Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Saw this interesting report in CNN Money.

The House and Senate, after months of negotiation and lobbying, agreed to the new standards late Friday night. The deal should spur resolution next week of a broad energy bill that includes proposals to use more biofuel in the nation's gas mix, eliminate tax incentives for the oil industry and require utilities to buy more renewable energy.(emphasis added)
I know I'll get on a farmer's bad side, but perhaps one of the more troubling aspects about the proposed compromise is the investment in biofuels. Why? well, if we begin using more and more of our grain stocks (domestic) in creating ethanol for gas, then that'll drive up the cost of groceries. If we import grain stocks for production, that'll only drive up the cost of the fuel on the end. Also, despite the ethanol's lack of CO2 emissions, if it's made from corn it costs more to produce than it's worth it reduces gas mileage and produces lots of nitrogen oxides. Yes it would help American Farmers but ultimately in the end we should try and make sure ethanol production doesn't become our staple automotive fuel source. I think it would be fascinating to see an ethanol hybrid, or an ethanol fuel cell hybrid. But hey that's only ethanol. I can think of only one other potential issue with the biofuel lot and that's the potential to strip soil of the nutrients gained from decaying plant matter to grow future crops but perhaps that's a bit too pessimistic.

The next inclusion in the bill, cutting off the oil industries from subsidies is brilliant and long over due. The purpose of a subsidy from the government is to sustain a sector of the economy until mass production, supply and demand meet a critical stage where it is no longer necessary for the government to float that technology/industry. This was true of oil a long time ago even before their record ungodly profits. The money saved should be reinvested into the energy sector. As one friend of mine put it, the only way we'll move away from oil is if we have a national conscience as driven as it was to put a man on the moon. And it's true. We need to reinvest in clean technologies. Japan for instance subsidized the solar industry for years and is now phasing out those subsidies, couple that along with some other deregulation of Power Utilities and you could see a boom. For our fuel needs we need to look to a cleaner brighter future. Here in Columbia, we're betting on Hydrogen Fuel Cells as the wave of the future and hold annual conventions on Hydrogen technology. Even Honda has unveiled a fuel cell car that is scheduled to release in '08, granted it may only be able to operate in California as they've got the most hydrogen fueling stations.

And let's not forget the utilities. Already the Congress' plan to require Utilities obtain 15% of their needs from renewable is being opposed by the Confederacy

The opposition to the 15% by 2020 standard is being led by the Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest utilities, which supplies power to customers across the Southeast. Utilities in the Southeast contend that their region lacks adequate renewable energy potential to warrant a ‘one-size-fits-all’ national renewable energy standard and have argued that the 15% by 2020 standard would constitute a large transfer of wealth from the Southeast to renewable energy rich regions like the Great Plains states, Texas and the Northwest. The Southern Company is a powerful lobbying force and has convinced Republican leaders, including Senator Domenici, to oppose the Bingaman amendment.

I find this hard to believe that Southerners are saying there's a lack of resources for renewable energy in the Southeast... Hmm did I mention Japan and Solar Panels? And a big partner in this push by the south for opposition is America's Power which is to say the Coal Lobby, which for some backwards reason think they're a clean technology!?! But as far as renewable go for the Utilities. For base energy, I think nuclear power, as a 'clean and renewable source of energy' is probably the best way to move forward for base energy coupled with our hydro-electric production. I think Solar, Methane-Exchange, and Wind (amongst others) have a place of greater capacity than they're given already and deserve a bit more credit. The problem with utilities though and why renewable currently don't seem feasible has nothing to do with availability or production as much as our consumption from inefficient appliances and structures. If we instituted across the board standards for construction of buildings, if we increased the efficiency of our stoves and other household appliances like we mandate with cars then demanding 15% of our utility power come from renewable will be but a stepping stone.

Well thats a lot to chew on!

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