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Guest Post: Obama's Empty Gasoline Tank

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Llewellyn King from

Obama's Empty Gasoline Tank

There is a piece of doggerel which goes:

They said it couldn’t be done.
So I went right to it -- that thing they said
Couldn’t be done.
And I couldn’t do it.

And that is the way it has been with presidents since the 1973 oil
crisis. All of them -- from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, who has just
joined the club -- have wrung their hands and exhorted Americans to use
less oil in general and less foreign oil in particular.

Nixon had his commerce secretary, Peter G. Peterson (he of enormous
wealth these days), promise far reaching and revolutionary “initiatives”
to tame our thirst for oil. But Nixon was out of office before these
palliatives were revealed.

Gerald Ford, caught up in vicious inflation, partly linked to the
cost of oil, launched the Energy Research and Development Administration
(ERDA), combining the Atomic Energy Commission, the Office of Coal
Research and other energy entities in the federal government. ERDA
initiated many programs, while politicians invoked the Manhattan Project
and the Apollo 11 moon landing.  But the search for the Fountain of
Eternal Energy failed.

Jimmy Carter wanted not only to solve the energy challenge, but to be
seen to be solving it. Ergo, he expanded ERDA into the Department of
Energy (DOE) and created a separate Synthetic Fuels Corporation. The
latter failed after a short and unhappy life. No oil reached the pumps.

When the price of oil collapsed in the 1980s, so did hopes for many
of the alternative energy sources, including ocean thermal gradients and
flywheel energy storage.

To its credit, though at great cost, DOE, through its chain of
national laboratories, kept searching. The result has been evolutionary
improvements in many fields, and some really revolutionary ones in how
we find oil and drill for it; these include seismic mapping, new drill
bits and horizontal drilling.

These evolutionary developments brought more oil to market and have
contributed to the recent improvement in domestic production that Obama
likes to point out. It has enabled us to cut our imports slightly, so
they now stand at 11 million barrels per day out of consumption of
20million barrels per day.

Obama wants us to cut those imports by a third. To do this, he has no magic bullet.

In fact, he has no ammunition: solid numbers and research. His speech
at Georgetown University was founded more on hearsay than science or

Because he criticized them for taking out leases they have not
drilled, the oil industry disliked the oil component of the speech, but
thrilled at the emphasis on natural gas. When it comes to leases, the
industry hankers not for those it holds, but for the plums that have not
been leased for political reasons:  the eastern Gulf of Mexico and

Sadly, Obama seemed to have learned the wrong lesson on his recent
trip to Brazil because he is brimming with enthusiasm for ethanol. In
Brazil, this is made from sugar cane, of which the Brazilians have a lot
and cheap labor to farm it. Here, it is made from corn with devastating
results on all the food products that come from corn. George W. Bush
shoved the country down that slippery slope, and Obama wants to add more

Another Obama tool is mandated fuel-economy standards. Problem is the
market will start circumventing the regulations. It works like this: If
you mandate 40-miles-per-gallon fleet average instead of floods of new
small hybrids of the Toyota Prius type, the market will supply small,
regular cars and large, luxury hybrids. Better, but not everything the
president might want.

Real oil savings come with high prices dictated either by taxes or
shortage. Presidents, however, have to placate voters by holding down
the price of oil, signaling that it is all right to consume.

That leaves presidents -- and Obama has just proved it -- with that last resort of the  impotent in office: exhortation.


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Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:38 | 1163595 avonaltendorf
avonaltendorf's picture

Sorry, it's absurd to credit DOE or any of the national laboratories for seismic mapping, drill bits, or anything else of practical use in the oil patch.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:02 | 1163654 Landrew
Landrew's picture

Hi Alan,

Being from one of those national labs, sadly I have to agree. However, that being said, some of the tech that went into the production of those products was developed by our national labs.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:36 | 1163763 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

who is Alan?

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:48 | 1163797 avonaltendorf
avonaltendorf's picture

Mr. King, I hasten to add that I read and hope you will continue to post thought-provoking articles here.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:42 | 1164051 Bananamerican
Bananamerican's picture

"Obama seemed to have learned the wrong lesson on his recent trip to Brazil because he is brimming with enthusiasm for ethanol"

The only thing O is brimming with is corporate spooge...Ethanol is a proven boondoggle at this point. The ONLY reason to continue it's use is its utility as corpoRat Subsidy....

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:07 | 1164068 Obummer
Obummer's picture

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans, good people of the world. I would like to discuss a subject that all of us think about but rarely talk about. I would like to talk about our interests overseas. For we must protect our interests, and we must understand what protecting our interests means for us.

Ever since World War II, when the tragedy of Pearl Harbor pulled us into the greatest war mankind has ever known, America has had to protect her interests overseas. As the sole remaining power for freedom and democracy, America was in a unique position. And I am happy to say that with characteristic vigor Americans stepped up the plate once again. Folks, being policeman to the world is not easy. It is not a task that we relish.  It is thrust on us, but with typical American ingenuity we have made it our own.

In the modern era we have found our interests and the interests of our allies threatened time and time again by those who would seek to harm Americans, and to harm the American way of life. We have at times had to take extreme measures to secure our interests on foreign shores. We have done this reluctantly, but with goodwill in our hearts. At times the going has been rough, but we always manage to find our way. It may be that the tunnel is dark, but there is always a light at the end.

