Subtitled, the tangled webs we weave (with props to my friends in Semiblind)…
A few weeks ago I introduced my readers to a website called nozzlerage.com. Their hook was the humorous video which was created by the Zucker brothers of Naked Gun fame.
While Nozzlerage hasn’t debuted a new video recently, their aim became more apparent with another group’s announcement of an upcoming conference on energy security. This is because Nozzlerage is backed by another organization called the Center for Security Policy, which is headed by columnist, author, and onetime Reagan Administration official Frank Gaffney, Jr. It’s the CSP who sent me an announcement about an upcoming conference to create yet a third group called Citizens for Energy Freedom.
But I’m not sure I like the sound of what they’re proposing:
We need your help to push the US Congress to pass a law requiring that new cars sold in the United States will be flex-fuel vehicles. The technology is readily available and costs about $100 per vehicle. This law, the Open Fuel Standard Act, has already been introduced in the U.S. Senate (S.3303) and the U.S. House (H.6559). By making flex fuel the American standard, we can open the fuel market worldwide, as all foreign car makers would be impelled to convert their lines over as well. Around the globe, gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels made from any number of sources, including not only corn and sugar, but cellulosic ethanol made from crop residues and weeds, as well as methanol, which can be made from any kind of biomass, as well as coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash.
By creating an open-source fuel market, we’ll make it possible for every nation to contribute to the world’s fuel supply, breaking the power of the oil cartel – everywhere and forever. But we can’t win this fight without your help. Join us – ordinary folks, industry experts, citizens from across America and friends of liberty from every part of the political spectrum – in Des Moines September 13-14 to form an organization dedicated to using fuel competition to gain energy independence.
Regardless of how little it supposedly costs to convert cars to flexfuel, the truth is that the option has been available for some time and the market has proven it to be a slow seller. Thus, the soon-to-be-created CSP subgroup is looking to lobby for the bill’s passage and force automakers into another mandate, just like CAFE standards, air bags, catalytic converters, and many other features that were foisted upon automakers by big government. Certainly the idea has some merit but by placing the initial meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, it’s a safe bet that ethanol created from corn will take center stage and we’ve already seen the impact ethanol mandates and subsidies have had on our food prices. It’s great for farmers but not so good for consumers who pay more for everything as transportation costs go up. Meanwhile, while Brazil has accomplished much more by making ethanol from sugar cane, we can’t easily purchase any excess of theirs because the agricultural interests here have slapped large tariffs on that particular import. The other technologies are somewhat farther down the road so it’s doubtful that any such motor fuel will be competitively priced with oil in the immediate future, especially as crude’s per-barrel price edges back toward $100 from its peak near $150.
With other possible sources like oil shale and more areas being opened up to drilling for both oil and natural gas (part of T. Boone Pickens’ idea for powering America’s transportation), I’m not sure that the idea to mandate technology that’s been shown to provide less bang for the buck is the way to go. And with just a few short weeks remaining for this edition of Congress to complete its work, a bill that is sitting in committee probably doesn’t have that much of an opportunity for passage.
I’ll continue to keep tabs on the CSP and their offspring, but their initial idea seems to be a nonstarter with me.