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Government Report Examines Alternative Energy Research

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the fight-the-power dept.

United States 50

coondoggie points us to a NetworkWorld story about the Government Accountability Office's report on the state of advanced energy technology. The report notes that despite continued funding [PDF], U.S. reliance on oil has only dropped from 93% to 85% since 1973. It goes on to evaluate how the most prominent fields of research have developed in that time period, and where they are likely to go in the future.

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50 comments

85% of a growing amount (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22673812)

A baby drinks more milk as a percentage of its meals than a grown bodybuilder does. However the bodybuilder drinks a far greater volume of milk than the baby ever would.

While the relative reliance on oil may have dropped 7 percentage points in that time, the total amount of oil consumed has grown by leaps and bounds. So while we have surely benefitted from the difference of what would have been and what actually is, it would be a mistake to assume that we are anywhere near weaned from oil. You could argue that based on the total volume of oil consumed that we are actually far more dependent on oil than we ever were.

It is a good trend, however, and I hope that in the next 25 years that we can reduce that number by another 10%.

Fossil fuels != oil (5, Informative)

sodul (833177) | more than 6 years ago | (#22673872)

Come on the US energy consumption is not 85% oil it is not even half of that. Note that the article correctly state fossil fuel, the summary translated to 'oil' incorrectly. I guess 'oil' makes a better headline.

Wikipedia numbers for 2005 [wikipedia.org]:

in 2005, it was estimated that 40% of the nation's energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 23% from natural gas. The remaining 14% was supplied by nuclear power, hydroelectric dams, and miscellaneous renewable energy sources.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (5, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22673946)

However, if you look at the graph [wikipedia.org] showing the growth of energy production, you'll notice that non-renewable fossil fuel-based production is growing at a more rapid rate than the other sources put together. The only other source that could be considered growing is nuclear, and it's outpaced by fossil fuel production by quite a bit.

While there are certainly positive geo-political ramifications of reducing our reliance on oil, there is also a significant benefit in reducing fossil fuel usage on the whole. The environmental damage done due to fossil fuel extraction and combustion can be decreased. Likewise, since fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource (in our lifetimes, at least), we cannot continue to see that line grow forever. We must be focused on becoming more reliant on renewable energy sources.

Like any monopoly, having one source of energy as our primary source means that we lose flexibility if and when we are forced to consider other options. It is better to take the hit early (like Iceland) and reap the benefits down the road than to wait until the last minute and energy prices have climbed to astronomical levels.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (-1, Troll)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22674182)

is better to take the hit early ... than to wait until the last minute and energy prices have climbed to astronomical levels.

Not if you're President or Vice-President with massive vested interests in oil companies. In that case, when oil climbs over $100/barrel it's Miller Time.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

gothzilla (676407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22674786)

Put away the tin foil hat please. Oil prices are set by OPEC and the markets. Being paranoid is one thing, but being ignorant and paranoid at the same time is pretty bad.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22675110)

Yes, he must be ignorant because he dared criticize our savior Bush. The Bush administration has been preaching to us about our addiction to oil, but its actions have done very little to encourage the development of renewable technologies. And only an utter ignoramus would deny that it has been pumping our money into certain companies loyal to it. But don't let the facts stop you from your worship. I'm sure big daddy government has your best interests at heart.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22675188)

Go live in the Middle East for 20 years, then talk to me about being ignorant and paranoid. History has seldom seen a more transparent ploy for profiteering than driving the price of oil up with the War on Terror and the War in Iraq. OPEC is puppeteered by the US; they do what we say because - for better or worse - we still have the biggest bombs. Our military and economic might ensure OPEC's cooperation, and always have. Do you really think oil was sitting at $20/barrel through the 1990s because of supply and demand issues? Please wake up. The lakes of oil in Saudi (that have at least double the official reserves figures) can be tapped with a garden hose for a cost of under $1/barrel. I know. I've been there. I've worked there.

So hang up your ivory tower rhetoric. Time to wake up and smell the economic bullshit you're shoveling. The price of oil is set by heads of state in smoke-filled rooms, not by Wall Street. If you think there is any other reason why Bush Sr regularly visits Saudi, I'd love to hear your tinfoil hat theory for it.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

GregPK (991973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677268)

You also need to look at China, the have a vast growing oil protection racket with their fast copycat program. Trying to steal any technology they can. Personally, I don't know why the US doesn't sell them stuff for double the price we paid for it. I imagine we could sell them some of our semi recent years stealth tech for several trillion dollars or more. It could quickly pay off the National Debt, or even allow us to pour even more money into research a development. We could still be top dog of the skies if we just sold China a bunch of new toys and kept a few keys to the kingdom top secrets. Sure, it might be more difficult to defeat them in an all out war. But, the chances of an all out war are slim, because no one is stupid enough to start that kind of war. MAD gives us that.

Sell em a functional stealth bomber or two for 32 billion bucks a piece, weld and epoxy every layer and panel together so they spend the next 10 years trying to learn from it. Use the 32-64 billion towards researching something better.

Seriously, what is the point of researching all this if it's only going to end up getting stolen or sold at some huge and significant loss. It would be better to control and profit on what goes out. Let nothing secret be attached to any sort of Wide area network. I have no idea why they did that.... They could just as easily built a second internet like the universities have and used that exclusively to connect inventory and data. This would have prevented 90 percent of the data from ever leaving.

As for the whole f-14 tomcat issue with Iran... WTF!!! Seriously, we could have nearly bankrupted them by jacking up the prices for the used pieces they needed to keep flying. It's an extraordinarily expensive piece of machinery to fly selling them slightly unreliable parts for the price we paid for it would only double that cost.

We talk about budget issues every day. Our primary asset is military technology surplus, and we sell it for less than a penny on the dollar. Why can't we turn it into dollars that we can use to pay down the national debt.

*PS, I'm not talking about those individuals who steal secrets and sell them to companies and works in China and other countries. That, is pure treason and deserves to be dealt with in no other way than a swift black death to both parties.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22688156)

Are you that ignorant of recent history that you actually believe the stuff your spewing? Oil was att eh price it was for several reasons outside anything you imagined. Here is a more accurate detail of what happened. [wtrg.com]

It misses a few things that are pretty much important. Until the late 90's we had tight controls on the oil futures and the ability to hedge again inflation with it. These controls were left over from the Carter era price controls and probably was one of the few things that kept oil prices somewhat stable during some unsteady moments in the 90's. It also misses the Iran embargo that has seemed to help limit spare capacity and it doesn't accurately or effectively stress the growth of Asian markets. Well, China to be more specific. China's usages has increase by far orders of magnitude more then any other country. This has to do with the US outsourcing manufacturing to China to save on increased labor costs and Europe's outsourcing pollutants in an attempt to artificially limit it's GHG emissions while using the cheap labor to hide extra costs of controls. When you look at this, you will see a sharp rise in demand stating at around 1999 and progressing which also coincides with China's development spurts.

