Obama Was Right

I was traveling the past couple of days, or I would have been all over this story. As it stands, I certainly won’t be the first one to make this point.

You may know that Barack Obama recently suggested that if all Americans kept their tires properly inflated and their cars correctly maintained, this would save as much oil as we could get from new drilling. Here he is making these comments, courtesy of YouTube. Obama’s critics (and his political opponent) jumped all over this, and are having a field day with it, suggesting that this is Obama’s energy plan, that he said “that’s all we need to do”, or “this will make us energy independent.” That’s not what he said. Time has already weighed in with a definitive rebuttal:

The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.

I thought the issue had probably passed, but apparently not. I am presently in the Netherlands, and during my visits here I have a roommate who is very conservative. This morning, he was listening to Fox News, and I overheard Sean Hannity ask “How on earth is keeping your tires inflated going to reduce dependence on foreign oil?” As someone who has long advocated this as a way to reduce gasoline consumption, I had a hard time believing that Hannity had asked that question. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that under-inflated tires alone waste about 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline a year. To put that in perspective, that’s 28 million barrels of gasoline a year, worth over $3 billion that we won’t send out of the country for foreign oil purchases.

Of course I mentioned this to my roommate. I said “You know, Obama is correct about that.” My roommate then said that he has a device in his tires that enables his tire pressure to be monitored remotely. He said – completely tongue in cheek – that we should require this on all new vehicles and have someone in the government monitoring everyone’s tire pressure to make sure they were properly inflated. If not, fine them $25 for being unpatriotic and supporting foreign dictators with their unnecessary gasoline purchases.

Whether it’s a good idea to get government involved in monitoring our tire pressure is beside the point. The bottom line is that the suggestion that this would reduce our dependence on foreign oil is correct. While I have criticisms of some aspects of Obama’s energy plans (McCain’s as well; his gas-tax holiday is a joke) – and I believe he is definitely pandering on this windfall profits issue – his comments here are on the mark.

Further, I have a real problem with people who would ridicule someone for suggesting that we conserve. This sends the wrong message that this is not a serious issue. Our energy problems aren’t going to be completely solved by increasing supplies (drilling our way to independence) or by conservation. It’s going to require both. Let’s keep that in mind, and not suggest that conservation won’t have an important role to play.

53 thoughts on “Obama Was Right”

  1. The only issue I have is the assumption the majority are driving around on under inflated tires. I don’t believe that they are.

  2. I don’t believe that they are.

    From one of my previous essays on the topic:

    “The Carnegie Mellon University Sustainable Earth Club studied 81 random vehicles in a parking lot and found that 80 of the 81 had under-inflated tires. The average rate of under-inflation was 20% — soft tires, indeed.”

  3. Robert,
    Does Paris Hilton read your blog? Her YouTube video rebuttal to John McCain sounded just like your own proposed energy plan!

  4. I think 200k bpd is a gross underestimate of what we could produce from the ANWR costal plain alone. Obama apparently doesn’t want to produce that oil, and is opposed to more nuclear power.

    I personally don’t think his plan, which could have been cribbed directly from the Sierra Club, the NRDC, or Greenpeace, is going to work. Their plan is conservation and renewables – just say no to new oil and gas supplies, just say no to nuclear. Is that realisitic? I think it’s a recipie for decades of energy starvation, complete with rationing, rolling blackouts, etc., not to mention the economic effects of sending even more of our wealth overseas to buy oil.

    It’s not realistic to think that we can make over our energy economy that quickly – we’ll need new supplies to make any sort of transition. Conservation is helpful but it has declining returns – it can’t take us to zero, and frankly I doubt it will make up for the increasing demand of an expanding population.

    Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi’s positions, solidly in the pocket of the environmental lobbies, are unreasonable, and the average person knows it. I saw the clip with McCain’s initial reaction to Obama’s idea, what I heard him say is “folks, let’s do that, but do you think that’s enough?” Exactly what I would have said.

  5. Properly inflated tires isn’t THE solution, but it would certainly help matters.

    I’m convinced most* people drive around with underinflated tires. I’m conscientious about keeping my tires inflated (in fact, I often run 3-5 psi more than recommended) but I even find times when my tires are lower than I like — especially during the transition between seasons.

    * Think back, how often you’ve seen people actually check tire pressure when they refuel? Do you think a suburban housewife with an SUV full of soccer kids is going to take time to check tire pressure?

