Read more reader reponses to DN Editor-in-Chief John Dodge's "Get
Energized about Energy" column in the August 11 issue as well as Design
News' exhaustive hydrogen
fuel cell vehicle and fueling infrastructure package.
One Citizen's thoughts on the present
crisis in the United States
There are a large number of major problems facing the United States
at this time. They range from serious issues to major crisis. They cover
cultural issues, financial market crisis, escalating
trade deficit, education system deterioration, political misdeed and
corruption, drug use epidemic, energy cost escalation, illegal immigration and
This paper focuses on one major crisis and a vision for a
solution to that crisis. It is this author's opinion that without a permanent
solution to this crisis all the other problems will be more difficult or even near
impossible, to be solved, as the growing trade deficit and the national debt
will strip the economy. While this paper lists general steps to accomplish this
vision, it is in no way a complete program with all the details needed nor a
complete listing of all actions, costs and steps to be taken. The paper leaves
some items and technologies to be solved. It is a rough vision and a call to
States and the entire
planet are at a crisis point that has two principal interrelated components. The two components are; first, the use of
burning carbon based fuels and second, the increasing US trade
deficit. Failure to provide lasting rectification to these problem areas
ultimately will result in irreversible damage to the economy of the United States of America
and reportedly will increase the cycle of global warming of the entire planet.
The solution to this crisis is simple. Stop burning carbon-based
materials in massive amounts, such as for generation of electricity, for
transportation purposes and for manufacturing processes. The change from
burning carbon-based fuels to the use of Carbonless Energy Production and
Transportation (C.E.P.A.T.) is not simple, easy or cheap. It will solve the two
crisis components and create an entire shift in the culture and fortunes in the
nation and the world. The result will be that the United States of America will no longer
require foreign oil and it will no longer be a major source of air pollution or
CO 2 emissions. The impact to the United States of American of no longer
importing foreign oil will result in a reduction of the trade deficit, a
reduction of the flow of monies to the countries or organizations that secretly
supply terrorist organizations.
This paper presents a vision of action and a plan that is
more aggressive than those proposed or accomplished heretofore by this nation
or any other nation. The vision is not new but the implementation plan and its
schedule is new. The vision is so large in scale that it can only be
accomplished by an awakened government and leadership that are capable of
marshalling the resources of the government, corporate entities, news media, and
the population at large. This unified
approach would come from a belief and with an understanding that it is the ONLY
lasting solution to the energy problem, for this great country.
The call to action can only be made by strong central leadership
in the same manner as;
Our Founding Father's dedication to forming a
new union over 200 years ago
President Lincoln and his leadership that put an
end to slavery and preserved the Union of the United States
The call by the Congress to expand the railroads
in the West and throughout the United
States in the 19th Century.
The leadership of President Franklin Roosevelt
in the Depression calling for Government programs like the WPA, and CCC which
provided infrastructure improvement such as the, railroad and automotive
bridges, the hydro electrification and other projects that benefited the
country while providing jobs for the men and women who needed them.
The leadership shown by President Roosevelt and
the Congress in the unification of the entire nation including the media and
all people of the country to obtain victory on all fronts throughout the world
in World War II.
President Eisenhower's initiative that had
Congress authorizes the building of the Interstate highways.
President Kennedy in his calling for and the Congressional
backing and funding to put a man on the moon in less than10 years.
All of those governments sponsored and mandated programs
moved the country ahead at critical times and points of crisis in the history
of the United States.
Those past mandated programs spawned entire new industries,
technologies and products. When massive efforts are undertaken new technologies
and methodologies are required to achieve the goal of those efforts. Research
and development is required to find new solutions and methods to help solve the
problems. New discoveries which provide new products not related to the initial
effort are often made during these R&D programs. The increased investment
in research and development also increases the need for engineers, technicians,
and scientists. This demand for these skilled people creates an increased
interest on the part of young people to pursue scientific educations and
careers that provide the United
States with the much needed skilled
technical people, who are in short supply today.
