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Home refueling a Honda GX with natural gas
Honda has long promoted the use of natural gas as a stepping stone to hydrogen, using its Civic GX and PHILL home refueling unit as a model for the future. However, Edwin Black discovered a fly in this ointment, which he discusses at length in The Plan.

Oil Shock Treatment

Excerpted from Edwin Black's 'The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops - or the Day Before'

By EV World

Investigative journalist and author Edwin Black's latest book, The Plan - How to Save America When the Oil Stops - or the Day Before picks up where his previous book, Internal Combustion left off.

In the latter book, he looks at the history of the internal combustion engine and the petroleum that powers it, chronicling the rise and fall of the electric car early in the 20th century as forces of greed and cheap oil doomed it to near oblivion for the next century.

Now electric cars are racing back with a vengeance, as the world belatedly comes to grips with the twin realities of finite energy supplies and the planet's limited capacity to deal with the exhumation and combustion of tens of millions of years worth of buried carbon in two centuries time.

But as promising as electric cars are with their ability to be powered not only by conventional energy sources, but by clean, green, infinitely renewable ones as well, society is confronted with the reality that it is shackled with a global fleet that by 2020 will be a billion vehicles. Virtually all of them will still require petroleum, a commodity increasingly in the hands of small cluster of nations often led by either dictators or theocrats, with their own personal agendas and scores to settle.

With this in mind, Black came up with a set of 18 regulations to take immediate effect in the likely event that at some point in the not all that distant future, by accident or deliberate act of political vengeance, the United States finds itself deprived of just a fraction of the petroleum it imports.

Writes Black in Chapter Four, " The Plan uses existing inter-governmental standards for declaring an emergency. An oil supply emergency would be triggered by a protracted 5 to 10 percent shortfall in petroleum. “Protracted” is a period longer than thirty days.

"If society waits until the disruption dictates the moment, the transition will indeed be painful. But if The Plan is implemented before an emergency, the transition can be far more tolerable, and measurably less painful.

"Either way, few will be happy at first. But only a nation going cold turkey will eventually kick the addiction. Either way, if done properly, and if accompanied by the immediate retrofit called for—itself a daunting challenge, the discomfort of The Plan should be brief and survivable.

"Here is The Plan."

Regulation 1: Price Stabilization and Roll Back. Within 24 hours of an oil supply emergency declaration, the whole-sale price of all oil produced in the US will be rolled back to the price existing on January 1, 2006.

Regulation 2: SPR Release and Cessation of Resupply. During the oil supply emergency, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve shall be drawn down until exhaustion to help offset any shortfall in necessary imported oil. The reserve shall not be refilled during the emergency.

Regulation 3: Shortages. In an oil supply emergency, emergency management shall take control of supply and distribution, allotting petroleum as needed while recognizing priorities for emergency, military, and governmental users, as well as those rendering critical services such as health services. Anti-hoarding measures shall be implemented, including but not limited to prohibitions against filling individual containers or other storage vessels designed to resell or hoard petroleum products. Gasoline shall only be dispensed into original factory vehicle fuel tanks. It shall be a felony to sell, resell, distribute, redistribute or transfer petroleum outside pre-existing, licensed supply and retail channels, except by a licensed emergency road repair vehicle. Violators who receive or transfer petroleum will be subject to prosecution and vehicle seizure.

Regulation 4: Price Gouging. It shall be a felony to exceed the stabilized price for petroleum products. Anti-price gouging measures shall be implemented, including prominent notices posted at all pumps and dispensing locations; these notices shall include toll-free numbers, a government enforcement website and email address to report violations. Misprision of such violations or other failure to report such violations by any individual shall be a prosecutable offense under 18 U.S.C. § 4 or other applicable statutes.

Regulation 5: mpg Restrictions. Within 48 hours of an oil supply emergency being declared, all non-commercial passenger vehicles registered in an extended metropolitan urban setting that are EPA-rated less than 15 mpg will be permanently grounded until retrofitted for flex-fuel or alt fuel. Until retrofitted for flex fuel or alt fuel, all non-commercial passenger vehicles registered in a metropolitan urban setting that are EPA-rated from 16-25 mpg will be allowed to run on a once-per-week schedule, with the allowable day of the week determined by the last digit or letter of their license plate unless an alternate date is applied for; and those EPA-rated from 26-35 mpg will be allowed to operate on an every-other-day schedule with the allowable day of the week determined by the last digit or letter of their license plate, unless an alternate date is applied for. All non-commercial passenger vehicles rated 36 mpg or higher will be unrestricted on condition these vehicles are also scheduled for retrofitting for flex-fuel or alt fuel within twelve months. This rule is to be enforced by state motor vehicle agencies, which can issue a non-transferable multi-day per week permit once per month to facilitate special intrastate or interstate driving plans or genuine hardship exemptions.

