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"The vice president says he would rather protect this refuge than gain the energy, but this is a false choice ..."
September 30, 2000 1:32 AM   Subscribe

"The vice president says he would rather protect this refuge than gain the energy, but this is a false choice ..."
~G.W. Bush (on Gore's plan to keep the protected status of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while Bush plans to open up parts of the protected land to oil prospecters.)
posted by tamim (25 comments total)

 
Call me a cynic, but an oil man's perspective on environmental preservation is rather like a burglar's perspective on locks, isn't it?
posted by holgate at 6:15 AM on September 30, 2000


Totally. It's statements like this that make me more and more want to vote Nader. I'm sick of the goddamn partisan rhetoric. Every single one of these plans that Dubya and Gore keep "announcing" is totally politics-based while in my heart I believe Nader just wants to implement his plans because they need to happen.

Fuck Bush for wanting to allow oil prospectors into land ALREADY DECLARED a National Wildlife Refuge. I don't care how tough this oil/gas problem is getting, I want to know why neither candidate is pushing hybrid electrical/gas cars. Honda and Toyota already have them on the market and NAW doesn't have to worry because Ford is getting ready to roll one out and GM's got two in the works...but why aren't we hearing about them in this time of "crisis."

Well, it's obvious why Bush ain't talking. He's got all them Texas oil men in his pocket and wants to keep them.

*sigh*
posted by bkdelong at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2000


Bush doesn't just have oil in his pocket. He has oil in his blood. His family has been in Texas oil since Bush Sr. moved to Midland as a young man to seek his fortune.
posted by rcade at 8:28 AM on September 30, 2000


Just out of curiousity - when we get these electric cars, how exactly are we going to produce the electricity to run them?
posted by lileks at 9:07 AM on September 30, 2000


I know a lot of Alaskans are interested in opening up ANWR for oil drilling, because it means a lot more money and jobs flowing in. But even the highest estimates of what is available to be drilled amount to only several months of US consumption. Just not worth it.


Doesn't it just seem rational that if we had x dollars to spend on scraping the bottom of the barrel for more oil - or - for getting a head-start on the inevitable (no more fossil fuel), it should be spent on the long-term view, and not the short-term?


I'm often amazed that combinations of Hydro-electric, Windmills, solar power and other 'clean' sources haven't scaled up to really useful levels yet. (And then there's nuclear power - which I'm ambivalent about. I love the fact that GW Bush pronounces it "new-kyu-ler". Makes him out to be even more of a moron.)


posted by kokogiak at 10:30 AM on September 30, 2000



Just out of curiousity - when we get these electric cars, how exactly are we going to produce the electricity to run them?

With onboard fuel cells, most likely.

It is completely feasible to build a fuel cell that produces power from gasoline. The next step from the hybrid gas/electric cars we're seeing now might be a similar hybrid that uses a fuel cell instead of an internal combustion engine. From there, switching to a sustainable fuel is far less challenging a task.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:15 PM on September 30, 2000


Yeah, most people up here in Alaska are all for opening up ANWR. For several reasons: every single alaskan, man, woman, child, gets money from the gov't each year. This year it's almost $2,000. The gov't gets that money from oil. Opening up ANWR would mean more oil.

Plus, our governor was really pissed at Carter coming to Alaska and saying why ANWR should continue to be protected, because he thought it wasn't any of Carter's business.

And he also says that the wildlife will continue to thrive, if not even improve around the drilling...

But I don't buy it. I'm one of the FEW alaskans who is against this kind of shit. How can the environment POSSIBLY continue to thrive when there's gargantuan drills drilling into the soil and sucking up resources...

I really agree with you, bkdelong, about hybrid or electric cars.

And this is coming from someone whose Father AND Brother work in the oil industry...
posted by premiumpolar at 12:15 PM on September 30, 2000


Having lived in Alaska for 22 years and working with many people in the state associated with the oil industry, state and federal government I am not sure that everyone has their facts straight about the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. So this should help.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 1:19 PM on September 30, 2000


It took a real struggle (and a teacher that let me redo labs and retake tests) to get a "B" in high school Physics, and I flunked Calculus 3 times in college, so I may get this a little munged:

Wouldn't it be possible to produce electricity from the simple movement of the hybrid car? Say it starts out fully charged, when it starts to run out of juice, the gas gives it that extra kick to keep running while the turning of the wheels repowers the battery. Am I totally off-base here?
posted by bkdelong at 1:20 PM on September 30, 2000


bkdelong:"Wouldn't it be possible to produce electricity from the simple movement of the hybrid car? "

In theory (and to some extent in practice as well) the rotating wheels can power a generator (as it does with old style bicycle night lights). I don't think this kinda generator scales well.
posted by tamim at 1:47 PM on September 30, 2000


The funny thing about the Bush "Energy Policy" is that I've not heard anyone from the media remark at even a cursory level how odd it looks for a man who's in bed with oil to be making oil a central part of his platform.
posted by silusGROK at 1:51 PM on September 30, 2000


gsxl: "So this should help."

