch the whole interview Here are the "bin Laden hates this car" bumper stickers mentioned in the interview.