We have a solution to high gas prices

Discussion in 'The OT' started by davejacobson, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    Perhaps I should have been clearer.

    Government policy effectively trading food for fuel for commuters and others driving vehicles in an American urban/suburban setting is poorly thought out policy IMHO.

    The issue has broad ramifications related to food - what crops get planted, prices, etc. That has economic and social consequences well beyond the problems related to oil. It's the kind of policy analysis that could have begun with both U.S. and world historical data focused on agriculture and food demand completely removing the issue of oil supply and demand from the equation.

    I find it hard to believe any rational analysis would have concluded that it would be a good idea to subsidize using productive farmland to provide fuel for the guy driving his Hummer to work in Palo Alto, California. But I could be wrong and Congress set aside parochial economic interests to come up with ethanol support policies.

    Sent from my iPad using DBSTalk
  2. Hoosier205

    Hoosier205 Active Member

    Sep 3, 2007
    You sound like someone who would rather that we continue to pay farmers not to plant corn. The idea that ethanol impacts food prices is a myth.
  3. trdrjeff

    trdrjeff Icon

    Dec 3, 2007
    Ah a myth, yes this is the one instance where the laws of supply and demand do not exist.
  4. yankeevert

    yankeevert Cool Member

    May 17, 2008
    Drill baby Drill
  5. Matt9876

    Matt9876 Hall Of Fame

    Oct 11, 2007
    I'm not pushing the Scion "Toyota made" brand vehicles on anyone but the reason for this post is to inform.

    My wife's 2006 xA Scion gets 33mpg and has preformed flawlessly for the past 72,400 miles. the xA is no longer in production but the xD is the same car with a more boxed look, the xA has an egg shape.

    I also own a second gen 2010 xB that gets around 28mpg, this car is very high tech with electronic steering and ASC stability control, the car has preformed flawlessly and has proven itself during near white out winter driving conditions.

    The fact that I'm 51 years of age and own nothing but Scions is very telling, the low cost high mileage cars are also very safe if you have an accident.

    My plan is to purchase an all electric vehicle when the xA no longer meets our needs "A Nissan leaf or equivalent type car"
  6. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset DBSTalk Club

    Jun 14, 2003
    Salem, OR
    Even more concern exists with respect to B10 and higher biodiesel.
  7. BattleScott

    BattleScott Hall Of Fame

    Aug 28, 2006
    A hand-out is a hand-out, what difference does it make?

    If we took the $500M a year we give to those that purchase Indiana corn-made ethanol to blend with their gas and gave that to the Indiana farmers to do nothing, then removed the tarriff on the much cheaper Brazilian sugar ethanol, the prices of a gallon of gas could be dropped and the farmers would still get their wellfare.

    It may not have a direct impact on food prices, but it sure does on gas prices.
  8. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    Hmmm. So where did I say anything about paying farmers to not plant corn? Obviously, that would impact the price of corn as a commodity.

    It seems hard to believe that when Kelloggs and these folks


    go to buy the commodity corn for their products they are competing with ethanol producers. Commodities trade "experts" apparently disagree with you about the idea that the impact of ethanol production on corn prices is a myth, though I recognize you said "food prices."

    Business Insider reports today (with some additional information in the article):
    That's an annual demand growth from 500 million to 5 trillion bushels. Maybe we have increased production 4.5 trillion bushels during that period, so there's not commodity price impact.

    But the crux of my discussion about setting policy is in this sarcastic statement:
  9. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

    Mar 27, 2003
    Let's just use the same fuel that we've always used: gasoline. It's plentiful, concentrated, and reliable.

    We're sitting on probably centuries of fuel (enough to last until newer fuels can be developed to the point of economic feasibility) but we refuse to utilize it.
  10. Laxguy

    Laxguy Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.

    Dec 2, 2010
    Was there a smiley missing from the first para?