Something else you have to remember, when viewing the charts, those aren't actual dollars for the price values. It is CPI adjusted values to factor inflation and provide a steady valuation to the purchasing parity of the dollar. I think they used 2006 as the determining year. /Now, you want to talk about Bush senior making visits to the middle east. Well, if you look a little further back in history, you will see that we have always had an involvement there. You could say Thomas Jefferson started us on that track with his invasion of Tripoli. But something that is even more important, year before we need oil from any other country, we were part of the legue of nations which was responsible for the redistricting and formations of countries liberated from the ottoman empire after it's collapse with the end of WW1. We helped with the economic rebuilding of the area, help build the infrastructure of the countries, and held several interests there like in the Port of Kuwait which had been significantly important in trade thoughout the early 1900's. It is ridiculous to think that any family of wealth didn't have ties to the middle east at some point throughout history. It is even more ridiculous to expect them to drop those ties because you want to draw innuendo's about conspiracies that can only work if you willfully ignore relevant history. Lets name a few wealthy families in government that have ties over there or to "oil" so you can get an idea, The Kennedy's, the Bush's, Al Gore, just to name a few. And out of the seriousness, I would say Gore's connections were the most sinister, Armand Hammer- the go between that fed Gore's father and paid for Al Gore's first senate seat was a Russian spy at the hight of the cold war.

But even with that knowledge, none of the families or people mentioned have abused those connections with office to further their oil businesses. Even Cheney who is often criticized for keeping a salary earned before he went into office has not benefited at all from actions in office and his oil ties. It isn't hard to get the real dope on this stuff. Just look outside the cheer leader sites who want to push one sided agendas. Something like Factcheck.org might be some value to you. Don't forget google either.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699288)

Same BS as the parent poster: drink the Wall Street Kool-Aid and spew all the usual economic rationalizations for the price of oil. It's absolute bollocks, every bit of it. You believe it because you've never been to Saudi or worked in the Gulf, and simply have no concept of true situation over there. Like a million other suckers, you believe what you see on CNN and read in the Economist. Market forces are virtually insignificant in this market. The diamonds market has greater Pareto and Kaldor-Hicks efficiency, for Christ's sake. The price of oil is controlled by one thing only: the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The US decides how much Saudi produces. That's it. Everyone would love for it to be more complicated and more mysterious than that, but it simply isn't. If Obama wants the price of oil to be $15/barrel, he'll meet with King Saud, Saudi will turn on the taps, and a week later that's what oil will cost. Saudi could produce at triple it's current output for the next 30 years given its staggering reserves - reserves that vastly exceed all published accounts. Production costs in Saudi are ridiculously low - around $1/barrel.

Like so many others ignorant of the actual situation in Saudi, you think the standard economic logic applies to the oil market. That is utter and complete nonsense. Oil is a textbook case of market failure. Here's the short version, in case you're still confused: Saudi supplies whatever we say in order to keep their skies clear of bombs. The price of oil has risen for one reason: because the vested interests in Washington profit immensely from high oil prices. Cui bono? Who profits? That's always the magic question.

One last piece of proof, in case you're still clinging to your vacuous economic rhetoric: why do you think foreign oil companies still produce in Saudi? Saudi's oil is the most easily accessible in the world, requiring technology that was available in the 19th Century. Why do you think they hand away tens of billions of dollars in production concessions to US companies? Do you really think Saudi couldn't produce its own oil with nationalized industry and reduce Exxon-Mobil's operation in the Gulf to that of a shipping firm? Put it another way: if Saudi's reserves were in China, what would stop China from flooding the market with cheap oil just like they flood the market with cheap toys and electronics? Nothing. Our bombs are all that keep Saudi at bay. We're just lucky there's no madman dictator in charge there. Yet.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22704560)

OMG. I can't believe how full of shit you are and actually believe the stuff you spouting. First, Saudi isn't the only oil producing country. they are the only one left with reserve capacity. It appears that you have no clue to what that means so I will challenge you to look it up. Your entire argument is based on misinterpretations of the markets and your severe lack of knowledge about other countries like china.

Second, oil is subject to the same market forces. Unfortunately, as I pointed out, futures trading is leading 30-50% of the going price which is a reason we are seeing higher costs right now. With your saudi controls everything the only evidence you seem to have is you lived there or spent time there and somehow formed an incorrect opinion and that you don't understand China's role in cheap electronics. It is somewhat amazing that despite your fallacy, OPEC has been adding member state and sitting representatives from these countries to their boards for the last 50 or so years. Why would they keep up this charade if things are the way you think? Why?

You see, there is no reason why. The US isn't going to bomb saudi over oil like you think they are in threat of. They would over their support for terrorism but don't confuse that. You asked why china isn't flooding the market with cheap oil, the answer to that is because oild isn't like electronics. Besides China using all the oil they get their hands on, oil is a raw product that is typically refined in the country of the destination. There are some exceptions to this but that is the rule. Electronics on the other hand are a working product when they leave china. They have to be cheap in order to convince other countries to buy them instead of the same stuff being produces natively. This cheapness is a combination of poor worker pay combined with a cheap dollar valuation and lax regulations which allows this ability to under value their products. China couldn't do this with oil. Even if you took their increased demand out of the picture, they couldn't do it because 99% or the products resulting from oil if refined in the country which purchases it.

I find it strange that you expect people to believe that all of wall street, all of the US government, All of the other governments that import oil, all of the economist who have looked into it, and everyone else but you are completely wrong and lying. I find it also strange that they have been able to perpetuate this lie enough throughout history that the history books contain their lies as normal history. And with all this history of lieing and all, you seem to be the only person who has found the truth because you spent time over there. Lets put 2 and 2 together and just determine that you are fucking wrong. When everyone else in the world thinks something difference and they do so for over 50 years there is a good change of this being true. There is a better chance of this being true(that you are wrong) when you are claiming something different and your only evidence is "I spent time over there" and "if China was doing something they might do it differently". There merits of your argument are really lacking.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714610)

I'm no conspiracy theorist because this is no conspiracy. It's just far, far simpler than people like yourself can bring themselves to believe. Economics treats every market as if its variables are writ in stone no different than physics or chemistry, forgetting that it economic analysis is only as good as the data that comes in. Just as a single, personal example, I did the Economist Magazine Cost of Living Survey for several Gulf countries from 2001 - 2007. Half the numbers we just guessed, since the items couldn't be found on in the marketplace. Economists then crunch those numbers, taking them as absolutely correct. By pulling costs of, say, rent out of the air, I could easily have thrown off their calculations by a factor of 2 or 3. So now you've got governments, Wall Street folks and people in the media all crunching the same numbers - numbers I made up because I didn't feel like arguing with the greasy manager of the local real estate agency to get him to tell me the real rent charges for his properties. Now compound that example with a thousand others just like it and you get an idea of how valid the data your economic analysis is based upon is.

You also suffer from cultural myopeia. You said we'd never invade Saudi over oil. Oh really? Funny how people like you said that about Iraq before 2002. If you'd ever been to the Gulf you'd know that every local person there is convinced that their country could be next. Funny enough, they're probably more right that you. There's a vastly stronger case for Saudi supporting terrorism than there ever was for Iraq. Or perhaps you've forgotten that all but one of the 9/11 hijackers was Saudi?

So I'll reiterate my point, to which you have still not responded: if Obama were elected President and met with King Fahad, one of his 'diplomatic' options would be to say, "I want oil at $20/barrel by this time next week. Turn on the taps, or Saudi is next." And Saudi would do exactly as told. And oil would drop to $20/barrel. And Saudi has the reserves to produce at that price level for 10-15 years minimum. It is quite likely that this is precisely what Clinton's strategy was with Saudi. You'll notice that oil prices were nice and low throughout his presidency.

