Energizing America V [UPDATED: Full draft now available]

Energize America - Achieving U.S. Energy Security by 2020 - Executive Summary - Crossposted from Daily Kos.

Update [2006-5-18 13:3:41 by Super G]: The full Energize America draft is now up at Daily Kos. We're also mirroring the PDF version.

In the next few days, we are going to roll out the new draft of the Energize America plan, and we count on you to help us improve this plan even further before it is unveiled formally during the energy panel at YearlyKos in Las Vegas on June 9.

Today, I am posting the Executive Summary of Draft Five and the list of the 20 Acts included in Energize America which give it its comprehensive and coherent character (we hope). The full plan will be posted tomorrow morning on DailyKos.

In the spirit of this endeavor, I ask that you comment and criticize this Executive Summary. As it is likely to be the first (and in many case, the only) document that most people will see, it needs to be compelling and convincing, and we count on your help to improve it further. So fire away with your comments, ideally with suggestions in complement to whatever criticism you may have.

Draft Five was prepared by George Karayannis (DoolittleSothere), with the help of the full Energize America team. Full credits will be given tomorrow.

Energize America - Achieving U.S. Energy Security by 2020 - Executive Summary


To provide the U.S. with Energy Security by 2020 and Energy Independence by 2040 by: 1) reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75%, 2) reducing oil imports by 50%, 3) generating 25% of electricity from renewable sources, and 4) creating or preserving over three million new jobs by 2020.


America remains dangerously and increasingly addicted to fossil fuels, which directly threatens national security, economic stability and the overall quality of American life. In addition to remaining critically dependent upon imported oil to meet transportation needs, America remains highly dependent upon domestic coal to meet its needs for electricity. The rapidly growing use of both of these fossil fuels generates enormous amounts of GHGs, which become trapped in the earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming and its associated extreme weather events and sea level changes.

Interruptions to oil, gas or coal supplies by natural or man-made events can cause significant and prolonged economic pain and social turmoil with little or no warning.

America once led the world in both automotive and renewable energy engineering, but has seen this lead vanish to foreign competitors along with well over a million manufacturing jobs.

Energize America is a grassroots effort created and refined by informed citizen activists, and not by lobbyists or politicians. As such, it takes an unvarnished and objective look at U.S. energy policy with the single goal of achieving U.S. energy security by 2020, defined as the ability to withstand a prolonged supply interruption, and U.S. energy independence by 2040, defined as energy self-sufficiency.

Energize America provides an ambitious but achievable 20-point plan to wean America from its fossil fuel addiction, to dramatically and responsibly reduce GHG emissions, to rebuild America's manufacturing base, and to insulate the American economy from the effects of political turmoil, natural catastrophes and shrinking oil supplies worldwide.

Energize America strongly favors a free market-based approach to solving our energy dilemma, though the plan is clearly guided by a strategic vision of a sustainable energy future and a public-private partnership model based on the highly-successful Apollo lunar program.

Energize America will leverage the incredible power and innovation of American industry to research, develop and commercialize energy efficiency technologies that will provide significant and continuous improvements to American consumers, and will help focus and unleash this creativity through clear and consistent policies and substantial long-term tax and regulatory incentives.

Energize America aims to create a level playing field for all energy providers, consumers and technologies. For renewable energy sources, this will mean subsidizing the development and deployment of wind, solar, biomass and other solutions. These investments will help these clean and local sources of energy compete more effectively with fossil fuels, which have benefited from decades of direct subsidies and other benefits. Figure 2 below highlights one example of the historical disparity in federal financial support for nuclear and wind power - with nuclear power enjoying nearly 40 times the financial assistance of wind over an initial 15 year development period while delivering only slightly more gross electricity production.


Energize America will transform American society - from the way we generate and use energy, to the way we design and drive vehicles, to the way we think about energy efficiency and conservation, to the way we deal with foreign governments. In short, Energize America will create an energy-aware culture that treats energy as a strategic and vital economic resource, and which leads the world in the design and manufacture of renewable energy systems and energy efficient products.

Energize America will:

  • enable Americans to soon drive vehicles that are far safer, cleaner, and dramatically more fuel-efficient than today's vehicles,
  • maximize energy efficiency in homes and businesses,
  • strengthen the U.S. industrial base,
  • ensure that the United States leads the world in the benefits of clean coal, in the design, manufacture and export of renewable energy systems, and in the reduction of GHGs,
  • save taxpayers money by lowering the cost of operating federal, state and local governments,
  • save the US economy billions of dollars per year through reduced medical and other costs associated with global warming and pollution.

Most importantly, Energize America will ensure that all Americans can enjoy continued access to safe, reliable and affordable energy.

In sum, Energize America will save Americans trillions of dollars in energy costs and reduce GHG emissions 75% by 2020, and make energy independence by 2040 attainable.

Benefit Examples

Homeowners - will save money from:

  1. highly energy efficient dwellings,
  2. an ability to directly control energy costs,
  3. greater energy provider choice, and
  4. the ability to generate some or all of their own electricity needs.

Businesses - will benefit from:

  1. energy-optimized buildings and factories,
  2. increased control over energy costs
  3. greater ability to generate some or all of their energy needs, and
  4. access to new markets for energy-efficient products and services

US Automakers - will profit from:

  1. access to a ready market for ultra fuel efficient vehicles
  2. the creation and retention of over 1 million auto manufacturing jobs
  3. a rare opportunity to regain a competitive edge globally

Communities - will gain from:

  1. energy availability in the event of an unplanned, large-scale power failure
  2. energy solutions matched to local needs and resources
  3. new jobs from renewable energies, particularly for rural and remote communities
  4. enhanced ability to attract and retain new residents and businesses

Environment - will benefit from:

  1. stabilized GHG levels
  2. the protection of natural resources and designated ecosystems

Energize America will undoubtedly be attacked by special interests -- namely the fossil fuel lobbies that will resist its aggressive migration to renewable energy sources. In addition, those who do not agree that global warming poses a growing threat may challenge its GHG emissions goals. Energize America will not please everyone, but it is designed with all Americans, and all future generations, in mind. Following is a summary of Energize America's position relative to existing energy sources.


Energize America is driven by the reality of 'Peak Oil', the fact our planet is reaching or has reached an irreversible period of shrinking oil production- which is compounded by rapidly growing demand worldwide. Tar sands and other oil sources can provide some stop-gap relief from Peak Oil but cannot fully replace increasingly expensive and rare oil. Energize America aims to make the U.S. functionally free from imported oil by 2040 for national security, economic, and environmental reasons.


America enjoys the largest coal reserves in the world, which is both a blessing and a curse. Coal can meet our long-term needs for electricity and can also be liquefied into oil for transportation. However, the mining of coal can be devastating to the environment if not done carefully, and the burning of coal can release significant amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere if not done responsibly. Energize America aims to minimize the environmental and GHG impact of coal use.


Nuclear power is experiencing a political resurgence of sorts, and several new plants are in various stages of planning. However, the nuclear industry enjoys huge subsidies that shield the industry from nuclear disaster liability. The nuclear industry and our government have also failed for decades to solve the nuclear waste problem. These issues must be addressed before nuclear power is more widely used.


Energize America will require an investment of approximately $250 billion through 2020, or roughly $20 billion per year - a strategic investment that will provide substantial returns immediately and for generations to come. Included in Act XX is a balanced funding strategy to achieve U.S. energy security.

