If we are going to move forward with shale gas development, and it appears that we are - there is no more important single action the U.S. could take right now than to substitute domestic natural gas for imported oil.
This topic is not a political one of how we divide the pie; it's about making the pie bigger so we can actually pay for the things we want to do rather than dump more debt on the next generations.
The trillions spent on wars in the Middle East, the loss of life, the 1/2 trillion dollars of wealth we send overseas each year for the oil itself. When you take all these factors into account, the Milken Institute puts the FULL cost of a gallon of gas at $14. THAT is the real subsidy for the oil companies - not the billions in tax breaks.
Some of these costs are detailed in the presentation below. Over $2T on the recent wars; $7T to keep our aircraft carries in the Persian Gulf over the last 40 years....you can see how it starts to add up to real money.
The engineers and scientists at MIT did a three year study on natgas and they suggested we convert it to (liquid) methanol for use in consumer vehicles and LNG for high use engines like 18-wheelers.
Page 126 of this MIT report on natgas shows with input cost of $8/mcf natgas, methanol cost per gallon gasoline equivalent is $2. At $4/mcf natgas, they calculated methanol at $1.30 per GGE.
It is criminal that we are not moving forward with government support. Fracking regulations need to be tightened up, and natgas prices will increase.
The U.S. economy needs fiscal stimulus dollars given the household deleveraging - that we are about halfway through. There is no better use of stimulus dollars given this is a proven technology that is slow to adopt due to the chicken vs. egg problem (natgas vehicles vs. natgas fueling infrastructure).
Initiatives like the Open Fuel Standard Act and the incentive for LNG in 18-wheelers get voted down and/or gather dust. Most likely due to the influence of BigOil - who would like to see natgas used for LNG exports, electrical generation, etc.
BigOil is buying up natgas properties, so it's really: BigOil&Gas. The last thing they want is the natgas be used for is transportation since it would only cannibalize their gasoline sales.
Ardent environmentalist will protest the above - say we need to convert straight to green energy. There are several countries ahead of us in that area. Please provide an example of how that is working out - especially at displacing oil.
No doubt, we need to ramp CAFE mpg levels up faster and that will help regardless of what fuel is used. Seems kind of ridiculous we discuss any energy or Middle East topic without first discussing why still have 6,000 lb high-riding vehicles for consumer use. Not only do they waste fuel, they endanger people that are driving vehicles with rational designs.
It would not be a surprise to see BigOil (and the military-industrial complex) behind some green movements to stop the transition we need to make. Anything to further cloud, confuse and distract us - or push in a direction that is a dead end. Natural gas is ultimately a dead end as well, and we need to keep improving other solutions. The point is - with what we have now - with what imported oil is costing - this is a move we should make now.
Strange an initiative with so many benefits is not even being discussed by either (big business) political candidate. Obama once pointed out that some of his stimulus measures were twofers. Let's see: one million dead in the M.E. wars, trillions of dollars on protecting 'our' oil, $500B per year sent overseas for imported oil, jobs to build the natgas fueling infrastructure and convert vehicles, a cleaner burning fuel....