Posted by: theheartlander | January 7, 2011

Fueling ourselves — or just fooling ourselves?

You don’t have to be an “environmentalist wacko” to have concerns about our heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Long before I ever heard the word “environmentalist” — and long before “greenhouse effect,” “global warming” or “climate change” had entered common parlance — energy conservation was an urgent topic.

If you came of age when I did, or before, you probably remember the first national “energy crisis” — the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74.  You’ll recall the huge spike in gasoline prices, the way we adjusted our thermostats a little colder than we liked in the winter, and a little warmer in the summer, and even the way fewer folks put up Christmas lights that year because they were worried about their energy bill.

One thing I actually agreed with Jimmy Carter about was his assertion that the struggle to reduce our reliance on foreign oil was “the moral equivalent of war.” On this point, he was right — and we know that now more than ever. It is our petrodollars that Saudi Arabia uses to build its madrassahs all over the world and indoctrinate millions of young Muslims in the Wahhabi doctrines of jihad. Our petrodollars enable Saudi Arabia to control most of the mosques in the United States, making sure that they are run by radical imams. The sad fact is that most of the major oil-producing countries of the world are either hostile to America (Iran, Venezuela, Russia) or politically unstable, the latter a category into which now falls even Mexico, our second-largest supplier of oil (after Canada).

This is the real problem with fossil fuels, not their alleged contribution to the alleged global warming phenomenon. Man-caused climate change has been completely cast into doubt because of “Climategate,” which exposed appalling violations of scientific practice by well-connected, well-funded but completely unscrupulous scientists. No, the problem is that our whole way of life depends on petroleum, and that so much of our petroleum supply depends on people we can’t trust.

In 1973-74, and again when gasoline was rationed in 1979, we Americans said, “No more! We will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The Arabs will never again be able to put us over a barrel!” Literally. Well, like so many New Year’s resolutions, those goals went by the wayside. We are more dependent than ever on foreign oil — and the foreign entities from whom we buy it are a nastier, more volatile, more dangerous lot than ever. (Who guessed 20 years ago that Venezuela, one of of our biggest oil suppliers, would become our enemy?)

One of the things that makes Allen West a great leader is that he gets it about how important energy is to our national security. Many good conservatives get it, thank goodness — but a man who has commanded troops in battle, in precarious locations at the end of long, vulnerable supply lines, has got to have a keener, more visceral sense of basic, urgent realities such as, “Where’s the next fill-up for these fighting vehicles coming from?”

Allen West has said:

Energy Independence is critical for the future and legacy of our great country. In the late 1970s we were importing some 18-20% of our energy resources. Today we are importing close to 65% of our energy resources from foreign sources. Due to this increased reliance on foreign energy supplies, terrorists have found a great source of funding through “petro-dollars” emanating from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Libya.

Now is the time to make America energy-independent by encouraging the indomitable spirit of American ingenuity and developing our full spectrum of energy resources. That means that we must invest in oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear, hydrogen, cost-effective bio-fuels, wind, and solar (research, exploration, refinement, and development).

Please note the qualifier he uses for bio-fuels: cost-effective. That rules out ethanol, which for every 1.0 unit of energy it takes to grow corn and process it into ethanol, only 0.7 to 1.8 units of energy are produced!  In other words, we get back out hardly any more energy than we put in, and in many cases, we get less. (Compare to oil and natural gas, which have output to input energy ratios of 10 to 20, i.e., 20 units of energy produced for every one unit of energy that was needed to get it.) Can you imagine a business that would spend a dollar making a product that would only sell for 70¢? Of course not. The corn ethanol business, like so many other bad ideas, continues only because of government subsidies, i.e., your and my tax dollars. Why does the federal government subsidize it? Because of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, that of a corporation called ADM.

Meanwhile, the once-fertile hills of Iowa, which are still being planted with cornrows going straight up and down the hills (instead of at least being planted crosswise to the slope!) are simply washing their soil down the Mississippi River, where it ends up on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, useless.  Our grandchildren sure could have used that topsoil for growing the food they’re going to need….

Allen West said recently that he is eager for oversight hearings to begin. Since House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has said he’s particularly concerned with cutting waste in federal spending, perhaps he’ll have a hearing on the inordinate influence of this one company — ADM — on the energy and agricultural policy of our nation. Ultimately, the ethanol boondoggle affects even national security, since the devotion of so much of our acreage to ethanol instead of food has caused food prices to go high enough to have sparked food riots around the world.

I have seen many otherwise conservative and sensible Congressmen and Senators fall for the ethanol scam. The fact that Allen West insists that bio-fuels be cost-effective speaks volumes about his good sense. I hope he can persuade some of his colleagues to re-think the issue. For among Midwestern congressmen, even Tea Party candidates have not been immune to the ethanol virus.



  1. Even Al Gore, the perpetual tree-hugger, has admitted that ethanol isn’t cost effective – of course after millions spent on this boondoggle of bad science. Our nation is blessed with oil resources and natural gas, plus wind and sunshine in many areas, yet we are trapped by a dictator in Washington who shut down the safely operating oil rigs in the Gulf Coast waters, throwing people out of work and discouraging investors that do not want to leave expensive rigs sitting wastefully when they can go to another country and put the rigs to work. We have to change the minds of politicians like Bill Nelson, (D. FL) who vows never drilling off the coast of FL although his constituents wish otherwise. Much more important with guys like him to go with his party which is wreaking havoc in our beloved nation. I say drill, baby, drill. And put up all the windmills we can. Convert public vehicles to run on propane as a city in Alabama has done (Fairhope, AL). Make solar panels more affordable so homeowners can afford the investment. We do, however, have to be careful about nuclear energy because they haven’t even figured out a way to safely dispose of the nuclear waste – we really don’t need more problems than we already have. Despair not. Pray. Go West! We do have hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

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