    Sitting on centuries of fuel? Do you mean oil shale or coal gas??
  11. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    Nothing on earth is unlimited... It behooves us to conserve, plan ahead, and try to develop other options.

    I suspect we have more time than we usually are told with the fear-mongering... but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be working hard on alternatives.

    IF we don't start now... then 10, 20, 30 years from now we will still be talking about this and saying we need to start.
  12. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

    Mar 27, 2003

    Estimates vary, but our current stockpiles of brent crude/sweet crude could last another 40 years. That's not counting new finds or advances in technology that allow for oil to be extracted when it was previously impossible.

    A large deposit was discovered in the South Sudan back in January. Another find was made in February off the coast of Ghana. In 2010, a significant discovery off Scotland was made that could yield at least 300 billion barrels. There are an estimated 10 billion barrels in ANWR. The Balken Shale formation that runs along the upper midwest and into Canada could hold billions of barrels. Even the Gulf of Mexico is yielding new finds. Last January a find was made that could yield 165 million barrels of oil and natural gas.

    I'm all for alternatives. I'm just for reliable, efficient, and affordable alternatives...and not throwing ourselves onto a crash diet before alternatives reach that point where they're legitimate (free market) competition.
  13. scooper

    scooper Hall Of Fame

    Apr 22, 2002
    Kansas City KS
    Here, here !
    My vehicles are fuel efficient people movers, that I run until they are beyond economical repair . I also spend money on maintaining them, so they get the best possible fuel mileage they are capable of. Could I do better ? Maybe, if I could afford to buy newer vehicles. OTOH , I'm not cluttering the landfills / auto salvage yards either.
  14. longrider

    longrider Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2007
    Elizabeth, CO
    I have also read scientific discussion that crude oil is not just 'dead dinosaurs" There could be processes deep inside the earth that we don't understand that are continually generating crude oil. We still need to learn to be efficient in our use of energy but the concept of a finite amount of oil that will eventually run out could be wrong

    Here is one source: http://freeenergynews.com/Directory/Theory/SustainableOil/

    A search on "abiotic oil" will turn up more references
  15. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    Well, I tried to ignore this conversation, but I can't.


    I assume that we all know there is no such thing as "clean" energy, assuming "clean" means no negative environmental impacts.

    For instance, here's a report from BBC News Tuesday:
    Here in California Governor Moonbeam (he says he loves this moniker) and Obama are embracing massive solar power generation as a means of eliminating negative environmental impacts resulting from electrical generation and which, presumably, would be a good way to power cars.

    Moonbeam said he loves the name while he was at a SunPower Corp. facility signing energy legislation Tuesday that will require California utilities to obtain a third of their electricity from wind, solar and other green sources. SunPower Corp. makes a conventional crystalline silicon cell which is sort of ok (until they shut their doors within a decade).

    But GE announced recently that it plans to build the nation’s largest photovoltaic panel factory manufacturing thin-film photovoltaic panels. GE did this after buying the Arvada, Colorado-based PrimeStar Solar, a developer of thin film photovoltaic solar technology with an efficiency record surpasses all of the previously published records for cadmium telluride thin film technology.

    What do we know about cadmium telluride? Tellurium is mildly toxic. Cadmium is extremely toxic.

    The European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) when established in 2006 covered only the worst of the worst, the evil of the evils, only 6 hazardous materials:

    1. Lead (Pb)
    2. Mercury (Hg)
    3. Cadmium (Cd)
    4. Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+)
    5. Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
    6. Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)

    The maximum permitted concentrations are 0.1% or 1000 ppm by weight, except for cadmium which is limited to 0.01% or 100 ppm. Cadmium is considered the most toxic of toxics and is to be a primary ingredient in our shift to "environmentally friendly" solar energy.

    Apparently GE's analysts understand that cadmium thin-film technology can displace crystalline silicon on a cost basis which means that's what utilities will buy.

    I cannot fathom a blanket mandate for solar panels or wind generation without related severe environmental regulations and monitoring. There is no point in adding to our mess.