Some would call our recent project in Libya empire-building, but every real American knows this is not the case. After all, I am a Nobel Peace prize winner. Heh heh. (Pause for laughter.)

Folks, the fact is that we must protect our interests and the interests of our allies in Libya. Gaddafi has lost the right to govern his people. But that should not be our decision alone. This is why my administration gained the approval of the international community before moving against Libya. I believed that it was critical that we turn a new leaf, that we have the support of our friends and allies in the world so we could all protect our interests together in an orderly way. We had to protect the rebels so that their fight for democracy could find its way out of the tunnel.

Time was of the essense, and to protect democracy we had to move fast.  There are some who would say that we should have consulted or warned our colleagues in the American government of our intentions before we acted. Such suggestions start out innocently enough, but given oxygen to breathe the idea will blossom and threaten our standards of democracy, human values, and American decency.  Even now these words have been co-opted by the very terrorists we have been fighting against for so long.  And now we begin to find that these terrorist organizations have infiltrated the very heart of America, and are in our living rooms and bedrooms even as I speak.  Rest assured that I will do everything in my power as President of this great nation to repel this threat to our freedoms.  Know that I will not rest until I have protected American interests overseas.  And in the coming months we shall take decisive action against this new menace to our financial stability and to our Constitution.  Thank you, good night, and God bless America.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 04:59 | 1164425 GBruenetti
GBruenetti's picture

What has America (though I suspect you want to restrict that to that small part called the U.S. of A.) done recently to deserve Gods blessing?

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 07:12 | 1164517 BigJim
BigJim's picture

The truly funny (and worrying) thing about these pieces is that they're virtually indistinguishable from the sanctimonious tripe Obama (or any other president) really would spout.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 08:54 | 1164690 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

Funny, I thought it was a text from Obama's speech.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:41 | 1164055 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

Los Alamos was far along in getting geothermal energy on a reasonable financial basis when George Bush II met with a bunch of oil company executives to formulate U.S. energy policy.  He eliminated the program.  It was too big a threat to the big oil guys.  Geothermal is a very clean way of generating power and in unlimited quantities.  There are some new startups that are advancing GTE quite rapidly and you can expect to see lots of it in the future.  I've visited many sites and it's amazing to watch steam turbines spinning out megawatts of power with no fuel as input.  Japan, in particular, could pursue this resource because of their geology. 

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:37 | 1164155 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Reliable/quality links for geothermal tech?



Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:17 | 1163694 Concentrated po...
Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.'s picture

yeah, that part is total shit.  Makes the whole article suspect.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:22 | 1163710 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

Tune-ups and - "check the pressure in your tires ..."

That was his plan ... wasn't that it ?




Wed, 04/13/2011 - 05:55 | 1164464 CPL
CPL's picture

+1 Ha!

Three phase approach...first what you mentioned and then take out the back seat and passenger seat.  Then everyone draft behind one another on the highway.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:42 | 1163602 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture


"Obama wants us to cut those imports by a third. To do this, he has no magic bullet. In fact, he has no ammunition"

Er yes he does actually. His Govt has been sitting on the largest (un-tapped) reserves of oil in the world. The US Govt, in collusion with the big fat Oil monopolists of America, has restricted oil exploration, exploitation and new refinaries on US soil for decades leaving only deep sea drilling.

Namely the US Govt is acting as party to monopolists (ie. fascists) to destroy smaller faster smarter competitors for decades, sending oil jobs overseas and causing Americas imports to increase.

If Obumma really, really, really wants to reduce oil imports he should get his fat Govt arse off all the restrictions on American oil reserves and allow competition (the free market, remember that?) to work its wonders.

Obumma is a 'victim' of his own corruption


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:14 | 1163669 Landrew
Landrew's picture

People keep saying vast untapped oil reserves and never say where these non-existent reserves are. Where are these reserves and I will drill them myself! Unless of course it's FL. they will never allow drilling off coast ever after BP screwed the pooch!

Wait I know where they are! The Bakken Shale? The vast reserves of almost oil that requires vast amounts of fresh water and one well per thousand barrels of oil! So if your telling me your happy paying 300$ a barrel for almost oil that only India will refine. NO THANKS!

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:30 | 1163730 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture


Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:40 | 1164162 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Alaska has "lots" of fields which are held up by the federal government (permitting, etc, etc). I am not saying it is enough to change the long term trend, but there is a lot of development that doesn't go forward because of the various agencies involved.

Also, the race is on for artic development, for which Alaska is also the gateway.



Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:32 | 1163748 avonaltendorf
avonaltendorf's picture

This is not going well at all, and I would prefer to keep a low profile. "Largest untapped reserves of oil in the world" - you mean the Beaufort Sea? - which is an unexplored frontier and for which there is no practical or cheap method of exploiting? The bit about monopolists is a joke. Onshore US there are 300+ independent oil & gas producers (like EOG, Continental, Noble) and countless small operators, pipeline companies, drillers, 'Mom and Pop' wildcat explorers, and service companies. Deepwater Gulf of Mexico makes sense because 70% of the total US offshore oil resource is there. GoM operators are all five US majors, US independents like Marathon and Anadarko, plus UK, Norwegian, Australian, Brazilian, Canadian, Japanese high rollers and a dozen pipsqueak "minnows" like ATP and Cobalt. Competition is fierce.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:57 | 1163975 That Peak Oil Guy
That Peak Oil Guy's picture

Your conspiracy theory seems to be in conflict with my conspiracy theory.  ;-)

Seriously, show us where the oil is and how much it costs to extract and get to the market.


