Thursday, May 05, 2005

Energy thoughts - fossil fuel rut

State politics in Washington are messed up. Whatever your party affiliation, politics here are ugly. With her term in office looking as if it will be severely shortened, the currently installed governor has used her majority in Olympia to do an endrun around voters. Voters passed checks on governmental spending thru I-601. This got evicerated. The much hated gas tax (oh no we'll never do that!) and various "sin" taxes have gotten approval from Olympia.

As I was driving my 10 year old economy sedan, half listening to a local radio personality waxing irate over the gas tax, I was contemplating the need for a mini van. Three children under 5 and a dog. This is what it has taken to get me to contemplate a larger vehicle. It will not get the gas milage that my sedan does. With gas prices nearer to 3 dollars a gallon than 2 dollars (oh for the days when they were lass than 2 bucks!) fuel efficiency is a must.

My thoughts bounced to hybrids which in turn led it to alternative fuels. Why are we stuck in a fossil fuel rut? There are good alternatives out there, bio-diesels for instance. What would it take to skip out of the rut? I think 3 things, or rather one thing with three components working in concert. A car manufacturer, a fuel refinery, and an energy company working in concert to bring a widely available alternative to the American people.

Americans love to drive. What driver goes on a trip not knowing if they can buy gas for the trip home? You are not going to buy a car that runs on turkey gas if you can't get turkey gas at the station around the corner from mom's house 3 states away. Car manufacturers couldn't sell cars running on turkey gas, if gas stations don't sell turkey gas. Gas stations don't sell turkey gas if no one is making it and people will not buy it. People will not buy it if thier vehicles don't use it, a tight little circle that keeps us in the fossil fuel rut.

I feel certain that if the US can break the fossil fuel rut, other nations will follow our lead. Why? US industry can support the financial investment the leap will take. US consumers area huge market that loves cars, big cars, multiple cars. US celebreties (like it or not) influence buying trends, get Oprah on the turkey gas bandwagon and sales will go thru the roof. (if Oprah does a bio-fuel car giveaway I think I should get one -ed) So to any economic big brains out there - how do we make this happen?

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