Oil Alternatives Are Now Necessary

It seems that the high price of crude oil internationally has caused the production of a great amount of crude oil here in the United States. The production increases has put so much crude oil on the market that it has lowered imports of oil coming from outside North America. In comes the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. You would think that tar sands crude would finish the job on imports and the United States would be independent from sources of oil outside the North America continent. By a strange twist the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline crude isn’t bound for us. The entire thrust of the pipeline through the heart of the United States is because the company wanting to build the pipeline, TransCanada, wants to reach international markets in Latin America, Europe, Africa and other places around the Atlantic. TransCanada plans to take its product to the Pacific Rim nations from ports in Seattle and elsewhere on the Canadian west coast.


TransCanada wants to ship its tar crude to the rest of the world by going through the United States to Gulf coast terminals and perhaps sell some to the refineries there. The oil companies and refineries at the same time got an idea as well. The crude coming through the pipelines would not be theirs; however, a new market had been growing around the world for finished refined goods that come from crude like gasoline. They had all the crude oil they needed to produce gasoline for the United States from non-tar sand sources. They didn’t want to produce too much gasoline for the domestic market and thereby reduce the price of gasoline. However, if they spent the money for the extra refining needed to process the tar sands crude they could sell products like gasoline and diesel to the world at a margin well worth the investment. So the entire plan for the Keystone XL pipeline has been hatched and it doesn’t include lowering the price of gasoline in the United States. The number of jobs that will be produced that will be permanent jobs will be minimal. A few more refining jobs, some pipeline maintenance workers and maybe a job or two at the terminal connecting to the tanker ships where all this oil and oil products will be eventually loaded up and shipped elsewhere.


The increases in production will have virtually no effect on US prices for gasoline since they are being used to feed the increasing demand for oil coming from emerging economies around the world. As more and more economies emerge from third world status into the global economy their increased demand for oil will drive prices ever higher. That is unless our United States elected officials work to prevent our excess production and the Canadian tar sand oil traversing our country, from being shipped overseas. To create the excess supply that will bring down prices we need for that stuff to stay here. (Not that I want it to stay here, I am an environmentalist. What I am doing is poking holes in the argument that we need the Keystone XL pipeline because it will reduce the cost of gasoline for American consumers.)


We can only effectively solve the affects of high priced gasoline in the United States in three ways, either a tremendous increase in domestic output of oil that creates a surplus of oil and requiring that oil to stay here, or reducing our consumption significantly thereby creating an oversupply here in the United States and requiring that oversupply to stay here, or that the we look at possible substitutes or alternatives to oil to moderate demand on oil by providing consumers choices. The first approach, increasing our domestic supply has happened, however, with exports our price dropping excess oil can be shipped overseas where the emerging economies will grow to soak up all of that extra production. The push to reduce demand is also happening. The government’s dramatic increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards has pushed new car fuel efficiency dramatically upward thereby reducing the growth of the demand for oil. The recession and the high price of gasoline has also dampened demand significantly and moved consumers to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles and less gasoline. Yet, these two major factors have not had a significant effect on the price of gasoline as of late, which is an example that oil doesn’t follow normal economic assumptions. There is greater than good chance that oil prices are dictated and manipulated quite effectively by individuals and groups who control its supply. In this case the third option, which is to find other ways to power our vehicles, may be the only true way to control oil prices. Unlike finding more oil, substitutes have a strong moderating effect on future oil prices because consumers can switch to a substitute if oil prices get too high. Alternatives or substitutes for oil provide for a more effective competition in fuels. International prices can’t go up but so high since the height of their price depends on the height of the price of its competing alternatives. Remember if oil becomes more expensive than an alternative then everyone who can will switch to an alternative to save money.


