Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Demonstration of Why Drilling or Fracking More American Oil Will Not Lower Gas Prices

It seems obvious that if American oil companies produced more oil in America, gasoline prices for Americans would come down.

But that isn't the case.

Why not? Oil is sold all over the world. And oil prices are set by OPEC (here's how that works). So every oil company — including every American oil company — sells its oil at the going rate. That is, they sell it at the world market rate, no matter who they're selling it to.

In the midst of our recent Great Recession, with people driving much less, with more fuel efficient cars on the road (in other words, Americans were buying less gasoline) the second-largest American oil company, Chevron, enjoyed "a 43 percent jump in quarterly profit," according to a New York Times article.

"The numbers released on Friday were the latest in a string of huge profits from the industry, which got a lift from the highest oil prices in nearly three years...Chevron’s profit rose to $7.7 billion...from $5.4 billion...a year earlier."

In other words, this American oil company benefits greatly from the global high price of oil that OPEC sets. The oil Chevron pumps from American oil fields is sold to Americans at OPEC's price, which generated obscene profits at a time Americans were suffering financially. They didn't sell their oil at "competitive prices" as they could easily do. They didn't give Americans a better deal than they could get anywhere else. They sold it at OPEC's prices, which was so high above their costs for production, their profits runneth over. And they were not alone.

Drilling or fracking more American oil will not lower gasoline prices at the pump.

This is not to say it will be any cheaper to import it from somewhere else. Yes, as long as we are using oil, we should drill it in America. It will at least improve the trade deficit and create American jobs. But if we want to pay less at the pump, gasoline needs competition. Drilling more will not provide that.

But the Open Fuel Standard will.

Author: Adam Khan, the co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org and co-author of the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Free Market For Fuel

Fuel is not sold in a free market. In the last hundred years, the oil industry has shut down, smeared, discredited, and blocked competing fuels. Right now, methanol could be sold for half the price of gasoline. But because of a pointless EPA regulation, it’s not sold as a fuel in the United States. Normal gasoline-only cars can efficiently burn methanol, which can be made inexpensively from three resources America has in abundance: coal, natural gas, and municipal waste (among many other resources).

Ethanol is another example. Oil companies have blocked ethanol from being sold at most gas stations. Petroleum interests have also been trying to discredit ethanol as a fuel for literally a hundred years.

Petroleum has a monopoly, and OPEC has been exploiting it. OPEC was created to raise world oil prices, which they’ve successfully done since 1973. The OPEC nations produce 40 percent of the world’s annual oil supply, which is enough of a percentage that they can (and they do) regularly decide to lower their production to raise the world price of oil.

OPEC is an illegal price-fixing cartel, and if they were operating within our borders, they would be prosecuted for it. What they are doing is also illegal internationally, but nobody is likely to prosecute them because OPEC could, and probably would, retaliate by stopping their production, which would cause a worldwide depression.

Free trade and the economy as we know it completely depend on transporting goods from place to place. When the price of transportation fuel rises, the price of everything rises. Every time oil prices have spiked since World War II, we’ve had a recession in America.

It is our complete reliance on oil that creates our economic vulnerability. What can we do about it?

The solution to a monopoly is competition.

But how can we create free trade in the fuel market when the problem is outside our borders? The Open Fuel Standard is the solution. The bill now in Congress says half the cars sold in America must allow fuel competition — if the car can burn gasoline, it must also be able to burn gasoline, ethanol and methanol in any proportion. This is technically simple and surprisingly inexpensive to do. Ethanol and methanol burn in similar ways, and they work very well in ordinary gasoline-only engines. The main thing automakers would need to do is install the flex fuel software in the onboard computer.

This small change brings into being real fuel competition. Drivers filling their tanks could choose on the spot which fuel they want to buy that day. So those fuels would have to compete with each other on price. And if there was an oil price spike, it would hardly make a dent in our economy. People would simply buy one of the other available fuels.

Methanol and ethanol can both be made right here in America, producing American jobs and pouring money into the American economy. Please help us make this a reality. Sign up for our free email updates at openfuelstandard.org and participate. The bill subsidizes nothing and costs taxpayers nothing, but a freer fuel market means the consumer wins.

