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By Robert Rapier on Jun 12, 2008 with no responses

The Right Ideas

As a native of Oklahoma, this story was bound to catch my attention: Oklahoma’s painful car culture I know well how dependent Oklahoma is on the car. The reason? NEW YORK ( — For many people in Oklahoma, life is built around the car. With several refineries in the region, years of cheap fuel have made it possible for many people to live far from their jobs. So, I was preparing myself for another Big Oil scapegoating, when to my pleasant surprise the story took an unexpected turn: Cindy LaBeff, 46, drives 70 miles a day from the small town of McLoud to her job at a data processing center in Oklahoma City. Until a few months ago, she spent… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 10, 2008 with no responses

A Spite-Based Energy Policy

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the latest attempt to pass a windfall profits tax on oil companies. You know, it isn’t the windfall profits tax itself that bugs me. It is the fact that it wouldn’t be applied consistently across industries, some of which have much higher profit margins. These measures would single out the oil industry for punitive measures, which just reinforces the image that oil companies are manned by people who like kicking puppies and pushing old people down stairs. I actually spent some time digging around in the legislation to understand how they were defining windfall profits, reasonable profits, and what exactly constitutes “gouging.” You might be surprised (and I explain below). One section… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 9, 2008 with no responses

So, You Don’t Believe in Global Warming?

I can understand that there are a number of people who think Global Warming via human activity is a myth. I know that a number of regular posters here are of that opinion. My position, as I have stated before, is that I am not an expert in the area, but the consensus of the experts is that Global Warming is a direct result of increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Sometimes the consensus has been proven wrong, but a scientific consensus carries a lot of weight with me. So, unless I see compelling evidence to the contrary, I accept the scientific consensus in this case. That doesn’t mean that I think we will do anything about it: We Won’t… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 29, 2008 with 3 responses

Renewable Energy Jobs at Google

A recruiter from Google recently contacted me and asked if I would put a note on here that they are looking for candidates for their Renewable Energy Group. You may recall that I previously wrote a post covering several companies – Green Job Opportunities. This one is specifically for Google. Below is their call for qualified people to take up the challenge of supplying clean energy to the world. ————————- Environmental sustainability in the face of global climate change is a high priority for Google because, as our business grows, so does our demand for energy. We’ve worked hard to increase our efficiency and become carbon-neutral, but when it comes to buying clean and affordable electricity we still have limited… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 16, 2008 with no responses

Redundant Ethanol Subsidies

The proposed farm bill just sent to President Bush (and expected to be vetoed) contains several ethanol provisions. One is to cut the corn ethanol subsidy from $0.51/gal to $0.45/gal. Forbes explains: Ethanol For Everyone! It also includes $1 billion for energy-related programs, including several provisions related to ethanol and other biofuels. Notably, it reduces the tax credit paid to ethanol producers from 51 cents to 45 cents per gallon. The bill also establishes a sugar-to-ethanol program and includes a temporary tax credit of up to $1.01 per gallon for production of cellulosic ethanol, made from non-edible products like wood chips. “Now that the ethanol industry has matured, it is appropriate to curb the tax subsidy provided to ethanol,” says… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 14, 2008 with 1 response

Nissan Enters the Electric Arena

I am feeling more and more optimistic that we are going to soon have a decent choice of viable plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Nissan has now announced that they will have an offering in the U.S. and Japan by 2010: Nissan plans electric car in U.S. and Japan by 2010 Nissan Motor plans to sell an electric car in the United States and Japan by 2010, raising the stakes in the race to develop environmentally friendly vehicles. The commitment – announced Tuesday by Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn – will be the first by a major automaker to bring a zero-emission vehicle to the American market. Nissan also expects to sell a lineup of electric vehicles globally by 2012. In an… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 9, 2008 with no responses

My Next Car?

I was talking to my wife on the phone yesterday, and she asked what I knew about the 2009 Prius. I asked what she was talking about, and she started telling me about some of the features. She said that Toyota has been keeping the details pretty quiet, but details are available. Actually, I think it has come up here a couple of times, but here’s a picture: There have been some pretty big claims about fuel efficiency: 2009 Prius May Reach 94 MPG Auto Observer reports that the next generation of Toyota’s wildly successful Prius hybrid “is coming soon and will launch at the Detroit auto show in January 2009.” The car will be “a touch bigger so offering… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 8, 2008 with no responses

Shell’s Shale Problems

I have been pretty skeptical of the potential of oil shale for a long time. It is very difficult for me to see how they are going to make a go of it, and I wrote as much here: “Oil Shale Development Imminent” And: Oil Shale = Cellulosic Ethanol In those essays, I was primarily focused on the energy required to run the process, and I talked about Shell’s unique shale process. However, as I was passing through the Denver Airport on Sunday (actually, I ended up spending the whole day there!) – I spotted this story in the Denver Post: Shell makes run on water Shale country tends to be dry country, and Shell’s process uses a lot of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on with no responses

Automotive X Prize

Following on the heels of the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which had the following requirements: The Ansari X Prize is a $10 million purse for the first privately built vehicle that could safely haul a pilot and the equivalent weight of two passengers to the edge of space — then repeat the feat within two weeks. – and was won by SpaceShipOne, the X Prize Foundation is sponsoring a contest for efficient cars: The requirements are still in draft form. A 60-day comment window extends until May 31st. Here are some excerpts from the draft guidelines: The goal of the Automotive X PRIZE (AXP) is to inspire a new generation of super-efficient vehicles that help break our addiction to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 7, 2008 with no responses

Tyson Slocum Testimony

Consumer advocate Tyson Slocum recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure about the record high gas prices. I am going to resist the urge to do a deep debunking, because 1). I have already taken a shot at his credibility; 2). I haven’t slept in 36 hours; 3). Maybe he’s got some good points? Here is a PDF of his testimony: Testimony of Tyson Slocum Among some of Slocum’s findings (and a “few” comments, since I can’t resist): Public Citizen research shows that oil companies aren’t adequately investing these record earnings into projects that will help consumers, as the five largest oil companies have spent $170 billion buying back their stock since 2005. I… Continue»