Regulation 6: Overnight Fuel Stimulation. Maximum surge production by all domestic oil producers and at all domestic oil fields shall be mandated. All reasonable efforts shall be undertaken to encourage surge production among NAFTA treaty members Mexico and Canada, and among non-OPEC exporting nations. Federal subsidies to corn ethanol as well as importation levies upon Brazilian sugar ethanol shall be suspended. Caribbean Basin and Central American sugar ethanol shall be promoted.

Regulation 7: Inflate America. A program named Inflate America will broadly promote proper tire inflation to increase gasoline mileage. Inflate America will organize educational campaigns, assistance programs and enforcement efforts to ensure that motorists follow tire inflation guidelines.

Regulation 8: Carpool Enhancement. A program named Carpool America will widely promote shared rides both on an organized and ad hoc basis in daily commuting and other regular transportation. Staggered commute times to reduce travel and fuel-inefficient congestion shall be required, so long as they do not compromise the effected individuals, company or agency. All HOV2 lanes shall become HOV3 lanes.

Regulation 9: Speed Limits. A national speed limit of 55 MPH shall be imposed on all highways, except in rural counties with populations of fewer than 50,000.

Regulation 10: Speed Enforcement Cameras. Speed enforcement cameras will be installed on an accelerated basis on all federal interstates. Federal assistance shall be available to states, counties and cities for accelerated installation of speed enforcement cameras within their jurisdictions.

Regulation 11: Idling Restrictions. During an oil supply emergency, idling in excess of five minutes without a clear operational necessity shall be a violation.

Regulation 12: PTP Shuttles. Ad hoc Point-to-Point Shuttles shall be encouraged and implemented through fast, same-day licensing procedures requiring only a valid driver’s license and a permissible, inspected alt-fuel vehicle—allowing willing individuals to shuttle passengers from point to point within a metropolitan area or from city to city, even across state lines. The government shall provide pool insurance to such shuttles, and “Good Samaritan” rules will apply in the event of an accident or other unforeseen liability. Such vehicles will be clearly identified as authorized PTP Shuttles.

Regulation 13: No Charge or Deeply Discounted Public Transit Fares. Mass transit bus and rail fares, as well as regional commuter rail fares, shall be at no charge or deeply discounted, with government subsidies based on asset recoveries and other emergency revenue streams compensating for lost fare dollars.

Regulation 14: Telecommuting. Appropriate telecommuting programs requiring at least one day per week among major employers and government agencies shall be mandatory where such a program will not compromise the effectiveness of either the designated individual or the affected company or agency.

Regulation 15: RVs. Within one week of an oil supply emergency declaration, no recreational vehicles shall be towed except by a vehicle operating on alternative fuel. All motorhomes and other motorized recreational vehicles shall be grounded until retrofitted for alternative fuel. Towed recreational vehicles shall not be permitted except by a retrofitted vehicle.

Regulation 16: Marine Restrictions on yachts, speed boats and non-commercial pleasure craft. Within one week of an oil supply emergency declaration, all non-commercial marine craft, including but not limited to private yachts, speed boats, recreational vessels and personal watercraft, shall be unable to refuel in the Continental United States, except in an emergency, until retrofitted to accept alternative fuel or propulsion systems.

Regulation 17: Home Heating. Within one week of an oil supply emergency declaration, the Northeast Home Heating Strategic Petroleum Reserve shall be drained to exhaustion and not refilled. All use of oil for home heating will be discontinued as soon as practicable after such a declaration. An immediate census of home heating oil consumers will be undertaken to identify and schedule conversion to other forms of home energy, including geothermal, natural gas, propane, solar, wind, grid-based electric or other sources, with all such conversions receiving 100 percent financial assistance from the federal government. Oil powered appliances shall be replaced with fuel-efficient appliances that do not require petroleum, such as “tankless” natural gas water heaters.

Regulation 18: Oil-Related and Automotive Lobby Contacts. Governmental contacts with agents or industry associations representing oil producing or consumption interests, and/or with representatives of the automotive industry, will be subject to strictures identical to those contained within the Foreign Agents Registration Act. In addition, such contacts shall require ten-day advance notice to the public and be held in a public forum open to the press and public. Such contacts should be televised on appropriate cable TV systems and made available for network TV coverage.

While the regulations seem draconian, they are intended to buy the nation time, time to implement a massive vehicle conversion effort, not unlike those taking place right now in Iran, where their far smaller fleet of cars and trucks are being converted to dual fuel, able to burn either petroleum or natural gas. Black envisions a similar, but far more aggressive effort to do the same in America. Here he sees the conversions as being more regionally-based with natural gas and propane being adapted in the states around the Gulf Coast and California, to ethanol and ammonia in the agricultural midwest.

But even here, these are only temporary stop-gap measures. To learn more about what he sees beyond this point, be sure to read The Plan.

Times Article Viewed: 5742
Published: 22-Oct-2008

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