Author: Adam Khan, the co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org and co-author of the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Only Country in the World With True Fuel Competition

I met a businessman from Brazil the other day. For years I've been reading about what Brazil has accomplished, but this is the first time I've met someone from Brazil and could talk to them about it. "Yes," he said, "we have the choice of ethanol and gasoline at every filling station in the country. Yes, almost all the cars on the road are flex fuel vehicles."

What struck me most was his nonchalance, especially as contrasted with my obvious envy. He lives in a country where a liquid fuel is in constant competition with gasoline. Brazil has done something amazing. And they are the only country on earth doing it. Their economy is thriving. They recently passed Britain to become the sixth largest economy in the world (behind the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, and France). They won the bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. They've arrived on the world stage as a major economic power.

When I commented on his lack of excitement about his country's fuel competition, my new Brazilian friend said, "Well, this all started way back in the 1980s." It is no big deal to him that every time he fills his tank, he chooses what he wants to put in it. It's been that way for a long time. He said sometimes ethanol is a better deal and sometimes gasoline is. But, he said (not yet realizing I know a lot about this topic) "you can't go as many miles on a gallon of ethanol as you can on a gallon of gasoline. We just do a quick calculation, multiplying by point seven. So if the price of ethanol is 70 percent of the price of gasoline or lower, most people buy ethanol. If it's above that, we buy gasoline."

On sale in Brazil are 80 different flex fuel vehicle models, made by 12 major automakers, and four flex fuel motorcycle models. The automakers are GM, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Peugeot, Renault, Mitsubishi, Citroën, Fiat, and Kia Motors.

In Brazil, the gasoline is E20 or E25. That is, their gasoline is 20 to 25 percent ethanol. And the ethanol for sale at the pump is 100 percent ethanol (rather than E85, as it is in the U.S.). Pure ethanol is very popular in Brazil — 65 percent of the people with flex fuel vehicles regularly use ethanol.

Although Brazil made ethanol available for ethanol-only cars at every filling station starting back in the 1980s, flex fuel cars didn't come onto the Brazilian auto market until 2003. The next year, 22 percent of new car sales were FFVs. It climbed until by 2009, 94 percent of new car sales were FFVs. Not many people choose to not have any choice in fuels.

We could do in America what they've done in Brazil. In fact, we could go one better. We could add methanol. The mechanical tweaks necessary to enable a gasoline-only engine to also burn methanol and ethanol are almost nil. Then we would have three good fuels all competing with each other for our fuel dollars. What do you think that might do for our economy?

Author: Adam Khan, the co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org and co-author of the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom. 

Makes and Models of Flex Fuel Vehicles in Brazil

On sale in Brazil are 80 different flex fuel vehicle models, made by 12 major automakers, and four flex fuel motorcycle models. The following is a list of flex-fuel automobiles and light-duty vehicles available in Brazil (source):

Chevrolet: Astra, Blazer, Celta, Classic, Corsa, Montana, Meriva, Prisma, S10, Vectra, Zafira

Ford: Courier, EcoSport, Fiesta, Focus, Ka

Volkswagen: Bora, CrossFox, Fox, Gol, Golf, Kombi, Parati, Polo, Saveiro, SpaceFox, Voyage

Nissan: Livina, Sentra, Tiida

Honda: City, Civic, Fit, and four motorcycles CG Titan Mix, NXR 150 Bros Mix, GC 150 Fan Flex and the BIZ 125 Flex

Toyota: Toyota Corolla

Fiat: Doblò, Linea, Idea, Mille, Palio, Palio Fire, Palio Weekend, Punto, Siena, Stilo, Strada, Uno

Hyundai: Hyundai HB20

Kia Motors: Kia Soul

Mitsubishi: Pajero TR4, Pajero Sport, Pajero L200 Triton

Peugeot: 206, 307

Renault: Clio, Kangoo, Grand Tour, Mégane, Scénic, Logan, Sandero, Symbol

Citroën: C3, C4, C4 Pallas, Xsara Picasso

In Brazil, the gasoline is E20 or E25. That is, their gasoline is 20 to 25 percent ethanol. And the ethanol for sale at the pump is 100 percent ethanol (rather than E85, as it is in the U.S.). Pure ethanol is very popular in Brazil — 65 percent of the people with flex fuel vehicles regularly use ethanol.