Energize America Acts

The following Acts are detailed in the full version of the plan (to be posted tomorrow):

  1. The Passenger Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Act ("500mpg cars")
  2. The Transportation Industry Efficiency Act ("Long Haul")
  3. The Fleets Conversion Act ("Mass Transit")
  4. The Community-Based Energy Investment Act ("Neighborood Power")
  5. The Passenger Rail Restoration Act ("Bullet Trains")
  6. The Clean Coal Generation Act ("Clean Coal")
  7. The Wind Energy Production Tax Credit Act ("Reap the Wind")
  8. The 20 Million Solar Roof Act ("Harness the Sun")
  9. The Renewable Portfolio Standards Act ("Fair Everywhere")
  10. The Federal Net Metering Act ("Get on the Grid")
  11. The State-Based Renewable Energy Investment Act ("Green States")
  12. The New Energy Technology Demonstration Act ("Liquid Coal and Golden Glow")
  13. The Sustainable Energy Economic Prosperity Act ("Focused for Lasting Success")
  14. The Carbon Reduction Act ("Atmosphere Stability")
  15. The Federal Energy Policy Enforcement Act ("People's Energy Watchdog")
  16. The National Energy Efficiency & Conservation Act ("EnergySMART")
  17. The Home Efficiency Act ("C the Light")
  18. The Demand Side Management Act ("Real Time Energy Pricing")
  19. The Telecommuter Assistance Act ("Work Smart")
  20. The Energy Security Funding Act ("Paying the Piper")

Now, all we need is another Depression or Space Race to supply the unanimous twenty-year political will to do it.
Could not agree more.  Good ideas that will most probably work abound, here and on other sites.  What's missing is the will to at least begin.  In absence of such, I must reluctantly conclude that change will not occur until we drive ourselves merrily off the cliff, and not one minute before. Don't get me wrong--I admire those who tilt at windmills. But all evidence points to Kunstler being exactly correct about Americans: we are a wicked people who deserve to be punished.
"Americans... ...are a wicked people who deserve to be punished."

I would guess that 75% of peak oilers believe this and close to 100% of the peak oil doom mongers do. My impression is that a large portion of the posters here are just rebranded anti-Americans, anti-capitalists or end-of-the-worlders.

There is nothing wrong with believing whatever you want, but don't act so surprised when the people you try to pursuade don't buy into your "doom is coming and you deserve it" fantasies.

I accept the general peak oil theory, but have to laugh when so many posters ask "Why does nobody listen when I talk about peak oil?"

The answer many times is that it is because you are not talking about peak oil, you are trying to get people to believe in your own doom obsession, and have just stolen the peak oil concept as a way to "prove it".

  You hit the nail on the head.
Thanks. I stopped commenting here about two months ago because I became demoralized by the doom porn obsession that seems to have taken over. I'm glad I'm not alone.
You are definitely not alone. It is good to see you back. Many of us have missed your sane commentary.
It's Yin/Yang Jack. A "doom porn obsession" is the perfect reaction to the reality of happy-talk-news main stream media.

There is no one magic quick fix solution.  Energize America's twenty point approach is excellent. All our activity may or may not be enough to avoid catastrophe. If people want to know about energy, they can find out and maybe make their own estimations (including doom).

I would be perfectly happy if we manage to muddle our way through this challenge. I keep investing.

Yes, I agree. Although I would have used the word "counterpart" rather than reaction. I don't know which came first, only that they are symetric extremes, neither one better or worse than the other. Yin/Yang is the right analogy.
One of my problems with having a positive outlook is reading the local and national papers to get a feel on how society is behaving. If everyone were like you and the majority of TODers i.e. fairly well educated, willing to make a small or large sacrifice for the common good, conserve energy etc then I would be far more positive about the overall outcome. Unfortunately, you only have to read the local papers about how many hooligans and street thugs there are around.

Americans might not realise this, but this is World Cup year and unfortunately for the Germans, England is in it. England has a bad reputation when it comes to fan violence and drunkenness. About one mile to the north of my local town, is an area of pubs where football "fans" drink and watch England play in international competitions in the pubs. Afterwards, whomever wins, the fans fight amongst themselves and anybody else in the area and smash up property either to celebrate England winning or England losing - it doesn't seem to make a difference. This is very common all over England. Scotland and Wales's fans are very much better behaved than the English savages sorry "fans"- I can't think of a better description at the moment. It is this type of person (unfortunately very common in England) that makes me feel that things will be worse than they really need to. If they can't cope with dealing with a football match, how the hell will they cope with someone telling them to cut back a little on driving or not driving at all?

England is becoming quite a savage society nowadays and this is when England is fairly rich and well off compared to most countries. When TSHTF, how bad will things then get? These savages/people are far more likely to respond violently to any polite request to conserve or cut down on usage.

Schools are now just beginning to install metal detectors for knives etc. It is only one or two schools on a temporary basis for a day at the moment, but in a few years time, my guess is more and more schools will have them and for longer temporary periods. I guess Americans used to New York schools would say it has been standard policy over in the US for a decade or two now, but as America leads, so Britain follows.

Psychologists have shown that people invariably overestimate how dangerous the world outside is, often by a factor of 10 or more - this is almost entirely due to the bias towards bad news in the mainstream media.

I'm with Jack on this one - optimisim is the only rational way forward, anything else is just wasted mental energy.

As I have driven through "fans" celebrating England winning as they swarmed all over the streets and seen the results to the shops the morning afterwards in my home town, I am afraid I don't believe you. To say all English fans behave like this is not true, but for a significant minority it is. England has a short history of drinking to excess and violent behaviour. You only have to read reports from the 17th century onwards and see Hoggarth's Gin Lane to realise the English are only carrying on its traditions. Drunk for 1d and dead drunk for 2d used to be the on signs outside grog shops as whole families marched into them to get their money's worth.

What has not been reported in the local press is behaviour near the main post office. Old age pensioners draw their money out; someone watches them leave the Post Office and then mugs the old lady in an underpass or down a side street where nobody is around. This is only very local knowledge to the police and surrounding shops and shop workers. Not many people know about this. Also there is the amount of thievery going on in stealing purses and wallets. The thief then goes into one of several clothes shops and puts the emptied purse/wallet into a coat for sale. Shop assistants find about 5 purses/wallets per week per shop as people buy the coat and discover the purse/wallet at the payout counter. This is only known to shop workers, the general public knows very little about it. I only know because I talk a lot to a couple of shop assistants about our football teams. So I would say media reporting of crime is greatly under reported. Murders obviously make big news and are fairly rare, but general crime is extremely common in England.

Well, it's hard enough to get people to accept the concept of peak oil in the first place; I'm sure that adding in Kunstler without his admittedly extensive context in which he postulates this would just turn people off faster.  But you are correct, I suppose, that that particular quote is more cultural criticism (Americans have squandered our cheap energy, expect something for nothing, refuse to give up our precious right to drive, etc.) than it pertains to peak oil, although it is our absolute refusal to even consider this idea that makes Kunstler right on target, IMO. The fact that our so-called government has refused to even discuss workable solutions with the citizenry, engaged in debilitating resource wars, and enables our behavior just makes it all the worse. The fact is, we aren't going to prepare for this until its too late, many people are suffering now because of our profligate behavior, and many more will suffer in the future because we could bear to consider that the way we live is unsustainable.  If that's "doomer porn" so be it.
"Americans... ...are a wicked people who deserve to be punished."

I would guess that 75% of peak oilers believe this and close to 100% of the peak oil doom mongers do

So are you claiming that 75% of the peak oilers are Calvanists?

I didn't miss your 'visions of doom and gloom are wrong' posts.   Because you never stepped up and explained HOW the nasty brutish parts of human nature were going to be avoided by providing a conicopia of plenty to make sure the bread, cirrcuses and soma keep comming to the citizens of the world.  And you've never bothered to explain WHY the option of powerdown won't work either.

But feel free to show how to sell more expensive energy in such a way that avoids nasty brutishness.  

Consider it an OPEN challenge the rest of you.

None of us knows the future and no one can say what will happen for certain. I have never said that everything will work out fine. Just that it is one of the options on the table and to pretend that you have a 100% assurance of the future is wrong.

My point is that the repetition of "doom is here and we deserve it" is not part of an analytical discussion, but instead a semi-religious obsessive masturbation. I see the doom fundamentalists as being the same as other fundamentalists. I can't prove that God won't call us all back or that Mother Nature won't destroy us all in a righteous fit of passion. Religious fundamentalists would bring their preconceptions to this site and rant on regardless of facts. The same is true of doom fundamentalists.