    Those who can read know in advance that GE thinks cadmium telluride thin film technology is going to be attractive to utilities like PG&E which provides electricity to much of the northern two-thirds of California.

    In addition to the environmental issues surrounding manufacturing cadmium telluride thin film panels, there will be disposal issues as they cease to function. I guess we could ship them off to poison other people like we do a lot of our electronics.:rolleyes:

    Covering thousands of acres of desert land with solar panels has no negative environmental impact, particularly after a couple of decades. Right? Oh, that's right, we don't have any experience with solar power generating stations covering thousands of acres of desert land for a couple of decades.

    Let's pretend.

    Let's pretend its the first half of the 20th Century. I've got an idea. Why don't we dam up a bunch of rivers to generate power. It's cheap, clean, and renewable. We've got lots of really smart engineers. What could possibly go wrong?

    Now let's pretend its the 1950's. I've got an idea. Why don't we use nuclear reactors to generate power. It's cheap and cleaner than burning fossil fuels. We've got lots of really smart engineers. What could possibly go wrong?

    Now let's pretend it's 2011. I've got an idea. Why don't we....

    The solution is obvious. Don't use so much energy.

  16. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    Once again another good Phrelin post that I have to follow, but can't top.

    Conservation of energy will always work... Using less energy will always use less energy :) We really should work on that whenever possible.

    I also have seen where short-sighted decisions to avert one potential crisis end up causing another... and what Phrelin noted on solar cells in the desert applies equally well to large farms of windmills. People say windmills are "clean"... but nobody takes into consideration what fields of them would do to change the atmosphere and air circulation on the planet as well as sapping energy from the atmosphere.

    At some point, just sticking windmills up would eventually cause climate problems that we are trying to avoid by not polluting through burning of fossil fuels.

    We also have likely done as-yet-to-be-revealed damage to our ecosystem with all the damming (not cursing, but dams on major waterways) and conversion of natural water flow to power.
  17. Cholly

    Cholly Old Guys Rule!

    Mar 22, 2004
    re: Cadmium. Remember that a current source of toxic Cadmium is to be found in the catalytic converters of present day cars. What's done with the catalytic converters when a car is disposed of by crushing?

    re: windmills (wind farms) Although there may be an environmental impact from wind farms, I'd hazard a guess that the effect is no greater than the building of tall buildings in our cities. Granted, the wind doesn't pass the windmills unimpeded, but the overall disturbance in wind flow has to be significantly less than in an even moderately sized city.

    As to the damming of waterways: Over the past few years, a number of dams hve been destroyed because of the impact they'd had on surrounding areas. Of major concern is the diversion of waterways for water consumption - think the water supply for Los Angeles and Southern California, taken from Mono Lake, the Owens River and the once mighty Colorado river.
  18. davejacobson

    davejacobson Legend

    Mar 14, 2005
    Wind and solar are good sources of energy if you dont want electricity all the time. The sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. There will have to be a backup for the customers. Now wind farms. They take up a lot of space and they are noisy. The tips of the blades can reach supersonic speeds. Do you want to live near that?If there was an alternative to gas oil and coal some smart company would be all over it. The "green" company's would not be in business without tax dollars.Right now we dont have a shortage of energy we have a shortage of smart politicians.Energy policy now comes from a man that thinks "energy costs will necessarily skyrocket" under his policies.
  19. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    OK. My apologies in advance for one more long and boring post. this time on the subject of how IMHO through public policy we mishandle alternative energy.


    The classic problem with government "incentives" is that no historical perspective enters the discussion. Here's an example of historical perspective:


    Limited partnerships were, and are, a primary ownership form in the case of oil well drilling. Limited partnerships involve the sale of partnership units to raise money for drilling activities. The sponsoring company charges a fee for managing the project and keeps a percentage of the revenue should there be any. Investors are offered a large first year tax write-off and quarterly cash distributions from the sale of whatever oil and gas found by the partnership until the wells run dry.

