UPDATE - Natural Gas Prices Rising - When All American Drivers Use Non-Exportable Domestic Fuel, MPG Hysteria Will Go Away
EDITORS NOTE, November 1, 2013; I am moving this story, originally published May 20, 2013, from our news archives to our front page to once again show just how perceptive our editorial staff is.
Over the past few days we have all seen and heard the news about Natural Gas prices rising substantially, in spite of a glut of the stuff.
Over the past week we have published stories about Chevrolet announcing a production dual fuel CNG and Gasoline Impala, and truckers across North America replacing Diesel powered vehicles with CNG power, and just how much more natural gas is being harvested every week.
This weeks' price increase for our domestically sourced and abundant natural gas supply proves that supply and demand is irrelevant as a cost factor to the North American motorist…if CNG is worth more in Europe then it's European cost will become the base price for consumers here…so our position continues to be, that until North American vehicles can all use a non-exportable fuel (like ethanol) we will continue to be stuck under the yoke of the monopolies that are the Oil and Gas Industry.
Time to get pissed Americans and Canadians Time to get our Big Oil bought and paid for politicians doing the peoples work instead of the work of their fossil fuel masters.
By Bob Gordon
President and Co-Founder
The Auto Channel
Originally Published May 20, 2013
When every passenger vehicle on America's roads can use 'Made in America' sustainable and non-exportable fuel, MPG will once again be just a personal, practical or economic choice, not a national security issue.
LOUISVILLE, KY - May 20, 2013: Over the past 18-plus years, as the president and co-founder of the largest independent editorially based automotive web site, www.theautochannel.com, I have been inexorably immersed as a journalist, marketer and booster for the automobile industry…7 days a week, 18 hours a day. So although I am not a scientist or an engineer or a lawyer or an economist my daily immersion and curiosity in everything automotive has given my opinions and observations street-cred.
During the years The Auto Channel has been to every major auto show, both in the U.S and around the world. We have published over a million automotive reviews, editorials, news reports and articles, we have seen them come and seen them go.
Over the years our position on gasoline and alt fuels vacillated...we were as vulnerable to being swayed by propaganda as anyone, but we had something to fall back on when determining what is true and what is self-serving bull.
As we say here in our Commonwealth of Kentucky we have no dog in the alt fuel fight, our only position is that whatever happens, it better be good for our country. As a father and grandfather I believe that unless we get the bull under control, 100 years from now the gasoline monopoly status quo will still be damaging our economy, our citizens and our potential as a nation.
When we started publishing on-line twenty years ago, we didn’t plan for The Auto Channel to become a lighthouse in the murky fight to solve our country’s mobility fuel mess, and become the alt fuel Don Quixote, fighting the entrenched for gasoline’s replacement.
Back then we all feared peak oil (What Happened?), which brought into the mobility fuel discussion do-gooders, self-promoters, propagandists, and tree huggers, who had no real understanding of how to actually replace gasoline in a timely manner. Those do-gooders provided the fuel for the birth of a vicious opposite and unequal reaction to what could only be good for Americans.
The right wing media and their handlers created a backlash firestorm to demean every alt fuel no matter what its true value, and they sold-in a faux-patriotic mandate that called anyone promoting the replacement of gasoline as an unrealistic anti-capitalistic traitor to our dear country. Their slogan which continues to this day, “drill baby drill” has done nothing for America (more later).
Over the past 90 years America was goaded by oil’s monopolists propaganda for the U.S. to unleash its military might to “protect” our fragile (so they say) oil supply, costing trillions of dollars of our treasury and more importantly cost hundreds of thousands of young Americans lives.
We started The Auto Channel to make money, not to pontificate…we reported on new cars, drove them, loved them and told our 1 million readers a month exactly what we think. But as the years slipped by, my business partner Marc Rauch and I (two street kids from Brooklyn) found ourselves getting more and more agitated by big oil’s mistruths, lies and patently wrong information about alt fuels, especially Ethanol.
We believe ethanol to be the silver bullet - the single bullet - that can re-emerge from the propaganda against it and create a groundswell to allow it to once again replace gasoline as the near perfect mobility fuel, until another better comes along. (Ethanol was considered the best fuel for spark-induced internal combustion engines until GM discovered that they could make billions by adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline and patenting the process.)