Stuart Staniford, Lou Grinzo, Halfin and others have lifted their voices above the din of doom on many occasions to say that there are a wide number of paths forward and that we can't know what the future holds. The framework that I see most likely is an extended peak that causes price increases resulting in the development of a lifestyle that accommodates the new reality - this would most likely be a combination of new energy sources, changed use of the ones we have and a more efficient use of energy inputs. I might be wrong - in fact I probably am. The future won't be tied down.

I believe that the doom mongers are doom mongers first and peak oilers second. In my view, they have reverse engineered the end of capitalism, which is their ultimate goal, and are today calling it peak oil. Tomorrow they will doom monger elsewhere under another name.  

For the record, I have never claimed that doom is off the table. Just that we don't know. I do find it entertaining to every once in a while say "Everything may just work out", because it is heresy to the doom obsessive faction.

Powerdown, to my mind is rebranded popular Marxism. We can argue forever about the merits of collectivism of various sorts. I don't see any clear pathway to powerdown aside from one forced on an unwilling public by forces of nature or an authoritarian government. I hope and believe man will successfully resist either.

I have a somewhat related POV.  The future is just too complex to properly forecast.  A wide variety of scenarios could happen.

But what good does it do have guessed right ?  To have been Cassandra.

Rather I have focused on some overlooked steps that will help with Peak Oil AND Global Warming under almost every scenario.

These steps are not enough, I admit.  But they are something solid and positive (-10% US oil use in 10 to 12 years) and do not preclude other options.

My energies are better spent working on a solution to a problem of unknown dimensions, rather than trying to precisely define a problem that cannot be properly defined.

Well said. Your best piece.
"Americans... ...are a wicked people who deserve to be punished."

I would guess that 75% of peak oilers believe this and close to 100% of the peak oil doom mongers do. My impression is that a large portion of the posters here are just rebranded anti-Americans, anti-capitalists or end-of-the-worlders.

This is a good sub-thread!

I guess I lean a little bit toward "wicked" but not seriously.  I think people could be as happy, or happier, with a little more thoughtful use of available (and future) resources.

I am happily an American, capitalist (or post-capitalist), non-end-of-the-worlder.  It's just unfortunate that market players are making under-informed (and in some cases, just plain bad) economic decisions.

Get a happly little car, drive to the ocean/lake/river, and have some fun.  If you live close enough to the ocean/lake/river to ride a bike, so much the better.

In my opinion, "doom porn" about energy is probably overstated.

It's water and food shortages that are going to kill us.


Wicked - certainly not, at least not to a greater extent that any other society in the world.  It is simply that the wickedness which does exist is made more significant by the economic and military power which the US possesses.

When I first became Peak aware, I read as widely as I could, and I found that I was picking up on every article that reinforced the idea that we were rushing headlong over the cliff.  I had to consciously force myself to take a pause from focusing on all the bads news (God knows, there's enough of that), and for a week or so I read as widely as possible, focusing on all the positive trends.  I recommend this, I think you may be suprised.  The really big question is not if change is happening, but will it happen widely enough and fast enough.

I prefer the positive (if slightly rose tinted) view over wallowing in pessimism.  

I certainly didn't put that quote from Kunstler up just to start an argument (oh, wait, that's what we're here for) but I do think Kunstler has some good points to make about the American "character," if there is such a thing, in that we do seem to be primarily interested in big suvs, big sprawling suburbia,fast food shacks, mindless consumerism, the "something for nothing" epitomized by Las Vegas. To the extent that character matters in dealing with the coming crises (plural intentional), we are sorely lacking.  It isn't the geology we can't deal with, it's the psychology.
Looks good, I think the "Energize America" font if is to be different should be larger and a different color to stand out. As it is written it feels a little distracting.
This is a very tall order but it certainly sounds a lot better than discussions about triage.  Constructive thinking has been fractured and frustrated by deconstructivism and this attitude has rewared those who lionize laissez fraire capitalism.  All planned growth is not bad as Katrina should have taught us.

I celebrate the courage it takes to be positive these days about anything.

Those are excellent ideals.

Step one is to abandon GDP
as a measure of progress
and start using GPI.

Only when you start
measuring progress by the
Genuine Progress Index
will anything get better.

Unfortunately, we can be
certain that vested interests
will ensure that GPI will
not be adopted.

Therefore everything will
continue to get worse.

That's the system.

Re: To provide the U.S. with Energy Security by 2020 and Energy Independence by 2040 by: 1) reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75%, 2) reducing oil imports by 50%, 3) generating 25% of electricity from renewable sources, and 4) creating or preserving over three million new jobs by 2020.

Who could object to this laudable plan and the specific acts (though seen without details)?

Let's stay reality-based.

  • Energy Security by 2020: "defined as the ability to withstand a prolonged supply interruption"?

    How big a supply disruption? I will name only a few countries here--Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Kuwait. We could have a supply disruption in a period of a few short months that takes 2 to 3/mbpd off the world market. The realistic imagination finds no dearth of scenarios here and the mind reels. By 2020? How about by 2010? That's more realistic as an estimate and we can see that this date is virtually impossible.

  • U.S. energy independence by 2040: "defined as energy self-sufficiency"

    By 2040? This is an unimaginable future date. What are we going to do this year? Next year? Goals by 2012? The shit will have hit the fan long, long before 2040. The Hirsch report makes this clear. I don't know what the solution is but I simply will not accept a plan that proposes energy independence by 2040. If you mean the Stone Age for a much smaller population, then, fine, OK. Otherwise, we need to get on the case now. This is Kunstler's Long Emergency.

The US has a little over 4 years of oil supply without any imports. The natural gas situation is almost just as bad. I'm not saying imports will just cease. I am only trying to point out the precariousness of the situation. Maintaining supply reliably at this time in history is like walking through a mine field without a detector.

sorry to say this, Dave

Addendum: I have noticed that once a country experiences an "oil shock", whatever the magnitude, it rarely (if ever) restores former production levels.

Venezuela, with the PDVSA after the strike/crisis of 2002/2003. Russia, which peaked in the mid-80's and has come back a bit but not all the way. I predict the same for Iraq and Nigeria. Once you screw it up, the production never seems to get back to peak levels. This has profound implications for today's world.

I that semi-high speed trains (max speed maybe 110 mph for pax, 85 mph frieght) is a better solution than high speed rail (Article V).  Japanese and EU HSR are exclusively passenger rail; the Swiss are building a combined use system at slightly slower speeds.

Speeds above 110 mph use dramatically more energy.  High speed reliable frieght could steal market share from air and truck express, saving energy.  Vegetables from Florida, fish, parcels, mail, Just in Time inventory are all markets for this.

In Japan and the EU, few pax take rail for more than 400 km (250 miles).  This has to be considered in plans.

I have worked for some time of these issues and would like some input.  Please note my prior efforts.

While super-fast trains do present an alternative to air travel, we probably need to forgo very fast travel altogether, except in emergencies.  I recall reading a George Monbiot column to that effect a few weeks back. He pointed out that even rail is a fuel guzzler when trains run at very high speeds. And why would we need to move freight at 85 mph?  Yes, I know all about that "just in time" business, but "just in time" will be one of the first casualties of the new age of costly fuel.
> Why do we need to move freight at 85 mph ?

To move perishables and high priority freight in the most energy efficient manner.  There will be demand for fresh fish, winter vegetables and citrus fruit outside the local area.  FedEx will still get 1 day and 2 day delivery letters and packages.  JIT inventory will NOT suddenly disappear.

Almost none of this goes by rail today.  An electric rail line  running at 85 mph is roughly as energy efficient as todays slow diesel rail line.  Semi-High Speed rail freight will steal VERY little from todays rail, but will take away from air and trucks.

The Swiss plan to run special streamlined freight cars at 160 kph (100 mph), pax at 250 kph (156 mph) and general freight at ~125 kph (75 mph) on the same tracks.