  6. I also think the 200,000 bpd figure is baloney. The issue is more that Obama doesn’t want to have properly inflated tires AND drill, drill drill. As Dennis Miller noted the other day, we can’t inflate our way out of this problem.

  7. Just replace all gasoline stations in North America with air inflating stations. Problem solved!

    Have you ever heard the term, that politician is just blowing it out his bass? Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Or in Obo’s case, half right.

  8. In my decades of experience as a frugal — ok, cheapskate — driver, not only do I think that a supermajority of people are driving around underinflated, but I think the problem has gotten lots worse in the past decades, as radial tires have become universal.

    Not only that, but since fewer and fewer people are doing any car upkeep at home, the tire pressure checks are being done on hot tires –tires that have been driven for a while and heated up– thus the tire pressure check is deceptive.

    You need to check your tires cold — meaning the first thing in the morning for most people. This rarely happens, so even people who think they are fully inflated are not.

    I have fantasies of Scout troops raising money for campouts and doing community service projects by letting people in the neighborhoods where the troops get their members sign up for a “Saturday Morning Pumpup Service,” where you leave your car out in the driveway Friday night and, Saturday morning before 9, a Scout on a bike rides up with a foot-powered pump and pumps your tires up to the pressure you specified when you signed up. — JMG

  9. Does Paris Hilton read your blog? Her YouTube video rebuttal to John McCain sounded just like your own proposed energy plan!

    Yeah, Paris and I go way back. I am just disappointed that she didn’t mention where she came up with the idea. 🙂

    In hindsight, it looks so obvious. But I hadn’t seen anyone propose it before I did. And in fact, I proposed it hoping someone influential might read about it, and recognize it as an idea that might work. I will never know if they did, but the week after I made the proposal, the house was debating the same idea.

    Cheers, Robert

  10. Whether it’s a good idea to get government involved in monitoring our tire pressure is beside the point.

    The funny thing is — those wonderful politicians have already taken charge of your tire pressures. Surprised you did not know.

    Most new vehicles, by law, now have to come with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System which alerts the driver in the event of under-inflation. GM’s version sends you an e-mail, in case you have problems reading the dashboard. Puts up the cost of the car, of course, but so what? The politicians think that what’s yours is their’s anyway.

  11. The average rate of under-inflation was 20%

    That report would have been more credible if it had not come from the Young Communists.

    If the tire pressure on a typical car is supposed to be around 30 psi, 20% underinflation would leave it at 24 psi — which sounds a little improbable.

    I wonder if SUV drivers do a better job of keeping their tires inflated than Prius drivers? (I have never seen a Prius driver at a gas station checking his tires — wonder why?) Any chance of getting a government grant to study that?

  12. Ugh, I was hoping to read at least one thing today without Hilton’s name in it, I am already boned!

    I have found that almost no one I know checks their tires on anything resembling a regular basis. The ones I have checked for my GOOD friends have always been low. In this sense, obama is correct, but heck the guy is a career politician going into a presidential election, believe at your own risk…

    To the poster who thinks we need more nukes RIGHT NOW:

    Here is the DOE study on just dealing with the waste we have to date, no new plants. Oh, and BTW, funding has been cut for every school where I live, can you please tell me where all this $$ will come from?

  13. After reading RR’s column a few months back about the virtues of slightly overinflated tires, I slightly overinflated mine. They had been slightlu underinflated due to desert treks (better traction).
    I got about a 10 percent increase in mpg.
    The R-Party is just plain stupid on this one.
    Driving at 55 mph instead of 65 adds a bit too.

  14. people aren’t using hand pumps after all.

    I do — or actually with a small foot pump which stays in the car. I check & fill them every Friday while the tires are dead cold, so I know they're ready for any weekend trips we may take (which is 99% of our driving – during the week the car just sits).

    Conservation and new production – people who think either one will be adequate by itself are equally wrong.

  15. Oil companies have been recommending Obama’s steps for decades.

    RR – you might want to rethink your reference:

    During Earthweek last April, eight students from Carnegie Mellon’s Sustainable Earth Club . . used digital tire gauges to measure the air pressure in the tires of 81 cars that were parked in the East Campus Garage, the Doherty Apartments Lot and the Morewood Lot.

