Thursday, January 22, 2009

National Energy Policy

Like Winnie the Pooh, who ignores the obvious, the United States of America is slowly declining into straits that would be familiar to the second and third world.

It is recognized that there is growing pressure on the power grids of America. In California the highest power demand ever was recorded at 5.3 gigawatts as a result of the recent high temperatures. 20 small California communities suffered rolling blackouts as power was shuffled to keep Los Angeles residents’ air conditioners functioning.

Fuel prices continue to skyrocket, which will result in accelerated inflation until demand, speculation, and supply stabilize.

Unlike, Europe and Japan, our gas prices have more to do with the lack of refining capacity than government taxes. The U.S. national tax on motor fuels is 24 cents per gallon for diesel and 18 cents per gallon for gasoline. E.U. taxes are a minimum of $.42 EU per liter. This is amounts to a rough equivalent of $1.68 per U.S. gallon for taxes in the EU.

For those who believe motor fuels costs in the U.S. should be as high as it is Europe or Japan, that means increasing taxes on motor fuels by up to at least 5-8 times over the current level of taxation.

There is a potential answer to this energy dilemma that you will not hear about in the main stream media. The United States Air Force is working to wean the USAF off of fuel refined from foreign oil to support domestic training and operations.

The USAF is building a pilot refinery to convert coal to fuel and another to convert bio sources to fuel. Were these refineries to be proposed on private lands, they would be opposed by the nimby crowd and the eco freaks. Law suits would blossom in the courts as prolific as dandelions in a Spring lawn. Fortunately, the USAF showed some intelligence in its planning and provided for the location of these facilities on its own military reservations.

The largest landholder in the U.S. is government at every level.

Military reservations can become a haven for new refineries and new power plants.

It would be logical for the military to provide for its own needs by reducing dependence and competition with the civilian market for fuel sources.

Coal fired power plants can be built, new coal to fuel conversion plants can built, and new nuke power plants can be built on government lands. Either on military reservations exclusively, or upon government lands away from population centers, but within the surface transportation infrastructure and within the electrical power grid infrastructure.

To meet the needs of the U.S. in general, the use of other government lands could provide locations for the refining and power generation infrastructure necessary for the civilian market.

What it would take to ensure the success of such an initiative to prevent the U.S. from degenerating into a third rate power, is a mandate from the President authorizing the various branches of the U.S. military to utilize military lands for the installation of power plants and refineries in order to become independent of foreign oil using the USAF model. That is the first step.

The next step is for the President to declare a national emergency and to prioritize increased energy generation capacity and fuel refining capacity to resolve the looming energy crisis. The President could do this by authorizing the utilization of government lands to be leased to power companies and leased to companies desiring to build large scale refineries and fuel conversion facilities. Lands that would be reasonably situated, lands that would not require decades of impact studies before construction could begin.

The courts have been the tool of those who desire the U.S. to be less. By making this a national emergency/defense issue, the courts would no longer play spoiler.

The cost of fuel is high in the United States for one basic reason. Refining capacity in the U.S. has been artificially limited by those in this country who put their own interests above that of the nation. There is plenty of oil. Oil supply is not the underlying problem.

There is no doubt that between developing coal to fuel conversion capacity, tar sands development, increasing nuclear power generation capacity, lifting the ban on oil and gas drilling off the coast of the U.S., opening ANWR to oil and gas development, and constructing a natural gas pipeline to bring Alaska’s natural gas to market in the U.S., that the United States would eventually be in the enviable position to virtually eliminate foreign oil and natural gas dependence.

Nuclear power generation would free natural gas for home heating, fuel cell, and other uses, by reducing the need for natural gas for power generation.

To remove the need for foreign oil would also reduce rising tensions in the world over the supply of that oil.

Increasing power generation capacity reduces the cost of power, and should favorably impact the economics associated with hydrogen generation, and electric automobiles. Reducing cost of power should accelerate the introduction of these alternatives.

Seems to me, the nimbys and the eco freaks would figure this out.

I am not advocating money. Just a means to provide the land upon which to build the infrastructure to keep this country from becoming less and less by reducing the opportunity for sabotage through the courts of needed new refineries and power plants.

The USAF has shown the way.

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