The three oil substitutes that need the fewest infrastructure changes for distribution are ethanol, natural gas and electricity. Unfortunately ethanol prices have risen dramatically in recent weeks because of the droughts in western and mid-western states. Making ethanol a real alternative would also added demand to a commodity that is not used to the demand levels of crude oil. Shifting America’s motive power to ethanol will probably push prices up much higher and production would be limited by land availability. There are also ethical problems using a food crop to power our vehicles. However, making ethanol from non-food feed stock would be a highly effective alternative to gasoline. Natural gas, on the other hand, has a very strong distribution network already in existence; it is in abundant supply and is far less expensive than gasoline. If vehicles were made to be multi-fuel vehicles, taking both natural gas and any combination of ethanol and gasoline we could be heading down the path of providing the vehicle owner with what the motive fuel arena really needs, which is a lot more choices in fuels. Electricity has the added advantage of being produced from a variety of fuel sources such as natural gas, coal, nuclear, as well as renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power. This variety keeps prices for fuels under control by distributing demand among a wider variety of fuel suppliers.


The ultimate solution to the oil price problem would be a vehicle that can take advantage of all three fuels. This vehicle would be a multi-fuel vehicle capable of taking advantage of gasoline or natural gas, or even liquid petroleum gases such as propane or butane. It would also be a flexible fuel vehicle able to use 100% gasoline all the way to 100% ethanol and any mixture in between. Ideally this vehicles combustion engine should be reserved to play a backup role as a range extended generator for an electric vehicle similar to the Chevy Volt and the Fisker Karma set up. In this way the owner could easily choose between fuels to the one that allows him or her to keep more of their hard earned income to use for other purposes. It is the other purposes that will spur the economy onward and upward.


All three fuels, ethanol, natural gas and electricity, when combined would provide choices to consumers and provide a moderating force on run-away oil prices. They would do that by competing with each other to provide the lowest price so that each can hold onto a share of the fuel market. There are other reasons for using alternatives to oil such as the lower impact on the environment and lowering our dependence on foreign sources of energy. Still, for strictly economic reasons, alternatives are now a necessary strategic response to preventing future economic hardships caused by oil price increases and volatility.



Plug In Day, 2012 Needs Organizers NOW!!!

National Plug In Day will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2012, and is an unprecedented nationwide observance drawing global attention to the environmental, economic and other benefits of plug-in electric vehicles through simultaneous events staged in cities nationwide.

Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association are teaming up to plan for this effort, which will sound the bell through plug-in parades, tailpipe-free tailgate parties, test-drives and other grassroots activities.

The goal of National Plug In Day is to get owners of plug-in cars together with the general public. The general public can then talk to the owners of these vehicles and hear what the cars are like to live with in the real world. We are hoping that this will motivate more members of the public to consider a plug in vehicle for themselves the next time they are thinking of purchasing a new vehicle.

It is my hope that this year’s event move from being solely United States observance to being an event that includes many more cities in the U.S. and many international one as well. To make this happen we need organizers everywhere. The Sierra Club is offering assistance to what they call “City Captains.” City captains will be the point of contact for organizing the National Plug In Day event in a particular city.

Below the fold is an Email with contact information to get started.



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Revenge of the Electric Car Facebook Needs Likes

I want to be able to see the trailer for “Revenge of the Electric Car,” but I can’t see it until there are 10,000 hits of the Face Book page for the movie. So I need your help. Please click on the linkhttp://www.facebook.com/revengeoftheelectriccar  go to the top of the page and click that you like the page. If a mere 3,000 something of you do that I can see the trailer.

There are very few things that I can point to that I can say influenced my way of thinking. There are even less things that I can point to that I can say that through their influence they changed my life. Looking back at the last 10 years of my life I can see that being involved, in the most cursory of ways, with the movement s of the EV1 electric car club in California was one of those pivotal moments in my life that ended up changing my life for the better. I went from simply wanting a product that didn’t use petroleum as its fuel, to actively working to give everyone in the world the choice of traveling personally using fuels that didn’t use petroleum as a fuel. In the course of this experience I found that my politics had changed and my view of the world had changed. What could have made such a profound change in my way of thinking? It was a simple mistake of being aware of the possibility of something and then having that something taken away. 


