Bridge Fuels and the Perfect Plan

“Bridge fuels” refers to fuels that could be used in the short term until non fossil fuels can be developed for use on a broad scale. Oklahoma, it is now believed, has enough natural gas under the surface to supply the energy needs of the entire United States for at least one hundred years. There are also enormous amounts of natural gas in Colorado and other locations in the country. The oil reserves of the United States are of similar huge dimensions.

Congress and the media will be debating energy plans for some time to come, so energy policy will be a big conversation topic each time people start discussing the economy or the environment. No one person’s plan will prevail. There are too many considerations involved for any one plan to be the perfect plan. There are factors beyond human control such as volcanic activity. The world’s energy needs are of mammoth proportions. But so are the resources.

We should all be able to talk about these matters with some degree of intelligence, shouldn’t we? One easy way to discuss rather than argue these matters would be to suggest a plan of your own. That way everybody has a point of reference that helps to organize the conversation. Of course it also makes you appear to be well read, knowledgeable and thoughtful about current environmental issues. So here is the plan.

o One: drill, drill, drill. This is Boone Pickens’ war cry and he is right!

o Two: go after natural gas with a vengeance and plan on extensive use of natural gas for the next 25 years with all the policy ramification that entails. Why 25 years? Because without long term assurances of a market there would be little incentive to incur the expense of recovering this fuel and modifying the delivery system to get it from under the ground to the consumer.

o Three: use solar panels wherever feasible.

o Four: utilize wind power wherever feasible. Wind power has two severe limitations. First, it can only be created when the wind blows. There is no easy, practical or economical way to store large amounts of electricity generated by wind farms. Use it or lose it. Secondly, the cost of delivering electricity from wind farms to users is affordable only for short distances. Building the towers and lines to get it delivered for more than a few miles becomes cost prohibitive. And, of course, wind farms need to be located far out from population centers.

Five: conservation and carbon reduction. Some obvious strategies for accomplishing this would include the following:

o increase the mileage (fuel efficiency) for cars and trucks

o find ways to stop the cutting down of rain forests

o plant more trees – way more trees.

o reduce the prices by increasing supply. Subsidize the energy industries as needed.

o keep going with the R and D focused on developing affordable alternative non-fossil fuel sources.

Important: energy and economies worldwide are tied together. Cheap and plentiful energy reduces the causes of war, promotes development, diminishes poverty and could help nations become more interdependent. National defense is costly and wasteful. So is health care. Let’s not add energy to that list.