Semi-HSR rail freight will pay for the infrastruture will rail passenger service a nice bonus.  I see enough demand for rail + pax for a Miami to Boston semiHSR link.  People would travel shorter distances (Charlotte-Atlanta, Miami-Orlando, Philly-NYC, DC-Richmond) along the route @ 110 mph to help cover costs whilst FL vegies and fruit would "pay the freight".

A passenger only service would not come close to paying for itself and would leave a major energy savings "on the table".

Some possible routes (subject to study & review):

Boston-Hartford-NYC-Philly-Baltimore-DC (known as the Northeast Corridor of Amtrak) -Richmond-Charlotte (spur to Atlanta) -Savannah-Jacksonville-Orlando (spur to Tampa) - Miami

Philly-Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Detroit-Chicago (spur to Milwaukee-Minneapolis) -St. Louis-Kansas City-Tulsa-Oklahoma City-Dallas/Ft. Worth and a triangle DFW-Austin/San Antonio-Houston with spur Houston-New Orleans-Birmingham- Atlanta

San Francisco-Bakersfield-Los Angeles (spur to San Diego)-Phoenix


Build the best routes first and then determine where to go from there.  Note that Philadeplhia and Atlanta join up the East Coast and "Heartland" routes.  Almost every city pair listed would generate decent pax #s (taking people out of their cars).

Very interesting.  While I think that the demand for ultrafresh produce will in future be limited to the affluent, those people may be numerous enough to create a significant market.  If that helps support the passenger system, that is fine with me.
One key point, based upon the physics of rail.  This is semi-HSR *N*O*T* High Speed Rail.  Passengers do NOT travel at 180 or 200 mph, but 100 to 110 mph.

Freight can share the tracks and make "dual use" of the new infrastructure, while the EU and Japanese HSR is passenger only.  

Passengers use about 1/3 the electricity at 100 to 110 mph than they would on TGV, ICE or Japanese bullet trains, but still get there faster than driving.  For distances that pax are willing to take the train (say 250 miles/400 km), semi-HSR is time competitive with air travel (door to door times), and uses far less oil :-)


If you haven't already, you ought to register at one or both of www.eurotrib.com or www.dailykos.com so that you can explain some of your ideas regarding the electrification of all rail.  Jerome might or might not have seen some of your comments before.

It has been a while since I did this, but I believe there is a 24 hour 'waiting period' to keep people from posting right away (to keep down trolling and spam).

There isn't anything along these thing already in the document - they have bits in there about more efficient trucks and so forth.

Thanks. I just did.

I hope that they read here as well.

Refrigeration makes the need for such modestly high speed transport of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables largely a moot point. These items were available outside of the local area via rail in 1890, at 1/3rd the average speed.
Still, as F John Perry says, if it helps support the passenger system, then it is still a plus.
Oddly, the speed of reliable deliveries (I put shipment of fish on in North Carolina, what is time that I will be 99% sure of delivery to NYC ?) was faster in 1890 than today.

Better and more tracks then was the biggest difference.

Railways have gone to single track from double track in most areas.  Loss of speed and reliability for perishable goods been that few perishable goods go by rail,  Truck or air are used.

Railroads have "downsized" to meet their competition (trucks with cheap oil on highways that pay no property taxes) and specialize in heavy, slow shipments.

Speaking of Japan, JR is always updating the Shinkansen.   Latest news here:

You are correct in pointing out that the high speed rail is meant for distances such as Osaka-Tokyo, which I have ridden several times.   It is a joy to use, 2.5 hours, better than any plane ride.   However, that distance in the US won't even get you from LA to SF.    In the US, high speed trains will be great for regional transport of people (DC-NY, LA-SF, Dallas-Houston) but it will still be preferable to take air cross country.

Of all the proposals in thar rather omnibus (and probably TOO omnibus) proposal, #5 alone would help accomplish much.

I don't like airplanes for a simple reason.  High speed in air takes a lot of fuel.  No way around it (pun).  I suggested thinking about vacuum tube maglev and got very heavy flak from a lot of people who hadn't even thought as hard as I had.  I am too lazy and too busy with other stuff to put it together, but there are  people here who could do it better- give a real look at that idea and read the considerable work that has already been printed about it.  I rembember a guy at Cornell, and somebody had a good piece in an applied physics mag.  Forgot the specifics.
Random Thoughts: I can't imagine living close to a semi-HST. The noise would be very bad. Every railbed would have to modified for crossings. The last I heard is that there were 250,000 railway crossings in America. Though not all would need to be modified.

Still I love the idea of rail. Millions of Americans could be better employed. I think it will work. But perhaps not as we imagine it.

In 1998 the Swiss people voted heavily in favor of at twenty year, 31 billion Swiss franc* proposal to upgrade their railways (key piece, flat level rail lines under the Alps between Bern & Milan and Zurich & Milan).  About 1 billion CHf of the 31 was to be for quieter railcars.

We just ask the Swiss for some technical assistance.

*Adjusted for population, this would be like the US voting for a $1 trillion dollar rail system upgrade !

I see a need for a continent wide High Voltage DC grid (perhaps with nodes 500 miles apart) to balance renewables with local demand.

A transition period would give free transmission to renewables, half price to pumnped storage (unless it stored renewables) & nuclear power with full price for fossil fueled electricity.

I have some doubts about PV, localized or not.  Some grid issues with "islanding" and Hz drift for example.  And PV is not an economic technology and unlikely to become one on a political schedule (i.e. just because we tell it to).

?? How can you get Hz drift on a DC grid?

There are 2 reasons PV isn't more widespread:

  1. It's a 'distributed' technology which does not empower nor enrich any centralized entity. Unlike oil (cartels can control pipelines, depots, etc) or nuclear or coal. So TPTB will not endorse nor subsidize it.

  2. The semiconductor technology on which it is based is expensive. It takes a lot of energy to refine the silicon (or selenium or whatever) in the first place.
My proposed DC grid would be 500 kV to 1000 kV and would convert back to AC at the nodes.

I was talking about a local neighborhood with PV connected to the grid.  One fine day, at 3 PM, the neighborhood become energy self sufficient for 30 minutes or so.  Zero amps coming into the neighborhood.  The neighborhood DC-AC converters feed into each other (2333 Maple has no PV and uses neighbors surplus to run refrigerator, etc.) and their Hz "drifts" just a bit.  Losing perhaps 1/300th of a second.  Then someone turns on a hair dryer when a cloud passes by.  Demand up, supply down, an inrush of power from the grid.

Out of phase power meets.


$20 billion a year is chicken feed. We need to think big to capture the imagination of Americans drowning in debt. $87 billion a year seems more appropriate. A World Diplomacy for Peace Act might be a good idea too. With commitment by the government to world peace a Peace Dividend Act would fund fund everything by cutting the DOD budget.
Is it me, or are we suddenly using 24 point text here.  The big font is, um, startling after the couple of beers (brewed locally, of regional ingredients) I had this evening after weeding the garden.  Of course, it is a pretty strong brew, so perhaps it deserves the blame.

While in Vegas, be sure to walk to the heart of the strip to enjoy the water shows at Bellagio and Treasure Island, where millions and millions of gallons of imported water are propelled high into the air, electronically syncopated with music amplified through dozens of speakers, with the fantastic electric light shows as backdrops.  Courtesy, of course, of the cheap energy made available to this desert boomtown.

I believe the theme of any trip to Vegas is: Consume More!!

Is it me, or are we suddenly using 24 point text here.

I thought it was my computer. I shut down Explorer and started it back up, only to find that it was still the same.

As for the document, I think it is sorely needed. I read one of the early versions and agree with most, if not all of the points.


I agree the document is sorely needed.  What is also needed is some powerful marketing-- celebrity endorsement, high-powered political support (congresspeople, mayors, etc.), and other rails on which to drive the train.

The message needs to be driven home to the masses in a way that is understandable and acceptible.  If not, it will be lost in the vast wilderness of historic great ideas and intentions.

Yes, I know you read this site.  I'm talking to you.
Quick, someone find George Clooney's email address.
Sorry about the giant font. I reformatted some of the text and I forgot to close an h2 tag. It should be fixed now.
Yep.  Looks normal.
Energize America strongly favors a free market-based approach to solving our energy dilemma,

1st there would have to be a free market.

