An Open Letter to Our Next President

Mr. or Madam President,

Vice President Dick Cheney once famously quipped “The American way of life is non-negotiable.” I submit that while our next president might not be so brash in stating this, the root of our energy problems can be traced to this attitude. But, nature doesn’t negotiate. It doesn’t appear that any of the remaining presidential candidates understand the basis of the problems we face: Oil is a depleting, finite resource – albeit one crucial for the “American way of life.”

Because this resource is so crucial – and obviously not just for Americans – depletion is going to drive prices up as consumers bid for dwindling supplies. Threatening to sue OPEC isn’t going to change that. Threatening to tax Big Oil into submission isn’t going to change that. Mandating that we will invent new technologies to meet a greatly increased Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t going to change that. These are the sorts of proposals that merely demonstrate that your grasp of the problem is superficial. And you have to understand the problem in order to begin addressing it.

Shouldn’t we also consider what happens when our “non-negotiable” way of life impacts the way of life for others worldwide? What if the Saudis also consider their way of life non-negotiable? Is suing them supposed to force them to negotiate? What about the person in Kenya whose way of life is eased by the very small amount of oil they consume? Shall we negotiate with that person, or just not invite them to the table while we price them out of the market?

Let’s first consider common ground that you and I may have. I presume we would agree that our dependence on oil is not healthy. It puts the economy in a very vulnerable position. It helps to enrich some countries that are hostile to us. It increases carbon dioxide emissions. I think this reflects the positions of all remaining candidates, and is consistent with my own position.

Now let’s consider a position on which apparently differ sharply: Gas prices must come down. While I understand the position of the average American that we are paying too much for gasoline – what impact do you think price has on demand? Higher prices will eventually spur conservation and encourage alternatives – which helps achieve the objectives of lowering our dependence by lowering our usage. Isn’t this what you want? Instead, all three candidates propose measures to bring down gasoline prices – thus encouraging consumption. Can’t you see the inconsistency in your position?

This is the time to show political leadership. The pandering sickens me. So what if the average person thinks we are paying too much for gas? The average person also voted for your predecessor – so let’s not presume that we must bow to the wishes of the average person. I offer the following unsolicited advice for dealing with this problem. This is how I would address Americans on this subject:

My Fellow Americans,

Spiraling gasoline prices are having a negative impact on the overall economy. Recent polls have shown that high energy prices are one of the biggest concerns of the American public. However, I have to be bluntly honest: There are no easy solutions. The situation we find ourselves in is a result of many years of policies that are short-sighted and have essentially ignored the long-term consequences of a dependence on fossil fuels – which in turn translates into a dependence on crude oil imports. One administration after another has paid lip service to energy independence, and yet our dependence has risen during each administration since Nixon. We are obviously doing something wrong. I believe I know what it is.

We have failed to truly understand why we have a problem. We have failed to understand why we are addicted to oil. We have failed to appreciate the nature of oil, and why it is so difficult to replace it with low energy density biomass. The truth of the matter is that we are addicted to oil because of the unparalleled conveniences it provides us. We sought painless solutions to our addiction. But if breaking an addiction was easy, we wouldn’t be addicted.

I don’t believe it serves a useful purpose to continue promising easy solutions. On the other hand, a big part of the reason that you find yourselves in this vulnerable position is because of the previous hollow promises that were made. So I propose the following measures to begin the process of breaking our oil addiction:

1. We must improve the fuel efficiency of our automotive fleet. It is an embarrassment. Here again, we have sought the easy solution: Just increase CAFE standards. Most people view this as a relatively painless solution. They think that instead of their Ford Expedition getting 14 mpg, the automotive industry has tricks up their sleeves that can push it to 24 mpg. All that is required is a bit of legislation, which doesn’t affect me, the consumer. But that’s not the way it works. To achieve 24 mpg, we are going to require a fundamental change in the SUV mindset.

We have fuel efficient vehicles available now, we just need to convince people to buy them. I propose to offer rebates ranging from $500 to $2000 for vehicles that achieve high fuel efficiency. I propose to penalize vehicles that achieve low fuel efficiency. I propose to phase these changes in over the next 3 years.

2. Continuing with theme of the first proposal, we need to find other ways to reduce our fuel consumption. Europe provides a useful guide here, as the average per capita energy consumption in Europe is half that of the U.S. How do they achieve this?

Primarily, they have achieved this by making fuel very expensive. Because I don’t think it would be fair to penalize you as a result of the decisions made by previous administrations, I propose to make this proposal revenue neutral. The goal here is not to collect more taxes; it is to encourage behaviors that reduce fuel consumption. So here is the specific proposal.

The average American consumes 1,000 gallons of gasoline a year. I propose to increase the federal gasoline tax by $0.20/gallon this year, $0.30/gallon next year, and then $0.50/gallon in each of the three following years. The total tax increase I am proposing is $2.00/gallon. This would still put gasoline prices at less than they are in Europe, but by having a clear understanding that gasoline prices won’t be going down, this will encourage conservation measures.

In order to offset the burden of these higher taxes, I propose a tax credit equivalent to the increased tax burden for the average American. This is equivalent to $200 in the first year of the tax. Those who use less gasoline than the average will actually see their overall tax burden go down. Those who consume more than 1,000 gallons per year will see an overall increase in their tax burden – and will therefore have a strong incentive to reduce their fuel consumption. For those whose fuel usage is for business use, the fuel taxes can be deducted against your business income.

3. Solutions will be required on the supply side as well. However, too many “solutions” to date rely heavily on fossil fuels, which is the very problem we are trying to mitigate. Therefore, I am appointing an independent panel of experts across multiple disciplines – environmental, energy, agriculture – to evaluate various sources for 1). Reliance on fossil fuels; and 2). Negative side effects. There will be specifically defined criteria that alternative sources must meet in order to qualify for tax breaks. For example, energy “producers” – fossil and alternative – will pay a surcharge on the fossil fuel inputs they use to run their operations. This will encourage a move away from the use of fossil fuels to produce “renewable” energy.

4. In order to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels for heating and electricity, I propose to extend tax credits for installation of solar systems, especially those for solar water heating. Tax credits for installation of wind power, geothermal power, tidal power, and various other qualifying energy sources will be extended for 10 years.

5. From my viewpoint, we need to move to a future in which electricity drives our transport systems. The electricity would be derived initially from existing sources like coal and nuclear power, but increasingly from solar, wind, and various other renewable sources. Improved battery technology and energy storage technologies are the key enabling technologies required. Therefore, I am proposing to significantly increase the funding and resources devoted to these technologies. Cash awards will also be available to inventors meeting certain key milestones – as inspired by the Automotive X PRIZE.