The first related influence that occurred in my life which was later to affect and profoundly change my life was that I lived through the two oil crises of the 1970s. Those events influenced my way of thinking towards alternative fuel and energy. During that period was when I first learned about electric cars as well as ethanol and other alternative fuels. I learned that we could make the change then to alternative fuel because I actually saw those changes happening in my neighborhood. A few families in my hood had purchased Sebring Vanguard Citicar electric vehicles.  Our family participated by getting Gasohol, which was a mixture of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol available from distributors like the American Eagle Gasohol stations that sprang up around America. 


The last of the oil crises seemed to end with Ronald Reagan in 1980. However, my fascination with alternative energy and fuels didn’t end. I spent a good deal of time thinking about alternative fuels and energy. I speculated in my mind about all the things I heard and combined them in my head. I found myself asking questions like, “Why couldn’t we join solar power with electric vehicles and power them that way?” Crazy as that might seem, I wasn’t the only one who thought that way and five years after Ronald Reagan was elected into office the first Tour de Sol was born in Switzerland. The Tour de Sol was a race of vehicles powered by converting the sun’s rays into electricity with solar panels on the actual vehicle and using that electricity to power the car. The idea caught on all over the world and lead to the creation of the World Solar Challenge. The World Solar Challenge was different from the other Tour de Sol races. It was like the Super Bowl of solar car racing. In order to enter the race you had to have at least won or nearly won a previous solar vehicle race.


The World Solar Challenge caught the eyes of the executives of GM who were struggling with unimproved and poorly made product lines that were loosing out to the Japanese. GM seemed in every way to be yesterday’s company, a dinosaur, big and lumbering and incapable of innovation or quality. The leadership of GM decided that they were going to enter this contest and show the world that its engineers were world class and that the company wasn’t just capable of coming up with something new, but able to push hard the very edges of what was possible. Of course GM was an old, lumbering dinosaur in reality so they had to hire an innovative firm to do this for them. They hired AeroVironment, a company headed by Dr. Paul McCready the creator of the Gossamer Albatross, the first human powered airplane to fly over the English Channel. AeroVironment made for GM the Sunraycer solar powered vehicle that averaged 65 miles an hour over the course from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia, and won the race a full two days ahead of second place vehicle. With a relatively small investment GM went from being seen as the “has been” of the automotive industry to the leading edge.


GM’s executives decided that they needed to keep these geniuses on the GM payroll and challenged them to make a marketable electric vehicle prototype to be used in the real world. AeroVironment did just that by coming up with the Impact, a two-seat car that offered sports car performance and nearly 100 miles range using lead acid batteries. The Impact concept car was introduced to the world at the 1990 LA auto show. It was a true sensation. Again, GM, the company left for dead on the side of the road during the 1980s, suddenly looked new, vibrant and innovative.  Between the LA auto show in January to mid-April of the same year the press could do nothing in the automotive world but talk about the possibilities of an electric car and GM’s overwhelming lead in to the market if they should decide to produce the Impact as a product for consumers. Seeing how the electric car prototype had influenced everything in a positive manner for GM and not wanting to return to the bad old days of the 1980s GM’s CEO, Roger Smith announced on April 18, 1990 that the electric car would go into production.


Every event that happened along the way I was keenly aware of. Suddenly, something that I was hoping would happen as a kid going through the 1970s oil crises seemed to be happening in earnest. The California Air Resources Board locked in the reality of electric cars pushing through legislation requiring that electric cars be a big part of the vehicles sold in California with what became known as the “Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate.” I was so excited. I began saving my pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars for the day that I would be able to buy an electric car. Little by little the cars were released in drips and drabs a decade later to the good people of California. Not only was there the Impact, which was renamed the GM EV1, but there were other electric vehicles choices too. There was the Honda, EV+, the Toyota Rav4 EV, the Nissan Altra, the Ford Th!nk and more. Oddly all were only available through lease. Toyota under pressure from the public eventually changed its policy over what to do at the leases end and some 300 Rav4 EVs were sold to the public. These other electric vehicles came into existence because of the power of the Zero Emissions Mandate. I waited patiently for the cars to become available to the rest of the country with my money accumulated in an account ready to be used as soon as the vehicles became available.