Tax law changes:

  1. Change tax law so that JIT isn't needed - re-fuigure the idea of taxing inventory.
  2. remove the solar panel restrictions in the 179 deductions.
My apologies for being offtopic, but this is important.

I mentioned in a past thread about the "JoeCell"... a mechanism that allows a car to run off water.

I was (predictably/understandably) dismissed.

Here's your proof.  This guy has been invited by a Senate Committee to demonstrate his technology.


Combined with desalination... could this be a possible solution to oil?

That would be huge.  I don't know what else to say.
Gee whiz.  Looks like this has been discussed elsewhere:


Guess I'd better put the wife's Chrysler back together...

Are you serious?  I read the earlier post, if the water is not consumed where is the energy coming from? You can't create energy it must already exist atleast in potential.  The website is talking about the powers of crystals and how to harness them. Snake oil....
Never underestimate the ability of a con artist to sell their goods. After all, even that patent office has been guilty of granting patents for perpetual motion machines.


Yet another scam to bilk gullible investors.
The sad thing is that most people (including senators) are so deficient in their knowledge of science that they cannot see through the technobabble/deception.
Rather than being proof of the viability of this "technology", this is proof of the cluelessness of Congress.
I like the idea and the positive-ness which I think is very hard to do when you look at all the factors coming our way. My 2 cents are it needs; 1)food production education and what(?) more education- this is so lacking in our society.  2) Home based food preservation (Try and get this through the chain store plotical machine and you will be viewed as a GOD)  3)we are going to have to build more of own stuff again- small clothing factories. Unfortunatly I agree with many others here you are not going to get people out of thier SUV and to give up thier coffe latte without some crisis hitting them on the head like a 2 x 4.
I would rush this off to Roscoe Bartlett and see if he would discuss it on the floor of the House sometime soon.
I'll just repeat what I wrote
previously, because nobody
seems to be listening.

The answer is not to be found
in techincal fixes. The answer
is in the fundamental way that
economies are measured. GDP
takes little or no account of
negatives. More construction of
prisons and more security guards
equates with GDP growth. More
construction of badly insulated
houses adds to GDP growth.
The entire economic system is
geared to consumption and
increases in consumption are
worshipped, when in reality,
increases in consumption should be
abhored. GDP worship is what is
driving most societies off the

GPI allocates negative values to
negative aspects of societies.
Fix the fundamental fault in
the system and everything else
will come easily.

For instance, if pollution is
accounted for, then driving faster
becomes a negative, rather than a
positive (as under the present GDP
system, which simply reccords
greater fuel use as a greater
contribution to the money flow).

Under a GPI system, there is no
argument about funding railraods
because the benefits become obvious.

Under a GPI system, localisation,
permaculture etc. do not need to be
justfied. The benefits show up
immediately in th figures.

None of this is a technological
problem. All of it is political
problem, an exercise of power

I took notice and I agree. Our current economic system is like a cancer - growth above all else, regardless. We need a more balanced system focussing on quality not just quantity.

Do you have any links you could swing my way about the GPI?

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada and there is a very active GPI org here.  Here's the link:


Last year, GPI Atlantic was a principal organizer of the second international conference on "Gross National Happiness", of which the Genuine Progress Index forms a foundation.  There are many documents and presentations on this site that provide an "on the ground" analysis of real world problems from the standpoint of GPI as opposed to GDP.  It may provide a model for others.

I see the mental conversion time to this new metric as being several decades (and it may never "take").  Too much education and thought processes in the old way.  We just don't have that time.

Look how long the metric system is taking.

A nice supplement to "technological fixes", but no more IMO.

We will never convert to metric.  
Never? Hey, when I go out to fix my old corolla, I have to tote a metric socket set,  Every auto guy has to.  And I see liters of sodapop in the stores.  Commie units they may be, but they are here, insinuating themselves into the things we love best.  I can see the day when the last inch wrench is dropped from the dead hand of some farm geezer in Iowa, a couple kilometers from the nearest  Farmall graveyard.
Never.  If we weren't facing peak oil...maybe.

The only way we are going to convert to metric is cold turkey.  Gradual doesn't work.  We've been trying to do it gradually since the '70s.

Those metric Toyotas?  Been around since the '70s.  Ditto the metric markings on food packages, the km/h markings on speedometers, etc.  Not to mention teaching kids the metric system in school.

But have we gotten any closer to actually converting?  No.  

There was supposed to be a conversion over to metric in the '70s.  Congress gave in to the will of the people, and postponed it until the '90s.

Preparing for the conversion in the '90s, government agencies spent millions of dollars and years of effort converting to metric. Only to have Congree once again chicken out, and "postpone" the conversion.  Most of the state and federal agencies that had converted to metric are now converting back.  

The main reason to convert to metric is to be compatible with the rest of the world.  No more having to make two different sizes of bolts, one for U.S., one for the rest of the world.

But if globalization unwinds, as I expect it will, that incentive will be gone.  And we'll have more important things to do than worry about what units we're using.  Hence my conviction that we will never convert to metric.

Hm.  I used to teach engineering students and always used SI units because they were so much easier to do without mistakes.  I used to start off with an example- how much power needed to pump so much water so high in so many seconds?  The team using old english units would foul up more often than not, and the ones using SI from the getgo could usually do it in their head and get it right in no time without reaching for their slide rules.

Hypothesis- reason we are in such doo-doo is that we can't do simple arithmetic 'cause there aint no simple arithmetic to do with the old english units.  Barrel =42 gallons!  What? which gallons?  which pounds, which -what- does g fit in here somewhere?  Somebody got a match?  Hey! watch out there!

Don't get me wrong.  I love the metric system.  If it were up to me, we'd have converted in the '70s.  Cold turkey, the way Canada did.  Overnight, all the road signs changed from mph to km/h.  Two months of mass confusion, then everything was fine.

But I've given up.  In my office, we spent years planning and implementing "metrification."  Re-wrote all the manuals, bought new software, re-did all the standard sheets, etc.  Only to have Congress chicken out again.  And to have the local state governments switch back to imperial units.  We are, too, in order to be "compatible."  So after spending years metrifying, we are now un-metrifying.  So we do it all backwards.  Re-write all the manuals again, yet more new software, re-doing all the standard sheets, etc.  

One sign that we are not converting: we're spending big bucks to change the exit numbering system in interstate highways.  Instead of numbering them in order (Exit 1, 2, 3...), we are numbering them by mile marker.  If the exit is 38 miles from the beginning of the highway, it's Exit 38.  

Would we be doing that if we were serious about converting to metric?

I don't think the UK will convert over either. Although a lot of measurements are in SI units, driving will always be in miles. Somebody being 6' means more to me than someone being 1 m 83 cm. I have to admit to measuring in mm for building usage but think in feet. Weights I can convert from lb to stone to kilos in my head, but lengths I haven't practised nearly so much, so I guestimate in feet, measure in mm for accuracy.
Well, cheer up folks, as we all know, in the long run we are all dead.  The next generations will wonder what us-uns were talking about when we said yards, cubits, furlongs, barlycorns,grains and all that.

It happens that I was one of the founding members of a then-new very small sliver of the great universe of mechanical technology.  I and my buddies wrote all  our original stuff in SI, and whataya know, from then on, every paper  on the subject was in SI, because "that's the way They did it".

So there's Hope!   Though never to forget--

 "Hope is the weakest force in Physics."

Perhaps no one is listening because you write 40? character lines and it's really hard to read; many people probably just skip your posts.
bwhahahahahahaha... I was just about to make a similiar comment.  thanks for beating me to it.  
Don't hit enter when the cursor reaches the edge of the box, keep typing and only hit enter to separate paragraphs. It'll make your messages a lot easier to read.
Hello TODers,

The Energize America Proposal is an excellent start, but I fail to see where it includes discussion of detritus entropy and pop. overshoot vis-a-vis ultimate sustainability.  Failure to carefully plan the multi-year transition to the new paradigm with logically achievable goals that includes abundant biodiversity to support much less human density/sq. mile will only result in competitive violence.

