July 29th, 2008 ~ According to the latest figures publicly available from the Environmental Protection Agency, America generated nearly 250 Million Tons of municipal solid waste in 2005 alone. We can safely assume incrementally higher figures for the last three years.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could convert all that garbage from toxic landfill to fuel for our cars? Well, we CAN; cleanly, efficiently, NOW. Fulcrum Bio-Energy is building a $120 million facility near Reno, Nevada to transform nearly 90,000 tons per year of municipal solid waste into approximately 10.5 million gallons of ethanol per year. Other projects are in final development and will be announced in the next year or so.
Beyond the obvious merits of the "Plasma Enhanced Melter" process - a conversion process, NOT an incineration process - at the core of these new plants, I am pleased by the genesis of the "PEM" itself. It is a DIRECT result of the fusion power research of Dr. Dan Cohn of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center. Dr. Cohn is one of the co-founders of Integrated Environmental Technologies, LLC, which has licensed the PEM and related technologies to be used in Reno's Sierra BioFuels plant.
In previous journal entries as well as my energy article "The New American Crisis", I have mentioned that fusion powerplants will be not only technological wonders in their own right, but will fuel a larger renaissance in science and industry. Now, even before such powerplants are a reality, the science leading to their development has lead to a brilliant solution for our energy needs as well as for the problem of solid waste disposal. Imagine how many more "out of the box" technologies will spin off from fusion power if we continue to invest our tax dollars into such research.
So, when snake-oil salesmen, such as T. Boone Pickens, paint their medicine wagons green with pretty pictures of windmills and solar arrays to hawk late 19th and 20th century solutions to our 21st century challenges, we should say "Thanks, but you can keep your garbage. We've already got plenty and we now know what to do with it".
There are still many viable reasons for building vertical farms near urban centers, but for food, not for biomass to convert to ethanol; not when millions of tons of garbage are just sitting there waiting to be "harvested". This seems to me a superior solution to our gasoline crisis. If it seems superior to you as well, I urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives to let them know we want to see more of this solution in the near future.
July 12th, 2008 ~ Sometimes, in illustrating the intent behind an action, it's useful to place that action in a different but substantially similar context. The following is going to sound quite preposterous, but bear with me. Let's say you were watching your favorite tv show and at the commercial break an ad came on from the Cocaine Growers and Exporters Association which went something like this...
"We KNOW you're suffering from your addiction and we feel just AWFUL about that. We're working tirelessly to increase production to alleviate your pain. But we need your help. Write your Congress to vote to let us tear down your forests to grow cocaine right here in America. Demand legislation giving us your farms so we can plant new poppy plants as well. Then you'll have PLENTY of cocaine AND you can try HEROIN too! The hard working cocaine growers and exporters CARE about YOU. God Bless America!"
THAT would be a truly disturbing ad, wouldn't it? Yet isn't this substantially what Exxon/Mobil, BP, and other energy industry lobbyists are saying in their recent flood of ads on tv, in print, and on the internet? There's no mention of who got us "hooked" on oil, coal, and uranium in the first place. They just want us to know how hard they're working to solve America's energy woes. If we would only help them help us by telling our legislators to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Atlantic offshore fields for drilling, our plight would be solved.
Even when they're not directly pitching their desire to drill new holes in America, they're letting us know how deeply our 401k's are invested in their industries. This is not meant as a veiled threat, you understand. Just some friendly information from the nice folks of the energy cartels.
I'm especially disturbed by the windmill and solar power imagery as though, somehow, magically, they're going to fit those technologies into your gas tank. Because, if that's not the point, then what is? T. Boone Pickens, one of the kingpins of the oil and natural gas cartel, has recently hit the airwaves and the web to tell us he has a "plan". He, too, starts his dog-n-pony show with the windmills and solar panels, but once you read past the "green" window dressing, you eventually come to the sales pitch: "Buy my natural gas."
Don't get me wrong, natural gas SHOULD be on the short list of bridge fuels to deal with our immediate gasoline crisis. Ultimately, however, shifting to natural gas is just trading one fossil for another. The internal combustion engine is nearing the end of the road. It has carried us a good long way, but it is now a liability and a threat to America's future. Here, then, is MY pitch...
Electric vehicles ARE our future. Fast, clean, quiet, and efficient, plug-in electric and electric hybrids are going to be rolling off the assembly lines in the next couple of years from GM and other major automakers. Why is the automotive industry going electric in a big way? Because they, like the rest of us, are fed up with their future being held hostage to the whims of the energy cartel; specifically Big Oil. For the first time in automotive history, the technological AND economic conditions have swung in favor of electric vehicles and Detroit is wasting no time tooling up for mass production.
In a free society like ours, there's nothing to be done about the energy conglomerates' propaganda campaign to maintain the status quo; nor, in a free society, should there be. We can, however, IGNORE them. We can recognize their ads and their "plans" for the manipulative garbage they are and chart our own course toward a safer, cleaner, more prosperous future.
Our immediate crisis can be addressed by aggresive legislative stimulus for building vertical biomass farms and ethanol plants nationwide as close to demand as possible to cut transport costs. Legislative stimulus can also assist car and truck owners to retrofit their vehicles for E85 FlexFuel and BioDiesel.
Demand your Senators and Representatives pass bills to give tax breaks to consumers as well as producers of electric vehicles so that by 2010, when the Chevy Volt and other such cars hit the showrooms, they will be reasonably priced for rapid adoption.
July 9th, 2008 ~ Today, the following PATRIOTS in our United States Senate stood up for our Constitution and our American freedoms by voting against the FISA Amendments of 2008:The Honorable Daniel Akaka of HawaiiThe rest got down on their knees before the crime boss euphemistically known as the President and did what all who get down on their knees do in such circumstances. I heartily urge you to contact the above Patriots to let them know We, The People of the United States of America, appreciate their support for the rights our revolutionary forefathers fought and died for. If your Senator is not among this Honor Roll of Patriots, I urge you contact them to ask why.
The Honorable Joseph Biden of Delaware
The Honorable Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
The Honorable Barbara Boxer of California
The Honorable Sherrod Brown of Ohio
The Honorable Robert Byrd of West Virginia
The Honorable Maria Cantwell of Washington
The Honorable Benjamin Cardin of Maryland
The Honorable Hillary Clinton of New York
The Honorable Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
The Honorable Byron Dorgan of North Dakota
The Honorable Richard Durbin of ILLINOIS
The Honorable Russell Feingold of Wisconsin
The Honorable Thomas Harkin of Indiana
The Honorable John Kerry of Massachusetts
The Honorable Amy Klobuchar Minnesota
The Honorable Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey
The Honorable Patrick Leahy of Vermont
The Honorable Carl Levin of Michigan
The Honorable Robert Menendez of New Jersey
The Honorable Patty Murray of Washington
The Honorable John Reed of Rhode Island
The Honorable Harry Reid of Nevada
The Honorable Bernard Sanders of Vermont
The Honorable Charles Schumer of New York
The Honorable Debbie Ann Stabenow of Michigan
The Honorable Jon Tester of Montana
The Honorable Ron Wyden of Oregon