    So university students in a pro-environmental club checked university student parking lots during Earth Week. How is that representative of the average American? I don’t know about you but when I was at the university I had a crappy car and didn’t drive much. I probably didn’t properly inflate my tires either.

    If we used university students for our data gathering we would believe that most Americans live on cheap beer and ramen noodles.

    So far I haven’t seen anyone come up with a definative study. It seems this is just a WAG on how many tires are under inflated.

    Obama also said that you could save if you tuned up your car. Nonsense, most modern vehicles (anything 1996 or newer) don’t require regular tuneups. The cars computer can adjust the timing and other variables to compensate for fuel economy. My vehicles have tune ups recommended at 75,000-100,000 miles.

    Besides, as someone pointed out, unless you want to create the “tire pressure police” or the “tune up police”, there isn’t much the Federal government can do in this area. They CAN open additional acreage for drilling and have an immediate impact on pricing. Obama offers a false choice.

  16. But I hadn’t seen anyone propose it before I did.

    Great minds think alike – Geoff Styles proposed a similar compromise on his blog some months ago.

  17. Hey, here is one of the crack researchers at CMU. Diane Loviglio

    She has a bachelor of Arts & Humanities. Why do so many in the enviromental movement seem to have such lightweight degrees from prestigous universities? I went up against a couple of environmental activists just like here, a philosophy major from Brown and a sociology major from Yale – who tried to debate science and engineering.

  18. the energy required to keep tires inflated,

    Energy is not the issue. The oil required to keep tires inflated is nil.

    It drives me nuts when people attack every single propsal with “it won’t do enough to solve the problem”. There is no silver bullet, folks. We can’t drill our way out of this problem, inflate our way out, or

    our way out. It’ll take all these combined and more, and it will be decades before we are truly free. This debate needs to focus cost-effectiveness and timeliness.

  19. King, thats a good question. Although I am a treehugger( heck, I am building a treehouse right now)I have the same complaint about folks in the green movement. But that being said, even where I live, most people have such a poor understanding of even basic science, that talking about it makes them uncomfortably insecure. The current administration has almost made it a sport to laugh at science, why should society be much different?

  20. King-
    I don’t care if a guy is a plumber or woodworker (I have been the latter), it is the merits of the argument that count.
    Keeping tires slightly overinflated boosts mpgs. End of story.
    As for experts: We have “expert geologists” telling us we are going to run out of oil, just like they did in the early 1980s.

  21. Anon – it was this joker and it had to do with cooling water intake structures in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a couple of years ago. Ultimately we put our applications on hold since the projects weren’t needed.

    We proposed using seawater as an energy source to avoid greenhouse gas emissions.

  22. Benny – I was a plumber. I’m saying on the merits I think the idea that saving 3% from just tire inflation is crap.

    Hardly anyone changes their own oil any more. Every time I get mine changed it includes an air pressure check. I just don’t believe there are that many underinflated tires. Maybe I should go out to our parking lot and check.

  23. Our van has a TPMS system. The dash shows each tires pressure,and you get that annoying beep if one of them is low. Trust me,if you hear that beep every time you start your car,you WILL add air before long.

  24. Hey! Hire a bunch of Earth Fisters! to do the tire checks. That’ll get an accurate study.

  25. King-
    IOf you come to L.A. in the next two months, I have a plumbing problem on my 1959 Zenith Aero-Belo trailer.

  26. Maybe I should go out to our parking lot and check.

    Hear, hear. If everybody commenting here would check, say, three friend/family/co-worker vehicles against the owner’s manual or door-pillar numbers, the results might actually be enlightening.

    But hey, I’m also the type who still changes my own oil, so I guess I’m an outlier…

  27. Robert,

    You write that Obama didn’t say proper tire inflation and maintenance is “all we need to do.” But if not, why did he use a comparison between fuel savings from these measures to offshore production as part of his argument against offshore drilling? Either (a) he used a comparison that was completely irrelevant to his argument, or (b) he was, indeed, suggesting that offshore drilling is unnecessary because tire inflation and vehicle maintenance will solve the problem. The use of an irrelevant comparison would be wrong. And the suggestion that tire inflation and maintenance is all we need to do would certainly be wrong. The fact that the comparison may have been technically correct seems to me to be small consolation.

  28. ~ “Hardly anyone changes their own oil any more. Every time I get mine changed it includes an air pressure check. I just don’t believe there are that many underinflated tires.”


