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Reason for lack of new energy innovations?

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progressiveman1
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How do you know we are not near the 'peak oil' phase?

To know this, you have to know what is meant when people say things like "known reserves." That the term "known reserves" does not in fact refer to the amount of oil in the ground at all, but rather only at price point "x." That the actual amount of oil that we know about is in fact many, many times that of "known reserves" and is estimated to last hundreds of years, even with projected increases in consumption. (this is a matter of public record) And finally, that entirely new discoveries of oil have consistently increased both "reserve" and the actual estimated amount of oil, doubling it every few decades or so and there is no evidence that this will not continue to happen.

It takes a bit of research into the matter, but I think one can still remain a layman yet be able to confidently state that the idea that "peak oil" is anywhere in the next century is complete nonsense. And projections more than a century out are kind of useless considering that 100 years ago, oil was just coming into use and so it's senseless to worry that it might peak in 100 years when something entirely different will likely be invented to power things.

I don't think it would be very accurate to look at the price at the pump and try to determine supply of oil from that. I do know that the value of the dollar plays a large part in that price, along with other factors that other people on here could probably point out.

Yes, I agree with that.

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That the actual amount of oil that we know about is in fact many, many times that of "known reserves" and is estimated to last hundreds of years, even with projected increases in consumption. (this is a matter of public record)

Is extremely difficult oil to obtain or not very cost-efficient oil to obtain included in this estimate? Can you show me the source of this estimate?

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How do you know we are not near the 'peak oil' phase?

I don't think it would be very accurate to look at the price at the pump and try to determine supply of oil from that.

The price at the pump tells you how readily available the supply of oil is. When and if the supply of oil becomes scarce, then the market will reflect this via the price mechanism and only those who have the money and are willing to pay will be able to afford it. Market signals will send prices up and encourage more exploration. This is how the market works.

As to "peak oil" ... you can only go by the evidence, but from what I've read there is more oil out there than we know what to do with. One untapped source is shale oil, which I've read they can extract now in a very economical way, just not yet as cheaply as by drilling.

Combine this with untapped nuclear power and the promise of fusion in the future and there is no way anyone could reasonably see a problem. Okay, there is, but it's government regulation, not resources. The universe is big. Think how much power the sun puts out, then laugh at the amount of power man requires.

In fact, here is that info:

http://www.astronomynotes.com/starsun/s3.htm

The first basic question about the Sun is how bright is it? It puts out A LOT of energy every second. How much? The answer from our measurements is 4 × 1026 watts. Such a large number is beyond most of our comprehension, so let's put the Sun's total energy output (ie., its luminosity) in more familiar units. It is equal to 8 × 1016 of the largest power plants (nuclear or hydroelectric) on the Earth. Our largest power plants now can produce around 5,000 Megawatts of power. Another way to look at this is that the sun puts out every second the same amount of energy as 2.5 × 109 of those large power plants would put out every year---that's over two billion!

Think about those numbers. The universe is awash in energy and resources. Environmentalists really look like fools in light of these facts.

I do know that the value of the dollar plays a large part in that price, along with other factors that other people on here could probably point out.

That's true. Inflation is a separate issue affecting all goods and services. And, there are also numerous regulations on oil companies when it comes to exploring, drilling and refining oil, all of which add to costs. Environmentalists have added lots of regulations of late which have added to cost.

Edited by Thales
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No, I would also point out that anyone who thinks the auto industry is a free market is really kidding themselves. Just follow that link and see how much the government burdens auto-producers via the unions. Then try saying that the auto industry is, on the balance, "subsidized," with a straight face.

Government (on many levels) indirectly subsidizes the industry in the form of road construction projects. The scale of this subsidization is massive, and serves to influence us to use truck transport, gridlocked roads in rush hour and cities that are built out instead of up. I'll admit that everyone who partakes is screwed proper by the man in other ways. The UAW is a tumor, but I don't understand why you see this as an offset to the subsidies.

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Is extremely difficult oil to obtain or not very cost-efficient oil to obtain included in this estimate? Can you show me the source of this estimate?

"Known reserves" includes only oil at the current price point - it excludes both extremely-difficult-to-obtain oil and extremely-easy-to-obtain oil. And I speak not of a single estimate, but of all such estimates. Here's a thread discussing the matter some - my initial exposure to the matter was Thomas Sowell's exposure of it, which is cited here.