The reason why the market forces you cite are irrelevant is because of the trump factor. Any time any market has a trump factor - some individual party controls a game-changing variable - then all of your conventional market analysis is irrelevant. Read up a bit on your microeconomics: price functions are only valid so long as the market is both transparent AND prices are negotiated 'without force or fraud'. Neither of these conditions is true in the oil market, not just because of Saudi - although it is clearly the largest trump factor - but for a hundred other reasons too. As I said, oil is a textbook example of market failure. S&D analysis of a failed market is useless by definition.

So you're welcome to continue spouting economic jargon from the confines of your own ass. As for me, I prefer the simpler course: if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog, guess what? It's probably a dog. Follow the money, and it leads straight to Washington's vested interests in the big oil companies. QED.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720678)

I'm no conspiracy theorist because this is no conspiracy. It's just far, far simpler than people like yourself can bring themselves to believe. Economics treats every market as if its variables are writ in stone no different than physics or chemistry, forgetting that it economic analysis is only as good as the data that comes in. Just as a single, personal example, I did the Economist Magazine Cost of Living Survey for several Gulf countries from 2001 - 2007. Half the numbers we just guessed, since the items couldn't be found on in the marketplace. Economists then crunch those numbers, taking them as absolutely correct. By pulling costs of, say, rent out of the air, I could easily have thrown off their calculations by a factor of 2 or 3. So now you've got governments, Wall Street folks and people in the media all crunching the same numbers - numbers I made up because I didn't feel like arguing with the greasy manager of the local real estate agency to get him to tell me the real rent charges for his properties. Now compound that example with a thousand others just like it and you get an idea of how valid the data your economic analysis is based upon is.
I don't understand your point. None of this has anything to do with the site I produced or my addendum explaining the jumps in the cost of oil. Also, I am very surprised that you think you were doing the survey and asked the apartment manager and not the person living there. That is how this is done everywhere else, rent and so on is calculated by survey questionnaire of the people paying the rent. Some times this is ties to some sort of benefit or whatever. So I have to ask are you making this shit up as you go? Or does it just mysteriously seem like it?

You also suffer from cultural myopeia. You said we'd never invade Saudi over oil. Oh really? Funny how people like you said that about Iraq before 2002. If you'd ever been to the Gulf you'd know that every local person there is convinced that their country could be next. Funny enough, they're probably more right that you. There's a vastly stronger case for Saudi supporting terrorism than there ever was for Iraq. Or perhaps you've forgotten that all but one of the 9/11 hijackers was Saudi?
Lol.. First of all, oil outside of France's actions to protect their secrete oil deals that got around UN sanctions, had nothing to do with the invasion into Iraq. If you somehow think it does that that goes a long way into understanding your intent here. It would seem to will believe anything as long as it is bad about America.

And another thing, it doesn't really mater where the attacker was from. The terrorist group that sent them was from somewhere else. That is one of the big issues with fighting terrorist and not countries- you can associate the native origin with the responsibility of their actions when they are acting under the direction of an outside force. The fact that you have mentioned this shows how little you know or understand about the situation.

So I'll reiterate my point, to which you have still not responded: if Obama were elected President and met with King Fahad, one of his 'diplomatic' options would be to say, "I want oil at $20/barrel by this time next week. Turn on the taps, or Saudi is next." And Saudi would do exactly as told. And oil would drop to $20/barrel. And Saudi has the reserves to produce at that price level for 10-15 years minimum. It is quite likely that this is precisely what Clinton's strategy was with Saudi. You'll notice that oil prices were nice and low throughout his presidency.
That wasn't a point it was an incorrect statement of opinion being presented as fact. But seeing how Saudi is about the only middle east country with enough reserve capacity to effect oil prices, they would be the ones to goto to ask to increase production. However, they don't have the capabilities to take oil down to $20 a barrel. for that they would have to collude with Canada which has the second largest oil reserves. But Canada's reserves cost more to develop because they contain about 85% Bitumen oil which puts them at a severe disadvantage to lower prices per barrel. Canada needs about $35 a barrel in order to make a profit and there is another cost on top of that in order to refine it. Currently, Canada exports about 99% of it's domestic production to the US which makes it the larges supplier to the US over Saudi. Of course Canada isn't a member of OPEC.

In order to get oil down to $20 a barrel, you would have to convince opec to increase production all around which isn't likely to happen. So no, Obama could not goto Saudi and get oil down to $20 a barrel. He could get the costs down just like anyone on good terms with Saudi who was able to convince them of the need, but there is no real power in Saudi itself.

The reason why the market forces you cite are irrelevant is because of the trump factor. Any time any market has a trump factor - some individual party controls a game-changing variable - then all of your conventional market analysis is irrelevant. Read up a bit on your microeconomics: price functions are only valid so long as the market is both transparent AND prices are negotiated 'without force or fraud'. Neither of these conditions is true in the oil market, not just because of Saudi - although it is clearly the largest trump factor - but for a hundred other reasons too. As I said, oil is a textbook example of market failure. S&D analysis of a failed market is useless by definition.
This concept of a "trump factor" is severely over blown and being taken completely out of context. There are variables in the market but the futures trading has a larger "trump factor" then Saudi does. I also suspect that you have never looked at the site I linked to which is now obvious. It is clear that you simply don't know what you are talking about and I think this is probably the last response I will make with this.

This so called "trump factor" is only market forces. Saudi increases production, Other countries decrease it and get more for producing less. A country is taken off line because of war or terrorism or natural disaster, another country increases it's reserve production. There is no one entity that can control it. OPEC seems to do a decent job but only because most of the member countries are producing at their current maximum capacity. The only real thing that separates them from a cartel is that there is not disciplinary actions for countries who don't obey their wishes. You act like this all rests in one person's hands and it doesn't.

So you're welcome to continue spouting economic jargon from the confines of your own ass. As for me, I prefer the simpler course: if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog, guess what? It's probably a dog. Follow the money, and it leads straight to Washington's vested interests in the big oil companies. QED.
And yes, even though everyone else in the world will call it a wolf, you will still claim it is a dog. That really sums it up, doesn't it? If you can't understand the real way, you make one up that fits the bill. That is a very nice way of remaining an ignorant fool. Perhaps that is your intention, perhaps you have fallen for one to many conspiracies, I don't know. As for Washington having a role in it, well yea, It does. But that is avoidable with the size of the imports and the traditional role of countries controlling imports and exports into their countries. You act like that is a bad thing. Name one other country who imports as much oil as the US does who doesn't have a powerful voice in the process. And if you would have been paying attention to that link I presented, you will see that China has the same voice now that they are rivaling the US in raw imports. At least in the US, this is not only a tradition, it is ingrained into the constitution.

You really have several failures in your ability to understand rather simple processes. I don't know if this is on purpose or if you actually believe what you think.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (2, Funny)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22674794)

Lewis Blacks Rules of Enragement: He's talking about Cheney's $31 million goodbye present from Haliburton, and how it was wrong of Cheney to keep the money when he left Haliburton to become the VP. Black says "And at that point I said 'Uh, Vice President Cheney, I think you should return the money,' and he said 'Uh, Lewis, I think you should go fuck yourself.'"

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22688488)

I have been attempting to find reference to this 31 million dollars outside this comment and can't seem to find one. Are you sure it isn't the almost 2 million he had in deferred salary which wouldn't be a present but actual compensation for work performed?