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:51 | 1164067 Bananamerican
Bananamerican's picture

"The US Govt, in collusion with the big fat Oil monopolists of America, has restricted oil exploration,"

This is my favorite conspiracy theory of the Right in that it posits how

George Bush & Cheney, 2 constitutionally untrammeled OIL-igarchs, were beaten into submission by leftist environazis. (and so were forced to move military muscle, man & ma$hine 1/2 way round the world to Iraq to secure THEIR oil)

For fuck's sake, american oil production peaked 40 YEARS AGO!


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:43 | 1163612 Shameful
Shameful's picture

It's easy.  Just let the production plateau meet with the power of Zimbabwe Ben!  I daresay that $30 a gallon will put a big enough dent in America's consumption to hit those numbers.  Problem solved!  Hell put Ben at it long enough and you'll really be able to see those oil imports drop like a stone.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 06:44 | 1164491 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

...and if that wont do it, the reduction in imports will easily be accomplished by peak oil


we certainly wont use what aint there




Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:44 | 1163613 mark mchugh
mark mchugh's picture

So what you're saying is he's tried nothing and is all out of options.

What about Rossi and Focardi?

Nat gas?


Brazil's model seems to work there, why can't it work here?


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:01 | 1163655 augie
augie's picture

I think it would not work here because our entire way of life is pegged to Oil. Suburbs, foot ball games, Nascar ect. Forgetting the fact that the oil companies own congress, The infostructure change would affect way to many who have become slaves to their lifesytle.

Why would anyone who is making millions of dollars give all that up for the sake of humanity? The same question can be asked to a regular Joe why he would give up taking his kid fishing with a gas powered motor for the sake of humanity?


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:28 | 1163721 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

As WWII ended, there were virtually no suburbs in the USA.  Time to revert to the cities.  No exurbs, no long commutes.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:52 | 1163801 TimmyM
TimmyM's picture

Yes, we subsidize oil consumption in many ways. The home mortgage interest deduction, Fannie and Freddie and sprawling suburbia. The aircraft carriers in the Middle East. All of it misallocating capital and disturbing the optimal system.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:30 | 1163910 MSimon
MSimon's picture

You know what they call cities where I come from? Disease concentrators.

They also have another name. Targets.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:34 | 1163736 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

GM owns Congress.  And now you know that since "they got our money."  i always forget the part about "what's bad for GM is bad for the country."  to be honest, i never knew.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 08:58 | 1164699 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

You know why none of these grand plans to wean us off oil ever work? Because people like driving around in our cars. Most of us don't want to live packed in high-rise urban apartment buildings taking the bus to get to work.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:48 | 1163620 Tunga
Tunga's picture

" won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore!" RMN

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:48 | 1163622 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

The technology for electric, hybrid and natural gas vehicles is ancient.  Let's just get on with it already.  The problems are not technological.  They are political.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:50 | 1163799 MSimon
MSimon's picture

The problems are economic and technical. In 1900 battery cars had short ranges and used lead acid batteries. In 2011 battery cars have short range (relative to reqmts) and use lithium batteries. Oh. Yeah. If your battery car sits out in the cold it will lose range. You will need a garage. So battery cars are for suburbanites.  And the batteries wear out.

Natural gas? Limited range due to not many fueling stations and the tanks are heavy. And if the tanks are light? Well you want to be riding in a bomb when you have an accident?

Hybrids? Good choice for now. If they didn't cost so much. Unsubsidized.

All this tech works for people who can't multiply amp-hours times volts. Every one else wants an oil fueled vehicle.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:00 | 1163832 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

"Natural gas? Limited range due to not many fueling stations and the tanks are heavy. And if the tanks are light? Well you want to be riding in a bomb when you have an accident?"

A Honda Civic that runs on natural gas:

You can find natural gas filling stations here:

There are conversion kits to convert any car or truck to natural gas.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:44 | 1163947 MSimon
MSimon's picture

Given that you need a 4X larger gas tank for equivalent range I'd say there were a few problems. Buses make sense - you can refuel them overnight in garages. And the added weight of the tanks is a lower % of vehicle weight.


And the lower cost? If you don't count in gasoline taxes for road maintenance. Which account for about half the price of gasoline. Right now the numbers are small so the loss is not too big. When there are lots of CNG cars on the road woe unto you if you haven't paid your taxes. To make sure it is fair the government will be checking your car to see how far you have traveled. And probably where.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:00 | 1164708 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

I believe Denninger stated that if we converted a sizable portion of the U.S. car fleet of over 200 million vehicles to natural gas that we would run out of natural gas pretty quickly. CNG cars may be another one of the many energy schemes that works well at a small level but can't be scaled up beyond a certain level.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:47 | 1164181 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

CNG cars are very widespread, but not in the US except for fleets.

Converting an EFI car is not cheap. I think it was 10k-ish when I looked at converting my 300c to bifuel. Also, the EPA regulates that, so the design has to be "approved" which is 100k investment. This has been done in some cases, but to be fully legal there are limitations to conversation. Do your homework.

Converting a carbureted car/truck is much more simple.

I would never own a CNG car unless I had a system at home to charge it. I looked very close at doing this but just couldn't justify the cost, and that was with half the fuel cost.



Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:49 | 1164189 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

You can start your CNG research here for an EFI vehicle. I was going to go with these guys product line, but like I said ... cost wasn't there.



Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:03 | 1163851 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

For electric cars I recommend the film "Who killed the electric car?"  That film will tell you a lot about how things work in the USA.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:30 | 1163914 MSimon
MSimon's picture

It is not who. It is what. The what is the cost of batteries.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:42 | 1164166 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Screw hybrids. Why waste all that weight for an ICE? Just get on with battery cars.

You know why manufacturers hate electric cars? Think about this for a sec ... how many moving parts? Think of all the on board systems, sensors, etc required for fuel, exhaust, engine, transmission, and so on. All electric cars are just simple by comparison.

Planned obsolencense, with the exception of the battery, is out the window. And batterys recycle very well. The maintenance side of the equation has a revenue of damn near zero.

Just my two cents.



Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:55 | 1163633 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Silliness, all.

1) No, the US is not sitting on the largest untapped reserves in the world.  Why would that be so?  Why would US geography of 150 million years ago do anything special that other areas did not do?  And what we DID have, we pumped the hell out of for 100 years.  Just what did you think purchased global dominance?

2) The available exports from oil producing countries worldwide is cratering.  Saudi's populace is consuming oil at an explosively growing rate.  Russia's populace the same.  If you are producing oil, you subsidize it for your own citizens.  That drives the domestic price down, and that explodes domestic consumption growth.  Consequently, THERE WON'T BE ANY EXPORTS FOR THE US TO IMPORT.  Obama's goal is not his goal.  It's silly.  It happens by doing nothing.

3) Geology wins.  There is nothing anyone can do about this.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:18 | 1164021 dnarby
dnarby's picture

OK, here's your reserves:

Mine coal and rare earths.  This gives you abundant thorium.

Build new, and convert existing and decommissioned nukes to thorium (far cleaner, and far far safer than uranium nukes).

Use abundance of electric power to convert coal reserves into synthetic fuel.

Power the USA for 1000 years.

Easy peasy!

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:56 | 1164207 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Thorium can't be used in uranium based reactors, at least that is my understanding.

You are refering to MSR designs, which are fluid, not solid. That is a key design distinction as fluids don't suffer structural damage from heat. Think of a fuel rod as a cigarette, you can handle it as long as its not "burned up". Once its ash it falls apart. Rods are only burned abourt 30% I think, then they are too structurally damaged to be handled safely beyond that. If you burned up 60% of the fuel, the rod would just fall apart. That is why reprocessing is required; to get the rod back in shape for burning.

And yes, thorium is the way to go, but its a whole new generation of reactors that need to be built. Here are my obligator links for those who haven't seen them:

Lastly, because it is fluid, you can disolve other fissile material in the fluid and burn it, including old fuel rods. See the links.



Wed, 04/13/2011 - 06:38 | 1164483 falak pema
falak pema's picture

Thats what the DOE wanted to do in 1979-1980. Reagan shot it down in 1981. Then asked/ORDRED  Saudi regime to open the tap wide. (King Fahd, new on job, pro-US surrogate, obeyed as Iraq/Saud were politically stretched, waging war on Iran based on US 'back-room' technological support). Oil prices never recovered as energy cutbacks and deflation had changed the oil demand momentum in west since 1983 onwards. 

We lost 30 years since then to do R&D in renewables as the OIL lobby just loves 'drill baby drill'; even when world conventional oil peaks and the returns are now so minimal or in a shit type oil shale/Orenoco goo that no one wants/knows how to refine.

Go long bikes! But the real kicker is civilisation change : moving to a new consumer model based on sustainable growth not wasteful, junk consumerism.

Until USA resuscitates syn fuels and goes renewables with conventional oil at 150+ LT!

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 06:50 | 1164494 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

wood gas until the whole planet looks like easter island

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 20:59 | 1163643 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Guess we have to repeat the same bonehead mistake again for the millionth time: the more energy becomes available through drilling, the more get used. Instantly. If we drill drill drill we'll burn burn burn. That's been considered axiomatic since the 19th century when the same was found true for coal. England already lived through what happens when you max out domestic energy production (coal). Sooner or later the well runs dry and you're much worse off, totally dependent. 

One of the worst mistakes of the "cheap" oil era between the oil shocks (1985-2002) was that we undid EVERY energy conservation measure that was instituted in the 1970s: the national speed limit, voluntary heating/cooling restrictions, smaller cars to name a few But then we went one step further: allowing SUVs to qualify legally for horrible gas mileage by exploiting a loophole which designated them as trucks instead of cars. And it was done to keep the domestic auto manufacturers alive. 

There will be no solution until we address what nobody wants to address: reducing oil demand, not increasing production.

US oil production peaked when?? Yesterday?? No! IN 1970!!! We're so far beyond peak that there is absolutely no hope of raising it because as fast as new production comes on line, it's burned by SUVs, yachts, private jets and McMansions with floor to ceiling windows. Despite every attempt to increase oil production (and you can't get more oil-friendly than Bush-Cheney aka Lord Halliburton ) we only become MORE dependent on foreign supply never less. 45% of gasoline is imported. 

I wish somebody would finally expose this BS for what it is: more drilling without less consumption is a giveaway to oil interests, not favorable for the US economy. 

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:03 | 1163659 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

It's far past that.  Conservation won't do it.  Conservation is acquiescing to dominance by China and Russia.