We have no dog in the fight, The Auto Channel is fuel agnostic as long as it meets these criteria:
1. Domestically Sourced
2. Retail Price Not Tied To International Marketplace
3. Can replace gasoline without modifying 200 million plus used cars on America’s Roads
4. Can be distributed and retailed using existing infrastructure
5. Provides equal or better performance than gasoline
6. Ecologically equal or better than today’s gasoline
7. Initially priced 30-50 -% less than regular gasoline
8. Not Rocket science – supply can be ratcheted up in a timely fashion
9. Well tested and proven
10. Need more, make more
As for oil, whether it comes from North Dakota or Abu Dhabi it is a millstone around America’s neck. Just Last week Navy secretary Ray Mabus, was quoted as saying; “Right now we buy our oil from foreign sources and some of these sources don’t have our (America’s) best interest at heart. Every time some yahoo says he’s going to close the Strait of Hormuz the price of oil spikes, and every $1 a barrel increase in the price of oil, costs the navy (and U.S. taxpayers) $30 million.
Because oil is a worldwide commodity, the price of our petroleum based fuels is not responsive to American companies; it is priced by the new world order of oil company’s and personalities. (See FTC Gasoline Price Changes: The Dynamic of Supply, Demand and Competition .) Whether based here in America or not, these foreign entities virtually control our economy, foreign policy, and buy and pay for greedy and anti-American politicians. This new world order is as a group unsympathetic to America’s interests. No matter how much money is spent on self-effacing propaganda, no matter the lies that are spewed in their favor, they remain and profit from controlling a monopolized marketplace with no controls or empathy for our country or citizens.
No matter which part of America oil comes out from, no matter the nationality of the oil company’s executives or owners; these profit-first unpatriotic international entities, not Americans, set the price for our countries natural bounty to our detriment.
No matter what drivel you hear on right or left wing radio there are no “our American oil companies”, there are no American companies pricing our domestic oil and its products at a “home town price” eggs may be cheaper in the country, but gasoline and oil sure aren’t.
All oil companies have a mandate from their owners to make a big a profit as possible, as they should. American oil is priced on the world’s marketplace making its value non-geographic, no matter what; oil is sold for the same everywhere, emphasizing that is no inherent advantages to Americans to increase domestically sourced oil.
This is not the case in many OPEC countries where gasoline is still priced at less than 10% of what you and I pay to fill up, because it is pulled out of the ground there, and the benevolent masters say it belongs to the people, 26 cents a gallon in Venezuela, $4.90 a gallon in Los Angeles and 8.25 a gallon in London, UK.
How many of you out there know the latest price for a bushel of corn or oats or soybeans or the wholesale price of a gallon of milk, (well maybe some of you in this group really does know) but I’ll bet all of you do know what direction the price of a barrel of oil went today, every news outlet in America features a daily or hourly scorecard on the price of a barrel of oil, like we can do anything about that…but I guess it covers “Our Oil Company’s” ass’s when the price of gasoline at your local Circle K jumps 15-20% in a matter of hours.
And here the rub, in spite of today’s reported record amounts of oil being pumped out of revitalized oil fields here in the U.S, which has created an oil glut, so that “our” oil companies can export it. So instead of reducing the cost of gasoline for U.S. drivers and helping our economy to recover the energy caused recession, as they say the rich get richer on the backs of every American.
I believe in capitalism, I believe the oil companies can sell their product to the highest bidder, but do not abide with their propagandizing against what will be good for our country’s future, we all need to let our representative know that we will not sit quietly and watch as these monopolies are destroying our better future.
So much for their fairy tale of oil being sensitive to America’s supply and demand…today’s recent excess supply, along reduced U.S. demand has not resulted in one benefit for Americans, none. There has been no economic or lifestyle benefit for Americans, who by the way continue to pay $10 billion a year in oil industry subsidies.