If not, could you help me with a couple of links to more information? or is this just the comedy of Lewis Black pulling the figure up? Cause the parent didn't seem to be joking or laughing.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

Beefaroni (1229886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22676234)

you should also consider that fact that the two most populated nations - India and China - are taking to the roads in vast numbers. that is more new drivers hitting the roads every day and they need fuel as well. those nation's growth alone is going to keep driving up the demand / price at the pump for everyone around the globe since they have the largest potential for future auto sales. it is no wonder the oil companies are making so much money for the simple fact of how many on his planet use gasoline everyday. let us also face the fact that all modern gov'ts make revenues from fuel sales (taxes at the pump and income taxes collected from the oil corps) and therefore are extremely dependent oil. alternative sources would be great, but my guess is they will come in gradually so they do not upset the cash flow.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22676806)

They'll come in as fast as people can make money on them. In case you forgot, this is a market economy. ;)

Oh, and the biggest factor for current high oil prices is the weak dollar. In 2003, the Euro was worth barely more than a dollar. Now it's worth over $1.50. The same sort of thing has happened around the world; the dollar is a weaker currency now than it was. Since oil is traded in dollars and since the US is only 1/5th of world consumption, this raises the price of oil. Oil would probably be something like $60-$70/barrel if the US dollar hadn't plummetted. Perhaps $50-$60/barrel if we weren't filling our strategic reserves right now, $40-50 if there weren't the threats of war in South America and Iran, and $30-40 if there wasn't domestic unrest in Iraq, Colombia, Nigeria, and other countries. Oil prices are affected by a whole lot more than just potentially produceable supply.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

resonance378 (1169393) | more than 6 years ago | (#22675846)

Don't use a graph to confuse the semantic issue. OIL is not used to create power. OIL is used for the transportation infrastructure. FOSSIL FUELS such as COAL and NATURAL GAS are used to create power. Thank you.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22676146)

You're looking at the wrong graph.

Energy usage != Electricity usage

Try this one [wikimedia.org], small though it is.

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22676618)

What gets me is the graph in the report. They show "renewables" climbing by only one percent. They neglect to mention, however, that most of that "renewables" section is hydroelectricity, which has fallen as a percent of our electricity as it is no longer seen as a very "green" option at all. Generation by non-hydro renewables have expanded by several orders of magnitude since the 1970s.

If I have a way to generate electricity cleanly and it costs $1/kWh, while coal is $0.08/kWh, almost nobody will adopt.
If I double the cost effectiveness and it's $0.50/kWh, more will adopt, but still very, very few will.
If I double it again and it's $0.25/kWh, still more will adopt, but it'll still be a small percent.
If I double it again and it's $0.12/kWh, more will adopt, and you'll have a small dent in the market.
If I double it again to $0.06/kWh, the market will be swept.
If I double it again to $0.03/kWh, coal use for power generation will be consigned to the history books.

Rather than looking at the total share of our generation, they need to look at the growth rate of these alternative sources and how their cost effectiveness has changed. And it's been dramatic, with no signs of slowing. Wind costs a fraction of what it did in the 70s, while solar is an order of magnitude lower. Economies of scale and more advanced turbines may halve wind costs (wind already being competitive with coal in some places), while CIGS solar cells are on their way to providing yet *another* order of magnitude cost reduction, making solar cheaper than coal even in Alaska, let alone in the desert southwest. Then there's EGS (enhanced geothermal -- no need for a wet, near-surface heat source), solar thermal, wave, tidal, high altitude wind, and so on.

Let's look at the numbers. They report that the US has spent $57.5B on renewables, fossil, and nuclear in the past 30 years. Let's be kind and say that renewables got a whole third of that (I doubt it) -- $19B. We spend that in *two months* of the war in Iraq. The US consumes 1 billion tons of coal, ~7B barrels of oil, and 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Coal costs ~$70/ton, oil in the past year averaged something like $80/barrel, and naturl gas was ~$15/1000 cubic feet, so that means we annually spend about ($70B + $560B + $330B) around a trillion dollars on fossil energy. This doesn't count the externalities of fossil fuel usage -- environmental destruction, increased healthcare costs, increased use of the military, etc. Contrast this with half a billion to a billion dollars on renewables research annually. 3-4 orders magnitude less spending, and yet consumption of techs like solar are growing at almost 40% per year and seem almost certain to overtake the price point of coal in the next decade. How, exactly, is this a bad investment? And all of this ignores some of the idiotic things they've been spending money on, like corn ethanol and hydrogen fuel cells [daughtersoftiresias.org].

Re:Fossil fuels != oil (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22688442)

Hydrogen fuel cells might be idiotic in general but the fuel cell concept isn't- at least to the same extent. But something that isn't idiotic is is corn ethanol. It really serves more then one purpose which is very important in implementing alternative energy.

First, We need a gasoline supplement if we are expecting to get off oil or fossil fuels for basic transportation or portable power needs. It will take something like 25-50 years to replace a new car by the time it gets sold to the less rich people and finally ends up scraped. If we found a miracle source of energy and put it into production on everything tomorrow, we would still need a way to account for the expense and people who couldn't afford new vehicles and such. Ethanol in general seems the most promising here.

Next, there are varying reasons for needing and developing alternative energy sources. Being green isn't always the reason. Reducing dependencies and outside influences can be a very powerful motivator. Ethanol seems to be the quickest way to adapt current technology to those goals.

In order for anything to be used to make ethanol, you have to have a supply system capable of producing enough material to effectively handle the demand. Corn isn't the best choice but it is more reasonable in the US then other sugars because no additional machinery or skill sets are required to produce the corn and there is the benefit of alternative usages which means if demand goes down, it can be resold into another market. Now I understand that some people claim it is causing the cost of edible corn to increase, which it might be, but the corn used to make ethanol is an industrial type corn that isn't very good for eating. So the increased prices would be more likely linked to less production of the edible forms. But most farms have vacant land that is being used to produce new quantities of corn which means that after a short adjustment cycle, it should normalize and things will go back to normal.

With Corn, we also have a psychological benefit that helps push the adoption of alternative gasolines. First, it convinced farmers that there isn't much of a risk in producing the product which can be fazed over to more productive crops once the tech becomes profitable. Another thing is, people seem to have a connection to farmers more so then a simple desire to get off middle east oil or help the environment. Right or wrong, when people think about spending money on a product that is being introduced as an alternative (with questionable efficiencies and possibly increased costs), they are more apt to accept it when they think about ma and pa farmers (real people) benefiting the some company mixing chemicals in a lab to get their greedy hands on your money.

With gasification processes being combined with enzyme treatments in the manufacturing process, cost are going to come down and the production plants and starting to take on a somewhat modular process that can use a diverse range of materials to make the ethanol. Once the processes are perfected and mainlined so they are cost effective, we will start seeing things like grasses and straw being used, Maybe constructions waists that fill landfills, tree bark, non metal garbage that also fill landfills, and so on being used instead of corn. This will allow farmers to gradually switch over to growing something more productive as well as possibly providing a real disposal stream for existing waist products.

So even if you don't like the idea of ethanol or using corn to produce it, at this stage, there are some really benificial aspects to doing so. We might find something that could replace gasoline that doesn't involve ethanol, we will find more productive ways or producing it and higher yield materials to produce it from. But I think starting with Corn, at least in the current political environment is the best option. I would hope you can see that it isn't really idiotic even if it doesn't seem to be the most productive use of resources to you. It really is an intermediary step in getting away from fossil fuels in transportation and for portable power needs.

