An energetic plan for the future - an open letter to congress

Dear congress,

I am writing to you today not as a democrat, nor as a republican, nor as a member of any ideological group. I am writing to you as an American, just like the millions of Americans you were hired to represent in congress. It is time to stop your silly partisan bickering and actually do something useful for a change. It is also time to learn from history and not repeat the same mistakes that a similar congress made over twenty years ago.

Oil and gas

Right now, Americans are truly concerned at the current gasoline and energy prices – gasoline that they need to go to work, school and yes, the occasional vacation; and energy they need to heat and cool their homes, and power their appliances.

It’s time to stop pointing fingers of blame at the oil companies who are providing energy at a very reasonable profit margin – about 9% – which is the very engine that brings us more developments in higher efficiency and research into additional supplies of oil. I’ve heard both sides of the aisle rail about the 11 billion dollars that Exxon Mobil made, and not a ONE of them mentioned the 130 billion they put out to get that 11 billion. That’s deceptive on your part, demagogic in the extreme, and a disservice to the American people at the least.

We all know that the various governments make more per gallon than Exxon Mobil does with their fuel and energy taxes. And you guys don’t do a THING to help research efficiencies or new developments. Before bitching at Exxon Mobil, pass a federal law to eliminate ALL special taxes on energy (normal sales tax is fine). THEN you can complain.

Americans also know about supply and demand. We learned about that in the late 70’s when OPEC curtailed supply, causing prices to skyrocket. We also know what happens when you put those windfall profit taxes on oil companies – it causes pump prices to go up even higher and rationing to occur.

You need to stop screwing around and allow the oil companies to create more supply. Yes, the direct supply won’t increase for a few years, but once it does, we won’t be able to be held hostage any more. Stop thinking about the next election and start thinking what is best for America in the mid and long terms – do it right and the next election will simply take care of itself.

If we had drilled domestically at that first alarm in the late 70’s and early 80’s – we wouldn’t be in this situation today. In fact, it’s conceivable that we wouldn’t even have been attacked on Sept 11th. Actions have consequences, and the lack of action has consequences as well.

One thing that many people don’t know about is speculation and how it avoids being pegged to the supply and demand rules. The speculation price is based on what someone believes the price will become, or, in simpler words: psychology. If the congress were to act today to open our proven reserves, the speculators will see that the supply is increasing from a stable source (America is pretty darn stable), and the speculative price will start dropping well before the first drop of crude is pulled from our fields. Much of the speculation price is based on the instability of supply source (i.e. The middle east) and will drop dramatically once the supply is stabilized and increased.

Nuclear and coal

It is also time to face those irrational fears about nuclear energy. Note that I said irrational. Nuclear energy is a very safe alternative at the present time, and there are certainly dangers (just as there are dangers in any energy production – the oil industry is directly responsible for thousands of deaths over the years – mainly because the industry deals with exceptionally heavy equipment). Technologies exist right now that would make nuclear reactors exceptionally safe and physically impossible to overload or meltdown. The ‘China Syndrome’ monster has been killed, let it rest in peace.

If we would commission one nuclear installation in each of the 50 states with the originally designed generating capacity of Palo Verde in Arizona (10 reactors generating 12.2 gigawatts), then we would switch from a 500 billion energy deficit to a 200 billion energy surplus.

In addition, we should commission fuel reprocessing facilities so that the used nuclear fuel can be recycled. This would lower the fuel cost and eliminate the need to store high-level nuclear waste. Doing this will ensure reactor fuel for about 1,000 years by using a combination of ordinary reactors with high-breeding ratios and specific breeder reactors.

Using our coal resources (proven reserves are sufficient for 200 years), we can harness the heat from the nukes to produce 38,000 barrels of oil from coal per day per reactor. Remember, there are 10 reactors per complex, yielding a total of 380,000 barrels per nuke site per day, and if there are 50 nuke sites, that would be 19,000,000 barrels per day, or  6,939,750,000 barrels per year. Or, to put it simply: Twice the total Saudi oil production per year.

As an added benefit, the reactors could produce gaseous hydrocarbons as well, yielding even more production.

Finally, the remaining heat of the reactors could warm air or water for use.

But the big win comes with the fact that nuclear reactors can also create tremendous amounts of pure hydrogen in the future – which ensures future energy needs with the promise of a hydrogen-based energy infrastructure.

Future technologies

But, even our oil fields, coal deposits, and nuclear fuel will eventually give out – so now is the also the time to start heavily funding research into alternative energy. We need to foster research into hydrogen, He3, solar, wind, bio-fuels, and other technologies. And I am not talking the piddly little research grants we have seen from you and your previous congressional cohorts. I’m talking BIG, but that can wait until we have the 200 billion energy surplus, when we can easily wipe the national debt AND fund accelerated alternative research.

Science holds the key to true American independence. But science is not what political ideologues try to pressure it into being. Science is always challenged, never truly settled. Take something as basic as gravity – it’s not settled YET. Science keeps open eyes to all challenges and changes as the data and evidence changes. Anyone who says the science is settled is almost invariably 100% wrong. Keep that firmly in mind.

The role of government

It’s simple – get out of the way. Cut the confiscatory taxes against the very companies that can ensure not only our energy survival, but our energy future. Allow them to use our resources in an environmentally conscious way. No one, and I do mean NO ONE, wants to destroy our planet – not you, not me, and certainly not the oil companies. But there has to be a reasonable middle, and so far, congress is standing in the way of critically needed progress.

You have, now, within your grasp, the ability to ensure America’s energy future, and at the same time, take the largest step ever taken to erase the national debt completely, and guarantee a new, brighter, future for succeeding generations. In fact, if done correctly, you could virtually eliminate the income tax entirely in the future, AND provide national paid heath insurance – the gains are THAT big in scope.

Be a true hero. Start cooperating with each other across the aisles to make America into the true embodiment of the last best hope for the world. This is not the manta of ‘Drill here, drill now, save money’ – this is a plan to energy and economic security that will last into the next millennium. Start being a visionary, the votes will come.

Very sincerely,

An American Citizen

For reference:

Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine

Annual Energy Review, U.S. Energy Information Admin., Report No. DOE/EIA-0384 (2006).

American Nuclear Society, Nuclear News (2007) March, 46-48.

Penner, S. S. (1998) Energy

Posma, B. (2007) Liquid Coal, Fort Myers, Fl

Ausubel,. J. H. (2007) Int. J. Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology 1

Penner, S. S. (2006) Energy 31

Simon, J. L. (1996) The Ultimate Resource 2, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, New Jersey.