There is absolutely no reason for any thinking American to feel it’s their patriotic duty to support increased drilling (unless you are an Oil Company stockholder or the Sheik of Araby) and not one reason for any American to suffer the political pressure of being opposed to building a new pipeline across the heartland of America. A pipe that will essentially carry Canadian tar sand oil down to U.S. refineries for increased export and profit for corporations not people. Any projected increase in Louisiana oil will not be tied to a proviso that promises that the increased oil supply will reduce American’s cost of driving. We believe all it will do is increase the ability of our “Neighbor to the North’s” to profit from “Their Country’s Oil Companies” ability to sell Canadian Oil (whatever that is) to the highest bidder anyplace in the world.
So a simple, obvious and truly patriotic answer to our mobility energy problems will not come from “drill baby drill”, it will not come from politically mandated meaningless higher MPG, it will not come from the fairy tale that is Electric Vehicles, and definitely not come from the latest oil company supported solution, plentiful natural gas.
But why not CNG…: Within the collective knowledge of our Nation, CNG has recently become acknowledged as plentiful, with reserves of over century’s worth in fact. But the truth is Americans cannot buy a CNG powered passenger car in any new car dealership, except for a handful of Honda dealers who are approved (but are unable to sell a meaningful number of units). In fact last month I cancelled a visit the Honda factory in Greensburg Indiana where I was to see the Civic CNG line, because it’s not making CNG powered civics at the present time.
Think about it... All you have been told recently is how CNG will solve our problems, but the impossible task of converting hundreds of millions of cars from gasoline to use CNG will only guarantee that gasoline will remain our ‘fuel of choice” for another monopolistic 100 years. No one alive today or for the next 50 years will see the day that all of the cars on the road are powered by domestic CNG.
What we need is a realistic, practical and timely replacement for gasoline, a fuel that will power not only new vehicles but also the 250 million existing ICE powered cars on America’s roads today.
A replacement for gasoline shouldn’t require rocket science, or changes to our infrastructure, or our fill-up routine; or fuel distribution. A fuel that will seamlessly and quietly work in every car sold in America over the next 50-100 years, or until flux-capacitors become the fuel of choice.
Americans need access to a fuel whose price will never be affected by global supply and demand; a fuel that can be produced in every region of our country, a fuel made with each region’s most economic and plentiful source stock; a mobility fuel that has been tested, tested, tested, retested and proofed for over 120 years, a fuel that is an improvement on gasoline in every way…domestic, sustainable, higher octane, greener, less volatile, and cheaper-to-produce, with a continuously lowering price. When American entrepreneurs can refine their Ethanol manufacturing technology and meet a growing demand the price per gallon will drop with no possibility of a shortage ever.
So What Do American Drivers Think?
A survey released last week by the NADA (National Auto Dealers Association) reported that; fuel economy, was the number one purchase criterion for Americans buying a new car or truck…MPG Huh????
Fuel economy; not price, not head room, not horse power, not warranty, not interior room or trunk space or reputation or how the new car drives and rides not if your old man really liked a special model or brand, not if your 6’8” son-in-law can sit in the back seat…but fuel economy, MPG, WOW!
How very sad! With all of the delicious new car choices American consumers are offered; for them to rank "fuel economy" as their number one purchase criteria proves just how powerful and subversive we have allowed the oil masters to become.
As long as America is held hostage to a global commodity, it will get screwed by the multinational companies...the law of supply and demand does not stop at our shores but is determined by oil use in every country on earth.
In order to break this oppressive yoke we need to stop using oil for fuel, we need to expand manufacturing of a domestically sourced product that does not have the built in potential or profitability from export, we need a fuel that every country can make and sell it to their citizens at home town prices.
Further proof of my argument comes from Boone Pickens, an oil guy turned natural gas guy who has invested over $100 million of his fortune lobbying the U.S. government to recognize and support the replacement of oil based diesel fuel by plentiful natural gas for long hall trucks.
Last week in an e-mail to “Pickens Army” Boone said that; “The U.S. is producing a lot more oil than it did just a few years ago; (with more being discovered every day), yet the price at the pump hasn't dropped a single penny. Why not? Because we end up paying the for-profit companies global prices.”
A future with Americans having to use any petroleum based fuel, even plentiful and domestically sourced natural gas for America’s hundreds of millions of passenger vehicles and light duty trucks isn’t the answer. Because no matter how much oil and natural gas America has and can produce, it will be worth more to its producers overseas...so until there is a fuel that is plentiful and cheap to make by everyone everywhere in the world we will continue to be like insects caught in a monopolists web.
