The future and the past

by lestro

Yesterday Honda introduced its first hydrogen fuel-cell powered car. It’s a great step forward for alternative energies. A small one, sure, but at least it’s not oil…

The four-seater, called FCX Clarity, runs on electricity produced by combining hydrogen with oxygen, and emits water vapour.

Honda claims the vehicle offers three times better fuel efficiency than a traditional, petrol-powered car.

Honda plans to produce 200 of the cars over the next three years.

There are still problems with the technology, the least of which is trying to fill it up and the most of which is that while the car itself produces zero emissions, creating the hydrogen fuel produces more greenhouse gases than, well, the benefits of having a zero emissions vehicle in the first place.

But at least it’s not a limited resource produced primarily in places populated by people that hate us.

Meanwhile, in the past…

John McCain (who bears an odd resemblance to Captain Cave Man when I am feeling mean) today came out with his solution to the problem:

Drill more oil here at home.

With the price of gasoline surging past $4 a gallon in many parts of the country, Senator John McCain called today for the lifting of the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling for states that want to permit it.

He said that he also favors giving states incentives to allow exploration, part of an energy proposal that he said would be “very helpful in the short term for resolving our energy crisis.”

Why Johnny, however did you come up with that? Oh. right. $723,000 in oil industry contributions. My bad.

But at least you’ve been consistent on this issue, right?

Mr. McCain has a mixed record on the issue in the Senate. In 2001 and 2006, he voted in favor of offshore oil drilling in Florida, but in 2003 he voted against it in Florida and other states. Mr. McCain has consistently opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Well, we can at least look at the bright side. At least it’s an energy policy. It is, after all, his first.

McCain’s web site does not contain a section that addresses energy. It is not one the issues on his “issues” page. It is briefly mentioned in the economy section (the gas tax holiday) and there is a section on climate change (that does not contain a single word about car emissions, mileage standards or renewable energy).

“We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gases through the development of alternate energy sources,” Mr. McCain said, adding that he continues to support a summer gas tax holiday.

Hunga Bunga, indeed.


7 Responses to The future and the past

  1. It is pretty funny that McCain is all about off-shore drilling now. Funnier that he is pitching it as a solution to the “short term” of the “energy crisis.” As McClatchy notes on May 23, 2008:

    If Congress were to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, crude oil prices would probably drop by an average of only 75 cents a barrel, according to Department of Energy projections issued Thursday.

    The report, which was requested in December by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, found that oil production in the refuge “is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices.”

    But the report also finds that opening ANWR could have other benefits, particularly in Alaska, where tapping the resources in the Arctic refuge could extend the lifespan of the trans-Alaska pipeline. It estimates that if Congress agreed to open ANWR this year, Alaskan oil could hit the market in about 10 years.

    That is special. Not only does domestic drilling have little impact on world oil prices, but it wouldn’t hit the market for a decade.

  2. lestro says:

    To be fair, McCain has always voted against opening ANWR to drilling.

  3. Maybe someone should send him a note to remind him that Alaska is a state.

    Regardless, the current “energy crisis” seems to have more to do with our refinery capacity than the availability of oil:

    There hasn’t been a new refinery built in the U.S. since 1976, the result of extremely tight environmental restrictions, not-in-my-back-yard community opposition, and the high cost of new construction.

    Each spring, just before the summer driving season, gasoline prices skyrocket. And every year, these four words appear in news reports nationwide as a big reason for the runup: “lack of refining capacity.”

    There have been a larger-than-normal number of planned and unplanned refinery shutdowns in the last couple of months. Unplanned shutdowns in the first-quarter 2008 were approximately 800,000 barrels per day (Bpd) and 1.2 MMBpd of outages are forecasted during the second-quarter 2008. Over 3.6 MMBpd of refinery capacity is expected to be affected by various planned turnarounds during the months of April and May 2008.

    … If the economy continues to slow, product demand, particularly for distillates, will remain lower than last year. Product prices should fall unless oil prices continue to rise and/or refiners continue to maintain historically low refinery utilization rates.

  4. lestro says:

    true enough.
    but again to be fair, alaska is a state, but the ANWR is not offshore drilling.

  5. well, Florida apparently does not want the “choice” that McCain is now proposing:

    Asked last week about the possibility of opening up the Continental Shelf to drilling–including the coastline of Florida–Crist said he couldn’t support it even with rising fuel prices.

    A spokesman for Crist says the governor still opposes offshore drilling despite President Bush’s comments today.

    Opponents of offshore drilling say any oil found off Florida’s coast would take years to produce.

    even if Florida could be bullied into letting off-shore drilling start, it still doesn’t do a thing for the “crisis” now…

  6. they don’t even have enough ships to start off-shore drilling. On June 18, 2008, The International Herald Tribune reports that the entire worldwide supply of drilling ships is “booked solid for the next five years”:

    As President George W. Bush considers repealing a ban on drilling off most of the coast of the United States, a shortage of ships used for such drilling promises to impede any rapid turnaround in oil exploration.

    Slow growth in oil supplies, at a time of soaring demand, has been a major factor in the spike in oil and gasoline prices. In recent years, a global shortage of drill ships has created a critical bottleneck, frustrating energy company executives and constraining their ability to exploit known reserves or find new ones.

    As oil trades at more than $135 a barrel – up from $68 a year ago – drill ships around the world are booked solid for the next five years. Some oil companies have been forced to postpone exploration while waiting for a drilling rig, executives and analysts said.

    Demand is so high that shipbuilders, the biggest of which are in Asia, have raised prices since last year by as much as $100 million per vessel to about half a billion dollars.

    … “Almost 100 percent of the oil companies are constrained in their investment program because there is no rig available,” he said.

    As a result, drilling costs for some of the newest deep-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, have reached about $600,000 a day…

    and how exactly does this lower prices at the pump?

  7. zrants says:

    Thanks for putting all this information about the REAL costs and reasons why the “Drill Baby Drill” chant is misleading. I discovered all the articles on the shortage of equipment awhile ago, but you have all the information laid out really well in one place, including the political angles for each state.
    Thanks for your clarity. I hope you don’t mind if I send a few of my Florida friends here.

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