Friday, July 07, 2006

The Road to Independence

Here is a guest editorial from a plug in partner city that appeared in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

The Road to Independence
Sunday, July 2, 2006
Guest Columnist

An economic earthquake is poised to shake the globe. By preparing now for a future of scarce world oil supplies, we can build an economy with a more resilient foundation for jobs and prosperity.

As economics guru Alan Greenspan recently told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "Even before the devastating hurricanes of last summer, world oil markets had been subject to a degree of strain not experienced for a generation. Today ... the buffer between supply and demand is much too small to absorb shutdowns of even a small part of the world's oil demand."

The American economy is like a car without shock absorbers. The next hurricane that slams into the Gulf Coast could send prices up at the pump again. But the next car bomb that successfully explodes at a major Saudi oil facility could send fuel pump prices above $5 or $6 per gallon.

A doubling of oil prices from such a shock could cause a 2 percent to 5 percent slump in GDP, for one of the worst recessions since World War II.

While U.S. energy policy has seemed like a deer petrified in the headlights of oncoming calamity, leaders spanning the spectrum are moving serious proposals for greater energy self-reliance.

Just as President Kennedy challenged our nation to land on the moon within a decade, citizens across the country -- trade unionists, farmers, security hawks, entrepreneurs, and state and local officials -- are by word and deed challenging our nation to implement a new Apollo Project -- to achieve clean energy independence within a decade.


There is more, however, that we in Washington state can do to help reduce oil use by a transportation system 97 percent dependent on oil. In so doing, we can help lead America toward clean energy independence that protects our economy, our environment and our security.


Outcompeted by gasoline in the early days of the car, electricity is returning in the form of gasoline-electric hybrids that significantly reduce fuel use. The next stage is the plug-in hybrid charged not only by car systems but also by standard wall sockets.

Because plug-ins run on electric charge longer than most people drive daily, liquid fuel use could drop as much as 85 percent. A Prius converted by the CalCars group gets more than 100 mpg of petroleum. A flex fuel plug-in car could be nearly oil free.

Plug-In Partners is a national grass-roots initiative working to demonstrate to automakers a market for flex fuel plug-ins exists.

Plug-ins could make a big dent in global warming pollution. A UC Berkeley study shows 1,000 megawatts used to charge plug-in hybrids will displace 770 million gasoline gallons yearly. Since plug-ins would be charged at night during off peak hours, they would use electricity that is otherwise wasted.

Plug-ins could be virtually carbon free if Washington develops its significant undeveloped renewable power and energy efficiency resources. Passage of I-937, the Clean Energy Initiative, this fall would help ensure that Washington taps its clean power potential.

A State Plug-In Hybrid Task Force could help advance demonstration projects and identify opportunities for state businesses in plug-in manufacture. Significant oil reductions can also be made by electrifying truck stops, and running port cranes and docked ships on electricity, which is being done at our ports.

Now we are called to secure our independence from politically unstable regions and oil companies with a long record of resistance to alternatives. Disruptive oil shocks are barreling down on us.

We will either hang economically as individuals or join in a bold agenda to replace petroleum fuels." (more)

We think the latter is a better plan.

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