We must place our country’s future not in the hands of multi-national profit makers (profit is great and as a capitalist I support it), but in the hands and hearts of America's farmers who can and will grow source crops, no matter what they are, and trust America’s scientists to find the best way to convert waste, or algae, or wood chips, or coal dust, or coal effluence into locally produced alcohol, as ethanol or methanol. Our mobility fuel can be made in and distributed from local and regional distilleries, which will manufacture unending supplies of clean and renewable American mobility fuel in a timely fashion, not within centuries but within the decade...and eliminate our “global supply and demand” trap forever.
All of this is really simple and technically possible, so why have Americans allowed the oil monopoly to flourish, and continue to support this prevision of the free market to occur and prosper here in the United States?
The production and sale of gasoline is a monopoly, a monopoly that is controlled by people and countries some of which don’t like us or our freedoms.
At the beginning of the automobile era the best and most popular fuel to use was alcohol… it was locally sourced, renewable, had the highest octane and could be made on every farm and in every holler across the U.S. but this created a real problem for those wanting to insure their profits through a monopoly, because unlike controlled oil access, any person or company that wanted to could become a manufacturer and sell alcohol fuel…which they did.
Henry Ford the father of the modern auto industry said that “alcohol was the perfect fuel for automotive applications”…it was then and is today and tomorrow.
So what happened?
In the early years of the automobile, oil was discovered in the U.S and the most important and potentially profitable product made from this oil was gasoline…
The early cars could operate on both gasoline and alcohol, but the octane rating of gasoline was so low that they could not perform in the new higher compression engines that car makers were developing…in fact back then the gasoline companies blended alcohol with their gasoline to make it competitive with alcohol fuel…and by 1920’s as the auto became more sophisticated and America’s drivers wanted “better” performance…General Motors, Dow Chemical along with Rockefellers Standard Oil created a partnership to invent a patentable additive that could make gasoline perform as well as alcohol….and they did find one… they added poisonous lead to their gasoline to boost octane and they called it Ethyl (a type of antiknock fluid, containing tetraethyl lead and other ingredients for a more even combustion.) Talk about confusion in the marketplace – WOW!
No matter that it killed and maimed the scientists working to develop it, no matter that lead’s poisonous attributes remain in earth’s atmosphere, the earth’s geology and in your fingernails until today.
But I get ahead of myself, GM did as any good capitalistic company would do, they optimized their new vehicles to use more products that fell under the Ethyl product patents; more horsepower, less MPG, hey but at 10 cents a gallon who really cared…more horsepower please.
And if this wasn’t enough to cement their monopoly, Rockefeller along with the others in the gasoline cartel made sure that when prohibition came along alcohol fuel would become in effect impossible to sell…handing 100% of the mobility fuel biz to the oil barons (and GM of course).
With the various members of the Ethyl cartel doing their jobs, Ethyl became the standard, it did boost gasoline’s octane and became the way to dominate the fuel market. As a full partner in this new fuel, not only was GM and the other car makers able to tune their engines to their monopolistic fuel, GM also received billions of dollars a year in royalties…so much so that they never had to make as much profit on their vehicles as did their competitors. It’s interesting to note that the UAW negotiated a new contract with only one of the Big 3, so when it came GM’s turn to “negotiate”, the more they gave the UAW the more it hurt their competitors, much more than it could possibly hurt GM with their enormous Ethyl royalties exponentially growing each year until 1973.
With a preponderance of evidence as to Ethyl’s role in the deadly effect of lead in the atmosphere, the Ethyl cartel could do nothing about the new law that would outright ban the use of leaded fuels. The Oil guys had no choice but to accept the law of the land and stop making and selling leaded fuel here in North America. They were forced by America’s citizens through their representatives to make unleaded the new standard, (hmm so what’s the problem in making E85 the new regular???). The oil companies forced their partners in crime, the car manufacturers to build cars that could run as well on unleaded. Facing a formidable enemy in Congress, there was no measurable or meaningful anti-no lead fuel propaganda, unlike the anti-ethanol propaganda today.
