Sunday, December 23, 2007

Energy: On the Path to Energy Independence

As we see Congress flail around attempting to develop some sort of coherent energy policy, kowtowing to environmentalists one moment and succumbing to corporate welfare the next, Robert Zubrin, in his book Energy Victory has a very simple, inexpensive idea that seems to make sense to me (I haven't yet read the book). Clifford May at NRO outlines the idea:

Right now, 97 percent of the cars on America's roads run on gasoline. Only three percent are Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) — automobiles that can be powered by either gasoline or alcohol fuels, or any mixture of the two. The additional cost to make a new car an FFV is only about $100 per vehicle

For the sake of individual security, the government mandates that all cars have seat belts. For the sake of national security, Dr. Zubrin proposes, the government should mandate that all new cars be FFVs.

In three years, the change would put 50 million FFVs on the road. The free market would then mobilize to do what it does best: Entrepreneurs would compete to produce alternative, non-petroleum fuels for these potential customers.
I've said before that I think that an energy policy is a federal matter and federal mandates, though not popular in my book, seem to be practical in this case...
But mandates are required to solve the chicken-and-egg dilemma. Dr. Zubrin writes: “Filling stations don't want to dedicate space to a fuel mix used by only three percent of all cars and consumers are not interested in buying vehicles for which the preferred fuel mix is extremely difficult to find.” This is one of those very rare problems that actually can be solved just by passing a law. Build the cars. The non-petroleum fuels will come.
The simple fact is that until we change our consumption habits, we will continue to finance those that proclaim "death to America!"-- and this will have a much greater impact than the silly outlawing of my wonderful 100w Reveal light bulbs.

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