Oil & Security — Suggestions from the Right

A paper titled "Oil & Security" by George Shultz and James Woolsey, co-chairs of the Committee on the Present Danger, was recently published with the more or less avowed aim of influencing the debate on the Energy Bill at the US Senate. It contains some interesting suggestions, especially coming from bona fide Reaganites. The second half of the piece even makes them sound like they know someone who has been reading TreeHugger: plug-in hybrids, biofuels, light-weight carbon composite, emphasis on battery R&D;, etc. They even start by saying that the paper could be titled: "It's the Batteries, Stupid." Read on for a summary of their suggestions.I'd like to thank Green Car Congress for this summary:

1. Encourage improved vehicle mileage, using technology now in production: Diesels and hybrids for powertrains, with lightweight carbon construction to reduce vehicular weight.

2. Encourage the commercialization of cellulosic (biomass) ethanol, biodiesel and synthetic fuels that can be available soon, are compatible with existing infrastructure, and can be derived from waste or otherwise produced cheaply.

3. Focus with high priority on plug-in hybrids and battery development.

Such development [plug-in hybrids and the battery technology to support them] should have the highest research and development priority because it promises to revolutionize transportation economics and to have a dramatic effect on the problems caused by oil dependence.

With a plug-in hybrid vehicle one has the advantage of an electric car, but not the disadvantage. Electric cars cannot be recharged if their batteries run down at some spot away from electric power. But since hybrids have tanks containing liquid fuel (gasoline and/or ethanol, diesel and/or biodiesel) plug-in hybrids have no such disadvantage.

Moreover the attractiveness to the consumer of being able to use electricity from overnight charging for a substantial share of the day’s driving is stunning...Given the burdensome cost imposed by current fuel prices on commuters and others who need to drive substantial distances, the possibility of powering one’s family vehicle with fuel that can cost as little as one-twentieth of today’s gasoline (in the U.S. market) should solve rapidly the question whether there would be public interest in and acceptability of plug-in hybrids.

The effects of these policies are multiplicative. All should be pursued since it is impossible to predict which will be fully successful or at what pace, even though all are today either beginning commercial production or are nearly to that point. The battery development for plug-in hybrids is of substantial importance and should for the time being replace the current R&D; emphasis on automotive hydrogen fuel cells.

End of quote from GCC.

Of course, nothing here is a solution to the end of oil; if implemented, these things wouldn't give us a sustainable post-oil society, but things would still be better than with the current situation, and it would be a good step forward toward more change – very welcome after eons of regressive policies by the US government.

::Oil & Security, via ::Green Car Congress