I keep saying this over and over in this type of thread, but no one seems to pay attention. Well, I’ll say it again.
We get most of our energy from coal, nuclear, and hydro. We do use a lot of oil, but NOT TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY. Honestly, why do people believe this? We’ve proven it hundreds of times, but the OP of this thread just refuses to believe us. The vast majority of coal consumed in the US is produced in the US, the vast majority of hyroelectricity consumed in the US is produced in the US, the vast majority of nuclear power consumed in the US is produced in the US. For electrical generation we ARE economically self-sufficient. There is no electrical generation crisis, we have vast reserves of coal, we could ramp up nuclear power generation if we needed to. Hydro we can’t increase much, but so what?
The problem isn’t electricity, the problem is oil. We don’t use oil to generate electricity.
YES, we use oil to power cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes. Oil is used overwhelmingly for the transportation industry. There’s a finite amount of oil in the ground, right? So we’ll eventually run out, right? Except it won’t happen that we’ll tootle along with our heads in the sand until we pump the last drop of oil and then revert to cannibalism. The price for oil will get higher and higher and higher. Yes, it’s true that on the 1-2 year time scale demand for gasoline is pretty inelastic, people have to get to work no matter what the price of gasoline is, and if you just bought a new H2 you usually can’t resell it and buy a fuel-efficient vehicle without taking a huge loss. So. Can we expect gasoline prices to climb in the future? Sure. What does that mean? Well, the next time people are in the market for a car they’re going to put a premium on fuel-efficiency or alternative fuels. Expect the used car lots 5 years from now to be filled with cheap SUVs. It means the next time people move they’re going to attempt to pick housing closer to their work. It means the next time people change jobs they’re going to attempt to choose a job closer to their house. It means that the next time someone has an opportunity to work from home they’ll consider it more strongly. It means the next time they have an opportunity to carpool they’ll consider it more strongly despite the hassle.
“The Market” isn’t some sort of magic cure, people who talk about “market fundamentalists” don’t get it. The market is just the aggregate of millions of consumer and supplier decisions. If the price of gasoline goes up, in the short term consumers are stuck. In the long term consumers aren’t stuck. In the long run…say over five years consumers can respond to the information that prices provide. High prices will “magically” create…conservation! Except it isn’t magic.
As far as government subsidies for alternative fuels, or government subsidized research into alternative fuels, please no. The absolute best and simplest method for encouraging alternative fuel use is simply to raise taxes on gasoline. Slap a $1.00-$2.00 per gallon tax on gasoline and all sorts of alternative fuels become economical. Rather than the government attempting to pick a winning technology and forcing it down our throats, why not let the collective decisions of hundreds of millions of people guide us?
We don’t need a Manhattan project because there won’t ever be one single alternative to gasoline, there are thousands of alternatives to gasoline. We don’t need to replace our existing gasoline vehicle fleet with an entirely new fleet, only now all powered in some other way. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll have a new transportation solution that’s cheaper than gasoline, that’s the reason we’re using gasoline right now…because it’s cheaper than any other alternative, even at $3.00/gallon. Or look at Europe, where people pay the equivalent of $4.00-$5.00 per gallon due to high gasoline taxes. The only “alternative” fuel in heavy use over there is diesel.