These five proposals are merely a start. I understand that for some of you, these changes will be painful. But the pain is coming regardless; I am just proposing to manage it in a more effective and predictable manner. For too long, we have been too passive in managing our oil addiction. The time has come for more aggressive measures.

Such proposals would not be without harsh critics, and would require strong leadership to push them through. Special interests will line up to protect their pocketbooks. Short-sighted politicians will try to protect a few at the expense of many. Will you be the president who takes a stand, tells the hard truth about our energy predicament, and pushes through measures that secure a brighter future for our children? Or will you be like the long succession of presidents who have made hollow promises and offered false solutions – only to see our dependence worsen?

Addiction can be a difficult thing to beat. But make no mistake: The path we have been traveling down is unsustainable, and the bills are starting to come due. If we don’t start paying them now, we will put an enormous burden on our children.

74 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Our Next President”

  1. RR: From your lips to God’s ears…or at least the next US prezzy.
    We have to increase gasoline taxes, and raise taxes on low mpg cars. I especially agree with your idea for a prize for a commercially viable battery car, or other very high mpg car. I suggest a $10 billion award. Why not? We spend that in Iraq every month, without result. For this $10 billion, we spend it only for a result.
    I am convinced that using solar power, geothermal, wind, nukes and PHEVs, and shale oil, we can achieve energy independence — while raising our living standards and cleaning our air. (Sorry, greenie-weenies, we can get the shale for not too much harm).
    RR: Maybe we are wrong with our approach — we are telling Americans about reductions, when we should be telling them that the way to a more-prosperous, more-solvent, and cleaner life, and a foreign policy not compromised by oil thugs, is found in energy independence.
    Emphasize the positive, the good life that can be had through energy independence, not the “sacrifices” that must be made (though the “sacrifice” of driving a higher mpg car strikes me as right up there with giving up that third vacation home, or $90 bottles of wine).

  2. If this stuff is true,we might should burn all the coal we can get our hands on,before we all turn to ice cubes.

    “Recently, supporters of a global cooling theory were boosted with the release of data from all four global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, GISS, UAH, and RSS). All agree that over the past year temperatures have dropped abruptly over the entire earth.

    The entire cooling amount ranges from 0.65C to 0.75C . This amount is significant enough to eliminate almost all of the warming recorded over the last 100 years. Most significant is the fact that this cooling occurred over one year. All four tracking outlets confirmed that this is the fastest temperature shift ever recorded, either up or down.”

    http://www.naturalnews.com/022996.html

  3. The Cheney quotation that, “the American way of life is non-negotiable,” could just as easily be taken as an observation rather than a statement of doctrine. Emotions such as greed and optimism have treated the USA well in the past. As a result, there’s not a lot of impetuous to discard them; the past success of the US economy argues against it.

    If you really want to change the American culture of consumerism I think you’re going to have to impoverish the population. In short we have surplus of people who like being consumers first and citizens second just fine thank you and they’re not going to react kindly to another Carter sweater speech. The internet is an amazing thing but the majority of the population doesn’t participate. Hell, the majority of people in my province didn’t vote in the last election!

  4. Do you really think a $2.00 a gallon tax would crimp demand Robert? The $2.50 increase we had over the last few years didn’t slow consumption much. I’m all for all 5 proposals though. Anything that might lessen dependence on OPEC is worth a shot imo.

    Either my eyesight went all to hell,or these letters are getting close to impossible to read,or both. Sheesh.

  5. How do you reconcile wanting European gas prices with expansive nature of American geography and low population densities? We have thousands of small towns where no public transportation is possible.

  6. Darrell,have you read the story in the Australian by Phil Chapman? If not,google “an ice age cometh”. Which NASA guy to believe? James Hansen says solar cycles have a negligible effect on weather. Chapman says we’ve skipped a cycle though. That the absence of sunspots could be disastrous. Most of the world under a mile and a half of ice is more than disastrous. It would be the end of most of us.

    These word verification letters are getting ridiculous.

  7. holy cow, you are my next president robert. i’m writing you into my ballot.

    sadly, this is so obvious to me yet totally unacceptable to the average american. i think you lost their support at raising gas tax

  8. I propose to offer rebates ranging from $500 to $2000 for vehicles that achieve high fuel efficiency. I propose to penalize vehicles that achieve low fuel efficiency.

    I love feebates but why not extend that to household appliances as well? For example, penalise the cheap (but inefficient) electric heater and reward the expensive (but efficient) heat pump?

    I’m afraid you lost me with 4. I don’t think we should be offering tax credits for specific technologies. We should just put a price on carbon (through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme, I don’t care) and let the market determine the most efficient way to reduce fossil fuel usage.

  9. You said, “Primarily, they have achieved this by making fuel very expensive.” I don’t believe this. Yes, they have made fuel very expensive, but this is not the only or most significant thing they have done. Time and time again the thing that has worked to increase efficiency has been regulations. Other things occasionally do, such as “decoupling”, which is enormously successful in the states that have it. Implementing decoupling at the Federal level is enormously important, and yet almost no one is talking about it.

  10. Just make sure the tax rebates that offset the gas tax increase are refundable. Poor folks don’t pay income taxes and can’t use rebates otherwise.

  11. Please consider these energy subsidies. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that report, but it wouldnโ€™t surprise me if true.

    It cites an estimate of $49 to $100 billion dollars of energy subsidies in 2006. Most of these were for things that are causing problems:

    Oil and gas got 52.4%
    Coal got 15%
    Total fossil was 66.2%
    Nuclear got 12.4%
    Ethanol got 7.6%
    Other renewables got 7.5%
    Conservation got 2.1%
    Other got 4.2%

    How backwards is that! Conservation should have gotten 50%. That would have made a larger difference in all of the others than the money they got.

  12. Robert – good essay. I share your views about what needs to be done and the transition we need to make towards greater efficiencies.

    Perhaps I would differ in the way I would implement it.

    Like you, I would propose to make this tax revenue neutral. However I think we need an oil import fee. I would set it at a sliding scale with a floor of $50/barrel. This would give alternatives the price protection they need. At the same time I would reduce taxes on domestically produced energy to 12.5%. That would put the US corporate tax on energy equal to the corporate tax rates of Ireland and Israel, but slightly lower than Hong Kong.