Aw come on. That Web site is run by Arctic Power, a group who's sole existince is based on allowing for oil exploration of ANWR . Show me something that is has information and opinions from the people not some politically-motivated PAC.

I won't dispute the fact that there is a great degree of information on the site but how can any of it be non-biased?
posted by bkdelong at 2:57 PM on September 30, 2000


I want to know why neither candidate is pushing hybrid electrical/gas cars

Because they're seen as underpowered and thus borderline un-American. I'm driving a car which gets better than 50MPG, has better performance than most other cars or SUVs, compares well in its class on features, performance and price. VW doesn't sell many TDIs, though, because people hear "diesel" and think it'll be really slow and spew clouds of black smoke. Mere reality hardly begins to chip away at such a deeply embedded belief...

I'm often amazed that combinations of Hydro-electric, Windmills, solar power and other 'clean' sources haven't scaled up to really useful levels yet. (And then there's nuclear power - which I'm ambivalent about. I love the fact that GW Bush pronounces it "new-kyu-ler". Makes him out to be even more of a moron.)

Nuclear power is the cleanest choice available today that can actually meet demand. There aren't all that many places you can put windmills; hydropower can be an ecological disaster and is suffers from limited locations; and solar currently isn't efficient enough to avoid needing to tile the Mojave. Unfortunately, nuclear power also inspires a very negative emotional reaction in a lot of people - for example, a lot of the Green party members I've met would probably look more favorably at a system which generated power by strangling kittens (I am only slightly exagerating here). The disappointing part is that they've managed to block nuclear plant construction and so almost everyone burns coal instead, which puts something like three or four orders of magnitude more radiation into the environment.

There are two approaches I'd recommend for cleaning up power generation:
- Efficiency. Modern American life is extraordinarily wasteful, often needlessly so. The single biggest thing we need is for energy prices to reflect the environmental costs, even (or perhaps especially) if it would kill off the SUV.
- Space. Solar power on Earth isn't efficient enough to meet demand. In orbit, that's a very different story. This is by far the cleanest approach we've got on the roadmap. This would work well in conjunction with a plan to start orbital manufacturing and asteroid mining (both of which are doable at our current technology level) since those activities tend to consume a lot of power along with all of the other ecological problems they entail.


Wouldn't it be possible to produce electricity from the simple movement of the hybrid car? Say it starts out fully charged, when it starts to run out of juice, the gas gives it that extra kick to keep running while the turning of the wheels repowers the battery. Am I totally off-base here?


It's called regenerative braking. Basically instead of using conventional brakes, the car is slowed by using its movement to turn a generator which recharges the main battery.

As far as having the gas engine propel the car while the wheels turn the generator, it could be done but it's a lot less effective than having the gas engine charge the battery directly. The schemes I've seen are similar in concept to a diesel-electric locomotive where burning fossil-fuel is used to generate electricity (which can be done MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more efficiently than having the same engine directly power the wheels) which then powers the electric motors which drive the wheels. Other means of charging the battery reduce the time the gas engine is run, which has the nice side benefit of reducing noise as well.
posted by adamsc at 2:59 PM on September 30, 2000


http://www.algore.com/energy/gas_agenda1.html

Gore does propose support for alternative choices. Check out the above site.

Everyone keeps trumpeting W. as an oilman, but they forget his very real lack of competency in the industry. His best strength appeared to be his ability to generate tax write-offs for those who financed his losing operations. The only real oil money he made from his questionable sale of Harken stock.
posted by Sqwerty at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2000


From the anwr photo gallery:

"Bears at Play"

God, that looks so natural, I just don't see why anyone would have a problem with oil industry expansion in Alaska.
posted by mathowie at 3:21 PM on September 30, 2000


As someone that was born and raised in Alaska (and will vote there in the next election absentee). I have to say I'm against opening ANWR, but not just for environmental reasons. I am deeply concerned about the long term environmental impact but, I'm more interested in keeping Alaska how it is. More money would mean more jobs and more people and that would mean big changes for Alaska, some good but a lot bad IMHO.

