Monday, April 25, 2005



Former CIA director James Woolsey knows a thing or two about national security. According to Woolsey, the biggest threat to American security is not Al Quida and terrorism, or North Korea, or Iran. The biggest threat to America and our way of life is the looming oil crisis. In an appearance on the Diane Rehm Show this week, he blasted the Bush administration and Congress for their inaction!

Here are the facts. With demand for oil booming in the rapidly growing economies of India, China, and Indonesia, most oil producing countries are producing near or at capacity. Even if oil producing countries had an incentive to build new capacity, which, given high and rising oil prices, they don't, it would take a decade to boost capacity enough to meet demand. Given tight supplies, any major disruption in the supply chain (break in major pipeline, refinery shut down or fire, etc.) would send prices through the roof. This in turn would have a huge effect on everything dependent on oil. Not only the price of fuel, but plastic, herbicides and pesticides, electricity, pharmaceuticals, virtually everything we in modern society depend on.

Add to that the fact that a major terrorist attack on the oil producing facilities in Saudi Arabia would cripple not only our economy, but the worlds. If, for example, someone flew a plane into the cooling towers at the Saudi's major oil facility, world oil production would immediately fall by thirty percent, with a minimum of 6 mos. to get the oil flowing again.

Yet, in spite of the obvious dangers, the Bush administration has done virtually nothing to decrease our dependance on oil. The proposal to drill in Anwar may be a windfall to a couple of oil companies, but will do virtually nothing to decrease our dependance on foreign oil. After all, the US accounts for only about 3% of the worlds oil preserves. We cannot possibly produce our way out of this crisis.

There are steps that could immediately be taken to drastically reduce our dependance on foreign oil. What's more, they depend not on some Manhattan Project on energy, but on technology already in current use. For example:

Hybrid cars. Automobiles use 70% of the petroleum consumed by the transportation industry. Hybrid auto's currently get approximately double the milage of conventional autos. And this milage can be further greatly increased by simple aftermarket plug in kits already available and in wide use on the west coast. By plugging your hybrid into your garage outlet at night (when electricity is in least demand and cheapest) to recharge the batteries, 150 mph around town is easily achievable.

Ethanol. Ethanol is easily manufactured not only from grain, but from prairie grass, cornstalks, recycled newsprint, household garbage, virtually anything containing cellulose. Hybrid cars can, with simple fuel line and computer chip modifications, run on 85% ethanol. If you run a hybrid car on 85% ethanol, you effectively boost your miles per gallon of gasoline to 300-400.

Woolsey has a number of specific recommendations that would immediately begin to drastically reduce our dependance on foreign oil. They include:

The government should offer tax inducements to encourage the auto industry to produce hybrid autos. And it should offer tax incentives to make hybrids (which generally cost $2,000 to 3,000 more than a conventional car) more desirable to consumers.

The government should implement a program to encourage the building of ethanol manufacturing plants, especially those that produce alcohol from cellulose sources such as cornstalks, newsprint, etc.

The government should immediately take steps to protect arable land from urban sprawl. Grain, grasses, and other farm products will become increasingly more vital in our energy future. Yet we continue to consume vast amounts of arable land to build strip malls and subdivisions of overly large, energy inefficient homes. As people move farther and farther out from our urban areas, commutes get longer and longer, consuming even more petroleum and exacerbating the fuel crisis. The government should take immediate steps to end urban sprawl and protect our remaining farm land and forests.

Last, we need nothing short of a Manhattan Project on energy. We must develop all available resources in an environmentally friendly manner!

The Bush administration has make a big show of it's supposed tough national security stance. The time has come for them to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. Petroleum is the real national security threat. We cannot seize it through force of arms, because we are incapable of defeating China and India in a war on the Asian continent. We must begin to conserve, and to develop new energy sources. And if the nation is to be truly secure, we must start NOW!

Get a glimpse of the future HERE

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