Kicking the Oil Habit

Bush’s energy bill seems pretty fairly useless–the most novel thing to
come of
it is to put new refineries on old military bases. I fail to see how
that’ll make
us more self-reliant for energy needs. Fortunately, this is America, and
so people
can get off their butts and do cool things without Uncle Sam’s
babysitting them.
Here are some:

The Post Gazette has a nice article on homeowners who
are using alternative fuels and the organizations that support them
On the
government front, state
and federal funding gave Allegheny County’s Port Authority four
diesel-hybrid buses.

(Okay, we don’t need Uncle Sam to always do the work for us, but he can
be handy
from time to guess. So much for anarchy.)

Wired has also written on the debut
of diesel hybrid locomotives
. This locomotive is a “goat”,
which is
the railroad slang for a small engine that pushes around cars in
railyards or ports.
This is ideal for hybrid technology, as it’ll involve lots of stops and
the engine. Since ports and railyards tend to be in urban areas, the
reduction in
emissions will be welcome! I hope they can use this technology for
commuter railroads
like Chicago’s
which runs on Amtrak/freight lines; like the goats, they are often
running at low
speeds and need to stop all the time for their passengers.

What will the future bring? I’m optimistic that we’ll see more good
stuff, and this
Economist article on new
allies in the war on oil dependence
makes me even more so.

Comments 9

  1. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Ah, thanks for the enlightenment on the oil refinery bit. Perhaps as a stopgap, it may have uses. (Though we’ll have to get past the NIMBY-factor with the communities surrounding said bases that may not want such a facility nearby.)

    And there’s nothing wrong with working on them. Like it or not, we need the stuff, and even if we don’t burn it in cars, plastics, drugs, and innumerable other chemicals we take for granted are petroleum-based.

    Posted 01 May 2005 at 8:43 pm
  2. Steve N wrote:

    Congratulations Jerry! You made me look up a word: palliate. Problem is when I did, I came away not understanding what you mean 😉 Do you mean “technologies that make our habits less severe”? If so, does that mean: change our habits? or keep our habits the same but less destructive?

    I do agree, this problem (viz., dependence upon fossil fuels for cheap energy) is complex and must be fought on multiple fronts.


    Posted 02 May 2005 at 7:03 pm
  3. Mike wrote:

    I agree with you Eric. George Bush is incapable of leading new initiatives on energy because he’s been entangled in the sticky nets of crude since birth.

    He has the opportunity to make a Kennedyesque Moon-shot challenge to the energy industry… and really revolutionize our society. And, also, kick the terrorists in the junk at the same time.

    Posted 30 Apr 2005 at 11:06 pm
  4. Steve N wrote:

    I’d still like to put a plug in for living closer to where we work, play, worship, and shop, and for pushing local authorities in their zoning decisions to create or preserve this possibility.

    The age of cheap oil will, stop gap measures notwithstanding, eventually end. What then will be done with the unsustainable sprawl? We’ll have suburban blight, I guess.


    Posted 02 May 2005 at 3:52 pm
  5. Jerry wrote:

    I’m all for that as well, Steve, but we must work with what we have, and I welcome technologies that palliate our current habits. With issues this complex we need to attack the problem from multiple fronts.

    Posted 02 May 2005 at 5:51 pm
  6. EmilyE wrote:

    I’m dating a guy who works for an oil refinery (yes, yes, shame on me, but at least I drive a relatively fuel-efficient car ;-)). He says part of the problem with the oil market is that there are fewer oil refineries today (only 149 in the entire U.S.). He claims that if refining capacity were to be added, more crude oil could be refined and prices would go down.

    I’m not sure what to think about that assertion, but I guess Bush believes it as well. It doesn’t really solve the problem of dependence on foreign oil supplies — we’d just process more of the foreign crude.

    Posted 01 May 2005 at 5:56 pm
  7. Steve N wrote:

    Or, even better: working, playing, worshiping, and shopping closer to where we live…

    Posted 02 May 2005 at 3:53 pm
  8. Jerry wrote:

    Steve, what I mean is make them less severe so that we buy ourselves more breathing space for more permanent solutions, such as living closer to work etc. as you rightly pointed out.

    Living closer to work makes a lot of sense, but school systems and crime often blackmail people into living further away. With renewal programs and gentrification making living in cities more sensible, perhaps that may now change, at least in some cities.

    But at least with promoting hybrid technologies now, we are helping to show that green technology leads to more opportunities, not less. Also fostering such tech in our country will help us in exporting it to China, which is a huge potential market that is very interested in hybrids (can you imagine 1B people going for gas-guzzlers? Scary, no?). While Beijing’s pollution record is worse than ours, if nothing else, they at least realize that hybrids will help keep crude oil prices from going through the ceiling, something that even enviro-skeptics can understand (hence why I think the free market is often underappreciated by green activists. While not perfect, it nonetheless can sometimes force people to acknowledge reality by pinching their pocketbooks.)

    Posted 02 May 2005 at 7:55 pm
  9. sibert wrote:

    Why does the fact that he is from an oil family preclude him from having ideas that might be helpful to our energy crisis? It might be useful to have people who know about energy help formulate our new energy policies. It is certainly going to be necessary to have the oil companies on board or at least not actively impeding us as we move forward. The reason is because no matter what we move to, there will have to be a transition, meaning that people who understand the old way of doing things must collaborate with the people who are leading the new way. If you just want to say Bush is an idiot, then say it. If you feel like you are smarter than him and all he wants is to line his own pockets or glory in his own power, please read the Repost: Mirror of Sin.

    Posted 01 May 2005 at 12:38 am

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