    There are that many underinflated tires out there. You’d also be surprised at the number of people who don’t change their oil regularly — either by themselves, or by one of those speedy oil change places. All they do is put gas in them.

  29. euro – even the quick lube places check your tire pressures. I change my own in the KingofKaty hybrid because I use a 0-20W full synthetic that isn’t avaialable at the lube place. I also run my pressures up to 45psi to get beter MPG.

    Back to Obama’s comment, he is wrong on two counts. First he said and doubled down yesterday:

    Now two points, one, they know they’re lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they’re making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. Its like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

    Every expert HASN’T said that. They said that each vehicle with underinflated tires might get 3-4% better mileage. For the entire country to get 3-4% better you would have to believe that everyone is driving on underinflated tires. With TPMS, frequent oil change, etc. I don’t think the number is that high.

    Secondly, in his original statement he was talking about not just OCS and interior drilling but also the 1002 area. The best guess of the 1002 production I’ve seen is 800,000 to 1,000,000 barrels per day. The US currently uses about 22 million barrels per day. So taking the lower number from the 1002 alone is 3.6% of current consumption without a drop of oil from anywhere else.

    Obama is overestimating what could be saved from inflating tires and underestimating production from drilling – then calling us ignorant for questioning the messiah.

    Environmentalists do the same thing with light bulbs. They try to tell us we don’t need new power plants, all we have to do is change our light bulbs. More nonsense.

  30. Here is the DOE study on just dealing with the waste we have to date, no new plants. Oh, and BTW, funding has been cut for every school where I live, can you please tell me where all this $$ will come from?

    Any source of energy is going to cost money – what’s your point? The money will come out of the rates people pay for electricity. Utilities have been paying the government for years for this repository. To put the $90 billion dollars in perspective, we are currently importing 14 million barrels of $120 oil per day, or over $600 billion per year. By comparison, $90 billion for disposing of the waste from 50 years worth of electricity looks like a bargain. BTW, right now coal-fired power is paying nothing for gigatons of waste disposal directly into the atmosphere.

    As for school budgets, perhaps we could first look at where all our tax money is going now. State income tax rates seem to just keep going up, meaning they’re taking the same or larger fraction of money out of our economy every year. So, where’s it going? I think there’s enormous waste in state and local governments. As we saw with the bankruptcy of Vallejo, there were over 260 people being paid over $100k per year, most paid $150k, $200k, or more, almost all of whom worked in the police and fire departments. How’d this happen? Simple: the unions wrote rules requiring huge overtime pay, then worked to keep the number of full-time employees down so that the city would have to pay overtime to fill the “understaffed” hours. Massachusetts is coming to grips with eggregious retirement benefits paid to “retirees” in their late 40s and early 50s, many of whom are back at work elsewhere in the state, double-dipping. The taxpayers are not a bottomless well of money to fund this type of wasteful government spending.

  31. If oil drops another $30 a barrel,will we save another 20 cents on each gallon of gas? Stations around here are charging $3.73 to $3.85 a gallon,and not a one of them ever hit $4. At this rate,it’ll take $10 oil to get gas under $3 a gallon again.

  32. TPMS is required in all vehicles sold in the US as of 11/1/07. They may not display actual PSI, but they will warn when under-inflated. Our ’06 and ’07 VW Passats have this feature.

  33. Maury,

    I checked this out a few months ago, when I must have been extremely bored.

    Going back to June 1986, and looking at daily Cushing WTI Spot ($/bbl) and New York Harbor Conventional Gasoline Regular Spot (cents/gallon), I correlated two sets of (WTI, gasoline) pairs. One set was for days where WTI was higher than the previous close. The other set was for days when WTI had dropped from the previous close.

    For rising days, the correlation was:
    Gas = 2.6033*WTI + 6.4104
    R^2 = 0.968

    For falling days, the correlation was:
    Gas = 2.595*WTI + 6.6514
    R^2 = 0.966

    In other words, not much difference. We see the same linear trend in rising and falling environments (viewed in single day increments). Plugging in for oil at $120 versus $90, you’d expect a difference in wholesale gasoline of 78 cents per gallon. Very simplistic of course, as there are so many other factors, but statistically speaking that’s what history suggests. The correlation hasn’t changed much over the past year.

    I didn’t try a retail gasoline correlation but may do so next time I get that bored. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I’d expect to see somewhat different behavior at the retail level.

