Sunday, May 25, 2008

Two Giant Steps to Energy Independence

Oil is in abundance and readily available, if the politicians and eco-terrorists would get out of the way. I have been a conservationist for over 50 years, but this reluctance to drill for oil in our own back yard is absurd. Those trying to stop it basically hate capitalism, the free market, and freedom in general. If we sat down and organized ourselves we could easily accomplish both a sound environmental, and less foreign oil dependence.

Not having much hope in this area, I suggest the two following steps to take.

First we must construct micro-nuclear reactors everywhere. Forget about whose backyard it is. It is a proven, safe, and efficient technology. It is so safe that they are all over Japan which is a giant rock sitting on top of a major earthquake fault line and volcano region. The people of France aren't exactly the bravest people in the world and they get 90% of their power from micro-reactors.

Less waste is generated, and with increasingly better technology that problem will be solved in the very near future. Regardless, the environmental impact is a whole lot less than with coal or other fossil fuels.

Second, we have to reconstruct our railroad systems.

Back in the 1950's the U.S. and most of the cities were sold a bill of goods by the tire manufacturers and oil companies that promoted buses, trailers, and interstate highway systems. We tore up our streetcar and railroad lines and put into service those fume belching, inefficient vehicles. We have tried to keep up with the ever demanding growth of highways, but it is virtually impossible and could bankrupt us in the process.

For years, the unions have fought against this idea; however, since we have had to search all over the world for long haul drivers for the past 15 years, that probably won't be a problem. We would not be getting rid of trucks, just the long hauls.

We could build 25,000 to 50,000 miles of train track in a very short period of time. What took 300 men a week to do in 1900, takes 5 men a day to accomplish now. The biggest problem would be reacquiring the right of ways, but that is very solvable. Also, a rail has a fraction of the environmental impact that a 6 lane highway has, so the tree kooks should be satisfied.

These two steps would change our country overnight. It would be expensive in the short run, but very cheap in the long run. I saw a cost for building a large (not-micro) nuclear reactor the other day at $30 billion dollars, and an analysis of how much more that was than 25 years ago. Yes, and the dollar has gotten a lot cheaper with that inflation. Regardless, it isn't going to get any cheaper waiting for a miracle.

As always, be prepared,

The Hammer

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