Then something completely unexpected happened. The Zero Emissions Mandate was changed and the requirements of producing electric vehicles were removed. Almost instantly the vehicles that had mostly been leased were being recalled. I didn’t understand what was happening. I went online to try to find out what was happening and I could see that the former leaseholders of the GM built EV1 had organized. I remember when Chris Paine began talking about wanting to make a documentary of what was happening. He set up a website for the documentary that was to be called “EV Confidential,” and on that website he posted pictures of crushed EV1s in the Arizona desert. Seeing those vehicles my psyche changed. I was angry. I learned that GM wasn’t the only company collecting up its vehicles and making them disappear. Honda had taken its EV+ vehicles from the dealerships and made them vanish. I later learned that they were shredded at a certified destruction facility. Nissan’s EVs disappeared. The EV1 Club quickly morphed into Don’t Crush, and the organization set its focus on saving the last remaining EVs from the fate that many of the EV1s, all of the Honda EV+’s and the Nissan EVs had experienced. They organized demonstrations to save the Ford Th!nk, which were eventually sent back to Norway where they came from. They saved the Ford Ranger EV, and they found 70 EV1s waiting to be crushed in a back parking lot of GM’s Burbank, California facility.  What to do?


Together with the Rainforest Action Network the former EV1 Club now organized into Don’t Crush set up a vigil in front of the GM facility to stop them from crushing the last of these vehicles.  Although I couldn’t be there with them I followed them into a website where they posted the actions and activities of their days protesting the crushing of these all-important vehicles.  All the while Chris Paine managed to capture all that was going on with his camera. The organization to save the electric vehicle battled as hard as a non-violent protest can battle. They captured national attention in both the print media as well as television. I followed their daily moves through the website genuinely angry about what was going on. When their story hit the cover of the Washington Post I knew that the movement in California that had started so small now had a national reach. A small band of really pissed off citizens had managed to get the attention of millions. But who was going to know their story? A newspaper front page might be great but it is only good for wrapping fish a day later. How do we keep up the push to change not just California’s thinking but also the nation and perhaps the world’s? Chris Paine went on to gather the support for his documentary “EV Confidential” whose name was now to be “Who Killed the Electric Car?” attracting Dean Devlin of Stargate fame as the executive producer and Martin Sheen as the narrator. The vigil was over and all the cars that could be crushed were crushed so Don’t Crush became Plug-In America and changed its focus from saving existing electric vehicles to looking for ways to bring back the electric car.


In the end the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” I believe had the greatest amount of influence on the general public, companies and Washington. There in one sitting a person who knew nothing about electric cars and the struggle to keep them as a choice for the American people could get a large part of the story. From its very beginnings 100 years ago to the breakthrough innovations in the Impact, from the California’s Air Resources Board’s Zero Emissions Mandate to the crushing of the vehicles. The movie gives you it all.