Although Brazil made ethanol available for ethanol-only cars at every filling station starting back in the 1980s, flex fuel cars didn't come onto the Brazilian auto market until 2003. The next year, 22 percent of new car sales were FFVs. It climbed until by 2009, 94 percent of new car sales were FFVs. Not many people choose to not have any choice in fuels.

We could do in America what they've done in Brazil. In fact, we could go one better. We could add methanol. The mechanical tweaks necessary to enable a gasoline-only engine to also burn methanol and ethanol are almost nil. Then we would have three good fuels all competing with each other for our fuel dollars. You can help make it happen. Start here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

OPEC Country Finances Anti-Fracking Film

Several articles about the Matt Damon movie, Promised Land (see links to the articles below), explain how the movie deliberately distorts the facts in order to make fracking (hydraulic fracturing) seem as bad as possible, and reveal that the movie was funded by Abu Dhabi Media, which is wholly owned by the United Arab Emirates, an OPEC nation.

The recent transformation of the oil and gas industry in the U.S. has OPEC concerned. So far America hasn't used its new technology to create fuel competition in the liquid fuel market, but if we ever get a collective clue, it would spell doom for most of the regimes now ruling OPEC nations. They've gotten in over their heads with future commitments to pay off their citizens, which requires a high global price for oil. If the U.S. uses its new natural gas wealth to create methanol to compete with gasoline directly, the price of fuel will drop precipitously and OPEC's controlling power over the world's economy will collapse.

Of course OPEC doesn't want this to happen. That's an understatement. They absolutely cannot allow this to happen. One good way of stopping it is to try to discredit or even vilify the source of America's new natural gas wealth: Fracking technology. That's what Matt Damon's movie does. And that's what several other films have done, including the documentary, Gasland.

When Matt Damon and John Krasinski wrote their screenplay about fracking, they were so pleased with it, they announced it would be "promoted as a potential Oscar winner." But, says director Phelim McAleer, "then came trouble." He explains:

In courtroom after courtroom, it has been proved that anti-fracking activists have been guilty of fraud or misrepresentation.

There was Dimock, Pa. — the likely inspiration for “Promised Land,” which is also set in Pennsylvania. Dimock featured in countless news reports, with Hollywood celebrities even bringing water to 11 families who claimed fracking had destroyed their water and their lives.

But while “Promised Land” was in production, the story of Dimock collapsed. The state investigated and its scientists found nothing wrong. So the 11 families insisted EPA scientists investigate. They did — and much to the dismay of the environmental movement found the water was not contaminated.

There was Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers in Texas, a group that produced a frightening video of a flaming house water pipe and claimed a gas company had polluted the water. But a judge just found that the tape was an outright fraud — Wolf Eagle connected the house gas pipe to a hose and lit the water.

Other “pollution” cases collapsed in Wyoming and Colorado. Even Josh Fox, who with his Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” first raised concerns about flammable water, has had to admit he withheld evidence that fracking was not responsible.

These frauds and misrepresentations created huge problems for the Damon/Krasinski script...

So, according to sources close to the movie, they’ve come up with a solution — suggest that anti-fracking fraudsters are really secret agents employed by the fossil-fuel industry to discredit the environmental movement.

In the revised script, Damon exposes Krasinski as a fraud — only to realize that Krasinski’s character is working deep undercover for the oil industry to smear fracking opponents.

I really liked how Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters ended his article. He wrote:

Making matters worse, the film is full of so many falsehoods, Phelim McAleer reported Tuesday "the script’s seen some very hasty rewriting because of real-world evidence that anti-fracking activists may be the true villains."