Out great nation periodically requires these long term views
and responsible leadership for the people to follow. Our citizens want to be
part of a brighter future, they want to be proud of their country, and they
want to help. In the past cases cited, the citizens were involved but the United States
government provided the program the leadership and made the laws, spent the
money, enabling the American people to do the work. The government did not
stand back and ask the people to solve the problem themselves without the aid
of the government, its leadership and it's funding, which seems to be the case,
thus far, in this crisis. With the crisis facing the United States today it is
time, actually long overdue time, for a motivated leader to step forward and
accept the challenge of solving this crisis with the implementation of the
The time frame laid down for this Initiative is 22 years to
complete all phases of the plan. The implementation in some areas may be faster
than listed in the implementation schedule. The reduction in imported oil will
be felt within the first 10 years and by year 22 of the plan major changes will
have occurred, in the United
States. There are major challenges ahead in
order to accomplishment of the C.E.P.A.T. Initiative to be completed on
schedule. During the implementation of the Initiative, the burning of
carbon-based fuels will diminish until at the end of the 22 year period the
amount of carbon-based materials burned will be a fraction of the amount burned
today. The plan recently announced by T. Boone Pickens of conversion from
gasoline to natural gas for automotive and light duty trucks can be used as a
faster way to transition from gasoline and imported oil. However, at some point
in the 22 year period, the use of natural gas for automobiles and trucks would
be eliminated and replaced by hydrogen and or electricity.
This vision of a C.E.P.A.T. does not change in any way the
massive amount of oil, and coal and natural gas needed or used in making other
products and processes. Plastics, tires, metallic alloys, all require oil,
natural gas and coal. Natural gas will still be allowed as a fuel for; existing
homes that use natural gas for heating and/or cooking, natural gas and coal for
some manufacturing processes, and aircraft. It should be noted that recently a
Boeing research team has flown a demonstration flight with a Diamond Dimona two
seat aircraft using a hydrogen fuel cell (Source Aerospace engineering &
manufacturing magazine June 2008 issue). This demonstrates that new solutions
to the use of carbon-based fuels are possible in all areas. Commercial ships
will be allowed to burn carbon fuels for 18 years. Eventually alternate fuel
systems will replace these exceptions.
It is acknowledged that there are programs and
organizations, today in the United States and elsewhere on the planet that are exploring
and implementing replacement of carbon based fuels with solar, wind, nuclear, hydrogen,
hydro, geothermal, tidal, and other methods. The vision includes these sources,
organizations and technologies as part of the methodology for the completion of
this inactive. Examples of these efforts are; Former Vice President Al Gore's
past and present calls for the transition from carbon based fuels to alternate
energy sources, the state of California's
implementation of a "Hydrogen
Highway", thanks to the efforts of Governor Arnold
Schartweinager and the state legislature. Examples of these efforts are: the
new Wind Farm announced and funded by T. Boone Pickens in Texas and his call
for wind power to generate electricity, the U.S. Green Building Council program (www.usgbc.org)
in use by several corporations to have buildings "Go Green", the Solar
Electrical Power Association (www.solarelectricpower.org)
organization for solar energy implementation, the deregulation of electrical
generation which has allowed individual homes and buildings to use or supply
electrical power to the grid, and individual prominent persons such as Jay Leno
of the Tonight Show who has equipped his automotive collection garage with
solar power. Most universities such as MIT, Cal Tech, and University of Missouri
at Rolla have been and continue to work on alternate fuel vehicles.
This vision includes and encourages individuals to implement
carbonless energy production in their homes and small businesses. In an effort
to encourage individuals to implement solar and wind electrical generation tax
incentives greater than those tax credits offered today will be offered. These
incentives would take effect starting in the first year of the program.
The MASSIVE effort required and its implementation will make
C.E.P.A.T. significant in the history of man. No program has ever been of such importance
for the health and wealth of the nation and its people as well as the planet
itself, nor so long lasting. No program
has had such a large cost. The program will require a cut back in other government
expenditure areas. The difficult job of determining these areas is what we pay the
elected officials to do. Taxes will have to be increased but that should be
done as temporary taxes with date limits set. The cost of all these projects in
this C.E.P.A.T. Initiative will be in the trillions of dollars over the 22
years of the total program. The federal government must fund a large part of
the effort, and organize, monitor and report on the progress toward the project
goals. The benefits of C.E.A.T.P. will be greater than its cost and the monies
returned and saved will be multi-fold of the cost which will benefit our
grandchildren. The C.E.P.A.T. Imitative will make the United States of America
once again a leader for other nations to emulate.
We have, for too long, and continue to be, divided on
solutions to problems like these based on political ideologies and personal
interest vs. the good of our future. This division must be put aside for the
common good. Both political party members must put aside party politics. The environmentalist
must join with the industrialist to come to agreement on how to best achieve
solutions. Coming together requires aquisance on one or more points by EACH side
in these common agreements. For example: environmentalist must allow new
nuclear Breeder reactors to be built and engineers must add new improved safe
guards for the waste disposal.