The only way to reduce global consumption is a near term nuclear war that depopulates China.  Period.  You could get the same result depopulating the US via nuclear war, too, but I sort of want to be on the winning side, so I choose China to die.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:07 | 1163666 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Instead of focusing exclusively on production technology, we need to focus more on conservation technology. The rumor from the 1970s was true: cars already had the tech capability to quintuple average gas mileage, but that was kept off line because of the quick profit motive and the powerful oil lobby. Conservative members of Congress are opposed to mass transportation projects. Can you guess why??

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:34 | 1163756 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

The cities of the USA had a burgeoning mass transportation system after WWI.  It was scrapped at the behest of big oil and the car companies.  It could easily be rebuilt.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:33 | 1163916 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

 It could easily be rebuilt.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

IF this were 1930 ...

It ain't

In today's world, consider all the EPA and OSHA regs that require adherance, the American's with Disabilities Act compliance ... then you would have minorities/small busiuness quotas to meet ...  and I'm sure there are more regs I'm missing ... point being, when those systems were built back then, none of this PC/uber-ECO-nasi stuff existed.

Back then it was truly a get'r-done mentality (of course, back then, bribes, kick-backs, BIL and 'keep-it-in-the-family' deals were much more common and 'made' things work too).


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:00 | 1163830 MSimon
MSimon's picture

I like mass transit. The government sets your schedules and where you can travel. Your job starts at 6 PM and ends at 3 AM? I guess you can sleep on a cot at work.

Follow the herd or else.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:07 | 1163862 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Ever spend rush hour stuck in traffic?  That is where the herd is.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:38 | 1163923 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

Considered staying at the Y downtown for four nights (Tu-Th) a week once upon a time  - to avoid making that downtown commute for at least most of the week ... stupid boss also insisted on an 8:00 AM MONDAY meetings ... later would have been better, like 9 ... man was a sadist of sorts thinking about it ...


Wed, 04/13/2011 - 02:38 | 1164341 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

So if I understand this, US car makers had some secret fuel efficiency technology which they kept off the market at precisely the time the Japanese were eating their market share and profits, all at the behest of big bad oil? 

The auto executives at the big 3 have traditionally not been the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they were never "Obama stupid" either.

If you want individual fuel efficiency today, you can pick up any VW diesel clunker made in the last ten years and add propane injection (if it survived the cash for clunkers pogrom).  They get the same or better fuel economy than any hybrid manufactured then or now.  Since the propane tanks are tiny, you don't have the mobile IED issue that exists with NatGas.  When the propane tank empties, they don't require the sun to shine, the wind to blow, or the next fukushima to provide electricity via a propietary plug, they simply keep running on diesel, albeit with less efficiency. 

If you want industrial scale fuel efficiency today, the fastest method would be for Buffett and the other Railroad Robber Barons to develop and implement a more integrated (cross company) end-to-end freight transport system, and put the trucking industry out of business.  Then again, who in their right mind would trust the Obummer to perform a regulatory overhaul of his boss's industry's 19th century bureaucracy?



Wed, 04/13/2011 - 06:54 | 1164499 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

you cant propane inject a diesel....period...gas yes ,diesel no

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 08:03 | 1164585 JB
Wed, 04/13/2011 - 07:10 | 1164512 overmedicatedun...
overmedicatedundersexed's picture

look all you" energy experts" are blind to what is staring you in the face..we have TODAY technology to run vehicles on NAT GAS,, we have abundant Nat Gas IN USA...clean burning no less.that is the answer for vehicles..but too many on left and right (big oil) vs Greens avoid that solution that would lower costs to the American consumer  reduce imports of oil and

is available today...nuf said.

one eyed man in the land of the blind.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:17 | 1164769 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

.we have TODAY technology to run vehicles on NAT GAS

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Non-starter; have you looked at the 'refill' time ... it ain't like rolling into your Texaco today and saying "fill'r up" and a five minutes later you're on your way.

Plan on spending some 'quality time' there at the station ...

Today's populace won't buy it (why do you think McD's exists?) ...


Wed, 04/13/2011 - 10:00 | 1164895 War is Profit
War is Profit's picture

True. But after people get done complaining, they'll get used to it. Go in to the store, have some coffee. Even when taking a trip, maybe people will appreciate the break. People adapt, and will choose to when the cost difference between gasoline and gas is great enough.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 10:59 | 1165149 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Your plan doesn't work without HUGE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES and substantial time to build out the infrastructure.  Sort of like HUGE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES for the Government Motors Volt, or HUGE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES for the Banks (or Mack's wife). 

If you want something TODAY (or within 180 days) - for the same price as a GM Volt - cut a check to the Germans and gift them one of Government Motors's useless US factories.

VW XL1 2 seat diesel-electric hybrid

300+ MPG

350 mile range per tank

99 MPH top speed (chip controlled)



Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:33 | 1163739 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

"The only way to reduce global consumption is a near term nuclear war that depopulates China."

And with that CrashisOptimistic makes his bid to become the greatest mass murderer of all time.


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:35 | 1163761 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Murder is a legal term.  War is not murder.  

Fear not.  A pretext will be found.  My money is on a dispute with Japan over the oil/gas holding Senkaku Islands (look them up).  That was what the arrest of boats was all about some months ago.