According to McAleer, the reworked plot suggests "anti-fracking fraudsters are really secret agents employed by the fossil-fuel industry to discredit the environmental movement."

That's pretty funny since Damon in real life is an "anti-fracking fraudster" employed by an OPEC nation to discredit fracking.

Now THAT'S entertainment!

There is so much at stake for the oil industry, I think we can expect to see anti-fracking propaganda of many kinds in the near future. They've done it to ethanol. There's no reason to think natural gas (or any other potential competitor) wouldn't get equally rough treatment from the petroleum monopoly. Here are the articles on Matt Damon's movie:

Matt Damon's Anti-Fracking Movie Financed by Oil-Rich Arab Nation
For His Next Escape
Anti-Fracking Film Backed By OPEC Nation
Yoko Ono, Matt Damon and OPEC Versus American Energy Independence

Author: Adam Khan, the co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org and co-author of the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom.   

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is Corn Ethanol Production Bad For The Environment?

Have you seen any recent articles about how "devastating" corn ethanol is to the environment? Setting aside the fact that corn was only the beginning and given what Joule Energy is doing, corn isn't the best thing to make ethanol from anyway (because its yield is so low compared to other feedstocks), it's still true that corn ethanol is being demonized unfairly. The following was published by the Renewable Fuels Association, who obviously have an ax to grind, but the points they make are accurate and should be included in our national conversation about fuel. Here's what they wrote:

The Associated Press has just published a new account of the effects of corn production and ethanol on the environment. The piece is appearing in newspapers across the country starting this week.

The AP calls it "investigative reporting." We call it salacious and unbalanced.

RFA staff spoke with the story's lead reporter numerous times, providing indisputable facts, peer-reviewed studies, and government data documenting ethanol's positive impacts. Instead, the writer chose to use disproven myths, skewed data, and outright fabrications to suggest biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard haven't lived up to their promise.

Here are just a few of the "facts" the AP got wrong or chose to ignore:
  • There is no evidence farmers are "plowing into pristine prairies." No new grassland has been converted to cropland since 2005, and most is protected under "sodbuster" and "swampbuster" provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill.
  • In the same vein, the AP claims to have used "government satellite data" to determine that "1.2 million acres of virgin land" have been converted to corn since 2006. But the AP has so far refused to release this "data."
  • No one is "filling in wetlands," as the article claims. Enrollment in the Wetland Reserve Program hit a record high of 2.65 million acres in 2012.
  • The article uses Wayne County, Iowa as a "case study" of corn's out-of-control growth. But corn acreage in that county went down in 2012 and was 34% lower than at its peak in 1986.
  • The article criticizes the rising use of corn for fuel instead of animal feed. But this ignores that for every bushel of corn that goes into producing ethanol, 17 pounds of livestock feed is returned to market. Because of this, on a net basis, livestock feed production still accounts for 50% of the corn supply, with ethanol only consuming 26%.

There's more. They've put together a PDF fact sheet covering some of the biggest flaws in the AP report: Myths Versus Facts.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ethanol For $1 a Gallon Using Unfarmable Land and Undrinkable Water

Corn can produce 350-400 gallons of ethanol per acre per year. Cellulosic fuels such as grass and wood chips can produce 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year, but so far, not cheaply enough to compete with gasoline.

But Algenol, a company in Florida, has successfully achieved 9,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year using algae grown in salt water at one dollar a gallon! Another company, Joule Energy, is producing 15,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year at $1.23 per gallon using undrinkable water! And they are confident they will eventually be able to achieve 25,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year!

How are they able to achieve this? They genetically modified algae to produce ethanol. Let me be clear: These companies are not harvesting the algae and then fermenting it. The algae itself excretes ethanol continuously, which is why the yields are so remarkable the production is continuous year round. Corn is a crop grown and harvested only once a year.

The algae are grown inside tubes, so evaporation is minimal. It can be done in on harsh desert land in fact that might be the best place to do it since there is so much sunlight.

To accelerate the algae's growth, waste CO2 is pumped into it, turning a burdensome waste into a valuable resource.