    One of the problems is that benny’s “thug states” can close their energy markets to foreign investment, but have free access to the US markets. I would change that also. There would be a special tax on imports from countries which do not allow direct US investment in oil and gas production, and the foreign ownership of oil reserves. If you want to break up OPEC, this is the way to do it. I know that oil is fungible commodity and oil that doesn’t get sold to the US winds up somewhere else – distorting the markets. But as benny has argued many times, there is no free market with OPEC countries – they limit capital flow. I’m not imposing anything on anyone. If the people of Saudia Arabia want to restrict ownership in their oil to the Government I’m ok with that – it is their choice. That doesn’t mean we have to buy their oil.

  13. King, those are very good suggestions. Some I had never thought about.

    Of course that’s one of the reasons for writing this – to gather ideas. I won’t suggest that I have the market cornered on ideas that could make us more energy independent. So if someone has suggestions, let’s hear them.

    RR

  14. Do you really think a $2.00 a gallon tax would crimp demand Robert?

    I think the effective piece is in knowing that higher prices are not a temporary situation caused by greedy oil companies. Higher prices are here to stay, and this message would be reinforced. So now that people have no reason to believe the situation is going to be eased, they can start to prepare.

    Either my eyesight went all to hell,or these letters are getting close to impossible to read,or both.

    I have had the same problem myself. I wish there was an option where people who have a blogger profile don’t have to input them.

    Bob Rohatensky has offered to set me up with a Slash site where we wouldn’t have that problem. I have dragged my feet because I was afraid I would lose my readers if I did that. But it would offer comments in a threaded view, and in general would be superior to this format. I think I will do it eventually, but keep trying to wait for a time that I am more available to oversee the transition.

    RR

  15. I’m afraid you lost me with 4. I don’t think we should be offering tax credits for specific technologies. We should just put a price on carbon (through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme, I don’t care) and let the market determine the most efficient way to reduce fossil fuel usage.

    Ideally, what you suggest is exactly what we would do (and something I have also suggested before). The problem I envision is seeing how to implement stiff carbon penalties for energy producers, while not putting an incredible burden on homeowners who are heating with natural gas. I guess you could do something similar to a rebate for gas taxes, but I think this would build up more resistance to the proposals.

    I honestly believe you could sell higher gas taxes, if you are honest with the people on why such a move is needed, and try to give them a chance to earn the money back through conservation.

    RR

  16. Time and time again the thing that has worked to increase efficiency has been regulations.

    I have wondered about this. To my knowledge, they don’t have CAFE type regulations in Europe; people are just responding to higher prices (and the expectation that they will remain high). Can you give some specific examples of regulations? It would be interesting to see what has worked.

  17. How do you reconcile wanting European gas prices with expansive nature of American geography and low population densities? We have thousands of small towns where no public transportation is possible.

    This situation has been made possible by cheap oil. That’s the only way so many can afford to live in suburbs and small towns and commute to work. Europe doesn’t have this kind of suburban sprawl, because 1). In many cases they regulate against it; and 2). Gas prices make it impractical.

    So here we are in a situation built on cheap oil, but oil is no longer cheap. That’s why we have a problem.

    RR

  18. earl – I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that report, but it wouldnโ€™t surprise me if true.

    Depends on how you look at it. I think everyone pays too much in income tax. The high corporate tax rates also distort business decisions. The report you linked cited the 1998-1999 tax and royalty relief for deepwater drilling. Remembering back to those days, crude was selling for $10-15 per barrel. The government wanted to open deepwater (5,000′ or more) oil and gas leases for exploration (this was the Clinton administration). At normal royalty rates and 39% income tax, US companies would have passed on the lease sales. The US government would have gotten NOTHING. Energy companies instead would have invested in the North Sea, Brazil, or someplace else. By reducing the royalty and tax rates, energy companies gave the sale a second look. The government got up-front payments of premiums for the rights to drill. Seismic and drilling companies in the US got business in the GOM. Fabrication yards in the US worked on the offshore structures. The platforms largely have US based crews who pay income taxes and spend their money in the US. All possible because of reduce royalties and taxes.

    Clearly the US Treasury is better off with oil wells in the GOM paying some taxes and royalties rather than none.

    But if you are a leftist environmental website (like earthtrack.net), I’m sure they have another view: wrong. In their eyes the fact that we all don’t pay 100% income taxes is probably a “subsidy”.

  19. I think the one area of conservation/efficiency with the biggest affect would be in power generation. The current law for new source review needs to be revamped to exclude efficiency increases. The law needs to consider only fuel input, not power output when forcing a new source review. This would allow us to improve our use of current energy inputs by 50% or more.

  20. The problem I envision is seeing how to implement stiff carbon penalties for energy producers, while not putting an incredible burden on homeowners who are heating with natural gas.

    This is a huge problem that has also to do with the way we regulate utilities in the US. Look at this table: Retail Price of Electricity by State .

    Here in Texas we pay around 12.5 cts/kWh, 2 cts more than the national average. Only about 30% of our power is generated by coal. On a grams of CO2 per kWh basis, Texas is very good. Look at West Virginia. Retail customers pay just 7 cts/kWh, with 100% of their power produced from coal – probably the dirtiest power on the planet.

    In a just world, West Virginians should be paying MORE for power than Texans based on the externalities of CO2. Does anyone think that will happen? (Or will a couple of Senators from WV tie up the senate in knots.) No what will likely happen is that West Virginia power plants will get some kind of license to emit CO2 with only slightly higher retail prices. Any new power plant construction is likely to be gas fired, driving the cost of gas up and raising the electric prices in Texas and elsewhere.

  21. May I send this letter to my Congressmen?

    By all means, but don’t expect a positive response. Politicians on both sides are still infatuated with the easy fix; the one that pushes the blame elsewhere and gets them re-elected. Look at Obama’s latest proposal. Actually, Clinton just published one this morning that sounds about the same:

    Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Address Soaring Prices at the Pump

    Here is the key point in her plan:

    Details of Hillary’s Plan

    Enact a Windfall Profits Tax on Oil Companies to Pay for Temporarily Suspending the Gas Tax

    Hillary will impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies and use the money to temporarily suspend the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gas tax and the 24.4 cent per gallon diesel tax during the upcoming peak summer driving months.

    She either doesn’t understand the fundamentals of supply and demand, or she is just a pandering politician (or both). What these proposals do is reinforce the view that consumers needn’t concern themselves with rising gas prices – politicians are going to protect them from high gas prices. This is 180 degrees from the approach I advocate. Hillary’s approach will make sure more money flows out of government coffers and into the hands of OPEC and the oil companies. She doesn’t seem to understand the relationship between price, supply, and demand.

