News Stories

How the U.S. Can Run Without Oil

Whitley and Anne Strieber were shocked to discover recentlythat it cost $40 to fill the gas tank of their small car. Itused to cost half that much. It's clear that the U.S. needsto stop relying on foreign oil, but how can we do it?

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has a plan. Together withthe Pentagon, they have issued a plan for making the UnitedStates oil-free. They believe that U.S. business canincrease profits by using modern technologies that do notrely on oil. How to do this? We need to use the oil we douse more efficiently and substitute biofuels, natural gasand wind and solar power for the rest of our oil use.

Unlike similar proposals made in the past, this one has achance of succeeding because instead of being proposed byenvironmentalists, it's been put out by big business and thegovernment. The Pentagon is the world's largest buyer of oil.

The RMI report ?Winning the Oil Endgame? shows that by 2015,we can save more oil than we now buy from the Persian Gulf.By the end of 2025, we can have used less oil than in we didin 1970, by 2040 we can import no oil, and by 2050, we canuse no oil at all. This will save the U.S. around seventybillion dollars a year, putting an end to our deficit injust a few years.

The RMI study targets cars and light trucks (SUVs, pickups,and vans), which will use up almost half of the oilavailable to us in 2005. If cars were built with ultralightmaterials like carbon-fiber, their weight would be cut inhalf, and gas mileage could rise to 85 mpg. Most people whobuy heavy SUVs do so because they're concerned about safety,but carbon-fiber cars would be just as crash-proof, and evena larger sedan or a SUV built from carbon-fiber could get 66mpg.

Besides using more efficient, lighter weight vehicles, newbuildings, and factories need to retool so they can run onbiofuels. Cellulosic biofuels, which are based on woodrather than corn, are the wave of the future, meaning manymore trees will need to be planted. This could also helpclear pollution from the air, since trees absorb CO2,although it's been discovered that young trees actually puta greater amount of CO2 into the air than they absorb. Europeancountries already produce a large amount of biodiesel fuel.

Blackouts and brownouts that have occurred in recent years,as well as soaring electricity costs, have shown us howimportant it is to become more efficient when it comes toelectricity use. During peak hours, most electricalproduction is fueled by natural gas. While natural gas isnot as expensive as oil, and some of it is still produced inthe U.S., gas is not a viable long term solution for ourenergy needs, any more than oil is. Burning natural gasemits greenhouse gases, plus there is a limited amountavailable, since it is also a fossil fuel. Auto manufacturers need to give customers rebates as anincentive for them to buy smaller, more fuel efficientautomobiles. Instead, the exaxt opposite has been done: TheBush administration recently gave a huge tax deduction tosmall business owners who purchased large SUVs over acertain weight and size. This was probably done so thatdealers could clear their lots of these vehicles, since thegovernment knew that oil prices were about to soar, but itdidn?t help conserve precious oil. Hybrid cars, like theToyota Prius, are now in such great demand that dealers arecharging a premium for them, which makes them unaffordablefor many customers.

Becoming freed from reliance on foreign oil is especiallyimportant during this age of Islamic terrorism, since mostoil comes from Arab countries.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

Instead of driving cars, maybe we need to learn to travel inour dreams, on agiganticred-tailed hawk. Find out how to do it when Anne Strieberinterviews Robert Moss on this week?sMysteriousPowers!

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