What Joule Energy is doing is so remarkable, they won a very prestigious award this year by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They said, "Every year, the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Pioneers program identifies 10 companies from around the world that are changing the energy landscape as we know it. An independent panel of industry experts from banking, academia, corporations, utilities and technology providers choose the honourees by assessing them against three criteria: potential to scale, innovation and momentum." In April, 2013, Joule was given this award.

Joule has also genetically modified algae to make diesel fuel and jet fuel.

More information: 
Algenol web site
Joule Energy website
Article about Joule Energy's funding
Joule Plant Overview video

Video interviewing CEO of Joule

Author: Adam Khan, the co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org and co-author of the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Robust Versus Feeble Competition: A Key Distinction

We have two very different ways fuels can compete with each other. One is what we have now — different cars competing with each other, each car using a single source of power: gasoline or compressed natural gas or electricity or hydrogen, etc. The other way is for the cars themselves to be capable of using multiple power sources, like flex fuel cars, plug-in hybrids, Ford’s new CNG-gasoline truck, etc.

Competition between cars is feeble. It is weak, slow, expensive, and cumbersome. It will do very little to lower fuel prices. Competition between power sources within a single vehicle, on the other hand, is robust, vigorous, agile and immediate. It pits fuels against each other, creating a strenuous daily battle to provide the best deal for the consumer. That's the kind of competition we should be aiming for.

To brew coffee at home, imagine what it would be like if each different kind of coffee required a different kind of machine. If you wanted to brew Folder’s coffee, you had to use a Folder’s machine. If you wanted to make Peet’s coffee at home, you had to use a Peet’s coffee machine. Each machine costs, let’s say, $100. You would be able to say that technically the different kinds of coffees are competing with each other, but it is also clear that this is a far cry from what we have now — where a single drip coffee machine can brew any of these brands of coffee, which forces the brands to compete more directly with each other. They must constantly try to outcompete each other to get your coffee dollars.

What if Peet’s dropped the price of their coffee, and you really liked Peet’s coffee, but you had a Folder’s machine? You couldn’t take advantage of the new low price for Peet’s unless you forked over 100 bucks for a new machine. You might hesitate to get the new machine. Peet’s new lower price might be temporary, after all. And how long would it take for you to recoup the 100 dollars for the new machine at Peet’s new low price?

That’s the choice people have now with cars and fuels (but with far more money at stake). You can buy a CNG car, but the car is more expensive than a gasoline-only car, and it still runs on only one fuel. No fuel choice. And what happens if natural gas prices rise and/or gasoline prices drop? You cannot easily switch fuels. That’s what happened in Brazil during the mid-80s and early 90s — the country had switched most of their cars to ethanol-only cars in the early 80s (flex fuel cars hadn’t been invented yet), but OPEC decided to drop the price of gasoline very low in the mid-80s. Brazilian drivers of ethanol-only cars were paying much more for their fuel than the owners of the old fashioned gasoline-only cars.

Competition between cars is feeble compared to competition between fuels within a single car. Think about what happened to phones. Originally, each cell phone had different features, and you could choose between phones. This was weak competition, though, because phones cost money and you often had to agree to a two year contract, etc.

Now most phones are capable of using apps. The apps are competing within single phones, and innovation has exploded. You don’t have to buy a new phone to get a new function. There are literally millions of apps available, doing every conceivable thing, with the level of innovation rising exponentially.

The same thing could happen in the fuels market. Imagine automakers creating cars that can use multiple power sources — the more power sources the better. For example, General Motors is coming out with a Chevrolet Impala in 2015 that will be capable of using gasoline or compressed natural gas. It will have two different tanks. Drivers will be able to fuel up on either, so those two fuels will have to compete against each other at the pump.

But GM could go even further. Since the car can burn gasoline, with a few very minor tweaks it could also burn ethanol, using the same liquid fuel tank used for the gasoline. Now all three fuels would have to constantly battle each other.

When the EPA changes its regulations, methanol could be added too. Four fuels in a single car. That's starting to look like robust competition.

