My Turn: 75 miles per gallon is here

By From page A4 | August 28, 2013

And climate change is here too, it always has been with or without man’s contribution of CO2 if you think about it. Nothing is static in nature and complaining about change … is just static. However, whether good or evil, recent increases in CO2 are evident and since we don’t have a crystal ball there is no need to willy-nilly create excess CO2. But we don’t need to crush our prosperity with climate mania and overregulation either.

The great paradox our administration has saddled and continues to ride is doing most anything and everything to handcuff fossil fuel development here in the U.S., ignoring the fact that natural gas is the silver bullet. It’s the perfect successor to crude oil with its sulphur and blending problems, and coal, which produces twice the CO2 per BTU than natural gas. We need to expand existing natural gastechnology revolutionizing our transportation system and electrical generation for a clean and economic healthy future. These are the largest producers of CO2 emissions in the U.S. since industry and manufacturing have been chased off shore to places like India and China.

Herein lies the greatest paradox of all. By displacing our manufacturing and industry mostly to China, giving them the pollution problems we no longer have to look at and breathe, we have given away the strength of our national economy in manufacturing jobs and industrial leadership while at the same time added staggering new levels of worldwide CO2. We have clean energy now, more available than our wildest imaginations might conceive, yet enviro-zealots in this country are still willing to have China do our bidding using astronomical amounts of the world’s dirties fossil fuel. Asia now consumes more coal than the rest of the world combined.

About one half of all added atmospheric CO2 since the mid 1800s is a result of burning coal. Why hasn’t Congress taken the reins and started issuing permits for NG production on federal land? Who is kidding who? The Department of Energy could have had us well on our way to energy independence and tremendous new export markets with a booming economic revival years ago.

The EPA should be hysterical over the potential to cut a monster carbon footprint in half by promoting development of NG production across the nation. Instead of issuing new permits to grow exports of coal to Asia, they should be issuing those permits to export LNG to the same customers (six miles of coal-filled railroad cars arrive at three west-coast ports headed for China every day). Domestic production and export of natural gas (liquefied natural gas and compressed natural gas) is not just the answer to significantly reducing CO2, but it’s the vehicle to get this country back in the black.

So why the straightjacket on our natural gas production? It’s about keeping fuel tax revenues in place that strengthen federal hegemony. And it’s about manipulating the bulwark of environmental regulation for political security, keeping the wool over the public eye with inflated concerns over fracking impacts, etc. But advancing the image of greener is not working.

Think about this, why are diesel Land Rovers that get 33 mpg sold world wide except in the U.S. where you can only buy the gasoline version at 12 mpg? Why are Peugeot electric/diesel hybrids that get 100 mpg, the Peugeot 306 CDI at 64 mpg and the Volkswagen Blutek Polo at 74 mpg not legal in the U.S.? Ford makes a diesel version of the Ranger light truck and the Escape right here in the U.S., but only for export. Why? Because it would mean a big loss in fuel taxes.

An average of all American built cars today gets 21 mpg. Nearly a century ago the model T ford got … 21 mpg. How is it possible a devolved democratic nation that sends men to the moon and puts a cell phone in every pocket can’t wean itself off gasoline? The answer is our entire legislative system, “our representatives” have become representatives for big oil. It no longer is a democracy as we knew it.

Our government, the ruling elite wedded to revenues, only supports environmental responsibility for money. If they really cared about our environment, they would unlock the potential of natural gas, and eventually allow a fuel cell economy to blossom with zero CO2 emissions leaving fossil fuels to fall out in a free market. Wouldn’t it be sweet to have a plug-in electric/natural gas hybrid that got 75 mpg at $1.50 per gallon equivalent?

Only your legislators and regulators are to blame; industry is ready and so are we. The NRA has vigorously protected our Second Amendment from legislators, maybe an NRG (energy) organization can do the same for a new energy policy with modern transportation at significantly less cost to us … and the environment.

Rod Kerr is retired with 30 years of service at the California Department of Food Agriculture and with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Rod Kerr

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