    RR

  22. KingofKaty–
    Congratulations! I have long pondered how to ethically slap a tax on oil imports. You have provided the answer: The thug states do not engage in free trade or enterprise anyway. They are harming us directly through their thuggish policies, so it is fair of us to move to energy independence through an oil import tax.
    Probably, we have signed away our right to tax oil imports by various world trade agreements. Maybe we could do it effectively through other means, such as mysterious “docking fees” for oil tankers etc. That’s it! A huge carbon tax levied on imported oil at the port. Greenie-weenies and right-wingers unite!
    On rural America: They can buy higher mpg cars/trucks too. Pardon me, but when I go to small-town America, I see huge pick-up trucks, bigger than my Uncle Barney ever drove, and Uncle Barney lived life large. Oddly, these pick-up trucks never have a scratch on ’em.
    So, small towners learn to drive hybrids at 70 mpg, not doulies at 80 mpg. Did I spell doulie right?
    Maury: that is a fascinating post about climate. IO have posted here and there that an Ice Age is about due, and Ice Ages tend to happen rapidly, with 9 degree (centrigrade!) swings in mere years.
    Look for land south of the equator. An Ice Age is going to be a lot worse than Global Warming.
    Northern Aussie? They have a civilized government, speak English, and lots of land…seem friendly too.
    Raise some livestock and veggies and potatoes…you might get through the next Ice Age.

  23. KingofKaty said, “Clearly the US Treasury is better off with oil wells in the GOM paying some taxes and royalties rather than none.” What you don’t take into account was that it may have been the wrong time to auction those leases. Had the US waited until oil prices were higher, it could have found more eager buyers.

    My politics are that there shouldn’t be any income taxes. I believe in the Tax Waste, Not Work concept, which I think folks here should consider. However, that doesn’t make me say silly things like ‘In their eyes the fact that we all don’t pay 100% income taxes is probably a “subsidy”.’

  24. Cervus said, “How do you reconcile wanting European gas prices with expansive nature of American geography and low population densities? We have thousands of small towns where no public transportation is possible.

    This is what makes raising the CAFE standard all the more important. Our fleet currently averages 22.4 MPG for passenger cars, 18.0 for light trucks. If our fleet were instead 45 MPG, we would pay less than half as much. If our fleet were electric, we would pay one sixth as much (2.4 cents a mile vs. 15.2 cents a mile). And the gap between electricity and gasoline is about to widen (15.2 cents a mile being based upon $3.51/gallon for gasoline).

    Because we drive 9300 VMT per capita, high MPG is more important in the US than in the EU, and yet they have the higher MPG.

    We’ve set the CAFE standard at 35 MG in 2020. It should be 60 MPG by 2030.

  25. Enact a Windfall Profits Tax on Oil Companies to Pay for Temporarily Suspending the Gas Tax

    Hillary will impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies and use the money to temporarily suspend the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gas tax and the 24.4 cent per gallon diesel tax during the upcoming peak summer driving months.

    Different name, same result. Clever, those politicians!

    If you see current prices as the result of tight supply, price at the pump will rise until demand doesn’t exceed supply.

    Whether current federal gasoline tax or “windfall profits” tax, it’s the same part of the pump price.

  26. Incidentally, this was my 499th essay since I started this blog.
    Looking forward to the BIG 500 then: The Future of Energy, or something of that nature.

    Of course that’s one of the reasons for writing this – to gather ideas.
    I see two important ideas: Conservation and Waste-based Biofuels.

    I like King’s ideas to both take on OPEC and guarantee oil prices stay high enough to allow alternatives a foothold. In addition, high oil prices would encourage conservation.

    Waste-based Biofuel should be the ONLY type of biofuel allowed for the foreseeable future. I know there isn’t enough of it to get us fully independent, but once we have created a strong waste-based industry, we’ll be in a position to identify the workable solutions.

    And we can do all that while cleaning up the environment and using our waste for something profitable and renewable. Talk about a win-win solution.

  27. 1. CAFE implicitly does the same thing as your proposal — automakers cut prices on fuel efficient models and increase them on gas guzzlers until their sales mix meets CAFE.

    2. $2/gal would have a small effect, as evidenced by the limited response to the recent $2+ jump in gas prices. We’d still be well below Euro-prices, and Euro-consumption is still 50% of ours despite higher population density and lower disposable income. We’d need a much higher tax (e.g. $8/gal) to achieve Euro-consumption, and probably $10-12/gal to cut consumption the 65% needed to eliminate oil imports.

    Gas taxes fall disproportionally on rural areas. If one must impose hardship to achieve a shared goal, it should fall equally on all. Fortunately, we need not impose hardship to achieve this goal.

  28. We can attack oil imports two ways: change our cars or change our lifestyle. The first is easier if you have the time. I prefer your feebate system over CAFE, but I’d base it on estimated lifetime (150k miles) oil consumption. For example, feebate could be $1/gal minus $5000. A 15 mpg SUV thus pays a $5000 fee. A 30 mpg compact (or hybrid SUV) pays no fee and a pure EV gets a $5 rebate. This $1/gal ‘upfront’ gas tax would cut consumption much more than a $2/gal ‘change your lifestyle’ tax.

    You’d need to use actual average consumption. of FFVs in the real world. If most Flex-Fuel vehicle owners fill up with straight gasoline then FFV gets minimal feebate benefit. Same if most PHEV owners never plug in.

    What about CNG? NG imports are not a big problem today, but a move to CNG cars could change that. On the other hand, CNG cars in regions with ‘stranded’ NG (e.g. Rockies) can economically displace a lot of oil consumption. And the CNG lobby would argue it’s just as good to let wind displace NG in powerplants and burn the NG in cars as to let the wind fuel PHEVs directly. That’s T. Boone Pickens’ argument, and it has some merit. So I’m kind of stuck.

  29. How do you reconcile wanting European gas prices with expansive nature of American geography and low population densities? We have thousands of small towns where no public transportation is possible.

    No kidding. Find a globe. Compare the size of Europe to the US. Europe has a lot higher population density than the US.

    True story: back during WWII, some German POWs (captured in North Africa) were brought to the States for internment. They were put on a train at the East Coast, which went west for three days. They were certain the train was going in circles to confuse them. They couldn’t believe how far it was to Kansas. When some escaped from the camp and were caught days later, they were aghast to discover they hadn’t even made it out of the county, let alone the state.

    —————-

    Higher prices are here to stay, and this message would be reinforced. So now that people have no reason to believe the situation is going to be eased, they can start to prepare.