Methanol and ethanol can also be made from multiple feedstocks, and those sources would have to compete with each other. Most methanol, for example, is made from natural gas. But it can be made out of many things. If a local waste conversion facility was turning garbage into methanol, it could compete with methanol made from natural gas. They could compete on price, and they could also compete on other factors. Even if the methanol made from local waste was more expensive, some people would rather buy it because it is local or because they want to support that industry, or for whatever reason. So even between different sources of methanol, we could have competition. The same would be true for ethanol.

But we can go still further. If the car can burn compressed natural gas and gasoline and methanol and ethanol, it might also be a plug-in hybrid. Now all those fuels would have to compete directly with electricity.

The point of all of this is that we need to draw a clear distinction between vehicle competition and fuel competition. They are two very different things. And we should be aiming most intently at fuel competition. We should aim at pitting fuels against each other in real time.

Methanol sells today for 93 cents a gallon. It is only 60 percent of the energy density of gasoline, but that still makes it half the cost of gasoline per mile driven. This low cost is in the absence of a vigorous competitive fuel market. If methanol was allowed to fight for our fuel dollars in an open market (which is what the Open Fuel Standard would accomplish), methanol could get even cheaper, and gasoline would have to radically drop its price if it had any hope of competing.

Robust fuel competition would transform our economy. Each of us would have more money to spend, which would create more jobs. The strategic importance of the Middle East would dwindle, which would allow for fewer conflicted foreign policy decisions. We’d save billions that we now spend protecting shipping lanes for oil. Every power source we’ve mentioned — CNG, ethanol, methanol, and most sources of electricity — produce less pollution than petroleum fuels, so the competition would be good for our health too. The petroleum industry would no longer have a monopoly and the excessive power it gives them. America would be a happier, freer, more prosperous country.

You can help us make this happen. Begin here.

Author: Adam Khan, the co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org and co-author of the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Prime Minister of Israel Says "We Can Break Oil's Monopoly"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the Fuel Choices Summit in Tel Aviv (November 12th and 13th, 2013) about Israel's role in breaking oil's monopoly in transportation. He called for the creation of a Joint Alcohol Fuel Alliance (JAFA) where the major alcohol-fuel economies of China, U.S. and Brazil would join forces to break the "oil monopoly created by volatile countries" in the Middle East. Watch his speech below. The first six minutes of the video are comments about Iran. The comments on oil start at 6:15.



At the summit, a one million dollar prize was awarded to George A. Olah, a Nobel laureate, and G.K. Surya Prakash, for their "Innovation in Alternative Fuels." You can read more about their work here.

Many prominent leaders were attending this summit, and PM Netanyahu acknowledges many of them by name in his opening remarks.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Gift of Life

The American military protects oil shipping lanes, protects many oil-producing countries, and fights to defend the U.S. and its allies from terrorist groups funded by oil money (source). Why? Because oil has a monopoly on transportation fuel, so it is vital to America's interests.

But fuel competition would change that. And it would put fewer servicemen and servicewomen in harm's way. It's something to think about on Veteran's Day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gasoline's Greater Range

Some people have argued against flex fuel cars or the Open Fuel Standard because methanol and ethanol don't give cars enough range. In the same sized fuel tank, a full tank of gasoline would travel more miles than a full tank of methanol or ethanol.

There are two answers to this. One is that the range difference isn't as great as you'd think — especially if the car is optimized for alcohol fuels. Most of the comparison between gasoline and alcohol uses BTUs (British Thermal Units), which is a measure of heat. Gasoline produces more heat when it burns. But heat is not what creates forward motion. Gasoline produces more heat, but some of its energy is expended in producing heat, and that energy is wasted. More of alcohol's energy is used to power the car and less of it is wasted on creating heat.

Also, alcohol fuels become more efficient at higher compression. So the difference in miles per gallon between gasoline and alcohol will be smaller with a higher compression engine. Engineers are already in the process of perfecting a variable-compression engine.