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Government (on many levels) indirectly subsidizes the industry in the form of road construction projects. The scale of this subsidization is massive, and serves to influence us to use truck transport, gridlocked roads in rush hour and cities that are built out instead of up. I'll admit that everyone who partakes is screwed proper by the man in other ways. The UAW is a tumor, but I don't understand why you see this as an offset to the subsidies.

I'll ask how you can maintain the idea that roads are "subsidies" in light of the fact that the massive traffic jams out there show that the government is clearly not meeting the market's demand for roads. The government's control of the roads is not a subsidy, but another gigantic anchor weighing down how much more "built out" and full of cars a natural system would be.

For more information, please see my essays on the Marxist attack on the car here.

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I hope my comment will be within the realms of this thread. It seems like the general "oil crisis" thread. So if it seems to tangential I can make a separate thread.

Anyways, I was looking on the internet for specific laws that are responsible for hampering oil production in the U.S. and I came across this environmentalist rebuke.

http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_...es.cfm?ID=11829

Myth 1: Oil refineries are not being built in the U.S. because environmental regulations, particularly the Clean Air Act, are so bureaucratic and burdensome that refiners cannot get permits.

Fact: Environmental regulations are not preventing new refineries from being built in the U.S. From 1975 to 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received only one permit request for a new refinery. And in March, EPA approved Arizona Clean Fuels’ application for an air permit for a proposed refinery in Arizona. In addition, oil companies are regularly applying for – and receiving – permits to modify and expand their existing refineries.[1]

Myth 2: The U.S. oil refinery market is competitive.

Fact: Actually, industry consolidation is limiting competition in oil refining sector. The largest five oil refiners in the United States (ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Valero and Royal Dutch Shell) now control over half (56.3%) of domestic oil refinery capacity; the top ten refiners control 83%. Only ten years ago, these top five oil companies only controlled about one-third (34.5%) of domestic refinery capacity; the top ten controlled 55.6%. This dramatic increase in the control of just the top five companies makes it easier for oil companies to manipulate gasoline supplies by intentionally withholding supplies in order to drive up prices. Indeed, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded in March 2001 that oil companies had intentionally withheld supplies of gasoline from the market as a tactic to drive up prices—all as a “profit-maximizing strategy.” A May 2004 U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) report also found that mergers in the oil industry directly led to higher prices—and this report did not even include the large mergers after the year 2000, such as ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips. Yet, just one week after Hurricane Katrina, the FTC approved yet another merger of refinery giants—Valero Energy and Premcor—giving Valero 13% of the national market share. These actions, while costing consumers billions of dollars in overcharges, have not been challenged by the U.S. government.

If true, what's the reason for only one permit request? Is it because the procedures themselves are so lengthy and drawn-out they are not worth it? Is the oligopoly also caused in part by government regulations or is it just how the market has ended up? Clearly, I don't agree with most of the premises involved in this article, but i'm curious about if any of the facts hold up and if so why. Thanks.

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Public Citizen is Joan Claybrook's group, so I would be wary of anything they say. However, assuming that they are correct in stating that there has been only one permit application for a new refinery, I would think that it has become known to the oil industry that you simply aren't going to get a new refinery built in this country. The costs (both time plus legal & other expenses) associated with the lawsuits and the regulatory approvals is tremendous. A much easier route is to simply expand existing refineries.

From a 2004 article: But the solution — boosting refining capacity to allow a greater margin for error — isn’t easy. There hasn’t been a new refinery built in the U.S. since 1976, the result of extremely tight environmental restrictions, not-in-my-back-yard community opposition, and the high cost of new construction. Used refineries currently sell for about 30 to 50 percent of the cost of building a new one, so it’s cheaper to buy an old refinery and upgrade it. Or squeeze a little more gasoline out of the refineries you already own.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6019739/

As you can see from the article, it's a complicated issue that is made even more complex by environmental regulations such as the ones that require different blends of gas in different areas of the country.