BTW, portable power, I'm sure you understand what is meant by that but other reading might not. I'm talking about power tools like generators, chainsaws, lawnmowers, pumps, and so on when it isn't practical or even possible to string an extention cord to where the power it needed. I would hate to imagine the costs of a solar or wind powered chainsaw that could actually be used the way chain saws are intended to be used.

possible commercial willow farms like they us

Re:85% of a growing amount (3, Interesting)

epine (68316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22674176)

The consumption of oil has grown by "leaps and bounds" because oil was severely underpriced.

http://www.sierraclub.org/globalwarming/cleancars/cafe/briefing_book.pdf [sierraclub.org]

This document shows that American fleet-average fuel economy peaked in 1987 and has declined about ten percent since, despite improvements in fuel consumption technology.

Seriously, with a correct oil price, America should presently have a 24 MPG fleet-average, a 10% improvement over two decades, not something hovering around 20 MPG after a 10% decline.

The difference would offset the 20% of the fuel supply we are now frantically replacing with ethanol, without having to actually make any ethanol.

I think the answer was pretty simple: allow the price of oil to slowly creep upward until the fleet-average fuel economy was tracking a 1 MPG/decade improvement curve. At some price, people will think twice about buying that SUV they don't really need. In my mind, that price would have been a good price, as it would have corresponded with sensible consumption choices.

The whole thing could have been rather slow, steady, and painless, but no, apparently catastrophism is the American way.

Re:85% of a growing amount (1)

rapierian (608068) | more than 6 years ago | (#22676262)

Actually, the price of oil is severely overpriced: Congress has stopped our oil companies from developing any of the new oil fields they've discovered since the 70s, and we haven't allowed them to build any more refineries since then either.

Re:85% of a growing amount (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677154)

Not true. They have protected a number of fields (most notably in the eastern GOM and in ANWR), which certainly are the majority of known untapped deposits remaining in US territory/waters, but not *all* new discoveries. Plenty of little ones have come online, and there seems to be little attempt to stop the development of, for example, the deepwater supergiant Jack 2 field. Anyways, there's a heck of a lot more involved than oil fields in US territory, which are somewhat limited (ANWR represents about a year of our annual consumption, while the eastern gulf probably represents half a decade of consumption). The rest of the world is much more important in terms of oil development than the US, which is mostly tapped (but more on that later). Brazil, for example, just last year found *three* new deepwater supergiants (Jupiter, Tupi, and Sugar Loaf). Sugar Loaf may be the world's third largest oil field ever discovered. In 2003-2004, Iran found two new supergiants, one of which also may be the world's third largest (they'll have to fight it out ;) ). Some places are likely huge oil-rich regions that have barely been explored at all due to potentially higher production costs, such as the west coast of Greenland, which has numerous active oil seeps and large amounts of bitumen from old oil seeps, plus a subsurface geology suggestive of massive traps. The arctic as a whole is little explored. And speaking of more expensive sources, bitumen is profitable at $30-$40/barrel, while coal liquefaction is profitable at a little more, and even the price point for shale extraction in the 1970s was less than $100/barrel (I'd be surprised if they couldn't do it for $50-60/barrel today). Venezuela's ultra heavy crude in the Orinoco belt, too, is a Saudi Arabia-scale source, just like Alberta's bitumen, and is easily profitable with prices less than half of what they are now. Our coal resources are essentially boundless on the century-scale. Just coal mineable at current market prices at current consumption rates is something like 200 years worth, just on known reserves alone. Yet, you don't have to actually mine coal to liquefy it; you just need to burn it with insufficient oxygen to create town gas (CO + H2), which can be done subsurface via gas injection, so whether it can be profitably mined or not is irrelevant. So long as you can burn it, you can produce it. Just in 2005, a single subsea coal deposit was found off the coast of Norway that contains over three times as much coal as the world's entire known reserves [energybulletin.net]. By my calculation, that's 60 cubic miles of coal, enough that you could cover the entire state of Indiana 8 1/2 feet deep. And I didn't even cover CO2 injection for oil recovery, which is expected to add dozens to hundreds of billions of barrels to US reserves alone while at the same time doing carbon sequestration.

Supply isn't the problem [daughtersoftiresias.org]. Even the price of producing what supply is out there isn't really the problem. The problems are existing infrastructure, domestic instability, the weak dollar, wars and threats of war, and the stocking of the strategic reserves. All of this is overwhelming our existing production capacity, and it takes 5-10 years to build new capacity.

Re:85% of a growing amount (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22676466)

No, no, no. These claims about oil being underpriced are bullshit.

-Military intervention is not a true cost of providing oil. (Even spun agreed with this.) It should not be counted as a subsidy if consumers don't pay a cost that shouldn't exist.

-While pollution is a valid negative externality that is unpriced, it's magnitude (after substracting positive externalities like my brother not dying because of plastics) is almost certainly less than the taxes that already exist on oil, meaning consumers ALREADY feel that cost.

-The economically correct solution to such underpricing is to tag on a tax that captures the damage, *and then is applied to fixing the damage*. We should not be thinking in terms of "miles per gallon". The correct miles per gallon on a car is whatever the market produces once it sees the environmental cost in the price.

Trying to control the problem by "sneaking in" efficiency improvements are fundamentally flawed because they don't change incentives, meaning everyone free to up their usage (or otherwise have inefficient behavior) with respect to the infinite number of things you didn't think to regulate.

If you're against someone driving a Hummer, even when they pay to cancel all verifiable environmental costs, you are objecting on social grounds, not environmental ones.

Re:85% of a growing amount (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677378)

-Military intervention is not a true cost of providing oil. (Even spun agreed with this.) It should not be counted as a subsidy if consumers don't pay a cost that shouldn't exist.

Wolfowitz, the lead architect of Bush's Iraq policy, would disagree with you. [guardian.co.uk] While the article originally misreported him as saying that the Iraq war "was about oil", what he actually said still had the same effect: we went to war with Iraq, and not with North Korea, because Iraq's oil wealth meant that we couldn't use economic leverage against him. We wouldn't have gone to war with them if they didn't have oil wealth to support themselves.

Why do you think we've been involved in so many major conflicts in the middle east, while we've ignored dictator after brutal dictator in Africa? Pure coincidence, I'm sure? Of course not. Securing our energy supplies is of *critical* natural interest. That doesn't mean owning them, or profitting off of them, or anything of that nature. It just means that the government is paranoid of a repeat of the 1970s oil embargo and will do whatever it takes to prevent any situation that could potentially lead to countries cutting off oil sales.

While pollution is a valid negative externality that is unpriced, it's magnitude (after substracting positive externalities like my brother not dying because of plastics) is almost certainly less than the taxes that already exist on oil, meaning consumers ALREADY feel that cost.

1) Plastics would still exist whether we burned oil as a fuel or not. In fact, they'd be cheaper, since we wouldn't have to be producing oil from more expensive sources to meet market demand.
2) Taxes are not a "loss". It's not like the government collects tax money and then just throws it away. Those taxes pay for your roads. Want to drive without roads?

Pollution externalities are very real and are *not* accounted for by oil prices.