Now I have no idea what is the actually sustainable number of Americans once the detritus is gone and global warming trends are all taken into account, but let's say it must bottom out at fifty million in 100 years.  Therefore, we need to peacefully decline by 250 million in five generations. A voluntary one child/family rule should take us from the present 300 million to the fifty million in a most graceful manner, and will allow the maximum resources/child even as the detritus depletes.  The ever decreasing human density/sq. mile should allow other lifeforms to rebound, and much more agricultural land can be allowed to go dormant to start healing the topsoil process, or can be dedicated to wildland for the other critters.

The population decrease will allow existing infrastructure to be optimized: hydropower, windmills, PVs, and some biofuel farming can be spread much more equitably over a shrinking population, and the detritus fuels decreasing availability can be saved for those uses deemed critical.  The decreased headcount will also reduce further growth in the burning of most fuels thus delaying climate change.

The abandonment of the 'Nuke their Ass--I want Gas' military mindset is essential to success so that other countries can undertake similar Powerdown plans.  This huge reallocation of taxdollars from the military to re-engineering new paradigm urban enclaves surrounded by permaculture farms, and then vast expanses of wilderness to maximize other lifeforms and offshore fishing is the only sustainable path forward.  Time will tell if we have the wisdom to pursue this course.

Peacefully shrinking populations worldwide will offer the best chance for global warming survivability as it will continually open up more areas for necessary migration if the current habitat becomes unliveable.  As an example, 300 million Americans cannot migrate north into Canada, but maybe 25 million can in 100 years, with the remaining 25 million living a comfortable lifestyle in the lower 48.  If Canada has reduced population in the same manner as the Americans, and if global warming now makes Canada a viable farming area, a gradual in-migration of 25 million should not affect their ultimate sustainability and existing biodiversity.

This is nothing more than running Malthusian Math in reverse to provide maximum resources/person-- the best way to prevent violence.  The question is: can the world agree to a simple and voluntary one child rule?  Or does the world prefer lethal combat and Mother Nature to whittle our numbers down?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Dear Bob:   I don't know how to say this without coming off as a bit too harsh... but I will try.

Your immediate post above is exactly what is NOT needed for progress to be made.

Put simply, no individual or group (oligarchy) can set themselves up as God and decide how to micro-engineer everybody else's life.   To do so will only bring rejection, and in my mind rightfully so.  

What you might note is that there are nations, such as the one in which I am currently living, where the birthrate has naturally dropped to far below replacement level.   Suggest that discovering the relationship between wealth and child births is the key, as well as education and security.

Real change (that is positive) will come through consensus building and hard work, not by grand schemes relying on centralized planning, based upon any individual's visions of what ought to be.

Additionally, your suggestion that somehow violence can be avoided is not based on reality.   All of human history would suggest there was an abundance of human conflict even at greatly reduced populations compared to today.

Hello InJapan,

Thxs for responding, no offense taken.  I am not suggesting micro-engineering anybody's life, but for them to merely consider where we, as a global society are currently headed postPeak, and how voluntarily having one child is the single best action for each couple to contribute to the new global paradigm.

The postPeak world will be vastly poorer in respect to the abundance of 'energy slaves' and other resources we currently enjoy.  The worst response to diminishing detritus wealth, general education, and security is to have more than one child-- but historically, this is what is normally done.  It just makes a bad situation worse: consider the recent posting about the Haitian family--worse than dirt poor, with 3 hungry children, and momma pregnant with a fourth.  I suggest postPeak Japan, and every other country, will act just like these Haitians unless a universal and new social norm for one child/family arises.

I have no offspring of my own--it was an easy decision-- I fail to see the logic of those who wish to overpopulate:


Now I have nothing against these people, I am sure they are a fine family.  I am merely illustrating that they can only afford such a large and healthy family because of fossil fuels.  I am sure there are Haitians who would love to have a similar sized family, but they cannot afford it.  If the Duggar family suddenly had to live on a typical Haitian income, which could be entirely possible in an extreme global collapse or widespread nuclear exchange, the survival rate of these children would be very low. A very sad waste of human life and potential.

I think you are not considering how most of us are currently extremely micro-managed by the elites today.  "Grand schemes relying on centralized planning"... is the standard Govt MO worldwide to varying degrees.  If you do not have any income of some sort: you very quickly starve, unless you get govt. handouts, beg, or steal.  Contrast this with a possible total world population of 300 million where virtually everyone could easily grow or hunt their own supplies for themselves and their family.  I would suggest this model offers much more freedom than our current 6.5 billion people model.

"Real change (that is positive) will come through consensus building and hard work"... for one child/family and Detritus Powerdown in striving to meet detritus entropy.  The infinite growth paradigm is illogical-- even Japan will find it difficult to reduce population as fast as required postPeak without violence.

Malthus had an individual vision of how we screw ourselves into misery, I am offering my vision [and countless others have said the same thing long before me, so my thought is certainly not original] of a possible way back to some kind of sustainability.

Your last paragraph: "Additionally, your suggestion that somehow violence can be avoided is not based on reality.   All of human history would suggest there was an abundance of human conflict even at greatly reduced populations compared to today."

I agree, but we proactively can avert much of this violence if we can summon the collective will through "consensus building and hard work".  The American people could morally decide not to go thru with the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario, but embrace the 'No Thanks--I like Empty Tanks' mindset instead.  Having one child/family and Powerdown as the social norm is much easier than partaking of the full nuclear global ICBM gift exchange starting with Iran.

My analysis of existing trends, right or wrong, leads me to believe that we will go down in a fast-crash scenario, but I am certainly not advocating for it.  That is why I put my efforts into prodding the world to prove me wrong by encouraging actions to avert the worst and optimizing the coming squeeze thru the Dieoff bottleneck.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob, you have to take this in context.  The point of this plan isn't really to solve the problems of peak oil and dieoff.  It's to get Democrats elected.  

No one's going to vote for a politician who talks about Malthus.  That's just the way it is.

Hello Leanan,

You sound more pessimistic than me!  My earlier posts sure seem hopelessly idealistic, but we have to believe that people can change for the better come crunch time:

"Pessimism of the Intellect; Optimism of the Will."
--Antonio Gramsci

I would vote for a politician that advocates a voluntary one child/per family policy and if he/she carefully explains the multiple reasons why this is necessary: I think everyone on this website would vote for this person too.  I bet a surprising number of general voters would vote for this person.  The politician may not get elected, but this new proposal will have entered the MSM and will create alot of discussion and some positive actions among the populace.  He/she will essentially make it easier for the next advocates in the next election cycle...and so on.

As we go postPeak and the crushing economic burdens starts to hit home--politicians have a duty to truthfully inform people so that they will be much more amenable to peaceful and positive solutions vs endless, mindless violence.  The people will be in no mood to take crap from some idiot who only seeks to rig the system to better himself.  That is my optimistic hope, but realistically, I think a violent revolution will have to occur before a critical mass for change arises, or else the imposition of a NWO and a Big Brother control system.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Very funny! Why not add a "Perpetuum Mobile Act" - that would solve all the problems. All this is just old scrap. This started in the '70s and nothing came of it. It is very odd to read this exactly here, in the TOD, where we have at least sometimes fairly good discussion.

But more seriously, what is proposed here is mostly an "EROEI crash". All this new investment in energy production and conservation would mean just that - moving to lower and lower EROEI solutions. And this means that you will have less net energy available than you think. So you will not know what hit you.

Real conservation is always prossible and easy - it will happen when prices are high enough or energy is not available. But it will mean a severe downsizing of the economy. And this is the challenge. If you are not ready to cope this challenge and tell the people that everything will be OK if only their will be enough energy investments it will cause real problems.