So here we are today…gasoline at 4 bucks a gallon, cars that need expensive and scientifically difficult catalytic converters to meet air quality standards, and a bastion of anti alt fuel propaganda, and pro- impossible to actually work alt fuels, so the oil guys can say “see we told you it’s not ready for prime time” like EV’s are the answer, CNG is the answer, Clean Diesel is the answer, Hydrogen Fuel Cells are the answer, Plug-in Hybrids are the answer, Flex Fuel is the answer – OH YES IT IS! Yes It Can!
Ahhh but it can! E85 as our new regular will replace 70-75% 0f the overpriced and unpatriotic gasoline we use today - today not in 20 or thirty years, and when E95 replaces E85 we can say goodbye to caring about MPG, who gives a crap when we are paying 75 cents a gallon and 100% of the profits stays here in the good old USA.
Here's one article from The Auto Channel news archive that concerns Ethanol as the right fuel…we have thousands more where these came from. Take some time and search Ethanol on The Auto Channel and read all about it for yourself… I guarantee that you will agree with us … it’s time to replace gasoline with ethanol.
Ford Promoting Ethanol as Alternative FuelBy John Fossen, FCN
DEARBORN, June 5, 2006 -- More than a century after Henry Ford built his ethanol-powered quadricycle, the renewable energy source is making a comeback -- big time -- and Ford Motor Company is a leader in its resurgence. By year's end, Ford plans to have nearly 2 million ethanol-capable vehicles on the road.
In a heads-up race with petroleum, ethanol might one day take the lead. It doesn't deplete oil reserves or result in dependence on other countries. What's more ethanol can be made from virtually limitless feedstocks, such as corn -- the most common source in the U.S. -- sugar cane, sugar beets or any edible biomass.
"It can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the process of making it recaptures carbon," said Brian Rippon, policy manager, Global Public Policy, Ford Government Affairs. "No other currently available vehicle technology or alternative fuel -- including hybrids and natural gas -- provides those benefits."
Essentially ethanol is alcohol. Unlike the pure ethanol Henry Ford burned in his quadricycle, today it is combined with various percentages of gasoline to power flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) that have been modified to burn the mixture. FFVs also can run on 100 percent gasoline.
"Our FFVs are capable of operating on up to 85 percent ethanol (E85), or gasoline, or any mixture in between," said Sue Cischke, Ford vice president of Environmental and Safety Engineering. And all of our gasoline-powered engines are designed to operate on 10 percent ethanol or E10."
Today there are more than 5 million E85 FFVs on the road. This year, U.S. domestic automakers alone are expected to sell nearly 1 million more. If all of these vehicles ran on E85, it would displace the need for 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline per year.
E85 typically costs less than gasoline, although prices vary. But it also provides about 25 percent less energy than a gallon of gasoline. Should gas prices escalate significantly and/or the cost of ethanol production decrease, ethanol will likely become more attractive to consumers.
One of the biggest challenges facing widespread ethanol availability is the lack of infrastructure. Right now, only about 3.5 percent, or 600, of the nation's approximately 170,000 retail gas stations offer E85. It is estimated that 20 to 30 percent would be needed to support increased FFV production.
Ford is committed to improving the infrastructure. The automaker and VeraSun Energy Corporation, the nation's second-largest ethanol producer, have formed a first-of-a-kind partnership to increase the number of fueling stations offering E85 and promote consumer awareness, particularly in the Midwest. Most of the E85 fuel stations are located in the region.
Together, the companies are developing a "Midwest Ethanol Corridor", which will expand E85 availability by approximately one-third in Illinois and Missouri, allowing owners to travel the lengths of those states using E85.
Ford's efforts to promote flexible fuels extend around the globe. For example, Ford Thailand late last year introduced the country's first flexible-fuel vehicle, the Focus, capable of running on benzene as well as mixes of ethanol up to 20 percent.
"Ford has every ambition to put more ethanol vehicles onto the congested roads of Bangkok and every other major city across the kingdom," said Tom Brewer, president of Ford Thailand. "Ford has the technology and the products to respond today. We're ready if the Thai consumer and Thai government are ready to support it."
The company also is building the first flexible-fuel engine plant in the Philippines and pioneered the introduction of flexible-fuel vehicles to the UK.
Video from Argonne National Lab.
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