The economically correct solution to such underpricing is to tag on a tax that captures the damage, *and then is applied to fixing the damage*. We should not be thinking in terms of "miles per gallon". The correct miles per gallon on a car is whatever the market produces once it sees the environmental cost in the price.

Which would be accomplished by taxing based on miles per gallon.

Re:85% of a growing amount (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678666)

Hope you see this comment, even though you probably ignore ACs. I have to post AC because my UbuntuDupe name got burned, but I assure you this is UbuntuDupe, the posting style will confirm this.

Wolfowitz, the lead architect of Bush's Iraq policy, would disagree with you. ...

So, your premise is that a neoconservative cabinet official's opinions about the impact of foreign policy is supposed to be the "gold standard" in reliability?

Well, GEE, if the government that justified invasion of Iraq thinks it's true, I guess I pretty much have to agree, right?

Plastics would still exist whether we burned oil as a fuel or not.

Okay, bad example. The point is, once you get into the game of complaining about oil's unaccounted negative externalities, you MUST substract off its positive externalities, which the "hey I just discovered economics" environmentalist crowd (and, I suspect, you) never even attempts to calculate. Examples:

1) General gain in economic activity from the fact that we have such an energy-dense means.
2) My brother getting to the hospital so quickly.
3) The opportunity of millions of people to drive (i.e. feelling of freedom and all that crap). (And be careful, it's the OPTION to do this that is the externality; the utility of driving itself is internalized.)

And so on like that. The point is not so much that I'm sure it outweighs the negative externality, but that you must account for this, which no one does.

2) Taxes are not a "loss". It's not like the government collects tax money and then just throws it away. Those taxes pay for your roads. Want to drive without roads?

Okay, sure, the proper comparison basis would be "existing fuel taxes" vs. "road costs plust NET negative externalites". Fair enough.

But fuel taxes are levied at several levels and are more than enough to cover the roads. Even taking existing governmental road spending, however, is unfair. The process for deciding what roads get built and maintained involves disgusting political maneuvering -- remember the bridge to nowhere? To put it simply: If I drive a vehicle, am I somehow getting a "free ride" if my fuel taxes don't cover the cost of that near-useless bridge? Or the six trillion others that exist purely to get a politician's name on something?

Moreover, road costs are not the same as fuel costs. A subsidy for roads is a subsidy for *whatever* people use to drive on the roads. Road use should be taxed to pay for roads (see first journal entry); fuel should not be taxed to pay for roads, which muddies your point even further.

Pollution externalities are very real and are *not* accounted for by oil prices.

Even given all of the above, that externality pales in comparison to that of, say, woodburning, which no one proposes taxing. If it's less than that of woodburning, shouldn't the tax also be less?

[The correct miles per gallon on a car] would be accomplished by taxing based on miles per gallon.

No, it wouldn't, and this is an important point for you to get right. Taxing for the miles per gallon ignores the miles that the car is actually driven. If I buy a big car and drive it rarely, how is that a "greater externality" (and thus deserving of a higher tax) than someone who buys a hybrid and uses it for thousands of frivilous long trips? And while you might say, "So what, the correlation's good enough", the point is, you are still aligning the incentives poorly. What we *want* (if our concern is actually for the environment and not for hurting SUV lovers) is for all fuel use to happen only when its economic benefit exceeds the environmental cost, and that benefit is applied to the environmental cost (which a tax equal to the net neg externality would effectively do)

Taxing simply on a vehicle's raw fuel efficiency, in ignorance of the context of that fuel use (such as how much the driver would actually use it, how much he'll carry with it, how close he's located to work, etc.) simply punishes people whose optimal (given utility and environmental considerations) behavior involves a vehicle you're biased against. It's only a crude approximation of what you truly want, and the precise reason why I characterize the environmentalist position as "You can be as wasteful as you want, but you better damn do it efficiently!" or "Do whatever you want, but you better meet our arbitrary minimum threshold of happiness derived from that activity!"

And yes, I know you can say, "But if I tax for vehicle inefficience, and tax for someone's distance to work, and tax for how many people he puts in the car, and whether the trips are to plant trees, ..." but you're still just needlessly complicating the problem. Give the market the information about the net neg externality in the form of the fuel tax, and let *it* sort out how people adapt to it, as it does wondrously for every other product.

Ditch the hatred of SUV's, at advocate a policy that punishes the actual bad.

Re:85% of a growing amount (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22680510)

Wolfowitz, the lead architect of Bush's Iraq policy, would disagree with you. ...

So, your premise is that a neoconservative cabinet official's opinions about the impact of foreign policy is supposed to be the "gold standard" in reliability?


One of the *lead architects of the war* said that the reason we went to war had to do with oil wealth, and you *still* don't believe that we did? What on Earth will convince you -- Bush showing up at your house and signing an affadavit in front of a notary?

Okay, bad example. The point is, once you get into the game of complaining about oil's unaccounted negative externalities, you MUST substract off its positive externalities

And the positive externalities of burning oil for fuel are...? Sulfur dioxide? Carbon monoxide? Nitrous oxide? VOCs? Oil spills? Refinery fires? Strip-mined bitumen? What positive externalities are you thinking of here?

1) General gain in economic activity from the fact that we have such an energy-dense means.

Our dependence on oil is a *brake* on the world economy. Oil costs many times more than coal per joule. It's more expensive than even silicon-based solar in most of the world these days.

2) My brother getting to the hospital so quickly.

Compared to...? Ethanol fuelled vehicles? Biodiesel-fuelled vehicles? Electric vehicles? What are you picturing that is a slower alternative? All of the alternatives are just as fast.

The opportunity of millions of people to drive (i.e. feelling of freedom and all that crap). (And be careful, it's the OPTION to do this that is the externality; the utility of driving itself is internalized.)

And this is compared to...? Ethanol doesn't let people drive? Biodiesel doesn't let people drive? Electricity doesn't let people drive?

2) Taxes are not a "loss". It's not like the government collects tax money and then just throws it away. Those taxes pay for your roads. Want to drive without roads?

Okay, sure, the proper comparison basis would be "existing fuel taxes" vs. "road costs plust NET negative externalites". Fair enough.

But fuel taxes are levied at several levels and are more than enough to cover the roads.


Exactly: the money *isn't wasted*. It's *spent on the roads*.

The process for deciding what roads get built and maintained involves disgusting political maneuvering -- remember the bridge to nowhere?

And your alternative to a democratic process would be...? Strongman dictator gets to make all of the decisions as to what road gets built where? You get to decide for everyone?

To put it simply: If I drive a vehicle, am I somehow getting a "free ride" if my fuel taxes don't cover the cost of that near-useless bridge? Or the six trillion others that exist purely to get a politician's name on something?

Moreover, road costs are not the same as fuel costs. A subsidy for roads is a subsidy for *whatever* people use to drive on the roads. Road use should be taxed to pay for roads (see first journal entry); fuel should not be taxed to pay for roads, which muddies your point even further.

And since people are driving gas and diesel cars, gas and diesel are taxed. And the problem is...? And you're addressing externalities how...?

Even given all of the above, that externality pales in comparison to that of, say, woodburning, which no one proposes taxing.