Why not tell the Americans that there is no reason to panic. The oil will not end in the foreseeable future (but production will decline). The US can safely import oil also in the future as the Europeans and the Japanese do, but prices will be high. War against Iran is no solution. But there will be no economic growth and probably a rather deep and prolonged economic recession. This will cause massive unmployment and social problems and require much better unemployment relief and social security network. This must be paid for, also by the rich. The social consequences will be the real security issue here. Learn to be an ex-hyperpower. Reduce military expenditures. Withdraw from foreign bases and from the ME. They will sell the oil to the Americans anyway.

Just face the reality.

I agree with totoneila and TI.  We must face reality.  There is no solution without population decrease.  Also the borders must be sealed.
The population decrease is not a real problem. In Europe and Japan birth rates are already quite low and in some European countries less than the death rate - the natural population growth is negative, the population decreasing. This without any deliberate government action or coercion.

The population decrease is most marked in the FSU countries. exactly there where people have experienced a deep energy and economic shock. It was no coincidence that Malthus wrote his famous treatise in the end of the 18th century. He thought he had found an universal population law, but in fact he saw something quite new: the unprecedented population growth of the dawning fossile fuel era. We are now seeing the opposite, population decreasing in the dusk of the fossile era.

We don't need any "gloomy doom" scenarios or over-optimistic techno-belief, but a very realistic approach. I don't think that the challenges will be technological or solvable with more investments (exactly this was tried in the collapsed Soviet Union), but economic and social.


Since I'm not a member over at Kos, and there's a 24 hr. waiting period, I hope you read my comment here.  Perhaps it's somewhere in the full document, but inclusion of a graphic such as that on p.5 here -http://www.seia.org/roadmap.pdf - that shows how our current "strategy" regarding PV has allowed Europe, Japan, and indeed the ROW to surge ahead of us in this critical technology might gain some traction with folks.

In the big picture, I'm not a techno-fixer - more in line with Totoneila, and I also concur with Kevin M and Mike A above who stress the inanity of the GDP - but solar is all we ultimately have to live on, so that's the one tech vein I advocate pursuing fully.

As a newcomer to the discussions about energy and climate change, I feel somewhat like a midget among giants.  Nonetheless, I want to comment on the contention surrounding alternative fuels.

First, I believe it imperative that we substantially reduce the burning of fossil fuels in the near term, with the objective of reaching 40-50% of current use.  Can it be done in a decade?  To hopefully avoid a "mad max" scenario, there must be a well-planned and well advertised "power-down", made as equitable as possible.  That means bringing generally available alternative fuels, presumably alcohol and biodiesel, on line with all cautious haste.  This naturally calls for parallel development of relatively low-cost conversion packages to make conventional gasoline/diesel engines compatible with the new fuels.

A number of recent TOD postings have pointed to various  numbers for EROEI of products and processes, and the fact that these are not yet competetive with gasoline at $3, even with modest subsidies, but might be at $7/gal.  One post mentioned a figure of $7+ per gal. as the present cost of military protection of sources and transit.  I suspect that the scarcity of hard numbers reflects proprietary reticence.  In my view, the objective is being overshadowed by haggling about details.  The great need is to get the show moving pronto with one or more processes; the cost and efficiency factors can be smoothed out later.  Economic and social survival may lie in fairly bridging the coming fuel gap.

Obviously there are a number of caveats related to large scale commitment of agricultural land to crops devoted to alcohol/oil.  First among these is the continuing and likely growing need for food crops.  Next is the apparent requirement for various fossil fuel inputs in processing or in the fields.  Some posts have mentioned the odors produced by certain processes.  Remember the early paper mills?  That was said to be a green $mell.

In the past, federal financing has been available for major projects needing large amounts of capital, and where uncertainty was a deterrent to significant private investment.  Money was provided to cover academic research, pilot plant construction and studies, and in more than one instance a full production facility.  Beginning in 1938, war clouds were gathering, and the existing aluminum industry was unable to gear up for the kind of war then forseen.  Federal money was made available for the necessary R&D, for plants to process the bauxite ore into aluminum metal.  The total of that public investment would in today's money would be somewhere in the range of $20 to $25 billion.  Today's circumstance certainly fits that pattern.

"As a newcomer to the discussions about energy and climate change, I feel somewhat like a midget among giants."


Does put you in a better position to identify bullshit.



I came in wearing hip boots.  That's not to say that I'm innocent of the production of the same.
1. The $200/mpg rebate is too low, at least as far as a final target. That price might be the best that can be done for starters, but it needs to be higher in the long run. It also needs to be an exponential curve. Let's say you start at $200/mpg as a penalty against gas guzzlers, for 1-3 mpg below target. Then, 4-6 mpg below would need a $250/mpg penalty, 7-8 mpg below a $300 penalty, 9-10 below a $350 penalty, etc.
Ultimately, you should have the baseline penalty up to something like $500 mpg, with your curve getting you to something like $1,000/mpg for the real gas guzzler.

  1. I agree with getting a rational nuclear policy

  2. You don't go into much detail about biofuels. But, based on the energy inputs for commercial farming of biofuels, I wonder if a lot of people aren't putting way too much stock into them as a golden egg.
I have done a qucik read thru of the pdf file and I am S*E*V*E*R*E*L*Y disappointed !

To pick one item (III), increase heavy truck mileage from 6.2 mph to 14 mph (or more) by 2020.  And cut emissions at the same time as well.

How ?

By giving one year depreciation if one buys a thrifty truck.

This overlooks the existing efficiency incentives that heavy truck owners have to save fuel.  Why will a small tax incentive work when the massive costs of today don't ?

Engineering miracles will appear out of nowhere they assume.

Already truckers are switching to synthetic oils, special tires (Michelin has an extra wide tire to replace two) and even waxing their trucks (less friction) to get an extra 0.03 mpg.  Aluminum wheels are more common as well.

So, just how will fuel economy increase by a factor of 2.3 ?

All in all, not well though out I am afraid.

TOO BAD !! :-((

In preusing the 20 articles of "Energize America V," I find optimism in that folks are really thinking about the problems we face, and pessimism in that the grand scale of the dreams dwarf the projected cost.  Think about the results of around $100 bil that went just for Katrina relief.  It is highly likely that items 3, 5 and 6 together will require much more in capital investment than the $250 bil cited.  An effective sales campaign alone, given the  usual public response to these things, could in the long run match the campaign expenses of of a national election.  Let's have truth in advertising.  In all, I like the thrust of the concept, but as they say, "the devil is in the details." I hope that a study of the full story will boost my level of optimism.
This all smacks of too much, too complicated to me.   It reads a bit like a 20-step diet plan, when what we really need is the equivalent of "eat less, move more" so that people can understand it.  My preference is to solve oil first, over the next 5 years, and go from there.  The steps:

  1.  Our fearless leader goes on TV and says "in case y'all haven't noticed, gas-o-line prices have been goin' up.  Guess what - that's going to be permanent.  The question is, does the cash from higher gas prices go to baaad terr-ist leaders and oil companies, or does it go to you, my fellow A-mer-a-cans.   I say we choose the second way - gasoline will become more expensive until we get alternatives and/or reduce our usage, but we will do it in a way that isn't going to hurt your bottom line or blow up our economy."

  2.  The plan:  Increase the federal tax on petroleum-based fossil fuels by $0.10/month until demand is reduced by 3% (roughly the average depletion of onshore US fields).  Repeat each year until this 3% demand reduction/year goal is met, well, forever.  (One could argue for an initial shock tax here of $1.00/gallon just to get peoples' attention that this is serious, but I don't know if that's really wise...).  

  3.  Of the federal government's take, 75% is rebated by reducing the employee contribution to the payroll tax, and the other 25% is used to offer rebates ($1000 for each 10 mpg above 40 mpg or similar), a buy-back of inefficient vehicles, certain incentives to maintain long distance transport, loan guarantees for alternative fuels (though not grants!), etc.  Make things revenue neutral, and give people a reward for doing more than their part (i.e., send them a happy-gram telling them how much extra pay they got each year from the reduction in the payroll tax).