    Lehman Brothers disagrees
    The roaring oil boom of the last few months may be on its last legs as economic growth slows hard across the world and a clutch [of] new refineries come into operation, Lehman Brothers has warned in a hard-hitting report.

    …Lehman Brothers said the price of oil had been pushed to inflated levels by a $40bn inflow into commodity index funds this year, much of it coming from Mid-East sovereign wealth funds.

  30. benny – Probably, we have signed away our right to tax oil imports by various world trade agreements.

    The only real free trade agreements we have are with Mexico and Canada. Canada would already qualify under my plan. Mexico would require a change in their constitution.

    Under WTO rules import duties are perfectly legal. Until the 16th amendment the US derived virtually all of its federal revenues from import duties.

    You have to think more generally about trade. The US has a free market economy. Part of the trade of the US must be capital and knowledge. When a thug state like Venezuela wants access to our markets, we should demand free access to their capital markets and investment in their oil production.

  31. “Maury: that is a fascinating post about climate. IO have posted here and there that an Ice Age is about due, and Ice Ages tend to happen rapidly, with 9 degree (centrigrade!) swings in mere years.”

    Benny,there seems to be a correlation between low sunspot activity and ice ages. Right now,there are no sunspots. The spooky thing is,the earth spends 95% of its time in an ice age. The last 10,000 years were a rare gift. This site provides a daily picture of the sun.

    http://www.spaceweather.com/

  32. I think you should make that commute from your new house in the ‘burbs (20 miles out of town?) a few times and maybe a couple 4 hour round trips to Grandpa’s in a vehicle that seats 5 people before you tell the next president gas should be more expensive.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. What you don’t take into account was that it may have been the wrong time to auction those leases.

    Perhaps. We just had another lease sale in the GOM recently. By your logic if the price of oil comes down, shouldn’t the bidders be allowed to renegotiate the deal? Hindsight is 20/20.

    As for taxing at 100%, liberals and socialists often use the term “cost” when talking about reducing taxes, and talk only about “benefits” when increasing government spending. Seems that the only time anyone worries about “paygo” is when someone proposes reducing taxes.

    I think we are engaged in a very wrong headed war that is costing our country trillions of dollars and is producing no noticeable improvements. This war has shattered lives and given birth to many unintended consequences. We had no legal or constitutional basis to engage in this war. The President who got us into this war never defined what success looked like, nor provided an exit strategy or gave us any guidance on when the people we are helping will be able to stand on their own. It looks like we may be in this war for several generations with no end in sight. I’m not talking about the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, but the war on poverty.

    If you want to talk about subsidies and eliminating waste, then we need to discuss how the government subsidies and creates poverty through its wrong headed policies.

  34. I’m not talking about the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, but the war on poverty.
    Wowa, you had me fooled!

    If you want to talk about subsidies and eliminating waste, then we need to discuss how the government subsidies and creates poverty through its wrong headed policies.
    Fair enough. How much is Uncle Sam spending on poverty, though? 10% of what he spends in Iraq? 5%?

    There is a problem with entitlement spending: no politician, ever, had the gonads to say “no” to the ‘boomers. Watch as Medicare and Medicaid eat the Federal Budget…

  35. Fair enough. How much is Uncle Sam spending on poverty, though? 10% of what he spends in Iraq? 5%?

    Don’t feel bad, most people overestimate what we spend on military and the war and vastly underestimate what we spend on social programs.

    According to OMB, the US spends 16.1% of the federal budget on anti-poverty programs. These include food stamps, housing assistance, energy assistance, aid to families with children, the earned income tax credit, and the biggest program – Medicaid reimbursement to the states, which makes up about 1/2 of the total.

    The US spends 20% of the federal budget on its entire military defense, including Iraq and Afghanistan. When LBJ started the war on poverty the US spent just 2.6% of the budget on poverty programs. In 1990 we spent just 8%. Anti-poverty has expanded at its fastest rate during the current Clinton administration, but has also grown under current president Bush.

  36. Hey Robert,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a year now, and I love it. It’s the only energy blog I recommend to people without any qualifications.

    *But* I’m really bummed that your RSS feed no longer has the full articles. It’s your prerogative to run your site however you like, but I will almost certainly unsubscribe because of this. (I just don’t have enough minutes in the day to do any blog reading that I can’t do entirely within an RSS reader).

  37. Nice Robert you are asking for honesty and leadership out of Washington. If you can condense what you wrote into a 5 word sound bite that appeals to everybody, then I think you’ve got something.

    About your essay, I would like to see a greater emphasis on atomic energy. Wind and solar are nice, but more nukes need to be a big part of the solution and that will take leadership and education.

    One other thing, you suggested that “one administration after another has paid lip service”…I think Hillary would re-phrase that.

  38. The problem I envision is seeing how to implement stiff carbon penalties for energy producers, while not putting an incredible burden on homeowners who are heating with natural gas.

    Unfortunately there must be some pain. Conservation won’t occur without pain. Ideally what should happen is the proceeds from a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme would be handed back as income tax cuts (targetted at low incomes) and increased welfare payments. That way homeowners who can afford better insulation etc will do so, and homeowners that can’t will be compensated.

    Of course, I’m yet to find a politician anywhere in the world with the courage to implement any of this. We just had a change of government in Australia, from a pro-fossil fuels, climate change denying government, to a more moderate government, but apart from symbolic gestures (such as ratifying Kyoto) nothing has changed.

  39. According to OMB, the US spends 16.1% of the federal budget on anti-poverty programs.
    Interesting.

    The US spends 20% of the federal budget on its entire military defense, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
    You sure that includes Iraq and Afganistan? AFAIK, these two were always excluded as “special items” as if no-one knew what they would cost (or even that they would happen). Paving the way for those urgent requests from the White House.

    Anti-poverty has expanded at its fastest rate during the current Clinton administration…
    Current Clinton administration? Freudian slip?

    BTW, I agree. I think Karl Rove learned a lot by studying Mr. Clinton.

  40. Of course, I’m yet to find a politician anywhere in the world with the courage to implement any of this.
    Well, that’s what I like about $120/bbl. It takes the cowards out of the equation.

    And I don’t see it dropping much in the foreseeable future either (and the WSJ agrees), though I expect King to disagree with that.

  41. Well, that’s what I like about $120/bbl. It takes the cowards out of the equation.

    I couldn’t agree more … but you know what the cowards will do next — yep, cut fuel taxes.