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Congress continues to obstruct our ability to exploit domestic energy resources. Here's a good editorial on the subject from Investors' Business Daily:

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.a...295831226052594

Yeah that's roughly the idea I was getting from the articles I'm reading. What I'm trying to figure out now is what the heck happened in this magical year 1976 that seems to have stopped new refineries from being built. I'm guessing one of the first oil industry environmental laws, or some type of harsh regulation. The only refinery to be built in decades, is in Arizona and it's opening in 2012!

http://www.arizonacleanfuels.com/faq.htm

When will the refinery be up and running?

Once the necessary permits are obtained, Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma will immediately begin construction of the refinery - a three to four year process. Obtaining permits to build and operate the facility is not an easy task, as government regulators at all levels have developed stringent rules and guidelines that must be followed. We anticipate full operation in early 2012.

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Ok sorry, for this huge post but I just have to point out this website:

http://www.refineryreform.org/index.htm

This is a group actively engaged in stopping new refineries being built in the U.S. every step of the way. Their website is far more revealing than they probably care to know.

They have a page devoted to tracking the progress of the Yuma plant here:

http://www.refineryreform.org/spotlight_yuma_az.html

First off, there's this picture topping the page:

yuma_az.gif

Oooooooooh, it's all black and white and belching fire and smoke. And right next to where we drive our cars! So very diabolically evil.

Even though the plant is being located on vacant desert land 40 miles east of Yuma.

I'm going to take the liberty to quote some of the most infuriating portions:

"It is absolutely true, if this refinery is built, it will be the cleanest refinery ever built," Cunningham told the crowd at The Crossing restaurant. "But then the Titanic was safest boat ever built. Man can not build things perfectly."

"We're not saying don't build it," Cunningham said. "Make the monitoring (information) publicly available. Don't keep it locked up in a room in a secret room where you can jack around with the figures. We just feel this is a reasonable thing to do."

Well, obviously congress needs to introduce new anti-jacking-figures-in-secret-rooms legislation!

So they go through years of the approval process and get their EPA permit, and so they are happy the plant complies with the law... right? Well of course not, they still go on to oppose the plant and appeal the completely lawful approval

Theresa Ulmer, spokeswoman for Yuma County Citizens for Clean Air, said: "We're going to fight this air permit."

Further on, some of the plants representatives correctly state:

Neil Carman, a former Texas environmental inspector and now with the Texas Sierra Club,, said: "If we were to make permits truly protective of public health, it would be too expensive to build plants."

At a news conference two hours before the forum, Carman said the draft air permit does not account for emissions that come from start-ups, shutdown and upsets, which all refineries experience.

Carman said emissions during those type of events far exceed limitations set in air permits.

Regarding the draft air permit standards, Calkins said: "What's practical? Could you even build a refinery that doesn't have emissions?"

I understand now why hardly anyone wants to build a new refinery in this country. With this kind of complete capriciousness hanging over their heads which at any moment could make their investment of millions worthless. I will think of these idiots every time i fill up my gas tank.

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I understand now why hardly anyone wants to build a new refinery in this country. With this kind of complete capriciousness hanging over their heads which at any moment could make their investment of millions worthless. I will think of these idiots every time i fill up my gas tank.

If you read the April 15, 2005 article from the Yuma Sun on the Refinery Reform page that you linked to, you'll see why no permits for new refineries are being requested. First of all, this Yuma refinery will cost $2.5 Billion and the company building it has already blown $20-$30 million on the permitting process which has taken 5 years. If construction starts and the opponents are able to file suit and then get a judge to delay the project, the costs would be astronomical. Say for example that you spend $2.5 billion on a refinery and have it's opening delayed for a year. Your additional interest costs alone would be $200 million! Why would a prudent businessman ever take that kind of risk?

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"Known reserves" includes only oil at the current price point - it excludes both extremely-difficult-to-obtain oil and extremely-easy-to-obtain oil. And I speak not of a single estimate, but of all such estimates. Here's a thread discussing the matter some - my initial exposure to the matter was Thomas Sowell's exposure of it, which is cited here.
This has probably been the standard for judging oil for a very long time. In Bjorn Lombourg's The Skeptical Environmentalist, he used it. I re-read his section on oil scarcity yesterday. The book was written when gas prices were still around the $1/gallon level, which made me laugh and cry at the same time. A couple of quotes stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

1) Higher oil prices mean more oil is added to known estimates.

