Thursday, March 24, 2011

Letter to Obama on fuel standards and reducing our dependency on oil.

These are my embellishments to a form letter written by Union of Concerned Scientists Action Center to be sent to Obama at a click of a button.  You are always supposed to customize them so they hopefully get more attention.  The 3rd and 4th paragraphs are theirs.

More than 20 years ago, I took a photo of graffiti on a wall in Spain that said basically, 'Americans are vampires of petroleum.'  And we've gotten even worse since then. 

I also recently saw an issue of Popular Mechanics from the '50s. The cover story was about the best cars with the best mileage. The artwork involved a graph showing the models and their mpg.  And guess what?  It was about the same as today!  There's been no improvement in 60 years!.  We've used the internal combustion engine for over 100 years with little innovation.

We cannot be held hostage any longer to America's addiction to oil. When we talk about the high price of gasoline, today's gas prices are the most visible, but certainly not the only price we pay. We pay in pollution. We pay in endangering our security. We pay in falling behind in the jobs that can come from a clean energy economy.

You have the ability to empower U.S. industry and U.S. drivers to be the solution to this problem once and for all. Raising fuel efficiency and global warming emissions standards to the equivalent of 60 mpg by model year 2025 would save the average U.S. driver nearly $9,000 over the life of the vehicle at $4 gas prices, even after paying for cleaner car technology. That's like cutting the gas price from $4 to less than $2.75 a gallon, all while cutting global warming emissions and creating jobs right here in the United States! 

Personally, I don't mind the higher gas prices. It's seems to be the only way to get Americans to conserve or change their lifestyles. I know it will be painful in the short term, but the changes we have to make will be amongst the best things that ever happened to the planet. 

A few additional details that need to be addressed:

-We need better home building methods (which exist but builders keep building things the same old way), solar and wind turbines on our roof tops, more walkable cities, and more fuel efficient transportation methods.

-Why didn't you make the automakers convert factories to produce mass transit equipment rather than close them down as part of the bailout?  We have to buy these things from overseas.  Manufacturing needs to be more local. Perhaps the government can help interested businesses purchase these factories by guaranteeing them the contracts for the equipment?

-Also, why do we not require methane gas to be captured to keep it out of the atmosphere and to be used as fuel.  They just vent it into the atmosphere where it's the worst of the greenhouse gases at coal mines, oil and gas wells, land fills, etc.  Why are we so wasteful? In other countries, they have generators that produce electricity directly from this. It could be used to power equipment at the mine, well, landfill or neighborhoods that surround the landfill. 

Along that note, any nuclear power plant should have a turbine that keeps turning producing power to circulate cooling water and run equipment as long as there is heat coming from the reactor.  Simple solution to what has happened in Japan.
-Please stop subsidizing corn! For any purpose, but especially for ethanol! It is a low yield per acre crop that requires tons of harmful fertilizer.  It wastes more energy to grow and produce the ethanol than we get from the ethanol.  And the products they make from it are bad for our health. It's also a lousy food for livestock.  It makes them unhealthy.    Instead subsidize small farmers that grow  vegetables and humanely raise livestock for sale locally.

Invest in the future. Oil and gas, is not the future.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why isn't a turbine turning to provide power to pump the water in the reactors?

Another example of how we ignore simple solutions and waste available energy.

So, they build these plants to produce electricity, but then they have diesel and batteries for backup power? If it's producing heat, it's producing steam, which means it can turn a turbine. Even with the reactor shut down, as long as there's heat, there should always be a turbine turning to provide the energy to pump the water and run equipment. Why would you do anything else? This way there would always power to operate the plant in an emergency.

This is worse than the coal mines just venting out the methane from the mines rather than capturing it or using it to power equipment in the mine, because it could prevent a disaster.