Archive for March, 2012

March 30, 2012

DOE Assistant Secretary David Sandalow at Methanol Policy Forum 2012 – YouTube

DOE Assistant Secretary David Sandalow at Methanol Policy Forum 2012 – YouTube.

Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs David Sandalow offered these remarks to the audience at Methanol Policy Forum 2012 in Washington, D.C. that looked at the role of methanol fuel and methanol in transportation as an emerging clean fuel technology.

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March 16, 2012

Methanol as an Alternative to Gasoline –

Methanol as an Alternative to Gasoline –

PRESIDENT Obama recently called the United States the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” and asserted that it was time for our oil-dominated transportation fuel market to open the door to natural gas. He’s right. It would be cheaper for consumers and reduce the strategic importance of oil. But first we need cars that can run on methanol, a high-octane fuel made from converted natural gas.

We’re producing more natural gas these days than we can use, thanks to new techniques to extract gas from shale. A recent report from the M.I.T. Energy Initiative, “The Future of Natural Gas,” called methanol “the liquid fuel that is most efficiently and inexpensively produced from natural gas.” China has already taken notice. Automakers there, like Chery, Geely and Shanghai Maple, have all introduced vehicles capable of running on methanol. Indeed, methanol is so much less costly per mile than gasoline that illegal fuel blending is rampant in China.

March 12, 2012

America’s Energy Disaster – Robert Zubrin – National Review Online

America’s Energy Disaster – Robert Zubrin – National Review Online.

President Obama says his energy policy is a great success. In support, Democratic-party stalwart John Podesta trumpets the claim that the United States is now producing more oil than it imports. A recent article in the Bloomberg News goes even further, saying that the U.S. is now a net oil exporter. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman instructs us to rejoice: High oil prices are now good for the United States.

Unfortunately, none of this is true. For the record, according to the Department of Energy/Energy Information Agency February 2012 Monthly Energy Review, the United States currently consumes (November 2011 figures, p.52) 12.93 million barrels of oil per day (mpd) in its transportation sector, 4.55 mpd in its industrial sector, 1.159 mpd in its residential and commercial sectors, and 0.096 mpd in electrical-power generation, for a total consumption of 18.735 mpd. In contrast, (page 37) in 2011, the United States averaged a production rate of 5.671 mpd of crude oil, or 30 percent of its total consumption, for a net deficit of 13.064 mpd, or 4.77 billion barrels per year. At today’s oil price of $105 per barrel, the bill for these imports runs to $500 billion per year, a tax on our economy equal to 20 percent of what Americans pay the IRS, and a reduction in the nation’s GDP sufficient to account for a loss of 5 million jobs at an average salary of $100,000 per year each.

March 12, 2012

Robert McFarlane: A Flex-Fuel Mandate Is Pro-Market –

Robert McFarlane: A Flex-Fuel Mandate Is Pro-Market –

The current election cycle and the rising price of gasoline have rekindled interest in energy security and how best to achieve it. We’ve had these spasms of interest and hand-wringing before—many times. And each time we believed we had identified a way to overcome our vulnerability to the disruption or unaffordable pricing of oil, the price would decline, we would become complacent again, and effective, long-term solutions were forgotten.

This time, however, the stakes go well beyond the price of a fill-up at the pump. They involve a predictable renewed recession and prolonged, severe economic hardship for all Americans. As we tackle this energy challenge again, if the outcome is to be any different it may help to start with a few facts:

• Petroleum products drive 97% of all air, sea and land transportation in our country. Oil is truly the lifeblood of every industrial economy. If goods don’t move, revenues stop, jobs are lost and economies collapse. Oil is a strategic commodity, an essential good which if disrupted or priced extravagantly can cause our economy to collapse.

• Unlike other essential commodities such as clothing and food, where we have choices, in transportation fuel we’re stuck with petroleum alone. It enjoys a monopoly.

• The price of oil is set by a foreign cartel. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) owns almost 80% of global oil reserves yet produces only 36% of daily global supply. This dominant position enables OPEC to raise or lower their production to maintain the global supply-demand relationship that suits their interest. If U.S. oil companies produce more, OPEC will produce less.

March 7, 2012

ZUBRIN: Keystone XL rejection weakens America and strengthens her enemies – Washington Times

ZUBRIN: Keystone XL rejection weakens America and strengthens her enemies – Washington Times.

The United States is by far the world’s leading oil importer. Thus, it follows that when the price of oil goes up, our economy is severely taxed and, therefore, it goes down. Indeed, every oil price increase for the past four decades, including those in 1973, 1979, 1991, 2001 and 2008, has been followed shortly afterward by a sharp rise in American unemployment.

It is in this light that the extreme malfeasance of the Obama administration in preventing the implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline becomes apparent. While much has been made of the loss of 20,000 jobs building the pipeline, that is the smallest part of the matter. The real issue is that by forbidding the pipeline, the Obama administration is acting to block the introduction of 270 million barrels per year of Canadian oil into the world market. At current prices above $100 per barrel, this will cause a loss to the North American economy of $27 billion per year, sufficient to create 270,000 North American jobs – at $100,000 per year each. (Canada draws 65 percent of its imports, which amount to 31 percent of its gross domestic product, from the United States. The two nations thus share one economy.)

March 7, 2012

Iran’s Unacceptable Enrichment – Robert Zubrin – National Review Online

Iran’s Unacceptable Enrichment – Robert Zubrin – National Review Online.

There has been much public discussion recently about the Iranian nuclear program, particularly the question of when it might be determined that it had crossed a “red line” defining it conclusively as a nuclear-weapons, rather than a power-reactor, program. An analysis of Iran’s actual production suggests that the line has already been crossed.

Some of the discussion has been quite absurd. For example, page 1 of the February 25 New York Times features a story entitled “U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” Meanwhile, on page 8 of the very same edition, David Sanger and William Broad report that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have determined that Iran is now producing large quantities of 20-percent–enriched uranium-235 in a facility located under 250 feet of granite protection. Since commercial reactors require only 3-percent–enriched uranium-235, a factory producing 20-percent–enriched fissile material is clearly part of a nuclear-weapons program.