Remember back in the first entry on this topic, I quoted statistics that said 45% of US oil consumption, or about 8.9 Million bbl/d, go to motor gasonline, essentially to power automobiles and trucks. Imagine, for a moment, that in 2010, instead of having drilled some holes in the ground up in Alaska, a huge undertaking occurred to switch us to a new, cheaper, alternative power source that would essentially eliminate the need for motor gasonline. In the blink of an eye, nearly 75% of the oil the US imported would no longer be necessary. Want energy independence? Congress should adopt a hydrogen-friendly policy, not waste time on ANWR votes.
While there are technical difficulties that remain with hydrogen-based energy sources, solutions are under development. With the right stimulus from the government, the timeframe to resolution would only be accelerated. In fact, both Wired Magazine and BusinessWeek recently outlined a plan to speed the adoption of what is being termed the “hydrogen economy”.
Wired’s plan consists of five components, which I will show below:
1. Solve the hydrogen fuel-tank problem.
2. Encourage mass production of fuel cell vehicles.
3. Convert the nation’s fueling infrastructure to hydrogen.
4. Ramp up hydrogen production.
5. Mount a public campaign to sell the hydrogen economy.
BusinessWeek, coming from an econimic perspective, outlines these steps:
1. Diversify Oil Supplies (Suddenly, the “No Blood for Oil” protests don’t seem quite so misguided. I’m sure securing Iraq’s oil reserves doesn’t hurt when considering energy policy, even if I don’t believe that had anything to do with the primary motivation behind the invasion).
2. Use Strategic Reserves
3. Boost Industrial Efficiency
4. Raise Car and Truck MPG
5. Nurture Renewable Energy
6. Phase in Fuel Taxes
If the politicians wanted to truly accomplish energy independence, these would be a solid basis from which to begin. A sufficient rise in the Fuel Tax, with a corresponding cut in the Payroll Tax (so as not to increase the regressive nature of these taxes), would spur gains in fuel efficieny. If the price of oil were to double in the next two years, to levels closer to those found in Europe, drivers would feel the pinch and adapt accordingly. The added benefit would be to have gasoline prices more accurately reflect the cost of securing those supplies, such as the constant supply of aid sent to Middle Eastern countries, the cost of maintaining large forces in oil-rich regions, and the cost associated with terrorism that is spurred on by the regimes the US supports to help secure those supplies.
Combined with that, further research spending, on energy sources such as hydrogen, would do wonders to move from a dependence on any oil. To that end, the proposal by Wired of allocating $100 billion as a sum toward the research, development, and conversion to a hydrogen-based economy seems like a drop in the bucket. Considering $80 billion was spent on the war in Iraq already, and there is likely to be far more funding allocated to support reconstruction, dropping $100 billion on hydrogen power seems like nothing. President Bush is prepared to spend $300 billion to provide tax-free dividends, whereas the long term gain from hydrogen power would be far more clearly defined.
If all this seems so easy on the surface, the real question is why these policies have not been adopted? To that end, I would suppose that it takes a kind of character that appears to be lacking on a federal level. No one wants to “stick their neck out”, so to speak, so instead the debate about ANWR rages on, serving as a continued distraction from any sort of meaningful debates on true energy independence. Which is all part of why I can’t find the desire to donate any money to the Dems right now.