  34. But if not, why did he use a comparison between fuel savings from these measures to offshore production as part of his argument against offshore drilling?

    He was definitely suggesting that we would get the same amount of supply with these steps as we would from offshore drilling, but his opponents have suggested that this is his plan for energy independence. Last time I checked, nobody was suggesting that we could drill our way to independence either.


  35. ~ “…even the quick lube places check your tire pressures.”


    I know that. Sorry, but you missed my point. There is a surprising number of people out there who don’t change (or even check) their oil regularly, let alone check tire pressure.

    I know it’s hard to believe, but many people do nothing more than fill the gas tank, and drive their cars until something goes wrong, then wonder why the repair bill is so high.

  36. Robert – what Obama said originally is that tire inflation alone would offset ALL drilling (OCS, interior, and 1002). Since then his sycophants have been saying he meant only offshore drilling to make him appear “infoulable”.

    Euro – So what you are saying is that people who don’t change their oil, thus risking thousands of dollars in in engine damage, can be persuaded to inflate their tires which might save $90 in gasoline each year (15,000 mils/yr / 20 MPG X $4/gal x 3% = $90).

    That is the absurdity of Obama’s statement. Inflating tires won’t help people who regurlarly service their vehicles, and those who don’t likely won’t bother with their tires.

  37. King-

    Being a stickler for proper tire pressures (color me crazy), for years I’ve been a casual observer of people’s tires. No stats to back this up, but I’d guess that most people do not keep them properly inflated.

    Your bias against Obama is showing, with comments like “the messiah.” Are you serious? Both of these guys have good ideas and bad. Both are politicians. Accept that. You sound a tad bitter. About what I don’t know.

  38. ~ “So what you are saying is that people who don’t change their oil, thus risking thousands of dollars in in engine damage, can be persuaded to inflate their tires which might save $90 in gasoline each year (15,000 mils/yr / 20 MPG X $4/gal x 3% = $90).


    Of course not. The many people who do not change or check their oil are not going to care much about their tire pressure either.

    People should keep their tires properly inflated both for safety and energy conservation reasons. But a large percentage don’t.

    Perhaps we should have roadblocks manned by Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls, and Guardian Angels who pull people over and inflate their tires with portable pumps.

    That would help save energy, but it wouldn’t solve the underlaying energy problem. However, it would do a great deal to make our roads safer since fewer people would lose control during sudden turns and panic stops. (Ever watch a car with under inflated tires wallow around a corner?)

  39. King-
    I love you, but the new LEDs save a lot. I work with architects now. Lighting is about 60 percent of a hotel’s electrical bill, and we are looking at cutting that by half in the next 10 years, for a typical hotel, usually by switching to LEDs.
    I wonder if we will need any more power plants in the USA, but I hope we build nukes if we do, and wind, solar, and geothermal.

  40. Benny – apples and oranges. Lighting in a commercial building accounts for a lot higher percentage of electric usage than for a residence. In a hotel many of the lights remain on 24/7 (hallways, stairwells, etc.) The illumination standards in a commercial building are also much higher.

    I have installed a number of CFLs and I am looking at LEDs, mostly because of the higher heat load of incandescents. In Houston we run A/C most of the year, I don’t like paying for the heat from light bulbs twice. One of the things I’ve wanted to do is count up the number of light bulbs in my house just to see how much power they might draw. I may do my survey over the weekend just to see.

    Anon – I didn’t invent the Obama messiah thing. In fact liberals at Slate (Tim Noah) came up with it in early 2007, originally as a joke. Mostly I mock the media’s treatment of Obama and his supporter’s almost religous fervour over the candidate. Saturday Night Live mocks him, I certainly didn’t come up with this sculpture .

    Even in this controversy, you see the messiah thing at work. Obama says something stupid, people jump on him, and then the press (Time magazine) and others run to his defense to clarify (or reinvent) what he said so it doesn’t appear that he is wrong.

  41. Benny – BTW, unplugging DC power strips won’t save much money either. I’ve had my Kill-a-Watt monitoring some DC converters for several weeks. I’ve found the biggest phantom load is for video game consoles. The Nintendo Wii is a particularly wasteful device.