    Where there is no enforceable removal provision in the contract with the landowner and no regulation by government, you end up with abandoned oil pumpjacks, as sometimes even whole derricks.

    Fast-forward to the 1980's to find out that Americans - particularly Californians - have the collective memory of a gnat (and apparently think that's ok because we traded it for high self-esteem*). We elect legislators who epitomize our key characteristics, hence "collective memory of a gnat" is perhaps too great a size for the collective memory of legislators and their staffs (though the highest of self-esteem* can be found in the halls of various capitol buildings).

    And so we got enchanted with wind energy - you know, new technology, appears to be environmentally "green" to the public and it's elected legislators, most of whom spent at least 8 minutes seriously considering the subject but few of whom spent weeks figuring how to create a complex regulatory and tax credit system that could be manipulated for fun and profit.

    The 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) required electric utilities to buy power from other more efficient producers, if that cost was less than the utility's own "avoided cost" rate to the consumer; the avoided cost rate was the additional costs that the electric utility would incur if it generated the required power itself, or if available, could purchase its demand requirements from another source. There was nothing theoretically wrong with the idea until government then started messing with the tax code.

    From 1981 through 1985 federal and state tax subsidies in California were so great that wealthy investors in wind energy partnerships could recover up to 50 percent of a wind turbine's cost. The lure of quick riches resulted in a flood of development using new and mostly untested wind turbines. But it didn't end there.

    Without government intervention, utilities normally avoid wind energy. Wind's erratic power feed destabilizes power grids and forces engineers to stand by, always ready to fire up traditional generators. Wind does not fit into an electric supply model made up of steady massive low cost "base load" coal or nuclear plants backed up by on-call natural gas powered "peaker" units which kick in during high demand. No coal or nuclear power plant has ever been replaced by wind energy.

    Although carbon credit schemes often assign profitable carbon credits to wind farm operators based on a theoretical displacement of carbon emitted by coal or natural gas producers, in reality these plants must keep burning to be able to quickly add supply every time the wind drops off. The formula does not take into account carbon emitted by idling coal and natural gas plants nor the excess carbon generated by constant fire-up and shut down cycles necessitated to balance fluctuating wind supplies.

    But with PURPA on the federal books, the State of California quickly created "Interim Standard Offer" (ISO4) contracts guaranteeing a purchase price based on utilities' "avoided costs"--launching the first "California Wind Rush". By 1982 turbines were sprouting from the dusty terrain of Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio. The ISO4 contracts were written with the assumption that fuel prices would continue to soar.

    But that's not what happened.

    Predictably, by 1985 oil and natural gas prices were dropping. This changed the "avoided cost" calculations to the disadvantage of alternative energy producers. ISO4 contracts no longer guaranteed a price sufficient to attract investment in wind energy. Construction of new turbines stopped. As the old ten-year contracts began to expire in the late 1980s, renewals were pegged at much lower avoided cost estimates. As a result, many California wind developers quickly closed up shop, abandoning their turbines.

    But in the 1990's why would "we-of-a-gnat's-memory" remember the 1980's.

    Building on the foundation laid by PURPA, 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) began the partial deregulation of wholesale -- but not retail -- electricity setting the stage for Enron's California energy market manipulations which led to the 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis and the bankruptcy of PG&E.

    Enron in January, 1997 bought out Tehachapi-based industry leader Zond Corporation - launching the second California Wind Rush. Four years later, Enron would implode. Enron, poster boy for unbridled capitalism, actually gamed a government-crippled artificial wind energy marketplace.

    But the tax credits, mandates, and regulations which made Enron possible did not die with it. Enron Wind's turbine manufacturing subsidiary was purchased by General Electric. Many of its wind farms went to Florida Light and Power.