Lol. Wood burning is responsible for about 3 percent of the total suspended particulates, 6 percent of the total carbon monoxide, and 51 percent of the highly carcinogenic polycyclic organic matter produced by all US sources (EPA, 1986)" [burningissues.org] Apart from polycyclic organic matter, it's a pretty insiginificant amount of total US air pollution, especially when you consider all of the other pollutants. Yes, woodburning is dirty. It's also comparatively rare, and mostly in sparsely populated areas. If it wasn't, of course it'd be regulated and taxed.

No, it wouldn't, and this is an important point for you to get right. Taxing for the miles per gallon ignores the miles that the car is actually driven. If I buy a big car and drive it rarely, how is that a "greater externality" (and thus deserving of a higher tax) than someone who buys a hybrid and uses it for thousands of frivilous long trips?

Yes, because everyone collects big gas guzzlers and leaves them rusting in their driveway. I would agree, however, that higher fuel taxes would accomplish the same goal and do a better job at it. But good luck at getting that through congress.

Re:85% of a growing amount (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22681352)

One of the *lead architects of the war* said that the reason we went to war had to do with oil wealth, and you *still* don't believe that we did? What on Earth will convince you -- Bush showing up at your house and signing an affadavit in front of a notary?

You're not understanding my argument. Let's try this again:

1) I accept that Bush et al invaded Iraq the reasons you gave.
2) I do not accept that those reasons prove that it would be impossible to buy oil from the Iraq without the intervention (which was the issue).

In other words: yes, the nation's leaders believe that we MUST invade Iraq in order to be able to buy their oil. No, they're not correct.

So, I'm NOT getting a subsidy when my fuel costs don't include payments for those wars, because those wars aren't necessary to get it to me.

If you're still not getting this, imagine that Bush's fortuine teller says that oil doesn't combust unless he kills random babies, and then Bush kills babies, thinking that it ensures that oil will combust. Would you then say that those dead babies "are a negative externality of oil usage that isn't included in the price"?

And the positive externalities of burning oil for fuel are...?

The ones you replied to below, before you forgot to delete this comment because it was answered.

Our dependence on oil is a *brake* on the world economy. Oil costs many times more than coal per joule.

Wait, the entire reason oil is a brake on the world economy is because it costs more per unit joule than coal? Considering that major energy companies still find a reason to buy it instead, I'd say that your economic analysis here is 100% without basis.

Compared to...? Ethanol fuelled vehicles? Biodiesel-fuelled vehicles?

Those also have that positive externality, and they would also have to be weighed against alleged negative externalities if you wanted to deem them a "negative externality."

Exactly: the money *isn't wasted*. It's *spent on the roads*.

Uh, yeah ... like I just said, Perry Mason. It still doesn't change the point.

And your alternative to a democratic process would be...?

My point wasn't to suggest an alternative. My point is to show you the valid comparison basis. If my activities generate a corresponding cost that somehow must be paid (like roaduse --> road construction, or fuel burnin --> enviro damage mitigation), I am ONLY receiving a subsidy if a fail to pay the TRUE cost. If I'm not paying a bunch of unrelated costs, that is NOT a subsidy of any kind.

Example: If I use road X, and I don't pay for road X, I am subsidized. If I use road X, pay for [my quotal share of] road X's costs, and I do not pay for $POLITICIANNAME bridge that gets barely used, that is not a subsidy.

The point being, you can't simply compare gas taxes to road costs. You have to compare gas taxes to *valid* road costs. And the lower this number is, greater a "carbon tax" I can establish that fuel users are already paying, thus (getting back to the main point) establishing that drivers already act as they would in the presence of a carbon tax.

And since people are driving gas and diesel cars, gas and diesel are taxed. And the problem is...?

WAH!!!!!!!!!!! Hybrid car drivers are getting subsidized because they pay less in fuel taxes per mile!

See the problem?

Fuel users should pay for fuel's costs, road users should pay for road costs. The fact that the costs aren't assigned properly is not the fault of fuel users.

And you're addressing externalities how...?

By explaining to people like you what the proper economic response is to negative externalities, under the tenuous assumptions that such complaints really are out of concern for the environment rather than to ban activities one doesn't like.

Lol. Wood burning is responsible for about 3 percent of the total suspended particulates, ...

So what? Unlike with gasoline, I actually NOTICE the HORRIBLE smell of woodburning and have to breathe it every time I go outside when the temperature has dropped below 40F. Did the study factor in my discomfort? No? Okay then.

I'll be glad to talk about imposing negative externality taxes ("Pigouvian taxes"), but only if we're willing to get serious about it, rather than (as is actually the case) use it as an ad hoc rationalization for policies people want for other reasons. So, let's start with woodburning. I want a tax on woodburning, with the proceeds paid to undo the damage of it (i.e. pay people like me to return us to our indifference curves).

Yes, because everyone collects big gas guzzlers and leaves them rusting in their driveway.

And no one ever falls under the impression they're doing the environment a favor when they take lots of frivolous voyages in a hybrid car, or demonizes people who buy SUVs yet move within walking distance of work.

I would agree, however, that higher fuel taxes would accomplish the same goal and do a better job at it. But good luck at getting that through congress.

Maybe if some people would have more integrity in advocating policy changes, the public would better appreciate the relative merits of Pigouvian taxes vs. "be wasteful more efficiently, and let us micromanage your life but not actually help the environment" laws.

Re:85% of a growing amount (1)

freezingweasel (1049610) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711580)

> apparently catastrophism is the American way.

Of course, supply and demand. Big disaster = big demand for a fix (and higher prices can be charged for delivering it)

We're not really unconcerned with global warming etc, we're just waiting until it's so desperate that billions can be made in the creation of underground cities or whatever 3rd late last ditch solution might work once desperation has reached its peak (and sensibility has been tossed out the window).

Remember that a few idiots DID saran wrap their house after 9/11...

Re:85% of a growing amount (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22674382)

Your as bad as the GAO report,who looks like they are spinning what has happened to date as insignificant in anticipation of a Democratic administration taking over in the next elections, remember the GAO works for the Democratic congress. Here's the point first we've reduced petro-oil 7 % relative to total consumption but for most of the time that reduction has been occurring petro-oil was running 40-60 dollars a barrel, while occasionally flirting with $70.00-80.00, and many of the alternative had break-even points of $70.00 a barrel. Now with petroleum crude running in the $100.00 investors will not be as afraid to make the investment in capital to make alternatives happen. There is a kind of reversal of the 80-20 rule where 20 % of the R and D is taking 80% of the time, now we are seeing an explosion of technological breakthroughs in alternative energy, major problems are moving from the realm of science to the realm of engineering. Big things are going to start happening during the next administration no matter which party gets in or what the GAO predicts simply because it makes sense economically. We've spent tens of Billions of dollars on alternative energy research but some how none of that counts, because it happened inspite of have a republican at the helm.

You can copy, but you can't. (2, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22674038)

I read the linked .PDF document. It is a request for money. It contains almost no useful information about what is being done with the money.

Here is an example of how corrupt the U.S. government can be. It is a quote from the end of the document: "This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately."

So, you can freely copy the document, but you can't freely copy the document, because it "may contain" copyrighted material.

The overall impression I get is that whoever wrote the document doesn't want the taxpayers to know exactly how the money is being spent.

Re:You can copy, but you can't. (3, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22675402)

The document can be copied if it is copied as a whole, but you cannot copy individual pictures/graphs out of it. They have the owner's permission for the first, but not for the second.

You can't know what parts are copyrighted? (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677692)

If they don't specify which part of a document is copyrighted, you can't know what parts are copyrighted, and therefore you can't copy anything.

