Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alternative Energy Sources

A Senate Committee hearing today dealt with several alternative energy sources including wind turbines, solar and geothermal power. Oilman T. Boone Pickens and other panelists representing mostly western states emphasized that geography and atmospheric conditions determine which alternatives are applicable. For instance, an area that spread eagles the Mississippi Valley and runs from Mexico to Minnesota and Canada experiences fairly steady winds and to the west of that area is a large portion of the southwest and mountain states where sun shine dominates. Obviously, areas like these are ideal settings for wind turbine and solar power electricity generation respectively. An important issue to be resolved, however, is the installation and cost of power transmission facilities to get the power to end users. It won't be cheap and the same would be the case with the transmission of power from geothermal resources.

Will More Drilling Here Lower Pump Prices ?

This morning President Bush called on Congress to remove restrictions against drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and in ANWR. A few days ago, GOP Presidential candidate McCain changed his position on the subject to moreorless correspond with the new Bush position. Still no change in position on drilling closer to Florida in the eastern Gulf of Mexico because of continued resistance from Florida's two Senators. Governor Crist, who has been opposed to allowing drilling closer to the state, is softening his position now as well. All these changes in position result in part from polls which indicate most Americans want such drilling to take place in the belief it will lower fuel prices at the pump.

Crude from expanded drilling would not likely reach refineries for another three to four years at best. However, it would send commodities brokers, hedge fund managers and foreign crude suppliers a message that would give them pause in further leveraging prices upward. Meanwhile, research and development of alternative energy sources and transportation systems must continue unabated.

A healthy American economy is important to the entire world, and right now it's hurting worse than most people realize. Two (2) factors more than any others have put us into the current situation; the sub-prime mortgage fiasco and the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. We will not come out of the mortgage problem until foreclosures fall to normal levels and we have worked through the inventory of surplus housing units. It looks like that will take another year or so.

The price of gasoline and diesel fuels impacts just about everything in modern-day life and much needs to be done to bring this factor under control. But bring it under control we must or else what's recession today will become a full-blown depression. Removing restrictions on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves and in ANWR is a sensible intermediate range solution. Fossil fuel energy conservation should begin now with all motorists joining in the effort by more carefully planning trips in the family automobile, by driving sensibly, by becoming more conscientious in maintaining their automobiles, and forming commuter carpools. Commercial and industrial fuel consumers must continue to find and adopt energy conserving methods just as they did following the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973.

We also must get off BIG OIL's back and let them continue doing the research necessary to help us get away from fossil fuels. Their work is essential if we are to do that.


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