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E&E reporters look at latest congressional push on energy policy
OnPoint, E&E TV
E&E reporters discuss the future of offshore drilling, CAFE standards, the ethanol import tariff and more.
With the midterm elections quickly approaching, voters are increasingly concerned with the high cost of gasoline. Will the current energy crisis give Democrats control of the House or Senate? Or will a strong legislative push on energy issues help Republicans stay in command?

During today’s OnPoint, E&E reporters weigh in on the political ramifications of high energy prices. Plus, they discuss the outlook for energy measures that would allow more offshore natural gas drilling, open the door to ethanol imports and update fuel economy regulations.
(15 May 2006)

Military Plans Tests in Search for an Alternative to Oil-Based Fuel

Thom Shanker, NY Times
When an F-16 lights up its afterburners, it consumes nearly 28 gallons of fuel per minute. No wonder, then, that of all the fuel the United States government uses each year, the Air Force accounts for more than half. The Air Force may not be in any danger of suffering inconveniences from scarce or expensive fuel, but it has begun looking for a way to power its jets on something besides conventional fuel.

In a series of tests — first on engines mounted on blocks and then with B-52’s in flight — the Air Force will try to prove that the American military can fly its aircraft by blending traditional crude-oil-based jet fuel with a synthetic liquid made first from natural gas and, eventually, from coal, which is plentiful and cheaper.

While the military has been a leader in adopting some technologies — light but strong metals, radar-evading stealth designs and fire-retardant flight suits, for example — any effort to hit a miles-per-gallon fuel efficiency rating has taken a back seat when the mission is to haul bombs farther and faster or push 70-ton tanks across a desert to topple an adversary. (The Abrams tank, for example, gets less than a mile per gallon under certain combat conditions.)

“Energy is a national security issue,” said Michael A. Aimone, the Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics.
(14 May 2006)

Fuel economy takes a big hit with E85
Christopher Jensen, Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Environmental Protection Agency Web site shows the three dozen or so 2006 flexible-fuel vehicles (which operate on either gasoline or E85) typically lose 25 percent to almost 30 percent in mileage when running on E85. That is based on information provided by automakers and checked by the EPA, an agency spokesman said.

For example, the Ford Crown Victoria is rated at 17 miles per gallon in the city using good old gasoline. Switch over to E85 and the estimate is 12 mpg in the city. On the highway, using gasoline, the estimate is 25 mpg, while E85 knocks it down to 18 mpg.

The Nissan Titan pickup with two-wheel drive goes from 14 mpg city to 10 mpg city, while the highway numbers drop from 19 mpg to 14 mpg.
(14 Mar 2006)
The energy density of ethanol is somewhere between 23-27 megajoules per kilogram (the different results are probably related to the diffent levels of purity), while gasoline contains around 45 MJ/kg. Gasoline and ethanol are both lighter than water, and have similar densities – ethanol is slightly heavier than gasoline. Per gallon then, gasoline has roughly 1.7 times as much energy as ethanol.

Fundamentally, this is why miles-per-gallon drops with an ethanol mix.

A pedantic point perhaps, but ‘fuel efficiency’ isn’t the right way of talking about the problem. We are simply using a less energy dense fuel. Fuel efficiency may even be prove better for ethanol, but miles-per-gallon would still be less.

This point about energy density is of far less significance than other concerns about large scale ethanol production’s environmental impacts, competition for land use, and all important Energy Returned on Energy Investmented ratio. – AF

How MSN readers would fix the energy crisis

Jim Jubak, MSN Money
They’re for drilling all over the U.S., building nukes, expanding ethanol and developing hydrogen. Check out their suggestions and how I plan to explore their ideas.
Thanks to the 839 readers who sent me their recipes for fixing the supply side of our national energy “problem.” I’ve never gotten so much e-mail so quickly in response to any column.

In my May 9 column “My 4-point plan to cut U.S. energy use,” which solved the demand side of the current energy crisis, I asked for your suggestions on how to tackle the other half of the problem by expanding supply. And, boy, did you all respond.

I don’t agree with everything that readers suggested. But, as I said in my column, we’re brainstorming here. So, following the time-honored rules of brainstorming, I, acting as facilitator for the group, am going to present your ideas without editorial comment. (We’ll save the trash talk for a later round.)

I’ve grouped them together by topic because, it turns out, most of your solutions to the supply-side of the energy crisis fell into six major categories:

* Drill domestically for more oil.
* Go nuclear.
* Hydrogen as the fuel of the future.
* Ethanol.
* Biodiesel.
* Solar.

(Surprisingly to me, coal and wind didn’t get much support.)
(16 May 2006)

Nuclear is back on the agenda, says Blair

Matthew Tempest, Guardian
The prime minister tonight dropped the strongest hint that Britain would commission a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Mr Blair appeared to pre-empt publication of the government’s ongoing energy review in a speech to the CBI tonight, saying that the replacement of current nuclear power stations is “back on the agenda with a vengeance”.

That section of the speech was released in advance by Downing Street after Mr Blair had read the first draft of the energy review, due out by the end of July.

Green campaigners reacted with anger to Mr Blair’s speech, accusing him of being “hell bent” on nuclear power.

Stephen Tindale, director of Greenpeace, said: “The prime minister obviously made up his mind about nuclear power some time ago, and certainly well before the government launched its energy review.

“This is the latest act in a long running farce that is the energy review. The review is a smokescreen for a decision that has already been taken.
(16 May 2006)