However, that isn’t the end. I hope you all know that in the intervening years GM has realized the error of its ways and is bringing an electric vehicle with a range extender call the Chevy Volt, that Nissan has reversed itself and is delivering the all electric Nissan Leaf, and that every major automaker on the planet has an electric vehicle program set to bring electric vehicles to market. It seems that what GM and the other automakers wanted to die didn’t die. None of the companies who were preparing parts and innovations for the Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate’s new reality got the memo that the electric car was killed and therefore dead. They kept going and innovating. Alen Cocconi left the AeroVironment and formed a company that produced a 300 mile per charge sports car called the tZero. This car directly lead to the creation of the Tesla Motor Company’s roadster and the Venturi, Fetish, cars with 200+ mile ranges, dragster like acceleration and superior sports car handling. Though NiMH batteries that powered the EV1 came under control of the Chevron Oil Company, the development of the Lithium ion battery has continued to develop offering a much greater energy density than NiMH, which in turn provides either greater range or less space occupied. Time marches on and improvements continue to be made in batteries, motors and more, and again Chris Paine has managed to chronicle the rise of the electric vehicle phoenix from the ashes of demise in his new film “Revenge of the Electric Car.”


I want to be able to see the trailer for “Revenge of the Electric Car,” but I can’t see it until there are 10,000 hits of the Face Book page for the movie. So I need your help. Please click on the link http://www.facebook.com/revengeoftheelectriccar  go to the top of the page and click that you like the page. If a mere 3,000 something of you do that I can see the trailer. Thanks. 


Support Electric Drag Racing

If you think that going green in transportation is like doing acupuncture you’re wrong. If you think driving clean is like tasting nasty medicine you’re wrong again. If you think by going to an electric vehicle you can say good-bye to tinkering in your garage with your hot rod, you are wrong one more time. I bet you didn’t think you would ever be happy about being wrong about anything. Let me tell you, you’re going to be happy about being wrong about this.


For the last 9 years the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington, DC, together with the National Electric Drag Racing Association have been putting together a show in Hagerstown, Maryland of what insaniac, electric gear heads, scientists and engineering departments can put together in their garages.




We are a group of individuals that have been pushing for electric vehicles as a clean and green option to buying dirty combustion engine vehicles for decades. To fight the false rhetorical argument that electric vehicles were nothing but slow moving glorified golf carts we have been putting on a demonstration of electric vehicle raw power for 9 years near Washington, DC. Our constant pushing speed records has made for some wonderfully exciting vehicles. Vehicles that you will not see anywhere else but in electric drag racing. Vehicles such as an eight mini wheeled electric only dragster.


A few years ago we added an electric autocross. An autocross is a timed race where one vehicle at a time goes through a course set up with traffic cones. Our course is set up by the Sports Car Club of America and is certified by them. Hybrids are allowed to enter the race. We invite everyone in the Mid-Atlantic region to come and see this spectacular event on our tenth anniversary.


We call the racing event the Power of DC, PoDC for short, and it will be running June 5th and 6th. The autocross will be held on the morning of the 5th at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Maryland and the drag race will be held at Mason-Dixon Dragway.


This year is our 10th anniversary! We are looking for sponsors and I hope you will consider helping us make this event a reality.


Saturday is the Autocross event at the Valley Mall, run by the SCCA.

Sunday is NEDRA drag racing at the Mason Dixon Dragway.


Here are the levels of sponsorship:


$150 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website


$250 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website Logo on homepage Logo on banner


$500 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt

Link in website

Logo on homepage

Logo on banner

Portion of event named after company/organization like "ABC Electronics AutoCross"

We have four opportunities for $500 sponsors (AutoCross, Drag Race, Show and Shine, Generator rental - logo/name on generator)


$1000 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt

Link in website

Logo on homepage

Logo on banner

Entire race named after sponsor


All of this is outlined on the Power of DC Website at http://www.powerofdc.com/sponsorship.html



Thank you,

John Alder



Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Near Finish of Historic Ride

     On April 3, 2009 at 1:31 PM, the Spirit of DC, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) became the first vehicle of its kind to have visited all 48 states of the contiguous United States of America. "The Spirit of DC became an All American," says "EV Jerry" Asher, the driver and co-chair of the effort. The history making record was set after Asher and the Spirit of DC crossed over the Georgia/Alabama line while on US 78. This is the beginning of the end for the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle All Around America (PHEV3A) Team that is made up mainly from members of the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington, DC (EVA/DC).

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