Doug Korthof protests outside Toyota NA headquarters
Outspoken and passionate, Korthof leads one-person picket of Toyota's Torrance, California headquarters protesting company's decision to discontinue manufacture and sales of a battery electric version of the popular RAV4 SUV. Photo courtesy of Josh Landess.

Blood and Oil No Longer Need Mix

It's no longer necessary to fight and die for oil, argues EV activist, Doug Korthof

By Doug Korthof

The "war on terror" seems predicated on the idea that our economy has a vital interest in oil imports, and that our national security thus depends on unfettered access to oil markets.

Oil imports have risen to 60% of our consumption, and rising.

The idea of domestic drilling for more oil is self-stultifying, because the more of our own oil we deplete, the worse off we are. If anything, we should be importing more oil now, and saving our domestic oil for the future. But this expedient does not address the power over us we are handing to the sheiks and oil company moguls who now control these huge and ruinous oil imports.

Yet this entire conundrum is based on a false premise. We do not need to import foreign oil at all. We could easily survive on domestic oil supplies plus what Canada and Mexico can send us. Of course, this does not provide for Japan and Europe.

The answer is simple, but calls on the ingenuity of our people, who have in the past proven capable of meeting any challenge.

As a rule of thumb, the USA uses 2 billion gallons of gasoline per week. To eliminate overseas imports, we would only need a reduction to 1.2 billion gallons per week, with proportionate reductions in fuel oil and other products of the fractionating refinery process.

Over the last 6 years, our family has driven electric cars almost exclusively. Perhaps every two weeks, we move our last gas car to avoid the streetsweeper; perhaps twice a year, we rent a big truck that uses gasoline.

We have not sacrificed a thing by driving electric. Each day we commute to work or other events in flawless, ever-reliable electric cars, from San Diego, San Juan, Century City, downtown L.A., Eagle Rock, Santa Ana, Pomona and many other place on our daily grind. We are big drivers, too, racking up over 250,000 miles on electric cars that included the HondaEV, GM EV1, Ford EV-Ranger, and Toyota RAV4-EV.

Long distance is not beyond the limits of travel. With our fast-chargers, we have journeyed to Toronto, New York, Florida, Oregon, Tahoe, Vegas and many other destinations.

All this travel, all this experience, was without using any gasoline at all -- hence, no impact on oil imports. And all of it without one iota of air pollution, at least while driving.

While not everyone can get by with Electric Cars, many can do so. There is no dispute even by Western States Petroleum, which fought bitterly against Electric Cars, that there has always been more demand for EVs than supply. There have always been more would-be drivers of EVs than there have been clean cars supplied.

Reputedly, 80% of our gasoline is used on trips less than 80 miles from home -- that is, the daily commute and local errands. Hence, if we had to, we could certainly use EVs for these tasks, as is proven by the experience of our family and many others who live "oil-free" at the current time.

Would it take any sacrifices to let these folks use EVs? Why not let them decide. In general, everyone who drives an EV wants one, the question has been what is the price and are they available -- and, will they suffice for daily use.

By these numbers, if only half of current drivers used EVs, that would decrease oil requirements by enough to avoid overseas oil. So it can be done, and, if we really had to do it, I would wager that canny USA firms could put out 40 million EVs in a matter of a few months. After all, an EV only has a motor, a bunch of batteries, and that's it-- no transmission, clutch, oil changes, tune ups, smog gear. We did much more, during WWII, and could do this -- if we wanted to.

Some folks say that we just shift the pollution from the tailpipe to the smokestack. But our electric cycle has peak demand in the daytime, with electric power going begging at night. Charging millions of EVs would not even be noticeable, except that it would improve the bottom line of some electric companies that could amortize their unused generators over more hours of operation. Moreover, modern combined-cycle power plants are 97% less polluting than gasoline, even if needed.

Most EV drivers who have rooftops have installed rooftop solar electric power systems. During the peak daytime hours, their meters actually run backward, and they help reduce electric load. At night, they charge their cars, helping balance loads on the electric company. This beneficial service makes them "co-generators", partners, with the electric company, and most actually produce more electric than they use -- at a total cost less then their former domestic electric bill!

Others say that EVs are too expensive. But the battery pack for an EV1, using Panasonic lead acid, only cost $5200, and lasted over 100,000 miles. The motor cost $1200, and there is not much more to an EV. So USA companies could bring the cost of an EV down to less than a complicated gasoline car -- if they had to.

So it's not necessity that forces us to fight and die for foreign oil imports. It's a decision, by those in power, that the lives of our troops are worth less than the effort to introduce enough EVs to avoid foreign oil.

I say, put America First, and let's power the daily drive with USA electrons -- driving Electric Vehicles.

Be sure to read Josh Landess' interview with Korthof

Times Article Viewed: 4558
Published: 15-Nov-2003


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