    In the lead up to an Australian election in 2001 the previous government (who was doing poorly in the polls at the time) froze fuel taxes at 38c/L. Prior to that fuel taxes were indexed to inflation. Effectively fuel taxes have been reduced from ~50% of the retail price in 2001, to less than 25% of the retail price today.

    The new government is now under intense pressure to “do something” about fuel prices. They’ve already announced a “fuel watch” scheme to control profiteering by the oil companies and petrol stations.

  42. I’m really bummed that your RSS feed no longer has the full articles. It’s your prerogative to run your site however you like, but I will almost certainly unsubscribe because of this.

    RSS tends to drive me a bit crazy. I need a tutorial on it. I was not aware that the feed no longer has the full articles.

    I was asked to tweak the settings so another site could grab articles they liked. Their complaint was that I was only syndicating the first 250 words. So I have gone into Blogger and told it to syndicate the entire article. But I think I have two different feed links, and I when I fixed one it screwed the other up. I will get this sorted out.

    RR

  43. I think you should make that commute from your new house in the ‘burbs (20 miles out of town?) a few times and maybe a couple 4 hour round trips to Grandpa’s in a vehicle that seats 5 people before you tell the next president gas should be more expensive.

    23.5 miles, to be exact. But I don’t have to make that commute every day. If I had, I wouldn’t have opted to live that far out.

  44. Compare the size of Europe to the US. Europe has a lot higher population density than the US.

    So, are you saying then that the American way of life is non-negotiable?

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. KingofKaty:
    I did a little research, and the US signed off on the 1995 Uruguay round of WTO talks, and sobsequent rounds, and “committed” to a schedule of tariffs, and to even reducing that schedule, which includes oil imports.
    No doubt, some do-gooders wil argue we cannot break our commitments.
    I still say go for heavy import fees on every barrel of oil that comes in, except from Canada
    Help create a jobs boom in the United States, and quit sending billions to thug states, who sponsor terrorism and worse.
    And King is right: Using import taxes, we are not telling anyone else what to do. We are only saying, “If you want to play by your rules, we will play by ours.”
    PS the sign-in filter letters look more clear…I thought I was going crazy until others complained too….

  46. “Ideally what should happen is the proceeds from a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme would be handed back as income tax cuts (targetted at low incomes) and increased welfare payments.”

    I thought this was an interesting study: http://ase.tufts.edu/econ/events/
    specialEventsDocs/metcalfCarbonTax.pdf

    The gas tax proposed is lower than Robert’s, but would rise every year. But again, it would require leadership, when we’ll just get pandering. That is how you get elected it seems.

  47. …If I had, I wouldn’t have opted to live that far out.

    Okay, so you needed a house for a family of 5 and opted to live at a location that causes a 50 mile round trip commute, albeit a part-time commute.

    Would you have changed plans if gas was $10/gal? Let’s say you commute 200 days a year, that is 10,000 miles and in a 30mpg car that is 333 gal/year of commute gas. I think they must pay a Director of Engineering at least minimum wage ๐Ÿ™‚ Are you sure changing the price of gas would actually change your behavior?

    Would increasing the commute cost from $1000/yr to $3000/yr have changed where you bought your home?

  48. 1995 Uruguay round of WTO talks, and sobsequent rounds, and “committed” to a schedule of tariffs, and to even reducing that schedule, which includes oil imports.

    My recollection of the Uruguay round had to do with agricultural subsidies and tariffs. At the time crude oil prices were quite low. The US had more to gain by opening up other markets for exports. You will also recall that low crude prices spurred opening of energy capital markets around the world. The pendulum has swung the other way now. Energy markets are closing to direct foreign investment and the oil markets are not responding to high prices by increasing investments because the best places to invest are closed.

    I am a free trader and recognize that the US has enjoyed the benefits of free trade, even at times when it has hurt our own industries. My import tariff proposal recognizes that access to the large US free market requires a little reciprocity in energy capital markets.

  49. Optimist – And I don’t see it dropping much in the foreseeable future either (and the WSJ agrees), though I expect King to disagree with that.

    WSJ was comparing wage inflation to oil inflation and said 2007-08 is worse because wages aren’t keeping up. I’d agree with that. It still doesn’t explain the underlying runup in oil prices. China and India will reduce their subsidies and purchase of crude too as they begin to pay more for rice and wheat. It probably doesn’t matter to the speculators because they ceased trading on market fundamentals over a year ago.

    As to the cost of the war – it depends on who is doing the counting. Some economists have estimated $2 trillion, but to get there they need to include higher cost of crude oil and other long term economic effects.

    The best number I’ve seen so far is the war has cost $525 billion. That squares pretty well with the 2008 US Federal Budget .

    Add up Medicaid/SCHIP ($386 B) and unemployment/welfare ($324 B) – call that the war on poverty = $710B. I’m spotting you HUD, food stamps, LIHEAP, educational programs, and other discretionary anti-poverty programs.

    Compare that to the global war on terror $145 B. OK add the entire defense budget of $481. It still doesn’t come up to the amount we spend on anti-poverty.

    People get really upset about the war on terror, but don’t hold our politicians accountable for the war on poverty. What we have done is raised the standard of living for the poor but haven’t really helped them achieve independence from government handouts.

    Your point was we are spending a lot on Iraq and not much on poverty. It is actually the other way around.

  50. Would you have changed plans if gas was $10/gal? Let’s say you commute 200 days a year, that is 10,000 miles and in a 30mpg car that is 333 gal/year of commute gas. I think they must pay a Director of Engineering at least minimum wage ๐Ÿ™‚ Are you sure changing the price of gas would actually change your behavior?

    Me, personally? $10/gallon would start to bite, but I can then carpool and such.

    For me, even more significant than a 20 mile commute each way, is the fact that I hate to commute. Every where I have ever lived, I got as close as possible. In Dallas, that means giving up a lot. But because of my particular situation – in all likelihood I will make that drive less than half the time – it made a lot more sense.

    Had gas been more expensive all along, I don’t believe we would have ever created a situation where a large fraction of people were doing this, and the suburbs kept spreading.

    RR

  51. Unfortunately there must be some pain. Conservation won’t occur without pain.

    I’ve found it to be pain-free. I’d go so far as to say it’s a net positive. But you’re probably right that a lot of people won’t do it out of a sense of public duty.

  52. Had gas been more expensive all along, I don’t believe we would have ever created a situation where a large fraction of people were doing this, and the suburbs kept spreading.

    That is irrelevant to the current problem.