The News Media also plays a major part in this Initiative.
It is time for the News Media to realize that the real story is: "the
achievement of these goals and report on the progress and problems in the
achievement of the goals" not the use of their position of persuasive power to
put their own editorial "spin" on the program for their own glorification or
At 2007 our trade deficit was over $ 857 billion, of that
1/3 is due to imported oil (Source fxstreet.com). The trade deficit is being
impacted negatively because of many factors, including purchase of goods and
services from cheaper sources world wide, which includes the much discussed
outsourcing of jobs, importing oil and natural gas at an increasing rate and
the increased purchasing of foods from foreign sources which we once exported.
One of our offsetting exports has been military and commercial
aircraft. We will in the future export less military and commercial aircraft as
the Chinese, Russian, and South American commercial and military aircraft
industries are developing aircraft for their domestic and export sales.
American companies and the US
government are and have been buying foreign aircraft at an increasing rate.
This trend on our part along with the loss of export sales to those very
countries and others because of the increased competition will further increase
our trade deficit. (Source Aviation Week)
The long term effects of the C.E.P.A.T. Initiative will be:
from the need for massive amounts of imported Oil, presently 70 billion
barrels per year (reference T. Boone Pickens's plan)
investment in US
infrastructure thus resulting in:
in housing market based on increase job market
advancement for example: Emanuel Sachs of MIT work on multi-crystal
silicon for PV solar cells shows and increase of close to 25% which will
be using cheaper material with a higher efficiency thus reducing the
present cost of PV solar energy installations, source Scientific American
"Sunny Days for Silicon" August 2008.
need and desire for increased Science and Engineering Enrollment by U. S.
reduced energy cost
reduced CO2 US emission and air pollution
renewed confidence in our elected government representatives.
in US Dollar on world market due to our decrease in our trade deficit
a reduction in speed of global warming
transportation systems in US due to upgrades that would be made as rail
systems were electrified, potentially totally new high speed rail lines like
those that exist in Europe and Asia, not our
existing short medium speed lines that run on existing rail beds on the
East Coast New York to WDC corridor.
It should be noted that this paper does not list the use of food
bio-fuels as a source of fuel and that is because using food sources as a fuel
in self defeating on the economy, while it may be profitable to some
individuals or corporations it is not a long term solution to the present
crisis. Additionally, there are reports beginning that point to a possible
negative effect on present car engines due to the use of bio-fuels.
Prior Warnings and Reactions:
In 1974 the United
States was faced with an oil shortage which
caused gasoline lines at gas pumps around the country. The automobile companies
made special options available with more gas reserves in the gas tanks. One
example was the Ford Mercury Grand Marque of 1975 had an extra reserve 8 gallon
gas tank in the trunk, as a factory option. The national speed limit was
reduced to 55 miles per hour in most states on Interstate highways. However, as
gasoline became available and dropped in price, the population pressured, with
the help of oil lobbyist to raise the speed limits again and promise cars with
slightly better gas mileage.
There had been attempts to avoid the dependence on oil and
coal by introducing more fuel efficient cars with a continuing trend for
mandated improvements. These
improvements did not eliminate the problem.
The belief was we should continue to rely on oil for automotive and
truck and trains and planes based not on what was a better idea for the future
of the country but on what was cheapest at the time, and to some extent,
ignorance of the cause and effect relationship, as it would relate to the a
larger problem in the future. It is obvious that the oil industry and
automakers through out this period had the interest of their stock holders in
mind, as they should, to resist any change to the status quo. Even so, they
also had a responsibility to look into the future to see that a larger problem
would be possible and to have a larger budget to do R&D work on alternate
energy sources than they had. Our Congress too has had a part in our present
position. The laws that they have made or did not present and pass have helped
to put this nation in the crisis of today. They are ultimately responsible over
the past 30+ years for not taking the right steps to prevent this problem.
In the 1960s it was envisioned that Nuclear power generation
could replace most of the polluting coal fired power generation plants, the
environmentalists blocked these plans, in the United States and shut down entire
corporations nuclear programs such as that of Westinghouse Corporation. The
United States Nuclear power plants account for 20% of the electrical power
generated in this country with hydroelectric, solar farms and wind power accounting
for 8% of the power generation. It is time to increase those percentages in nuclear,
solar and wind generation and use of electricity, and hydrogen as fuels to
power our transportation.