2) Just as the Stone Age ended not for lack of stone, the oil age won't end for lack of oil.

I'll ask how you can maintain the idea that roads are "subsidies" in light of the fact that the massive traffic jams out there show that the government is clearly not meeting the market's demand for roads. The government's control of the roads is not a subsidy, but another gigantic anchor weighing down how much more "built out" and full of cars a natural system would be.

For more information, please see my essays on the Marxist attack on the car here.

Satisfaction of demand is not relevant. Merriam-webster.com accurately defines a subsidy in this way: a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public.

As you correctly point out, the government doesn't end its interference in the transportation sector with subsidies, and the net effect is to suppress economic activity (in this case, a likely net suppression of transportation). But to say that a subsidy isn't a subsidy because of the net effect is to engage in the fallacy of division.

Some people commute to work as the only person in their vehicles when they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it. In Green Bay, WI, vacant buses are run at taxpayer expense. Both are because of road subsidies. The roads are also bloated with truck transport, but of course I don't blame this [edit- ONLY]on subsidies - I [edit- ALSO]place the blame on fatal interference in rail transport.

I don't hold that, in the long run, subsidies end up giving you more of what they are intended to give. The subsidies go hand in hand with the controls. Here is a relevant quote of yours (found here) with which I agree:

the government is always eager to rush in and create more “solutions” to the burdens imposed by your fellow man. The result, of course, is more failure and then more “solutions,” ad infinitum. This is an example of a positive feedback loop, one of nature’s most potentially destructive forces
Edited by FeatherFall
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But to say that a subsidy isn't a subsidy because of the net effect is to engage in the fallacy of division.

I see what you're saying there. To explain my point, then, I see that the government's "subsidy" of roads is inseparable from the fact that they grossly mismanage them to the point of doing net harm to cars, their producers, and their owners.

Your original post was very much in the character that there were net subsidies going on - so much so that cities were build out instead of up, which you imply wouldn't happen without the net subsidy. And also so much so that you doubt that the UAW is a drain on the industry in the balance. So you were not just using the term as avoidance of the fallacy of division - you were actually stating that the auto industry was on the balance subsidized by the government's control of roads, rather than oppressed by it. Now perhaps you've changed your mind on that point, but that is the context of my original statement.

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To explain my point, then, I see that the government's "subsidy" of roads is inseparable from the fact that they grossly mismanage them to the point of doing net harm to cars, their producers, and their owners.

Right. A subsidy granted in the form of a monopolized service often does more harm than good. (Would anyone consider socialized health care a "subsidy" to its poor patients victims?)

Also, let us not forget that we do actually pay for road usage, in the form of gas taxes. The more you use the road, the more gas you'll buy, and the more money the government gets from you as gas tax.

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In bringing up ways the government encourages the use of autos, I didn't think it was important to address the net effect (which I always thought of as destructive). I do now, so plainly that I am surprised I didn't see the need earlier.

I don't want anyone to discount the stifling effect of legislation for technology advancements in other sectors of the transportation industry. The effect of regulation doesn't just apply to automobile transportation. It applies to all other levels of transportation, too. I think present regulations give the automobiles an advantage over less subsidized forms of transportation. This is why I think city structure and transportation would be different in a free market.

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I think present regulations give the automobiles an advantage over less subsidized forms of transportation. This is why I think city structure and transportation would be different in a free market.

I disagree, with my case being presented in the links I gave and perhaps more specifically in some of my later posts here, here, and here. But I do see that I've at least brought your attention to some things you hadn't previously considered so I'm glad for that at least.

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This is why I think city structure and transportation would be different in a free market.

It certainly would, but I'm not sure in what way exactly you think transportation would be different. IMO, in a free market, we wouldn't have all these constantly-near-empty urban trains and similar public transportation boondoggles. Also, the speed limits on freeways would probably be higher than now, and might not exist at all on some routes, making it possible for people to commute from much farther places. The use of helicopters might also be much more widespread--allowing even farther commutes.

There is plenty of space available in America, and we have all the technology and resources needed to be able to move between places quickly. The only thing we don't have is the freedom to do so. If we had it, there would be no reason for residential development to expand upwards rather than outwards.

