ENERGY VULNERABILITY


The nation faces many pressing problems. 
The world is facing many serious environmental and over-population problems in the next 30 years.
One of those pressing problems, is energy vulnerability.
Oil and energy prices have never been higher, both in nominal price and adjusted for inflation; worse than the spike in year 1981, which can have a significant impact on the economies world-wide. Already, the U.S. is facing several worsening economic conditions due to these 10 abuses over the past 30+ years.

Part of the solution 
biofuel  and  ethanol, and continued research into several other alternatives (see below).

biofuel  and  ethanol  would not be long-term solutions, but a plausible, temporary alternative until better alternatives are widely available.
biofuel  and  ethanol  are not great substitutes (at the moment), but offer one thing:  reduced dependency on foreign oil.  That is, if oil supplies become unreliable, then biofuel  and  ethanol  may suddenly become a more practical alternative (at that moment).  That is, it will be better than nothing. 

If the government could ever bring themselves to do anything worthwhile (we may need to help them), it would be the following to decisively take action to eliminate our dependence on oil (especially foreign oil), which represents a serious national security issue, damage to the environment, and health hazards.  Also, fossil fuels are limited and running out, and we are running out of time. And, the auto companies have demonstrated repeatedly that the only way they will ever make changes is if they are forced.  And the oil industry won't do it themselves.  The oil industry, for obvious reasons, will continue to oppose any such changes.   But, wouldn't it be a relief indeed, if we were no longer at the mercy of foreign oil producing countries?  

Car, bus and truck exhaust also account for a significant amount of the air pollution and greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.  Two thirds of all petroleum used in the U.S. is for transportation (cars, buses, trucks), which account for a much of the air pollution and greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.


SOLUTION: 

We have better alternative energy sources. 


     biofuel
 and  ethanol  (not only from corn; there are more and better sources to make ethanol, such as switch grass, sugar cane, etc.) 


Advantages of 
biofuel  and  ethanol
(1) biofuel can be made from soy beans, mustard seed, palm seed, coconuts, rapeseed, algae, waste vegetable oils and animal fats. It is non-flammable, non-explosive, biodegradable, non-toxic and significantly reduces harmful emissions.
(2) ethanol is an alcohol, distilled from various plants, but most frequently from sugar cane, switch grass, sugar beets, and corn. It is biodegradable and significantly reduces harmful emissions.
(3) biofuel  and  ethanol use will eliminate our power plants' reliance on petroleum imports and thus insulate our energy production from outside supply and price fluctuations.
(4) biofuel  and  ethanol use will reduce our balance of payment deficits
(5) biofuel  and  ethanol use will benefit our farmers and create domestic jobs.
(6) This can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time without the need for new technology or any disruption of our current food crop production.

The following conversions should also take place when electricity can be generated more economically:
(1) Domestic and industrial use of natural gas for cooking and heating should be phased out and conversion made to electricity.
(2) Domestic and industrial use of petroleum heating oil should be phased out and conversion made to electricity
(3) It may be necessary to regulate energy production, since unmitigated corporate greed can lead to unreliable service and unreasonable prices (e.g. Enron, blackouts, gouging, price fixing, etc.)

WHAT Government Can Do:
(1) The government should mandate higher fuel efficiency standards (e.g. miles per gallon); standards high enough to provide incentives to produce more hybrid vehicles.
(2)  The government should fund energy efficiency research and development.  Some may not like the idea of government doing this, but oil companies may not have sufficient incentives to do such research.  It is also a serious issue of health, national security, and protecting the environment
(3)  The government could contract corporations, in competition, to produce biofuel from algae. There are certain species of algae that have an oil content of over 50%. Algae production ponds can be built on arid or semi-arid land that are not ideal or usable for farming. Even better, the algae thrive on human and animal waste, so the production ponds can have the further benefit of waste processingIt could reduce or eliminate our dependence on oil and gas within a decade (perhaps less). There are many strategic, economic, health, and national security benefits of being self sufficient for all our transportation and energy needs, which could be achieved using biofuels.
(4) Governments should give more consideration to mass transit systems. With more and more traffic, urban sprawl, pollution, increasing population, perhaps more people are finally getting tired of sitting in their automobiles 10+ hours per week (at 1 hour per one-way commute; that is 520 hours per year = 65 eight-hour periods sitting in traffic) ?
(5) 4 day work weeks.
(6) Some oil companies are limiting oil production by not drilling on about 200 million of acres of oil and gas leases.  Why?  Some (or all) oil companies are trying to use oligopolistic conditions to manipulate and drive up oil prices (now at $139 per barrel as of 06-JUN-2008).  Price fixing is illegal, but refusing to drill to increase supply is not.  Thus, the oil companies have devised an alternative way to increase demand by limiting supply.  Thus, government should drill these oil and gas leases themselves.  At the very least, the government can use that oil to maintain the 700 million barrels of oil in the national strategic oil reserves.

Also, research should continue on other potential energy sources to replace fossil fuels:
(1) fusion
(2) geothermal
(3) solar
(4) hydrogen, OTEC
(5) tidal forces
(6) biofuels
(7) wind
(8) hydro-electric
(9) more . . .

Nuclear fission is a relatively  bad  idea, and it's not necessary, since we have better alternatives.  Nuclear fission power proponents frequently tout nuclear fission power as a limitless supply of energy powered by a fuel that never runs out. 

However:
(1) Nuclear fission plants are extremely expensive to build.
(2) Nuclear fission plants have the potential for catastrophic environmental and human disaster (e.g. Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island, etc.).
(3) Nuclear fission plants create large amounts of hazardous, environmentally toxic radioactive waste that will remain hazardous for many millennia.
(4) Nuclear fission plants are attractive military targets and attractive targets for terrorists.
(5) When all costs (short-term and long-term) are included (including additional security risks), the economic advantages of nuclear fission plants is questionable.
(6) Will more nuclear fission plants all over the world make the world a safer place?

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