Archive for December 20th, 2008

Contributed by F. M. Verbits


Sometimes you just “gotta” clean out the “pipes” and our country is fast approaching the time to do just that.  The “Detroit Three” are staring into the abyss and they are moving closer to it every day. Previous posts have addressed some of the issues and concerns and past sins of management and the unions; and no matter what congress does efforts at this point will most likely treat the symptoms and not really address any of the problems.  That’s the way congress works, they continue to address our nation’s symptoms and not really focus on the problems.   Rather than fix the tax code and remove discrimination from it, we give taxpayers a check for $500.   I don’t know about you but for many families in this country $500 will not buy a month’s supply of groceries. I would prefer an extra $500 in my paycheck each and every month from a fairer tax code.  Back to the auto issue.

Automakers say they want billions to retool and make more fuel efficient vehicles.  A writer in the Wall Street Journal said that is like giving money to the cigarette companies to do research to find a cure for cancer.   Passing stronger regulation and mandating fuel economy targets for vehicle manufacturers hasn’t worked in the past and will not work in the future.  We need to change our way of thinking (again not easy for big corporations or politicians). If we give auto makers our billions, let’s tie it to abandoning last century’s energy technology.

If the goal is to be more fuel efficient and lower our carbon footprint, then let’s not pussy-foot around the issue.   Congress should find some big brass kahones and really address the issue head-on.  My suggestion for a solution simply pass a law that effectively says, “By the year 2020 no new motor vehicle sold in the United States for passenger use will run on petroleum based fuels or derivatives thereof.”

What will this accomplish?  After the initial “shock and awe” wears off all available resources, corporations and entrepreneurs will work on developing and perfecting alternative power sources.   All vehicle manufacturers will have a clean piece of paper to start fresh and perfect current alternative fuel vehicles.  As you read this Honda has about 500+ hydrogen powered vehicles leased to consumers in Southern California,  thousands of fleet vehicles are powered by natural gas, hundred more are powered by waste cooking oil or other bio fuels and companies are currently selling electric vehicles too.

With a finite end to the sale of petroleum based internal combustion engines, we can say goodbye to our dependency on Middle East oil.  I believe most efforts will go into developing a hydrogen solution. Hydrogen is the most plentiful substance in the universe and throws off only water when burned, it has been hailed as the answer to earth’s dual fossil-fuel problems: dwindling supply and the ballooning greenhouse effect.  Our politicians have been paying lip service to energy independence for decades now they can do something about it.

Can it be done in ten years?  Absolutely.  The Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb was accomplished in six years. With all of our incredible resources in this country and around the world we most certainly can accomplish this task.

Over the next ten years the major oil companies, ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell will start developing their hydrogen refilling stations of the future.  They can take some of their billions in oil profits from the last few years and put it into the new hydrogen pumps and infrastructure.  Shell has had a hydrogen refilling station in Iceland for the last five years and working with other companies and governments has shown that hydrogen is safer than oil or gasoline, people are willing to use hydrogen to fuel their vehicles and that governments are able to educate consumers about alternative fuels.

I think it’s time we demand that our politicians address this issue and force a paradigm shift in the personal transportation arena that will take us into a cleaner future. 

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