    By 2009, the US Department of Energy, feeding our gnat-sized brains, estimated mandate-and-subsidy-driven wind capacity would rise to 28,635mw. That much coal or nuclear "capacity" would power 28.635 million homes, but the wind "capacity" is calculated by the government assuming perfect wind 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. After 30 years of development, wind produces only 2.3% of California's electricity.

    The wind turbine maintenance problem is significant. The turbines installed in the first wind rush were not very reliable. Some never worked at all. As the years passed and the elements took their toll, downtime climbed ever closer to 100% and production dwindled to negligible amounts. Developers often set malfunctioning turbines to "virtual" mode -- blades spinning without generating electricity -- in order to keep oil circulating inside the turbine drive. Of course this habit also gives passing drivers an illusion of productivity.

    By the end of all this "best of intentions" government intervention, thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California "big three" locations -- Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio -- considered among the world's best wind sites. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.


    The City of Palm Springs, politically dominated by wealthy residents, was forced to enact an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio. But elsewhere, such as the Tehachapi area in the picture above, no such law has been put into effect.

    It is true that some of these sites have been partially revitalized. But Altamont's turbines have been tethered four months of every year in an effort to protect migrating birds after environmentalists filed suit. (Remember that in California politicians either tout or decry the effect of our extensive environmental regulations on our economy - but migrating birds apparently didn't attend any hearings on the Altamont development.)

    Wind developers claim that today's American and European-made turbines are more reliable and longer-lasting than their old-tech predecessors. But cost issues enter the equation and new Chinese turbine manufacturers of untested quality are crowding Europe's subsidy-driven energy economy, like ours, distorts the market reality.

    After the debacle of the First California Wind Rush, the European Union had moved ahead of the US on efforts to subsidize "renewable" energy. But in recent years, as the national debt of wind-intensive EU countries became unbearable, the EU subsidy bubble burst. For instance, in early 2009 the Socialist government of Spain reduced alternative energy subsidies by 30%.

    So what the heck. It's a new decade, a new generation of high self-esteem, and "we-of-a-gnat's-memory" have brilliant ideas. Let's do the same thing with solar energy. Thus California just mandated a 33% alternative energy market, Moonbeam and Obama appear at solar panel plants. These plants, like wind farms and oil fields, will be dominated by limited partner ownerships.

    Don't get me wrong. Considering its size and auto use, California does have a pretty good record relative to its mix of energy sources used. The solar-panel-in-the-desert option has promise if somehow it can be effectively turned into a 24-hour source so we can charge those millions of electric commuter vehicles envisioned by the dreamers. And, yes, government incentives and mandates are probably the only way to get it started.

    I can only hope that someone realizes that we're going to have to assure the maintenance and proper disposal of solar panel systems. And either the initial investors by putting up mandated deposits or the taxpayers will have to provide for the possible future dismantling of these generation facilities.

    *As an aside about California, in 1986 Republican Gov. George Deukmejian signed into law a bill creating ''The State Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility.'' The aim of this study group, in the words of its creator, Democratic Assemblyman John Vasconcellos, is to discover how self-esteem is ''nurtured, harmed, rehabilitated.''

    Subsequently, Californians misinterpreted the concepts of task force member and Ayn Rand associate Psychologist Nathaniel Branden who viewed self-esteem as an automatic and inevitable consequence of the sum of individuals' choices in using their consciousness which might have been a force for good in the field of education, or not.

    Instead, there was only the acceptance of self-esteem simply as "having a favorable opinion of oneself" regardless of any objective evidence to the contrary. In 2003, beyond California's borders, the self-esteem movement suffered a serious setback when it was conclusively proven that in the relation between self-esteem and the education of children, the inculcation of self-esteem in children does not raise grades, better career achievements or produces any other positive effects in the field of education.

    Today, our children have the highest favorable opinion of themselves in the world and the poorest math and communication skills in the world.
  20. raott

    raott Hall Of Fame

    Nov 23, 2005
    And continue to put your economy at the mercy of Ghana and Sudan? No thanks. Getting off oil is a national security issue and should be treated as such.

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