Archive for January, 2009

Rep. Engel calls on President Obama to support Open Fuel Standards

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Congressman Eliot Engel:

“As a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I believe achieving energy independence for our nation is of the utmost importance. Dependence on foreign oil is one of the greatest challenges that our nation has ever faced — our national security, economy and environment are all tied to it.

“I encourage President Obama to build upon these measures by supporting the Open Fuel Standards Act, which I introduced last year with my colleagues Reps. Kingston, Israel, and Inglis. The United States transportation sector is 97% reliant on oil, and it accounts for two-thirds of our nation’s overall oil consumption. Every year, 17 million new cars are sold in the U.S. and, almost exclusively, they run only on petroleum.

“To remedy that, The Open Fuel Standards Act would require 50% of new cars sold in the United States by 2012, and 80% by 2015, to be flex fuel vehicles. Flex fuel vehicles are automobiles that can use as fuel any combination of gasoline and alcohol – such as ethanol and methanol. It is important to note that alcohol does not mean just ethanol, and ethanol does not mean just corn.

“Flex fuel vehicles already exist. They only cost about $100 more than the same car in a gasoline-only version. An influx of flex fuel vehicles on America’s roads would increase competition and consumer choice, strip oil of its strategic status, and protect consumers from price hikes at the pump.”

Set America Free’s Jim Woolsey on turning oil into salt

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


Jim Woolsey and Anne Korin have an article in the fall 2008 issue of MIT Innovations titled How to Break Both Oil’s Monopoly and OPEC’s Cartel. An excerpt:

The reality is that neither efforts to expand petroleum supply nor those to crimp petroleum demand will be enough to materially address America’s strategic vulnerability, although they can help on an interim basis with such issues as the effects of our huge balance of trade deficit. But such solutions do not address the roots of our energy vulnerability: oil’s monopoly in the transportation sector as the reason oil is a strategic commodity. This monopoly gives intolerable power to OPEC and the nations that dominate oil ownership and production over the consuming nations’ economies. Policies that only perpetuate the petroleum standard, doing nothing to address the lack of transportation fuel choice, would therefore guarantee a worse future dependence on the oil cartel as the non-OPEC nations’
share of the world’s oil reserves and production further shrinks.
Not long ago, technology broke the power of another strategic commodity. Until around the end of the nineteenth century salt had such a position because it was the only means of preserving meat. Odd as it seems today, salt mines conferred national power and wars were even fought over control of them. Today, no nation sways history because it has salt mines. Salt is still a useful commodity for a range of purposes.We import some salt, so if one defines independence as autarky we are not “salt independent”. But to most of us there is no “salt dependence” problem at all — because canning, electricity and refrigeration decisively ended salt’s monopoly of meat preservation, and thus its strategic importance.
We can and must do the same thing to oil. When the British Navy made the shift from coal to oil, then First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill famously remarked, “safety and certainty in oil lies in variety and variety alone.”To diminish the strategic importance of oil to the international system it is critical to expand the Churchillian doctrine beyond geographical variety to a variety of fuels and feedstocks.

Ensuring that new cars sold in the U.S. and, by extension, the rest of the world, are platforms on which fuels can compete will spark a competitive market in fuels made from a wide array of energy sources, thus breaking oil’s transportation fuel monopoly and eventually stripping oil of its strategic status.