The second answer is that if it is a flex fuel car, it doesn't matter that alcohol doesn't have as much range as gasoline because if you are going on a long trip or want more range, you can just buy gasoline. The car can burn gasoline too. That's the whole point. You will have a choice. If you want to burn nothing but gasoline, no matter how expensive it gets, you will be able to. Flex fuel technology doesn't reduce a car's ability to burn gasoline. That's why so many people own flex fuel vehicles now without even knowing it: Because they've been burning gasoline in their cars and it burns gasoline just as well as a gasoline-only car.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Alternative Fueling Stations in the Palm of Your Hand

The Alternative Fueling Station Locator app, now available through the App Store, allows iPhone users to select an alternative fuel and find the 20 closest stations within a 30-mile radius. Users can view the locations on a map or as a list with station addresses, phone numbers, and hours of operation.

"If you drive an electric vehicle, for instance, you can now use your iPhone to effortlessly identify, contact, and navigate to the charging station that's most convenient for you," said Project Manager Trish Cozart of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "Drivers aren't searching for stations while they're sitting at their computers; they need this information while they're out and about, which makes the iPhone an ideal means to deliver it."

The app draws information from Clean Cities' Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), which houses the most complete, up-to-date database of alternative fueling stations in the United States. The database currently contains location information for more than 15,000 alternative fueling stations throughout the country.

The AFDC is a comprehensive clearinghouse of information about advanced transportation technologies and offers unbiased information, data and tools related to the deployment of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Zero Tolerance For Monopolies?

11/01/2013 - Carl Pope, former executive director of the Sierra Club, now senior adviser to Securing America's Energy Future wrote the following op-ed for the Mercury News:

Forty years ago, the Saudi Oil Ministry informed the Secretary of Defense that it would no longer supply fuel to the U.S. 6th Fleet. The OPEC oil embargo had begun. For the next five years, the U.S. made serious efforts to escape monopoly dependence on oil. Then, with the decline in oil prices, we fell asleep.

Even when prices began to rise to the stratosphere in 2004, America kept on snoozing. Whenever voices from the military, who bear the heaviest burden, urge us to end oil's stranglehold on our transportation system, the oil cartel and industry concoct a new theory to put us to back to sleep.

This time, the sedative is the promise that huge, exciting, Saudi-sized oil production in the U.S. will achieve "energy independence."

Increased U.S. oil production, combined with more efficient autos pouring into the marketplace powered by the Obama fuel-efficiency regulations and a revived U.S. auto industry, are indeed lowering the volume of oil that the U.S. imports. But world oil prices have risen so much that the dollars and jobs we export to pay for imported oil are greater than ever. We'll add another $4 trillion to our national debt from importing oil over the next 20 years.

As long as the United States uses almost 20 million barrels of oil each day, increasing our domestic production by fracking a million or two barrels a day — which are the projections — still leaves us importing more oil than we did when the first embargo hit, at a much higher price. And new U.S. oil costs more than $90 a barrel to find and produce, so it only comes to market if oil continues to be unaffordable.

Every American recession over the past several decades has been preceded by, or was concurrent with, an oil price spike. The U.S. economy is tied to the highly unpredictable, cartel-influenced global oil market, which manipulates supply and prices. As long as oil is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, wherever a specific barrel comes from, our military will be forced to bear the burden of guarding against a supply disruption anywhere in the globe. Oil dependence, at times, requires us to accommodate hostile governments or alter our pursuit of key national security objectives.

We don't tolerate such monopolies elsewhere. We source electricity from hydro, gas, coal, nuclear and now wind, geothermal and solar. If wheat gets too pricey, we buy rice or corn; chicken can replace beef. It's folly that nothing is set up to replace oil in our cars, planes or trucks when there are lots of perfectly good energy sources that could cost less than $100 per barrel.

Whenever oil prices spike, we crowd our underinvested transit systems; let's build them out. Natural gas could power trucks for a fraction of the cost per mile of diesel; electric cars free drivers from the volatile oil market. We just need to make these alternatives the norm.

It's not that oil is imported that is crippling us, or even that it is expensive. It is the fact that it has a monopoly — one our environment, our security and our economy can no longer afford.

After 35 years, it's time for the U.S. to wake up.