    What you are basically saying is that you would like to implement an energy policy that would have no real effect on your own decisions because you can afford it. You can car pool now, you don’t need a higher gas price to make that decision and whether you do or not depends more on convenience than what it is going to cost you.

    So.. you base a decision on where to live based on schools for the kids, crime rate and a big back yard, not the price of gas. A few months from now when they tell you they want you in at work everyday, do you sell your house and move closer? nope. Gas goes to $10, do you sell your house and move closer? nope.

    I’m not trying to make this a personal chastisement or anything, although my house is a few minutes from downtown, I live in a city with 200,000 people. We chose where we live based on schools, street traffic, crime rate, etc. and didn’t really consider the price of gasoline. I would like to live out on an acreage, but the price of real estate doesn’t really reflect the increased commute cost, so we are staying put.

    Anyway, my point is that unless interest rates are jacked up to the ‘teen levels like the early ’80’s to attempt to curb hyper-inflation, consumer habits don’t really change with increased commodity costs. People just keep on living the same and things like capital investment in their home mean they don’t change habits quickly, they just go farther into debt and keep on living the same.

    Your idea of increased gas tax wouldn’t change anything in your life or most other people’s, except that you would have less cash. See Canada as an example.

  53. What you are basically saying is that you would like to implement an energy policy that would have no real effect on your own decisions because you can afford it.

    Absolutely not true. I don’t use a lot of energy just because I can afford to. I minimize my energy usage as much as I can.

    But what you are missing with your whole line of argumentation is that higher prices are already spurring more demand for fuel efficient vehicles. If I choose to live 23 miles from work, only commute on a part-time basis, and get the most fuel-efficient vehicle I can find – then even though I can afford to use more energy, I in fact am keeping it pretty minimal. Of course there are those flights back and forth to Europe, but I have no control at all over that (unless I just quit).

    You can car pool now, you don’t need a higher gas price to make that decision and whether you do or not depends more on convenience than what it is going to cost you.

    That’s not a decision I can make unilaterally. I have to find people willing to carpool. Higher prices will make it easier, as people will be more willing to give up convenience.

    Heck, I have shown again and again that I am willing to give up convenience to lower my energy consumption. A carpool would be an upgrade from some of the things I have done.

    RR

  54. Again, I wasn’t trying to pick on your personal energy consumption, just your naive idea that jacking up US prices by taxation was going to suddenly change US urban layout to be more European. The sprawl in North America was due to cheap land and cheap oil and it’s not reversible overnight by higher gas prices and higher gas prices aren’t going to change consumer consumption, just consumer debt load.

    Most European cities saw their majority of infrastructure in place pre-automobile or it would be just as screwed up there, too.

    Every time I bother posting a comment here, I get reminded of the line from “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel:
    “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

    You don’t rethink much of anything once you come up with an opinion. You can apply the exact same “price increase improves conservation of gasoline” you are talking about to corn and there you are arguing on the other side, that it should be artificially back to $2/bu so your dad can make money feeding beef.

    You defend profits in the Oil industry as fair and then go right over the top when a Corn farmer in Iowa make 1/4 of the ROI COP does.

  55. Absolutely not true. I don’t use a lot of energy just because I can afford to. I minimize my energy usage as much as I can.

    You minimize energy use as a personal choice, not because of price. This directly argues against your $2 gas tax.

    Will a $2 tax will have an effect? Sure. Will it reduce consumption more than a few percent? No. Most people can easily afford the extra $2 and will continue to make personal choices which result in high consumption. This is especially true if their income tax withholding declines by more or less that same $2.

  56. Again, I wasn’t trying to pick on your personal energy consumption, just your naive idea that jacking up US prices by taxation was going to suddenly change US urban layout to be more European.

    That’s a complete straw man. Where do I suggest such a thing? What jacking up prices will do is cause people to start adopting more fuel efficient vehicles as they buy new vehicles. Over a longer period of time, it will indeed discourage sprawl. But that’s obviously not going to be a short term effect. Then again, I never suggested that it would be. You latched on to that somehow and ran with it.

    You don’t rethink much of anything once you come up with an opinion.

    That’s because generally I don’t throw opinions out without thinking them through. If I was constantly changing my mind, it says I didn’t do a good job of thinking things through to begin with. Doesn’t mean I never change my mind, nor that I am never wrong.

    You can apply the exact same “price increase improves conservation of gasoline” you are talking about to corn and there you are arguing on the other side, that it should be artificially back to $2/bu so your dad can make money feeding beef.

    You have a muddled analogy here. What happened with corn happened very suddenly, due to some misguided policies. The U.S. government bears a lot of responsibility for what happened there. You have said before that you are against subsidies, but you apparently aren’t against creating an artificial demand for a product that ends up doing little to lessen our fossil fuel dependence. And as a result, my Dad gets to pay a lot more for corn. And of course it is causing him to conserve corn. He has no choice.

    You defend profits in the Oil industry as fair and then go right over the top when a Corn farmer in Iowa make 1/4 of the ROI COP does.

    Complete misrepresentation of my position. I don’t say the profits are fair or unfair. They are what they are, based on fundamentals in a world market. In fact, if gas taxes resulted in people moving to more fuel efficient vehicles, you would see demand go down, and potentially oil industry profits.

    Now, if we had a situation where the government mandated that we use more oil, you have a situation similar to the corn farmer. And if the government stepped in to mandate more oil if refinery capacity got overbuilt and margins were squeezed, then you are still consistent with why the profits of corn farmers have escalated. Of course my point with gas taxes is that the government has actually encouraged high consumption โ€“ and thus high oil company profits โ€“ by keeping prices low. I wish to rectify that.

    RR

  57. Will a $2 tax will have an effect? Sure. Will it reduce consumption more than a few percent? No. Most people can easily afford the extra $2 and will continue to make personal choices which result in high consumption. This is especially true if their income tax withholding declines by more or less that same $2.

    I obviously disagree. Why do you suppose fuel efficiency is so much higher in Europe? You know, not only do Europeans drive fewer miles (which is in fact largely due to historical factors), but they drive much more fuel efficient vehicles. Why?

    Bob above argues that gas taxes won’t have much effect, and gives Canada as an example of a country with high gas taxes, and high per capita energy usage. But look at their fuel efficiency. It is significantly better than in the U.S. Why, do you suppose?

    I think it’s ludicrous to believe that if Americans know that gas prices are going up significantly, they won’t start to adopt more fuel efficient vehicles. Right now they have no real reason to do so, when political leaders are promising to keep gas prices down. Even so, last year the Prius outsold the Ford Explorer. Do you think this trend wouldn’t accelerate if gas prices were guaranteed to stay high? I certainly do.