Have no doubt at all.  If Japan goes to war with China over those islands (and they will), they will invoke the US alliance.  It will be a good excuse to get done what needs doing.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:45 | 1163783 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

You sound completely insane.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:52 | 1163802 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

It doesn't matter.  You'll be dead soon.  Depletion is unstoppable.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:52 | 1163807 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Like I said.  You're insane.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 07:32 | 1164539 BigJim
BigJim's picture

China is a nuclear power. So are we. We will NEVER go to outright war with another major nuclear power because it would probably be a mass-extinction event. Our leaders might be a bunch of sociopathic murderers but suicidal they are not.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:28 | 1164807 rwe2late
rwe2late's picture

"Our leaders might be a bunch of sociopathic murderers but suicidal they are not." - BigJim

Intentionally suicidal, perhaps not.

But I have less faith they will avoid unintentional suicide due to errors of judgement, false perceptions of "enemy" threats, and plain egomanical lust for power.  The Pentagon's quest for first strike capability and full-spectrum dominance should give anyone pause. The history of modern leadership from Napoleon, to WWI and WW2, to the Cuban missile crisis and Kennedy's advisors certainly shows that leaders will misjudge, gamble, and catastrophically self-destruct. And even if they don't kill us directly by war, then they may yet do it by environmental ruination...


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:54 | 1164081 samsara
samsara's picture

TOO TOO messy.  Plus all that residual radiation.

Bioweapon.  Passed off as a 'Act of God'  Especially a Gene Specific bioweapon.

The 'Right' peoples could maybe get a immune shot even.

All resources are left intact.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 07:34 | 1164542 BigJim
BigJim's picture

The horrible thing is - I think you're right; I could easily see our beloved leaders doing that.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 03:23 | 1164382 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

this is nonsense. if you look at demographics and history there is a CLEAR LESSON. in the meaningful timespan of decades, only plague, famine and mandated reproduction control affects population growth. killling people, even 10% of the worlds' population in a one off massive war actually will not help 'reduce consumption' by keeping population down. 

other than biological warfare and poisoning our own food, the only way to stabilize consumption is to have larger amounts of human beings become citizens a fewer and fewere countries , all of which have agreed to force their citizens to limit their reproduction by law. you want stable consumption, you either choose the gates of hell or a brave new world.....but plain old world war aint going to do it. even if you nuked every major city in the world...........there would be BILLIONS OF PEOPLE LEFT WITH MORE FOOD PER CAPITA AND THEY WOULD PRODUCE A BUMPER CROP OF BABIE BOOMER 2.0'S that would put us right back where we are now in now time.

so no more stupid, not to mention unethically homicidal, ideas out of you. please. thank you.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:14 | 1164755 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

this is nonsense. if you look at demographics and history there is a CLEAR LESSON. in the meaningful timespan of decades, only plague, famine and mandated reproduction control affects population growth. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Possible revision needed in your theory?

Have you seen the growth rates in the 'western' world lately?

On the dee-cline ...

Seems the populace doesn't want kids, use birth control, etc.


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:05 | 1163662 augie
augie's picture

you better quit that subversive talk or you'll end up like Stan Mayer..

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:01 | 1163844 MSimon
MSimon's picture

Uh. Hydrogen is not a fuel. It is an energy carrier. You lose energy in the conversiosns. So what is the real fuel for a hydrogen car? Coal.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:51 | 1164075 samsara
samsara's picture

Probably  Al + NaOH ->   Sodium Aluminate + Hydrogen + a lot of heat.

You can do it with household lye and aluminum foil. 

Now if you could get tons of lye for free and tons of aluminum for free....

Where is the energy loss?  Well the energy the hydrogen gives you back wouldn't pay for the amount of electricity you would need to make the Aluminum in the first place....

Thermodyamics is a bitch.


Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:53 | 1164191 defender
defender's picture

I work for a company that makes fuel cells and electrolyzers.  The best data that I have seen for an electrolyzer is a little under 10% losses over theoretical.  Of course, there are also losses when you recombine the hydrogen and oxygen.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:05 | 1163661 Dejean Splicer
Dejean Splicer's picture

OT but cool anyway.

Sakurajima Volcano – Japan – continues eruption — LARGE explosion ejects lava

Speculation that the eruption is pushing radioactive fallout high into the jet stream.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:10 | 1163676 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Cool. Geothermal, dude. 

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:08 | 1163668 flacorps
flacorps's picture

There are lots of ways to make ammonia, some so easy it almost seems accidental. There is already a pipelines infrastructure. It stores like propane, and runs engines without making CO2. Beats hydrogen. It already powers pumps on California ranches and the odd airport luggage cart tug. Why not our cars?

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:10 | 1163873 MSimon
MSimon's picture

Can you make 20 million barrels a day of ammonia? And you know - if you breathe enough of that stuff you keel over and die. Just great in an auto accident.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:00 | 1163966 flacorps
flacorps's picture

A. Not me personally. That's what industry is for.
B. That's what tanks and lines are for.
C. Gasoline can leak and will have a caustic effect on your skin even if it doesn't catch fire. Only a small proportion of crashes involve a loss of fuel containment, and in a much smaller proportion there is fire. Hybrids have the high voltage lines colored bright Orange in an effort to warn first responds. Meanwhile lithium ion batteries can burn like a Roman candle. Grandma might not have time to get out.

Ammonia seems just a different risk, not a greater one.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:44 | 1164064 samsara
samsara's picture

This ain't everybody upgrading their phones to ones that can take a picture.