The Unites States was not the only nation to get the warning
concerning the burning of carbon fuels; however each country reacted in
different manners. France
was faced with the realization that the 1970's oil shock that they were almost
completely dependent on foreign carbon based material (oil, gas and coal) as
they had no oil or gas and a dwindling supply of natural coal. The French
government set in motion plans to build nuclear power plants, and informed the
people of France
of the need for this new energy source. Today they have 58 nuclear plants
supplying over 76% of their electrical energy needs. (Source www.pbs.org - Frontline) When environmentalist
protested in France
over the use of nuclear power plants the French government went to extreme
measures to inform the population of the need for the conversion and the long
term benefits to the people and the nation. Because of these actions they won
most of the population over to the need for alternate energy generation. The reduction
of their dependency on foreign oil and gas while holding their green house
emission to a minimum has been a result of this effort.
and other European countries have long used smaller cars which burn less gas,
than the large American cars. European
countries and Asian countries lead the world in electrical train transportation
including high speed railroads as mentioned above. If France produces electricity using nuclear energy
and runs their trains on electricity, they have come close to what this paper
is advocating for the United
States, only our program would be of a much
During these years evidence started to surface in the
scientific community indicating that global warming was being caused by the use
of burning carbon based fuels. This
increase in levels of pollution and CO2 in the air potentially was causing an
eventual global warming which could have a massive impact on the planet. Based
on this mounting evidence our Congress debated the issue, as to its validity,
rather than to draw up plans to deal with the problem and pass legislation to
make it a non-issue. While there is still some controversy, on this cause and
effect relationship, one would ask "why risk the chance, that we were in fact
causing the problem when in-fact there are other technologies available to
avoid the problem?"
None of these warning signs were headed, and no lasting actions
were taken which resulted in long term elimination of the problem. Why was
nothing done? One obvious reason was because it was not profitable to take any
meaningful action. The cost of the investment in alternate energy sources was
considered too great, while the existing capital investment in existing
technologies and methodologies in many cases was already amortized. In addition,
discussions and arguments raged on, concerning the amount of oil, gas and coal
available for man's use in the future. This line of discussion and debate
clouded the real issue of not using the carbon-based materials as fuels, and drew
the attention away from the critical question at hand, which is "Why not use
alternate sources of energy?" These discussions rage on today still obstructing
the benefits of becoming free from the negative global and financial effects of
burning carbon products to provide energy and transportation.
The implementation of the C.E.P.A.T. Initiative is laid out
on a time line starting on the day of the President of the United States signs
into law the legislation the bill and the appointment of the agencies to handle
the program. We have sufficient agencies in the government such that we may
just add new responsibilities to existing agencies with one of the agencies to
be in charge of the entire program.
This is an Example of a list of achievements by end of the
listed year of the program.
of Government staffing and appointments of offices and
* Passing of legislation and signing of all
bills establishing authorities and
Laws for the programs, including
new tax incentives for individual home owners, apartments and offices giving
tax write off credit of 2.5 times the total cost after installation of any PV
or Thermal Solar installation, or wind power electrical generation. The credit
shall be 1 times the cost of the installation for each year of the first two years
and .5 times on the third year.
* Federal government agency to
release bids for construction for the programs.
legislation passed for education / job training for present welfare recipients
leading to jobs in the C.E.P.A.P initiative projects.
* Federal government agency to award contract
for start of construction for the
construction of the first 4 Hydrogen Highways on interstate highways,
I95, I80, I65 and I5.
construction of Electrical Railroads within 100 mile radius of all cities with
a population of more than 2 million residents.
construction of East Coast and West Coast North South high speed
lines from Boston to Miami
and Seattle to San Diego.
* Begin Construction of New electrical
transmission lines from proposed solar
and wind farms in the Midwest and Southwest US
* Begin Construction of new Initiative
sponsored wind farms and Initiative
sponsored solar farms.
construction of the first 8 nuclear power plants using best existing breeder
reactor technology with added safeguards.
* All new commercial buildings to
be built to new "Green" standards.
construction of East - West high speed railroad line from New
York to Chicago.
* All cars produced or sold in the United States
to be powered by natural gas, electricity or hydrogen.
* All new
locomotives built or sold in the United States to be run or both
electricity pick ups and diesel oil.
construction of the North - South high speed railroad line from Chicago to New
* Complete construction of the electrified
East Coast, high speed railroad.