  42. I drive my vehicle on underinflated tires, but rarely. I ride my bike (year round) nearly everywhere and spend more money on car insurance per month than I do on gasoline, which I believe is still too cheap, compared with $12 per gallon in UK. So it would probably not be worth my time to inflate my tires every other time I drive(2-4 times per month). The point I’m making here is that I am conserving leaps and bounds over 3% to begin with, mute point, and I think we should aim higher. If our public transport and land planning and general infrastructure gets better we can increasingly let the public transport mechanics worry about tire pressure, it’s their job. If five people ride a bus, which gets 10 mpg, that is as efficient as any single occupancy hybrid vehicle, which, btw now has a right to HOV lane real estate in Denver. Is encouraging single occupancy, isolationist culture, vehicles resolving any infrastructure problems? Somehow that irks me.

  43. Obama was right that efficiency such as properly inflated tires can do a lot to offset oil consumption. Increased access to offshore oil would only boost production by about 3% by 2030 (or 1% of total demand in the U.S.) There is a discussion of offshore oil, active platforms, and technically recoverable, undiscovered, offshore oil and natural gas at http://energyanalysis.org/2008/07/28/impacts-of-increased-access-to-us-offshore-oil-and-natural-gas-resources/.

  44. enegymv – not really. You can’t even quote the article correctly:

    “The OCS access case assumes that the current moratoria will expire in 2012, leasing will begin by 2012, and oil and natural gas production will begin by 2017.”

    Get that, first production in 2017 if the moratoria is lifted in 2012. Presumably if we lifted it in 2008 we would get everything 4 years sooner. It isn't 3% in 2030, it is 2017. The 200,000 Bbl/day figure is for the Gulf OCS only. NOT including CA, east coast, and the 1002.

    Besides, estimates of proven and probable reserves depend on oil price. The higher the price, the higher the P&P estimates as more reserves are economically recoverable at higher prices. The EIA study estimated a 2012 oil price of $60. Oil is at $120 today.

    The 3% figure might apply to A vehicle with underinflated tires, but that doesn't translate into EVERY vehicle in the US.

  45. energymv says: “Increased access to offshore oil would only boost production by about 3% by 2030 (or 1% of total demand in the U.S.)”

    Nancy Pelosi says gas prices will go down precisely 2 cents in precisely 10 years courtesy of offshore drilling. (To believe otherwise is a hoax!)

    Folks, these are planning estimates only. The numbers are really almost meaningless. It’s like predicting weather 2 years ahead of time.

    When the North Slope came online, it boosted US production by up to 33%. It still accounts for 14% of US production today. Do you think anyone predicted that in the 1950’s, 10 years before the first discovery wells were drilled? No. They, like the folks above, probably said it would add 2.7% to US production by June of 1983.

  46. King-
    I don’t know if anybody is still reading, but LEDs are just one facet of redically curtailing grid consumption from buildings. Better insulation, new glass that lets in light but not heat (thus also reducing lighting needs), use of outdoor shades etc. Additionally, buildings can generate own solar and wind power.
    In the next 50 years, 2/3rds of built space in America will either new or rebuilt — the new technologies to reduce energy demand are really something. It is a fair question whether we will need any new power plants.
    Another reason I am an optimist.

  47. Benny – I’m encouraged also. I recently put up Phifer SunTex solar screens on my west and southern windows. I’ll complete my radiant barrier project in the attic and then increase the insulation to 18″ (R-63). Power consumption continues to go up, primarily because of more and bigger electronic devices. I’m not sure that we will NEVER need to build another power plant.

  48. Well, you are fancier than me. I put corrugated roofing over my Airstream trailer, and let some very fast-growing trees (I don;t know the species, but they grow faster than even eucalyptus) do their thing.
    At Texas electrical prices, I would be surprised if we need new power plants. But hey, built the nukes. Build the wndmill farms. Put solar on top of every warehouse in L.A. I love it.
    I lived in Texas for two years, and loved the people.

  49. Two words: Homeowners Association.

    Solar shades are approved by the building committee. Retail electric prices have come down a lot in 60 days. I can get a contract for around 13-14 cts/kWh.

    Obama is right only in the sense that a broken clock is right twice a day.

  50. Obama is right only in the sense that a broken clock is right twice a day.

    He is right in that things like keeping our tires properly inflated is important. What I found so annoying is the way people pounced on this and treated it as a silly subject. A better response would have been “Of course inflating our tires is very important. But of course it’s going to take more than that.”

    What I heard was a bunch of people ridiculing a suggestion to make sure tires are properly inflated.


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