The gov't needs to make people realize that we all need to do our part here, and that there should and will be a reward for doing more than your part.  Assuming that this gets the liquid fuel end under control, the other issues can then be hunted down one by one.
I think you are dead on.
I have followed Jerome's project on Dkos and think it is incredible. But it very wonkish. It is like John Kerry on steroids or Al Gore before he got his mojo back.

The Repubs would never do something like this -- 20 policy points. They would do what you are saying. We need a phrase like tax relief. It does so much. Jerome has worked very hard on messaging but now has 20 two and three word memes. He has 20 sentences. He has tried. But......

How about "Revive America". Let's make America #1 again - and tell the arabs to shove it. We're going to put everyone back to work in middle class jobs.

Ford is going to start building wind turbines. GM is going to build light rail and the world's greatest trains. We're going to make cars that don't need gas. Etc.

And we are going to seal the borders so that we don't have too many people that are not AMERICANS competing for our gas.

Then we don't have to talk about things that scare people into using Prozac. No discussion of peak oil. No mention of Jim Kunstler, population die-off.

We want to make more solar panels than Germany, more wind mills than Sweeden, more nukes than those french people, more rails than the Japs and more cars than the Koreans.

FYI - I am part of a very multi-ethnic and multi-cultural family.

I watch the President tonight. He has a 8 second attention span. That's probably better than most americans.

Exactly. Why go for all the policy stuff when the real solution is to "round up all em God-hatin liberals!!!"



Nuclear waste problem solved

The intergral fast reactor actually breaks
down plutonium.


These reactors could also make enough energy to
magnetic launch other waste into the sun one
vitrified kilogram at a time.


(But I don't know if depositing nuclear waste
into the sun would be good for it or us)

There is nothing about food in this document.

The following text is from Eshel and Martin's Diet, Energy, and Global Warming Paper, Earth Interactions, May 2005:


In 1999, Heller and Keoleian (2000) estimated the total energy used in food production  (defined here as agricultural production combined with processing and distribution) to be 10.2 × 1015 BTU yr-1 .

Given a total 1999 U.S. energy consumption of 96.8 × 1015 BTU yr-1 (U.S. Department of Energy 2004a, Table 1.1), energy used for food production accounted for 10.5% of the total energy used.

In 2002, the food production system accounted for 17% of all fossil fuel use in the U.S. (Horrigan et al. 2002). For example, Unruh (2002) states that delivered energy consumption by the food industry, 1.09 × 1018 Joules in 1998, rose to 1.16 × 1018 Joules in 2000 and is projected to rise by 0.9% yr-1, reaching 1.39 × 1018 Joules in 2020. Unruh (2002) also reports that delivered energy consumption in the crops and other agricultural industries (the latter consisting of, e.g., animal and fishing) increase,
on average, by 1% yr-1 and 0.9% yr-1, respectively.

Thus, food production, a function of our dietary choices, represents a significant and growing energy user.

To place energy consumption for food production in a broader context, we compare it to the more often cited energy sink, personal transportation. The annual U.S. per capita vehicle
miles of travel was 9,848 in 2003 (U.S. Department of Transportation 2004, Table PS-1). Using the same source, and focusing on cars (i.e., excluding buses and heavy commercial trucks), per capita vehicle miles traveled becomes 8,332, of which an estimated 63% are traveled on highways (Table VM-1 in the same report).

According to the U.S. Department of Energy's 2005 table of most and least efficient vehicles http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/best/bestworstNF.shtml)
and considering only highly popular models, 2005 vehicles miles-per-gallon (mpg) range is bracketed by the Toyota Prius' 60:51 (highway:city) on the low end and by Chevrolet
Suburban's 11:15. At near average is the Toyota Camry Solara's 24:33 mpg. The salient transportation calculation (Table 1), demonstrates that, depending on the vehicle model, an American is likely to consume between 1.7 × 107 and 6.8 × 107 BTU per year for personal transportation. (U.S. Department of Energy 2004b)

Next, we perform a similar energetic calculation for food choices. Accounting for food exports, in 2002 the U.S. food production system produced 3774 Kcal person-1 day-1 or 1.4 × 10*15 BTU yr-1 nationwide (FAOSTAT 2005). (The difference between 3774 Kcal person-1 day-1 and the needed average ~ 2100 Kcal person-1 day-1 is due to overeating
and food discarded after being fully processed and distributed.) In producing those 1.4×10
BTU yr-1, the system used 10.2 × 1015 BTU yr-1 . That is, given both types of inefficiency, food production energy efficiency is 100(1.4/10.2)(2100/3774) <sup>~</sup> 7.6%. Therefore, in order to ingest 2100 Kcal day-1, the average American uses 2100/0.076 <sup>~</sup> 72.6 × 104 Kcal day-1 or 4 × 10
7 BTU/yr.

In summary, while for personal transportation the average American uses 1.7 × 107 to 6.8 × 107 BTU yr-1, for food the average American uses roughly 4 × 10*7 BTU yr-1 . Thus there exists an order of magnitude parity in fossil energy consumption between dietary and personal transportation choices.

The problem I have with this is the assumption of energize America. My best understanding of the ramifications of Peak Oil tell me energy community. A plan like this serving as an outline for states and counties makes a lot more sense to me than a federal version.

Hey All,

I think your work on the "Energize America" proposal is great work, and constructive.

However, the one thing I fail to see when we discuss changes that will help is POPULATION.   If we are talking about 20 - 40 year timelines,  the relatively small step changes, will be outstripped by population growth.

Population is the reason for many resources (water, oil, metals, etc) running short.  

I don't suppose to have a solution either,  but it in IMHO it is the underlying reason for "doomers".

Here's hoping we can figure something out before Mother Nature picks from the left column.


Are you seriously promising a 500 mpg car?

Gasoline contains 115,000 BTU/gallon.  At 500 miles per gallon, that's 230 BTU/mile or 58 Calories (kcal) per mile.

A 150 lb person walking a level mile in 20 minutes uses 81 Calories per mile (http://www.hhp.ufl.edu/faculty/pbird/keepingfit/ARTICLE/CALWALK.HTM).

You would have the Democratic Party promise to deliver mankind (oops, "personkind") a new machine that uses only 2/3 of the energy of walking?

Bring it on!

It's called a bicycle.

One could add a very small motor and fuel tank (1 liter) to said vehicle if one wanted to.

After I posted I realized they must have been meant a motorized bicycle since that's the only machine that would fit, so long as the road was level and smooth.

But room for 8 people? Where do we put the kids' car seats?  Room for groceries?  Little League gear?  Seat belts and air bags?

As I noted when the draft plan was posted here, this is a classic tax-and-spend-and regulate initiative.  It will go nowhere.

Here's a critique from the Republican Party:


You can carry quite a bit with bike trailers:


This plan sounds great.

Here is a plan that will work hand in hand with the "Energize America" plan:

Many say we will see $3.50/gal this summer.  If you factor in Iran, who knows how high it could go. Everyone knows America MUST get off the oil.  After September 11, 2001 I expected our President to call on Americans to GET OFF THE OIL.  I was expecting a speech like the one JFK gave that motivated us to reach for the moon. As you know, this never happened.  Eventually I realized that the only way this is going to happen is for us to do it ourselves.  To that end I created this idea and have been trying to make it a reality..

The EPA is offering a research grant opportunity that I believe is a perfect fit for this idea.  I have sent an e-mail to a hand picked list of university professors who have experience with government research projects.  I'm looking to form a research team to apply for the EPA grant, conduct a social-economic experiment and surveys to determine to what extent the American public will support it, project the economic potential of WPH, and identify logistical, social and political obstacles as well as opportunities.

All government grants are awarded based on merit of the proposed research.  I believe WPH has merit but your help is needed to verify it. You can help by posting your feedback.  Let the professors and the EPA know what you think about WPH.  Do you think this idea is worth pursuing? We need to know if Americans will support a plan like this.

Do you have any ideas to improve the plan?

Share any and all of your thoughts.

Tell your friends and family about this Blog post and ask them to post their thoughts on WPH


Thank you