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Whoops! Of course that's what I meant to say.

I liked the links in your last post, though. You had an interesting conversation with Flibbertigibbet. I found it strange that he considered cities to be more "economically robust"--I mean, there are certainly some very wealthy areas in Manhattan, but the norm is pretty much for the suburbs to be where the well-to-do live and the inner city to be the ghetto!

Also, I'm not sure what his definition of "suburb" would be. To me, a suburb is a settlement consisting of single-family homes and small condos outside, but within driving distance of a city. If Thousand Oaks is not a suburb, then I don't know what is!

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What are some of the main reasons why the US is still so highly dependent on oil? How big of a role has the gov't played in slowing down new energy innovations? Does the private sector have a hard time developing new energy innovations because of the large sum of money needed for this process along with the reluctancy to make a high-risk investment? And can nuclear energy replace oil altogether?

Primarily because the environmentalist movement in the US hijacked the natural technological progression of energy production, scaring absolutely everyone to death about nuclear power. The only country in the world which today produces less CO2 today than it did in 1970 is France, because it was heavily dependant on oil (not coal, like the US) during the oil embargo, and changed it's focus to a nuclear infrastructure. Nuclear power plants have been essentially illegal since 1970. It took about 10 years to go from the discovery of sustainable fission reactions to the first functional commercial nuclear reactor. When the last reactor was built in the US it took about 20 years to complete it. Not that I think anthropogenic global warming is a real issue, but if it was, it was actually caused by environmentalist scare mongering in the first place.

Nuclear waste is a non issue as well, as it can be continually re processed inside of nuclear power plants (bombarding radioactive elements with high energy neutrons, not surprisingly, accelerates radioactive decay, that is the essence of a fission chain reaction) "Breeder" reactors can not only breed more fuel, but can accelerate the radioactive decay of waste elements which are not chain reaction fissionable and use them to generate more power. Breeder reactors by some estimates might be able to produce over 100 times as much power as conventional fission reactors now. With electricity that cheap (which is how cheap it should have been) you can actually manufacture synthetic gasoline cheaper than it costs to drill and process oil, so it can certainly replace oil all together.

The single biggest improvement to our quality of life, economic security, and political security would be to start building nuclear reactors now, and lots of them. A dozen breeder reactors could probably provide enough electrical energy for the entire United States, and make electricity cheap enough to make synthetic oil, bankrupting the shitty murderous dictatorships which are breeding terrorists.

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When I bought my first car in about 1975, it was an eight cylinder, massive horse power and maybe, if I was lucky, got 8 miles to the gallon. I just bought a new used car and at four cylinders great acceleration, and 23 miles to the gallon

Indeed, a typical 4 cylinder Honda today actually uses less gas when cruising on the highway than that 8 cylinder bohemoth loss to evaporation due to it's open carbauerators when sitting out in the sun and OFF. :)

I don't think it is unfeasible to have a nuclear powered car -- or at least a nuclear powered big 18 wheeler rig -- but people are so freaked out about nuclear anything and the government wouldn't permit it anyhow.

Unless there is some major innovation in shielding technology which modern physics doesnt have any idea about, I really doubt we'll see something like a nuclear (at least fission) powered vehicle. It's just too difficult to shield against neutron radiation.

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I liked the links in your last post, though. You had an interesting conversation with Flibbertigibbet. I found it strange that he considered cities to be more "economically robust"--I mean, there are certainly some very wealthy areas in Manhattan, but the norm is pretty much for the suburbs to be where the well-to-do live and the inner city to be the ghetto!

Also, I'm not sure what his definition of "suburb" would be. To me, a suburb is a settlement consisting of single-family homes and small condos outside, but within driving distance of a city. If Thousand Oaks is not a suburb, then I don't know what is!

Yes, that's how I define "suburb" as well. I think he more had in mind the poor rural south of his upbringing. His view of "robustness," however, is quite the conventional view. It's probably reinforced by the fact that it's easy to see the economy of an urban area since it's all perceptually accessible just by looking ("Ooh! Buildings! People! Big, old things from grander times!"). To see how more spread out cityscapes are just as robust, you have to engage in some deeper consideration. Flib's a smart guy, though - so he could see it. Your average listener these days... well that's another story.

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