To me, that's government craziness.

Re:You can copy, but you can't. (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22675800)

The only request for money, that I can see, is if you want printed copies. That is it. In addition, you are FREE to copy the ENTIRE document, just not portions. They are trying to prevent this from being used in incorrectly.

I am fine with what they have.

Powered by slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22674498)

Just attach a linear generator to the member of each slashdot member, then bring out the pr0n and watch as the world is flooded with free electricity.

don't tell anyone (2, Informative)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22675040)

For better or worse the GAO said the DOE's recent R&D focus in renewable energy has been in biomass-derived ethanol; hydrogen-powered fuel cells; wind technologies; and solar technologies.

But Willie Nelson had the biggest effect by making biodiesel popular http://www.biowillieusa.com/ [biowillieusa.com]

Re:don't tell anyone (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678442)

That's just scary to see such marketingdroid behavior attached to BioDiesel! I guess that means that Green has really went main-stream.

Re:don't tell anyone (1)

llefler (184847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22688820)

That's just scary to see such marketingdroid behavior attached to BioDiesel!

I didn't read the whole site, but I fail to see anything on it that is worse the biodiesel.org. If they can build a brand and push it to national chains, here is one thing that would be a big boost for BioDiesel:

BioWillie® meets or exceeds national ASTM fuel quality standards
One thing keeping big users of diesel from switching is that you roll the dice every time you buy from an unknown supplier.

Some of the alternative/green pushes really don't make sense to me. Why push ethanol and hope to replace millions of personal vehicles that drive an average of 15,000 miles rather than BioDiesel for trucks that are driving 10x the miles? And when it comes to C02, they want to fix everybody's tailpipe while ignoring power plants. It seems to me that we have plenty of coal and it has been my experience that coal power plants tend to stay in one place.

Re:don't tell anyone (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22689438)

Exactly if you don't fix the power plant emissions, fixing the trucks is just everybody feeling good and singing Kumbaya, just like the soccer mom's saying everybody should be driving Hybrids then buckling Junior into the back seat of their Escalade. Still if the truckers are able to pull a "greener than thou" routine on the soccer mom's thing could get entertaining. Making Biodeisel to ASTM standards is just a matter of following the directions and testing, this method [journeytoforever.org] is pretty foolproof.

Re:don't tell anyone (1)

llefler (184847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22690816)

Making Biodeisel to ASTM standards is just a matter of following the directions and testing,

I'm sure there are plenty of people making biodiesel to ASTM standards. There are also a lot of people brewing it in their garage. BioWillie biodiesel is the first one that I have seen guaranteeing it. I think that guarantee is what is needed to push biodiesel. Either from a single brand like BioWillie or a number of brands with similar guarantees. It needs to be available at every Pilot and Flying J across the US.

The reason the certification is so important are the costs involved. If I blew up my 14 year old 1 ton using bad Bio it would cost me $2,000 for a used engine, if I could find one. Even good Bio in the wrong concentration could be a problem. For instance, if a station put B50 in a B20 tank in the winter. It would probably cost me an injection pump. I just checked and a rebuilt IP is $300. Those costs are trivial compared to someone using their truck to earn a living. I think if there were the same doubts about quality with ethanol people would never put E85 in their new $20k flex fuel car.

$57.5 billion figure may be misleading in two ways (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22675106)

The article lists $57.5 billion as the amount the US government has spent on alternative fuels in the past 30 years. That sounds like an unbelievable amount of money. However:

1. I would bet that a substantial portion of the money was spent on corn Ethanol subsidies, which (as has been debated endlessly) are not among the more efficient ways to generate a renewable fuel alternative to petroleum.

2. As of 2000, the US used 98 quadrillion BTU in total energy, or the equivalent of 784 billion gallons of gasoline or 3.7 billion tons of coal. Measured against that, $57.5 billion in alternative fuels research is peanuts.


My own personal view is that regardless of how you feel about the environment, increased domestic energy production has enormous political and economic benefits for any country, and renewable energy production that's anywhere near cost competitive is the best long term investment. For a government willing to spend $3 trillion per year, $57.5 billion spent over 30 years is tantamount to criminal neglect.

The screw-up is the priorities (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22675640)

Wind has MORE than enough ppl doing the research. The tax credits will help keep pushing it. The research for it can stop. Solar is of the same situation. Hydrogen is a total joke, but some funding should be done for it. The place that absolutely needs funding is geo-thermal. Disregard the MIT study. Instead, look at the fact that it is the ONLY form of AE that can serve as base load. All others are intermitant. But shallow geo-thermal, has many ways to be developed. For example using old oil wells, can heat water to about 70C. Then during the day time, solar can push it to 100C or better. During the night time, we can use Natural Gas to push it. Of course, the other choice is to change the medium according to the time. During the night (cool temps), the steam can be ammonia which boils at much lower temp, while during the day time, water is used (hotter outside temps).
And of course, deep geo-thermal has the potential to account for about 20-40% of all of America's energy. Combine with solar, wind, water, and nukes, and we can kick all the carbon out. All within 10 years.

Re:The screw-up is the priorities (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22680616)

Instead, look at the fact that it is the ONLY form of AE that can serve as base load. All others are intermitant.


Ausra [ausra.com] doesn't say much about how they plan on doing it, but they claim they can store heat energy for use when the sun isn't shining.
I'd say government research on storing thermal energy is worthwhile, but frankly, it seems like the private sector is doing that research already.

-- Should you believe authority without question?

Re:The screw-up is the priorities (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22682344)

And that is called creation AND STORAGE. All of these can do it by increasing the costs. But fossil fuels, hydo, and geo-thermal that are NOT intermittent and can then work as true base-load power. The others are only as good as the storage holds up.

BTW, they are simply going to store thermal in salt. A number of companies are proposing it. In fact, it is a great idea. I personally think that we should create distributed thermal storage systems. It would allow us to handle SO many issues. But energy storage adds to a systems costs. Interestingly, I think that electric cars are going to change our attitude about all this.

geothermal has its problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22680696)

The flows of heated material change quickly (meaning multiple holes). The recollected water tends to pick up minerals on the way up, which clog or corrode turbines. There are some other problems, with the point being that geothermal is problemic in most places.

Mis LABELED AGAIN (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22676272)

This budget is NOT about alternative energy research. It is about Advanced energy research. Alternative is just a SMALL portion of it. In fact, about 1/2 of the research goes to Fossil fuel research. another quarter goes to nukes. Of the remainder, the bulk goes to hydrogen and ethanol. IOW, damn little research is done on true alternative energy.

Evolution of tranportation (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22684472)

The evolution of transportation. Transportation seem to be in the very early stages of evolution. Dinosoars had many of the same problems . The increase of vehicle size that is needed to protect the passengers and its inability to operate safely in adverse weather conditions are just a few of the problems. These problems waste huge amounts of energy. I hope we can solve these problems before it is too late. It may help the transportation departments to take a closer look into how biological systems transport waste and blood. Puting things on rails to reduce stearing, using a computer system to replace the driver, These things are really simple fixes to this huge transportation problem. Just think of the savings,no more insurance,no more accidents,no more dui's,no more licences,no more energy wars,it would reduce the weight of vehicles by 70% Eventually combine the existing sewer, electric, water systems into the rail conduit would produce even more savings.
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