From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: An Answer To High Fuel Prices
Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 18:49:14 -0400
On Sat, 10 May 2008 11:43:04 -0700, "Technobarbarian"
>"bill horne" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
>> Geoff Lane wrote:
>>> That said, I saw a documentary the other day that claimed the USA could
>>> meet a third of its motor fuel needs with alcohol from wood pulp without
>>> any impact on food production.
>> They've already built a pine tree plant about 50 miles from where I live.
Here's the money shot, as it were:
"The Department of Energy chose the Range Fuels plant in Georgia as one of six
projects to receive $385 million in federal funding aimed at jump-starting
Ignore the rest of the article. Follow the money. This is the only purpose
of the plant, to harvest federal money. Corporate welfare. There are the
remains of a similar project near the western shore of Nickajack lake near
Jasper, TN. Commonly known as Jimmy Carter's Folly, it was a huge ethanol
plant that never did much more than harvest federal dollars. I'm not sure
whether it ever actually made any alcohol.
A few other similar harvesting companies in the local area:
AVR bus company - made electric buses until the fed money ran out. Then it
Summit Power Company - Installed methane powered generators at the old Summit
landfill in Chattanooga. Ran until the fed money (and not the methane) ran
out. Then it went bankrupt.
<can't recall the name> - the so-called environmental cleanup company formed
to milk fed dollars to dig old coal tar deposits out of Chickamauga Creek in
Chattanooga. Deposits that were buried under many feet of sediment and
weren't polluting anything. Company ran until the fed dollars ran out. Then
it went bankrupt.
Just a sampling.
> This article is interesting:
>Straw into gold
I should point out something obvious that seems to be lost in all this
enthusiasm. None of these are new sources of energy. They're simply
diverting product streams from one use to another. That means that the
products will rise in price, at least in the short term until new production
can come online and probably permanently.
Take pine slash, for instance. It isn't being wasted now. It is chipped and
burned for fuel, usually in the paper mill that processes the rest of the
trees. Over 15 years ago I and a partner automated the powerhouse at the
Westvaco Kraft plant in Charleston. They were bringing a new boiler online to
compliment the 5 others. The others were all multi-fuel. This boiler was
dedicated to wood chip.
If wood is diverted to ethanol production then in the short term it will come
from the feedstock to paper manufacture, lumber and other current users of
wood products. That means that prices will rise. It'll take 15 years at a
minimum to bring new wood production online. The new wood crop will either
displace other crops or require that forest be cleared and prepped to grow the
None of this will scale to account for more than a few percentage points of
liquid fuel use. Meanwhile the prices of everything made from the raw
ingredients will rise.
The only SOURCE of energy that can scale sufficiently to power the country is,
of course, nuclear. If nuclear energy displaced all (or even a large portion)
of the fixed plant energy use now supplied by oil and natural gas, the country
would have plenty of fuel indefinitely for mobile use. By fixed plant I mean
power plants, factories and so on. Ironically, oil refineries and chemical
plants are the prime candidates for conversion. Many already use hot oil to
supply process heat. Slide a nuclear reactor in under the present combustion
oil heaters and away you go.
In fact, the Midland, Mi nuclear plant (canceled) was designed to supply
process steam to the chemical plant across the river in addition to generating
electricity. My company designed the radiation monitors for the steam lines
that would have crossed the river.
What is happening now is 30 years' worth of obstructionism and do-nothingness
coming home to roost. Too much hassle to fight the obstructionists to build
nuke and coal plants? Why, do nothing except plop down combustion turbine
generators fueled by natural gas. Install so many that they account for
between a third and half of all US gas usage and of course, drive the price of
Too much hassle to fight the obstructionists and NIMBYs to build new
transmission lines? Why, do nothing except overload the existing lines. If
an overloaded line happens to sag enough to hit a tree and, say, black out all
of the northeast, well, just call it collateral damage and go on.
Nuke plant construction cost getting too high? Look no farther ahead than the
end of your nose while mumbling something about stockholder value and PUC
restrictions and cancel it. That's the easy way out.
The next few years are going to be interesting, in the Chinese proverb meaning
of interesting. I'm just glad that I'm almost self-sufficient here in my
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Your electric car of the future.
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 17:36:55 -0400
On Fri, 13 Jun 2008 09:01:29 -0700, "Bob F" <email@example.com> wrote:
>"Eeyore" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
>> Balanced View wrote:
>>> If it wasn't for " enviro-wackos" the USA would have the pollution
>>> level of China and third world working conditions.
>> What makes you think that ?
>You don't remember the resistance to environmental legislation passage?
>I remember what the air used to look like, and the color of the rivers. Neither
>is the same now.
The problem with the environmental religion, as with most religions, is that
there is no moderation. Extremism is the norm.
I remember going over Missionary Ridge into Chattanooga and seeing the orange
haze and smelling the foundry smoke. The smell of money.
I'm kinda, but not completely glad the orange haze is gone. Along with the
haze went the foundry jobs where a guy with barely a high school education
could work his ass off but make enough money to raise a family with the mother
staying at home to BE the mother. He made $8 to $12 an hour IN THE 70s. Back
when a decent three bedroom house could be had for $20,000 and a car for
Now a guy who barely graduated from high school or who has a GED can make the
same hourly wage flipping burgers in the "tourism and hospitality industry"
but the dollars are tiny in comparison.
Problem is, government is like cancer, a growing thing with the suicide gene
disabled. The pollution problem was solved in Chattanooga by the late 70s by
running many heavy industries out of town and forcing emission controls on the
rest. The air became clear and downtown employees could step out on their
lunch break and see sparkling blue skies. And then go back inside the
kitchens to their minimum wage jobs.
Just as a cancer devours its host, so the EPA and local air quality people
devoured the city. They couldn't just say "job well done" and go away. No,
they kept looking for smaller and smaller, ever more inconsequential
"emitters" to regulate. When the air got clean enough that the EPA's mission
was in jeopardy, why, they simply ratcheted down the standards to define more
ordinary things as "pollution".
A couple of years ago, after one of these ratcheting-downs, the EPA declared
that Chattanooga was a "non-attainment" area because it failed to meet these
new air quality standards something like 11 days out of the summer the
previous year. The result? A massive and un-necessary auto emissions testing
system that costs citizens a fortune in both money and time and hassle.
The EPA patted itself on the back and declared the program a success. However,
if one looks at the data, one realizes that "attainment" in the last year or
two is simply normal statistical variations due to weather and other factors.
One interesting tidbit is that the ex-mayor who was in office when emissions
testing train wreck came about seems to own the land that most of the dyno
testing facilities are located on. Hmmmm.