"We have met the enemy, and it are us"

“We have met the enemy, and it are us”

About the headline, Walt Kelly’s comic strip character, Pogo, used this expression to suggest that we are our own worst enemies. Walt Kelly was a great political satirist and was deadly accurate.The United States is still one of the few developed nations without a national energy policy.

When several people are killed by a runaway freight train in Canada, who is to blame? Some people say Big Oil, of course. However, the Irving Oil Co. in Canada, which was shipping oil on a train that had an accident, has nothing to do with crude oil distribution or Big Oil. The fact is that the amount of oil shipped by rail is up 256% since 2011. That seems odd since, in my opinion, both truck and rail movement of crude oil is more expensive, more polluting than pipelines.

It seems that the federal government would prefer to have crude oil shipped by rail rather than approve pipelines such as the Keystone XL. Our government has conducted study after study, and the Keystone XL still isn’t approved because of interference from those who do not have in-depth technical knowledge of crude oil transportation.
I think this is ludicrous! We’re letting the less informed dictate U.S. energy issues because we have no coherent national energy policy.

So, Pogo’s statement that the enemy “are us” is very appropriate.
Environmental activists also want to reduce CO2 emissions from electrical power generators because they currently produce approximately half our nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is commendable. Approximately half of our states have already created a patchwork of emissions standards for power plants because no federal standards currently exist. Where is our national energy policy? What’s next—PCV valves for cattle?

The amount of electricity generated from renewable sources approximately doubled during the current administration, so the administration is now targeting a further doubling of renewable fuels usage by 2020. This is akin to a surfer trying to “catch the big wave.” Coal-burning power plants, the worst GHG offenders, are rapidly being converted to natural gas. However, I suspect this has more to do with economics than air quality. A Presidential Memorandum has little or no effect.

For recently designed and constructed power plants, the cost of generating electricity using various energy sources is shown in the chart on this page.

One can easily see from these figures why power plants are converting to natural gas. Wind also would be an acceptable alternative if it weren’t so weather dependent and the electricity generated could be easily stored.

Without a major technical storage breakthrough, solar will not be a player, yet our government has wasted billions supporting solar power R&D. Again, this is because we don’t have a national energy policy developed by business people and scientists. Instead, we have let uninformed, emotional activists and politicians determine our national energy expenditures.

I’m so outraged that I’m willing to host an energy policy summit meeting at my house to develop a reasonable national policy! Hurry, we’ve already wasted billions!

In the meantime, truckers need to stick with diesel and natural gas (probably LNG) for their long-haul operations. These are the most economic and sustainable options for the foreseeable future.
P&D operators should investigate natural gas and hybrids and test to determine what works best for them. Since corn-based ethanol causes increased pollution and reduces fuel economy, I advocate to minimize its use.

I’ve also observed a recent increase in fuel system maintenance costs in older vehicles, because alcohols absorb water, which corrodes fuel system components.

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