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Commanders in Iraq Urgently Request Renewable Power Options

Defense Industry Daily
On July 25, 2006 Al-Anbar commander and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer submitted an MNF-W priority 1 request pointing to the hazards inherent in American supply lines, and noted that the up to many of the supply convoys on Iraq’s roads (up to 70%, by some studies) are carrying fuel. Much of that fuel isn’t even for vehicles – it’s for diesel generators used to generate power at US bases et. al. In response, the document requests alternative energy solutions to power US forward operating bases… and the US military looks like it will act on the request.

DID has covered a number of Pentagon projects to use alternative energy at various installations, but Zilmer’s request is believed to be the first formal request from a front-line commander. Not to mention the first formal request that acknowledges the security dimension of alternative energy sources in response to the growth of “systempunkt” terrorism and the non-linear battlefield. This is also an issue of cost, and reports indicate that foresighted CIA venture funding has even produced a front-runner for the coming contracts…

The request reportedly calls for 183 renewable energy systems of various power capacities. More than anything else, however, Zilmer’s letter is about changing assumptions.

Well-known renewable energy advocate Amory Lovins, who advises a Defense Science Board panel on fuel efficiency, was quoted by Defense News as saying that the Pentagon’s fuel cost calculations have traditionally been based on wholesale prices, and have not taken into account the actual cost of delivering it to front-line units. Before the Iraq war, “fuel logistics were assumed to be free and uninterruptible.” Former CIA director and current energy adviser to the Pentagon and Congress James Woolsey adds this: “If you’re talking about getting the gas to an M1A1 tank in Fallujah, the supply lines, the tanker vehicles and their protection could drive the cost up to $100 a gallon or more.”
(23 Aug 2006)

Californians weigh a new tax on oil companies

Daniel B. Wood, Christian Science Monitor
STUDIO CITY, CALIF. – As Los Angeles motorist Jill Cantrell removes the pump nozzle from her Honda Civic gas tank, she spouts out two figures: “$56 for a gas tank for me and $78 billion in profits last year for the oil companies,” she says. “I’m livid.”

How many other Californians are angry about gasoline prices – and ready for their state to take action – will be clear this November, when voters decide whether to levy a new tax on oil companies that drill in California and use the money for in-state development of alternative fuels.

The fight over Proposition 87 is no small matter. Not only will the vote give Congress and other states a first reading of public disgruntlement over gasoline prices, but it might even affect the domestic oil market. California crude, after all, accounts for 12 percent of US production – supplying 37 percent of the state’s oil demand, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Prop. 87 aims to raise and spend $4 billion on alternative-fuel programs over time, with the goal of cutting Californians’ use of gasoline and diesel 25 percent by 2017. It also would prohibit oil companies from simply raising prices at the pump to cover their costs of the new tax.

“Politicians across the country will be watching this to see if the voters want to get back at the oil companies through higher taxes,” says Robert Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.
(29 Aug 2006)

U.S. has no choice but break oil habit

Richard G. Lugar and Martin C. Jischke, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (Indiana)
The first post-Cold War decade, the 1990s, has been called the “holiday from history,” when the United States turned inward and minimized the gathering threats from terrorism, failed states and ethnic rivalry. For even longer, we’ve been on another kind of vacation, turning our backs on the grave risks to national security and the economy from our ever-rising dependence on foreign oil.

It’s time to get to work. The pain of $3 gasoline at the local pump brings into sharp focus the global consequences of the tripling of crude oil prices, the shortage of supply and the rise of imports to 60 percent of our oil consumption. We have enriched a clutch of petro states often hostile to U.S. interests. Oil dependence has become the albatross of U.S. national security.

…It is hard to overstate the urgency of this crisis. We are already facing declining living standards, diminished foreign policy influence and exposure to the whims of the oil oligopolists. Today, an oil cut-off by a major producer could be devastating. Business-as-usual responses will not suffice. Government, universities and far-thinking corporations must act boldly, take risks and be prepared to break old paradigms.

America urgently needs a national campaign to make revolutionary changes in our energy economy. There are no quick fixes for the short supplies and world emergencies that have led to current gas prices, but we must start now to build a better future. It will require political leadership to strike a dramatically different course toward energy security based on conservation, new technology and more abundant alternatives to imported oil.

Overseas, the U.S. must foster energy dialogues with other consumer countries like China and India to increase international preparations for supply disruptions. At home, we need to treat as a national security priority our efforts on clean coal, ethanol and other biofuels, and energy efficiency.

A key element of this larger strategy is to end oil’s near-monopoly in our transportation, which accounts for 60 percent of consumption. The bipartisan American Fuels Act, now before the Congress, also aims to hasten the introduction of so-called cellulosic ethanol, identical to current corn-based ethanol, but made of more plentiful and less expensive biomass.

Congress should also pass recent legislation that reforms and strengthens fuel economy standards for cars, SUVs and trucks by requiring a steady mileage increase. If enacted, this could cut U.S. gas consumption by billions of gallons annually. These bills, which are only first steps, have already languished too long.

It is one thing to develop oil-saving technologies like flexible fuel vehicles that can burn ethanol-gasoline blends, but getting them widely used in the economy so they can free us from the yoke of imported oil will require bold and innovative policy changes. Economists at Purdue, for instance, have explored ways to implement an effective price floor on oil in order to promote commercial investment in ethanol and other alternatives.

At a conference on Tuesday, we will bring businessmen and national experts on energy security to the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette to discuss ways to accelerate and focus our country’s drive to end our oil addiction, a task that we see as a defining challenge for this generation….

On the web

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Martin C. Jischke is president of Purdue University and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. They wrote this for Indiana newspapers.
(28 Aug 2006)
The Richard G. Lugar-Purdue Summit on Energy Security is taking place on Aug 29. The content seems tame by peak oil standards, with discussions of ethanol and vehicle mileage standards. The transcript of Lugar’s speech at the summit is online.

With Kazakh’s Visit, Bush Priorities Clash
Autocrat Leads an Oil-Rich Country

Peter Baker, Washington Post
President Bush launched an initiative this month to combat international kleptocracy, the sort of high-level corruption by foreign officials that he called “a grave and corrosive abuse of power” that “threatens our national interest and violates our values.” The plan, he said, would be “a critical component of our freedom agenda.”

Three weeks later, the White House is making arrangements to host the leader of Kazakhstan, an autocrat who runs a nation that is anything but free and who has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of pocketing the bulk of $78 million in bribes from an American businessman. Not only will President Nursultan Nazarbayev visit the White House, people involved say, but he also will travel to the Bush family compound in Maine.

Nazarbayev’s upcoming visit, according to analysts and officials, offers a case study in the competing priorities of the Bush administration at a time when the president has vowed to fight for democracy and against corruption around the globe. Nazarbayev has banned opposition parties, intimidated the press and profited from his post, according to the U.S. government. But he also sits atop massive oil reserves that have helped open doors in Washington.
(29 Aug 2006)