What really irks me about the situation is the federal government snatching something like 97% of all Alaskan land away from the people of Alaska (ANWR is just a small portion of that). Instead of the State government deciding this *strictly* Alaskan matter we have all these people that have never been to Alaska, never met an Alaskan, wouldn't know what Alaska was about if it fell on their ass, deciding the matter on their own without any consideration for the people that live there or the land it involves.

Case in point, a while back there was a plan by the state gov. to build a small one lane dirt road from one small village to another to provide access to a hospital for several hundred people. We had to request permission, because the land in-between was tied up in federal parks. It was denied. We're not even allowed to build a dumb road in our own state.

Alaska currently produces 25% of all domestic U.S. production, if Bush wants more, let him rip apart his own state.
posted by Craig at 3:33 PM on September 30, 2000


adamsc: I think you have it backwards there. Both hybrid cars currently on the market use the gas engine to power the wheels. The Prius and Insight are essentially a standard compact car with a motor mounted to the flywheel. This motor can assist the engine (using power from the batteries) or charge the batteries (using power from the engine or the car's inertia, as in regenerative braking).

Yes, you could build a vehicle like a locomotive, where a combustion engine turned a generator which created power, and electric motors actually turned the wheels. This has a number of advantages: torque is essentially unlimited, your transmission is simple or nonexistent, and you can run the engine at its most optimal speed all the time rather than a range of less efficient RPMs.

The problem is weight. To produce as much power as a simple 1.5L gas engine can, you'd have to have about 1800 pounds of diesel engine, generator, and motors. Obviously this costs you every bit of efficiency you gained by going hybrid and then some. With a locomotive it's not a problem since you're hauling hundreds of tons anyway, but with a passenger car it's a serious obstacle.

Thus the current hybrid vehicles use a relatively weak gas engine (60 hp or so) combined with a very weak electric motor (7-8 hp). There's no way the motor could power the vehicle by itself, but it provides a nice efficiency gain when judiciously added to the power created by the gas engine.

-Mars, who looked into converting a Suzuki Samurai into a hybrid and decided it wasn't worth it
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:41 PM on September 30, 2000


About hybrid cars generating energy from their wheels:

Yes, they generate energy, but not much. Which is a recurring theme in all alternative energy sources. We can produce the energy, but storage and collection ruins any advantage and usually makes it more expensive in totally different ways than oil.

The better options currently available are solar (when installed on individual houses) and, shockingly, nuclear power. We're all waiting for nuclear fusion, though.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 4:41 PM on September 30, 2000


Discussion about ANWR with anyone not from Alaska is pointless.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 4:51 PM on September 30, 2000


I agree, gsxl. You need an Alaskan perspective to really get how it's going to affect Alaskans...
posted by premiumpolar at 5:24 PM on September 30, 2000


It's a fact of life that the areas which produce oil are often those at a physical and figurative distance from the centres of power: the oil reserves in the UK, for instance, are as close to Norway as they are to London. Which means the debate over oil revenues -- and basically, the sale of all our interests to corporations during the 80s -- was for a long time conducted by a ruling party with no support in the relevant areas.

The price of fuel in Europe encourages cars which, though still petrol-driven, tend to run at over 30 miles per gallon. Which reflects both the value of the substance and the cost to the environment of its extraction. Rather than exploiting Alaska to cheapen petrol, shouldn't the cost to the environment be factored into the bill?
posted by holgate at 6:45 PM on September 30, 2000


shouldn't the cost to the environment be factored into the bill?

definitely, holgate - I think the entire cost of the Gulf War should have been financed by gasoline taxes, incidentally.

Profligate, environmentally destructive living (sprawl, single-occupancy commutes, water waste, agricultural irrigation, the list goes on) is subsidized in so many ways it's really shocking.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2000


Alternative Fuels Data Center (http://www.afdc.nrel.gov/) has some information on non-petroleum fuel sources. I used to know of a good site about corn and rice plastic but I lost it. I think that most things petroleum is currently used for could be made from agricultural waste products, about 80% of Brazil's cars run at least partially on alcohol.
posted by kidsplateusa at 8:01 PM on September 30, 2000


I don't understand why we haven't been hearing more about flexible fuel vehicles. They'll run on an ethanol/gasoline mixture of anywhere between 0% ethanol (100% gasoline) and 85% ethanol. This is a technology that already exists, and seems to work pretty well.

Any guesses?
posted by Aaaugh! at 11:23 PM on September 30, 2000


But what about Cold Fusion? (I had a better link on "how it works" but I can't find it. Oh well. The Wired one gets pretty good after a few pages.)
posted by Lirp at 10:45 AM on October 1, 2000


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