BAU Humbug

According to some alternative transportation fuel analysis, two significant changes need to occur in regard to our transportation infrastructure. Foremost is a switch to household current. The electricity could come from a variety of sources, and the more from renewable energy sources, the better.

Sandia is working actively to improve the nation’s critical infrastructure surety.

Second is a switch to ethanol and it is with ethanol that Ben Cipiti, author of “The Energy Construct”, takes issue. While he focuses on the most inefficient process, i.e., corn to ethanol, his analysis would seem to cast doubt as to whether ethanol-fueled transportation could impact favorably upon energy and environmental life cycle assessments associated with typical American driving.

Cipiti is a nuclear propagandist. In a recent article for Renewable Energy Access, he advocates a clean, domestic, and economical energy future. “We need to concentrate funding, he tells us, “on the solutions that make sense.” You, of course, knew that nuclear power was clean, didn’t you?

Pragmatic Gristmill commentator trock, as previously noted, has advised us that “we have to do it the politically possible way. Not the way we would like to do it. Not the best way to do it. But, the political way to do it.” Instead of political approach, Sandia energy economist Cipiti advocates an honest worker bee approach… well, if the bee is an artificial, nuclear-powered, mini-robot with the best, Zumwalt swarm intelligence.

The USDA has a guaranteed loan program for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (Section 9006). It provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses when they install renewable energy projects or make energy efficiency improvements.

Some farmers might be thinking of how they could run all of their machinery without relying upon petroleum and a few might even be investigating whether agri-char makes sense.

We need an unbiased approach to evaluating transportation fuels, he tells RE readers, and you won’t get that from those scientists over in Agriculture. Uh-uh.

OTOH, you can trust the government scientists from Energy. Yes sirree, Bob! Uh, Bodman! Er, Ben!

Many of us want to know what we can do to make a difference. Yet with so much varying information about energy alternatives, it has become difficult to choose which technologies really make sense and which will be a waste of research dollars. We have become skeptical of anything that the so-called "experts" tell us — and rightly so as many of the experts have their own motives.

The use of ethanol is the best example. The major criticism of ethanol revolves around the excessive energy inputs required to grow, harvest, and convert corn or other crops into fuel. A number of studies are available that show a slight net energy gain and a slight decrease of pollution with ethanol use. (see But if we then find out that those studies were funded by the Department of Agriculture, we have to question the work. Other studies written by those without a special interest show a net energy loss with the use of ethanol and a pollution increase compared to oil. (see

It has become surprisingly challenging to find truly un-biased studies. Researchers are always fighting for more funding, so they tend to paint their work in the best possible light — seldom is the entire story told. Clean energy options need to be examined from a number of perspectives including environmental impact, economics, the domestic resource base, public acceptability, and reliability.

This blog previously chastised Climate Progress, “Whadya mean, politics of inaction in terms of curbing emissions and minimizing the inevitable damage and devastation to come? C’mon, Joe. Muzzling climate scientists, burning data, etc., you call that doing nothing?”

U betcha, Ben! I agree with you wholeheartedly. What you say makes me want to scoop up some clean nuclear fuel from my home reactor, fill my nuclear lantern, and wander the streets of Washington, searching for an honest energy policy.

The plus side to Cipiti’s argument, at least from an EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), Big Eddie perspective, is saying the truth about electric power being a more efficient transportation fuel than fossil fuels.

Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy, has put it succinctly:

Even drawing from our existing power plants, plug-in vehicles have the potential to cut a vehicle’s petroleum consumption by three-fourths or more, can operate at as little as one-fourth the fuel cost, and reduce greenhouse gases by two-thirds. As we increasingly turn to alternative technologies to improve the fuel economy of our vehicles, we will see increasing benefits to our economy, our environment, and our national security.

“The electric vehicle economy can use any source of clean energy,” states Cipiti’. Note the linking of the adjective “clean” with electric power. “Of the alternative transportation options, electric vehicles coupled with increased use of renewables and other clean sources of energy (My emphasis) will be the most efficient way to reduce pollution and eliminate dependence on foreign oil.

Snide aside: Of course, he could be referring to geothermal, but somehow this blog doesn’t think so.

Cipiti’s energy construct includes wind power, where indicated, and remains unconvinced by the clean coal spin. In that respect, his Chernobyl spin is different than the Washington Theater Group (They really got tough with those car makers) or the same old Oily Administration bait and switch, i.e., “After promising a 20% reduction in fuel use through renewable sources, Bush promptly proposed a raise in funding for fossil fuels and nuclear development.”

Cipiti’s article is there to soothe any niggling doubts you may have about the pro-nuclear part of the energy policy. This blog’s recent response to a comment by Mike Z, another “Nuclear is Clean” advocate, which was “Go wash your mouth out with strontium,” just might apply here, also.
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