You are talking about waving a magic wand changing an entire infrastructure.   Without the motivation and incentive and MONEY to do it.

AND,  AND it is STILL entirely centered around a 'Car Concentric'  Drive to the mall paradigm.


Ain't gonna happen.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:32 | 1163738 americanspirit
americanspirit's picture

Bushehr reactor going online in a few weeks. Radioactive oil is the new energy play. Instead of MPG we're going to be talking half-life of a tank of gas. Everything's cool - leave it to Barry.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:33 | 1163740 GOSPLAN HERO
GOSPLAN HERO's picture

Comrade President Obama is an expert on many things ... especially securing funding for midnight basketball in Chicago.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:33 | 1163754 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture

not sure the author does a great job, here.

leaves out OPEC design, creation, activation, etc?  no one seems to tell this story, anymore...

Diatribe 101 polemics:  OMG pesident milk dud is doing a multi-point totally shitty job about "energy"!!!

who fukin cares? 

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:37 | 1163760 ViewfromUnderth...
Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:48 | 1163795 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

"Now, even though oil should be $20 a barrel, because we're swimming in it, and because we let speculators distort free markets by rolling contracts perpetually without ever having to take physical delivery, effectively taking oil out of circulation, driving the price to $112+ a barrel, if you're a middle class family of 4, making 50k a year, and 35k after taxes, you need to buy a hybrid car that costs your annual net income."


Barack Insane Obama

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:59 | 1163825 Fantasy Planet
Fantasy Planet's picture

Barry energy plan includes all walking to work while carrying golf club so walk feels shorter and more enjoyable. 

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 21:58 | 1163833 Hedgetard55
Hedgetard55's picture

Barry is still trying to figure out why he can't just mandate energy independence through executive order. It worked for hiding his records.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:34 | 1163922 wkwillis
wkwillis's picture

Bright spot seismic was developed during the seventies, didn't have anything to do with the government.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:47 | 1163949 sangell
sangell's picture

I'm no petro-geologist but if the US has roughly 300 million people and we use 20 million bpd, then our per capita consumption is around 2.8 gallons per day.

Per capita is not precise, of course, because a child uses far less than a working adult, but, if you add 1 million immigrants to your population each year you need to find about 2.8 million gallons per day more each year. My calculator says that's about 66,000bpd.

After 10 years, all things staying the same, and you need 660,000+ bpd more each day. Of course your immigrants used oil in the 'old country' it is true but it is unlikely a marginally employed Guatamalan or Nigerian immigrant used 2.8 gallons per day. So lets just say we need 500,000 bpd in additional oil. After only 10 years. If we add 30 million immigrants, as we have, since the days of Jimmy Carter, on that basis alone the US used up the entire North Slope of Alaska, not to become 'energy independant' but just to stay even.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 00:01 | 1164079 avonaltendorf
avonaltendorf's picture

About 3/8 of each barrel for gasoline. The rest is diesel, jet fuel, petrochemicals, lubricants, heating fuel, avgas, asphalt, naptha, bunker oil for ships. US is a net exporter of refined products.

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 22:51 | 1163959 Off the side
Off the side's picture

From 1977—85, the US cut  its oil use 17%, oil imports 50%, and Persian Gulf imports 87% while the economy grew 27%. This was in part from new energy efficiency standards for appliances as well vehicles under the Carter admin. but also simple conservation following the oil embargo. Weaning US dependence on Middle East oil and the hidden but substantial costs of obtaining access to these sources vis a vis the Pentagon as an expensive security force is crucial to any long term sane energy policy.

With 70% of oil use consumed in the transportation sector huge savings can be created by raising efficiency standards. Amory Lovins has long presented a very profitable private sector driven plan to this end.

See: "Winning the Oil Endgame"

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:42 | 1164052 samsara
samsara's picture

Lovin's plans are still deeply steeped in the unshakable 'Car Concentric'  paradigm.

Ain't gonna happen.


Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:58 | 1164087 Remo Williams
Remo Williams's picture

Efficiency is a lose-lose situation in the long run, as William Stanley Jevons first observed back in the coal age. 

In economics, the Jevons paradox, sometimes called the Jevons effect, is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.  In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal-use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 07:11 | 1164514 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

wheres that thumbs up button?



15%?.......thats how much more fuel efficient your vehicle is with all the emissions crap stripped off of it

the only real benefit of which is reduction of oxides of nitrogen


my 407 hp musclecar got 16 mpg...better than a new truck, and with a 400 cubic inch big block pontiac engine....and i certainly wasnt trying to conserve fuel when i drove that sucker

and it sniffed good for emissions test with no emissions equipment on it at all

and had 3:88 gears in it


no one ever bothers to do the math of having a higher mileage per gallon vehicle vs. lower mpg and lower emissions...concept fail

should be measured as emissions per mile travelled... a better metric by far than lowering emissions to the point you drastically reduce miles per gallon


by products of perfect combustion are h2o and co2

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:00 | 1163985 AldoHux_IV
AldoHux_IV's picture

Every president has failed because our country isn't run by the president nor congress-- it's the imbalances i.e. large corporations who have filled the politicians pockets to be dumb actors.  Thus, like Japan and Europe our country is doomed to the whims of crony capitalism and we will struggle globally to free ourselves from the tyranny of these institutions and more importantly struggle to solve society's greater problems.





Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:43 | 1164063 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

US still has democracy. US Citizens have failed to vote in self interest.

On a bright note, the faster and deeper America fails, the faster the recovery. That's how fools learn.



Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:44 | 1164857 rwe2late
rwe2late's picture

 So which viable political party supports the voter's "self-interest"?

Is it the Tweedledum or the Tweedledee party? Is it the Genovese or the Gambino party?

It takes money and MSM support to be a viable candidate at the national level, something the corporate-backed elite have in abundance.

What do you do when a candidate says one thing, but does another after election?

Tue, 04/12/2011 - 23:10 | 1163989 tom a taxpayer
tom a taxpayer's picture


Breaking News: 

President Obama introduces the Landscape Recovery and Emergency Energy Vouchers Act of 2011

President's Declaration: "From Beverly Hills to Malibu, America's great landscapes are threatened by rising energy prices. I was first alerted to this tragedy by Barbra Streisand, a dear friend and one of Hollywood's leading environmentalists.  Barbra told me how the high cost of gasoline is ravaging the landscaping at her coastal Malibu mansion. The first sign of trouble was when Barbra noticed that the landscapers were skipping grass cutting and hedge trimming in hard-to-see areas. Then things got much worse. Now her lawn looks lousy, and her hedges are a jungle she is afraid to walk near.

"Barbra said the landscapers cannot afford the rising cost of petroleum products to run the large fleet of lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, chain saws, leaf blowers, and weed whackers needed to maintain Barbra's lush estate on the beautiful California coast. The tipping point came yesterday when Barbra  phoned me in tears about the latest landscaping crisis: the landscapers can no longer afford the daily commute to her Malibu estate due to the high price of gasoline. 

"I had my Secretary of Agriculture, who deals with growing things, confirm the widespread nature of the landscaping crisis with several other Hollywood environmentalists and humanitarians. 

"I will not stand by and let America's beautiful landscapes be destroyed by rising energy prices. So, I have sent to Congress and requested quick passage of the Landscape Recovery and Emergency Energy Vouchers Act of 2011. The Act provides energy vouchers for bona fide landscapers to use to pay for gasoline, oil, diesel, or any other petroleum product needed to fuel America's landscaping industry. The Act also provides transportation vouchers that allows bona fide landscapers to ride free on buses, trains, airplanes, and taxicabs needed to get to landscaping jobs across this great country."

"This Act will be a key part of our green jobs agenda. And it reduces global warming.  By maintaining carbon-absorbing greenery on vast estates, Hollywood environmentalists like Barbra Streisand contribute to the public good and clean air for all Americans. To further encourage these Hollywood humanitarians, the proposed Act includes the Barbra Streisand amendment that exempts from all federal fuel taxes the private jets, limousines, racing cars, golf carts, rehab ambulances, and any other vehicles used to transport Hollywood movie and TV stars, directors, and producers, provided their estates have greenery certified by the EPA as 100% organic carbon-absorbing vegetation."


Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:30 | 1164263 Tail Dogging The Wag
Tail Dogging The Wag's picture

Black Dog! Silver is touching $41 /oz again! Just when I was getting ready to BTFD!!!

Please go down a bit so that I can buy more, pretty please?

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:59 | 1164294 cowpieflapjack
cowpieflapjack's picture

hmmm, maybe I'll just stick with my Popular Mechanics 100 m.p.g. carb

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 02:10 | 1164309 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Barack Obama, house nigger for Goldman Sachs.

*Not a racist comment. Nigger can refer to a white, black, indian, chinese, whatever, as it denotes a slave. George W. Bush was a nigger to what he perceived as his father's failures, exploited by Dick 'Vader' Cheney & his Cabal.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:50 | 1164871 rwe2late
rwe2late's picture

Obviously, the accepted definition as a racial slur has to give way to the definition in your private dictionary.


Wed, 04/13/2011 - 04:47 | 1164421 Dr. Porkchop
Dr. Porkchop's picture

In the future there will be plenty of work available in deconstructing suburia, salvaging it for materials and reclaiming the real thing of value underneath it.. farmland.

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 05:26 | 1164447 FunkyOldGeezer
FunkyOldGeezer's picture

Give car manufacturers a hefty tax incentive to produce more diesel or diesel/electric hybrids and within 5 years consumption would easily be cut by one third.

There is simply not the political will to do anything like that in the USA (or the rest of the world, but at least a large percentage of us are driving diesels).

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 06:52 | 1164498 gasmiinder
gasmiinder's picture

Good stuff - but 

To its credit, though at great cost, DOE, through its chain of national laboratories, kept searching. The result has been evolutionary improvements in many fields, and some really revolutionary ones in how we find oil and drill for it; these include seismic mapping, new drill bits and horizontal drilling.

is news to this energy industry veteran.  DOE has funded a lot of basic research (much of it of great value) but the major breakthroughs have been classic private company R&D.  I've not seen any of the big new techniques come out of DOE.  Of the really important breakthroughs of the last 20 years the biggest DOE impact I've seen was computing support for seismic processing (Cutting edge computational capacity & speed).  The big breakthroughs have come from industry (albeit often with or in conjunction with DOE grants/support/partnership)

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 07:46 | 1164553 CEOoftheSOFA
CEOoftheSOFA's picture

When horizontal drilling was developed it was due to improvements in bit design and downhole drilling motors.  The DOE had nothing to do with it.

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