    RR

  58. You defend profits in the Oil industry as fair and then go right over the top when a Corn farmer in Iowa make 1/4 of the ROI COP does.

    Something I forgot to add here. What I am looking for is consistency. The oil industry is demonized every time oil or gas prices go up, precisely because of the kind of crap the politicians are spewing now. When is the last time you heard someone suggest that we should kill a farmer because corn prices have gotten high? I have heard this sentiment expressed several times regarding oil CEOs.

    Now if politicians were suggesting that we now go after the “windfall” of the corn farmers, we will have the kind of situation we have with oil companies where governments want to go after profits every time they have been good.

    RR

  59. So what you are saying is that you would like the president to implement an energy policy that you admit won’t change your gasoline usage one bit over what you would do anyway, but it’s still a good idea?

    Good thing you thought this through beforehand!

  60. So what you are saying is that you would like the president to implement an energy policy that you admit won’t change your gasoline usage one bit over what you would do anyway, but it’s still a good idea?

    Bob, you are now grasping at straws, and failing to address anything I wrote. It won’t change my gasoline usage, because I have already made a conscious decision to minimize it. I don’t need any extra incentive. And if everyone else were as concerned about it as I am, there would be no need to make serious policy changes. I spend a large portion of my waking hours trying to address our energy problems. Heck, if I thought everyone would follow my example, I would continue to ride a bike back to work in Dallas as I am doing now in the Netherlands.

    As long as we have people fighting against these changes and politicians making hollow promises 1). Fossil fuel supplies will continue to deplete; 2). The price rise will continue unabated, and that money will go into the pockets of OPEC and the oil companies; and 3). There will be no long-range planning, because the consumer continues to hear messages that the price rise is temporary.

    RR

  61. By the way, just one more comment for Bob, because it struck me last night that he doesn’t really understand what I mean by saying I won’t be commuting that much. Up until this past week, I have worked for my company for 2 months, and I was in the office 1 day. We had a meeting there this past week, and I spent another 3 days there. It will probably be 3 weeks before I am there again.

    So, the fact that I live 23.5 miles from work isn’t really relevant when I rarely have to go to the office. Right now, I am averaging twice a month. But if I did have to commute daily, I would in fact have moved closer in.

    RR

  62. What jacking up prices will do is cause people to start adopting more fuel efficient vehicles as they buy new vehicles.

    It is MUCH more cost-effective to do this directly, via feebates (or even CAFE). The best way to target vehicle efficiency is to directly target the vehicle buying decision:

    1. About one in ten households will buy a new car this year. A gas tax dilutes its effect across the entire population.

    2. New car buyers skew high on the wealth/income scale, and are less sensitive to gas prices.

    3. Buyers tend to overweight the concrete upfront cost (monthly payment) and underweight back-end costs (gas, insurance, depreciation, etc.). You see this dramatically demonstrated with products like CFL, which save multiples of their purchase cost in electricity over their lifetime. But people still opt for the cheaper upfront cost of incandescents.

    Again, we’ve already seen the equivalent of a $2+ gas tax. People are buying fewer SUVs and more hybrids. But the effects is small.

    Why do you suppose fuel efficiency is so much higher in Europe?

    1. Higher population density

    2. Lower disposable income

    3. Gas taxes much higher than $2

    4. Additional fees/taxes based on engine displacement

    5. Additional incentives for small cars due to historically narrow streets, small parking spots, limited garages, etc.

    6. Smaller families.

    7. A culture less focused on consumption.

    8. More investment in mass transit.

    A $2 tax by itself will only close part of the gap between US and Euro consumption levels. To eliminate oil imports we must not just close the gap, but actually consume less than them. We can only do this by changing our vehicles. A $1 “upfront gas tax” via a feebate would have a much larger effect on our car-buying decisions than a $2 “pay-as-you-go” tax, and do it with much less economic distortion.

  63. You see this dramatically demonstrated with products like CFL, which save multiples of their purchase cost in electricity over their lifetime. But people still opt for the cheaper upfront cost of incandescents.
    I don’t buy it, Doggy. I have installed several CFLs and many of them fail very quickly, much quicker than incandescents. So much for the promised savings.

    Perhaps the general public is smarter than you give them credit for.

  64. Again, I wasn’t trying to pick on your energy usage, just to make a point that raising prices isn’t going to change behavior for anyone with a good job.

    That depends on what you mean by “anyone with a good job.” It will impact the average person. It won’t impact the person who makes $300,000 a year. Only rationing has a chance to do that, and even then people with money can get around that.

    What needs to be impacted is the behavior of the average person. The knowledge that gas prices are going higher will start to change their purchasing behavior.

    RR

  65. I have installed several CFLs and many of them fail very quickly,

    I guess your anecdotal experience trumps years of extensive lab and field testing.

    I never had a CFL fail until we moved into our new house, then three failed within a year. Maybe they were just dogs — rapid production ramps often create QC issues. You can also kill them if you put them on a dimmer circuit or if your waveform outside spec. There was a lot of construction going on around us, power surges from heavy equipment and bringing new circuits online might have triggered failures. I don’t know. I haven’t had any failures for a while, now.

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The payback in electricity savings has become ridiculously short — only a few months for a light that’s on three hours per day. Even if they blew every year you’d be way ahead.

  66. As the Democratic Convention wraps up and the hoopla of the Republican Convention heats up Americans are still left with a sense of a lot of hot air of any concrete plans to end the energy crisis in America. Northerners dread the upcoming onset of fall and colder weather wondering how they will be able to afford how to keep their homes and families warm. Southerners have been sweating the high cost of energy raising the thermostat to save on their electric bills. Families everywhere are wondering where else they can cut back to cover the cost of fueling up the family vehicle to get back and forth to work and take care of the necessities of life. There is no money left for relaxation and family fun. The stress level continues to rise. The average electric bill has risen 16% to cover the power companies additional production costs. A gallon of milk is almost as precious as a gallon of gas. The cost of every consumer product has risen sharply. American’s are stretched to the limit. Jobs are being lost, foreclosures are increasing at an alarming rate. Seems even the family pets are suffering the high cost of fuel as almost daily a new story is on TV about shelters being forced to euthanize record number of surrendered pets from those forced out of their homes or no longer able to care for them. The energy crisis in our country is far reaching and needs immediate attention. I am hoping whoever gets elected will get their act together and make this their #1 priority.

    An interesting site to share…

    http://www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com
    http://www.howmuchenergydoesmycaruse.com

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