* Begin construction of the second 6
Intestate Hydrogen Highways on Interstates I81, I70, I55, I40, I35, and I90.
*All new light
trucks built or sold in the United
States to be run on natural gas, electricity
construction of next 8 nuclear breeder reactor power plants using the same
engineering plans as the first 8 plants to reduce construction cost including
improvements made to first 8 plants.
locomotives conversion from diesel to natural gas or hydrogen and
electrical power pickups for the
electrified sections of track.
construction of the electrified railroads within 100 mile radius of major
cities containing 2 million or more residents.
* Complete construction of the
electrified West Coast high speed railroad.
Completion of the first 4 Interstate Hydrogen Highways.
Completion of East - West high speed railroad.
* Complete construction of
Initiative sponsored wind farms.
* Begin construction of third set
20 of Interstate Hydrogen Highways.
* Complete construction of the
electrified railroads within 100 miles of major
containing 1 million or more residents.
Completion of first 8 nuclear power plants
Completion of North - South high speed railroad.
* All light trucks built or sold in the United States
to be run on electricity or hydrogen.
construction of second 6 Interstate Hydrogen Highways.
construction of all remaining Interstate Highways to Hydrogen Highways.
* Begin construction of next 8
nuclear power plants with the same engineering as the previous 20 plants.
* Completion of second set of 8
nuclear power plants.
of New Power grids to from Nuclear, Solar and Wind farm locations to grid and
Completion of third set of 20 Interstate Hydrogen Highways
construction of the electrification of railroads within 100 miles of major
cities containing 500,000 or more residents.
construction of Initiative sponsored solar farms
* All heavy
trucks built or sold in the United
States to be run on electricity or hydrogen.
* Begin Construction of third set of
nuclear power plants.
* Shut down of at least 50% of all coal
fired electrical generating plants.
* All cars
built or sold in the United
States to be run on electricity or hydrogen.
* Conversion of all US registered
ships to natural gas, hydrogen or alternate power sources other than burning
of half of all remaining Interstate Hydrogen Highways
of last 8 nuclear power plants.
of all remaining Interstate Hydrogen Highways.
* Shut down
of remaining coal fired electrical generating plants.
Cultural / Citizen Involvements / Impacts
The simplest way to impact the need for manufacturing jobs in
the United States is to
require that the C.E.P.A.T. Initiative involve the citizens of the United States.
That can be accomplished by requiring that all products and services used in
the nuclear, wind, solar, electrical transmission, and conversion to natural gas
in the automotive areas employ only US citizens, and that the materials and
assemblies, contain a minimum of 50% content built in the United States.
This will increase jobs for citizens and cause a massive requirement for
non-citizens to apply for and become US citizens. It will also create a massive
demand for technical personal, further strengthening the technical and
scientific base in the US.
As job markets absorb more people, there will be a surge in savings and
purchasing that will help fuel economic growth.
The coal and oil industries will not need to shut down or
loose any significant amount of workers because the projections for oil and gas
and coal required for export will increase. China
alone can become a major importer of any surplus oil the United States
may have. This would also decrease our trade deficit.
Further to assist in reducing the cycle of human character destruction,
those on welfare will be offered free education and job training to complete a
high school diploma or skill trade apprenticeship and upon graduation will be
offered a job in a C.E.P.A.T. Initiative program. Every citizen removed from
the welfare system is a victory for the United States and for the
individual as well.
The decarburization of American energy usage will rely on nuclear,
solar, wind and other non-carbon fuels for power generation and electricity and
hydrogen for transportation by the end of the Initiative. Because of the effort
and expense of this vision, this paper might be described as a vision of
"Mission Impossible" however to obtain great changes, great plans and great
people are needed. We have great people; we simply need great leaders and great
plans to solve our present crisis now and for the future. It is a fact that the
today is a nation in debt. In fact, economists and Wall Street personnel often
describe the United States
as a debtor nation. Our economy and therefore our country are in the hands of
foreign interests. We stand on the edge of destruction and it is of our own
making. We can reverse this condition. We MUST REVERSE this situation and we
MUST BEGIN NOW because the crisis is becoming greater each day. In the years to
come it will NOT be reversible. Our lack of action on a national level has put
us in this situation and only by bold governmental leadership with long term
actions on the part of all citizens and organizations, can the situation be
reversed and the crisis resolved.
Michael M. McRae August 14th, 2008