Alternative energy is no longer quite so alternative. With recent developments, finding new energy sources or producers is not as unconventional as it once was. Aside from ex-VPs traveling around in jets and spewing information about global warming and the need for new energy sources, Congress has implemented real legislation to address these problems, although it's taken them a while to do so.
The need for new and alternative energy sources isn’t a new problem. The government has been “aware” since the early '70s that there is need to find and develop alternatives to fossil fuels. A memo issued from the Department of State in 1974 — “Analysis: Oil Demand Restraint and Financial Solidarity” — discussed the problem of our country's oil devouring tendencies and the need to “diminish the demand for imported oil through higher taxes, price decontrol, and/or some form of rationing” and suggests “the development of alternative sources of energy within consuming countries [...].”
This document was issued thirty years ago.
Another memo, sent in 1985 to Stuart Eizenstat, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs at the time, said this: “To make a dent on the global energy problem, we need to mobilize global — not merely US — resources for the development of alternative energy sources.”
This document was issued twenty years ago.
See the pattern? Why is it that the government is just starting to get the ball rolling on this? Whatever the “reason” is or was, the push for alternative energies is no longer stationary, it’s snowballing.
Now the government is pushing for even more legislation dealing with growing and developing alternative energy sources with the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (apparently the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 wasn't big enough to handle the job). Whether the Department of Energy will do its duty by the act may be up for debate.
Last fiscal year, 62 percent of the DOE budget went to defense-related activities, such as keeping an eye on those nukes, both the weapon and reactor kinds. Only 12 percent of that budget actually went towards saving and supplying energy. And I thought the Cold War over. Perhaps, it’s just “cool” now.
However much of a “chilly” past the DOE has, the department is taking measures to push their budget for alternative energy this year above and beyond that small amount. How about a larger number instead, like twenty-five? As in $25 billion. That’s the amount of the so-called loan that the DOE is handing out to automakers and manufacturers who focus their attentions on going "green" when producing their parts and cars.
How about a car that doesn’t shirk at the scent of ethanol, like an FFV, or flexible-fuel vehicle? Where most car models can only handle gas containing around 10 percent ethanol, or E10, newer, more flexible models may be able to use fuel with up to 85 percent ethanol, or E85, which would cut back on the use of oil.
Or what would you say to a car that didn’t use gas at all, but one you could run instead by plugging it in and recharging it alongside your cell phone and MP3 player? With Toyota, this plug-in feature could soon be a possibility. The company is currently developing a newer model of their economically viable vehicle, the Prius, which actually plugs in. This plug-in will allow the car to rely more on its electric motor, saving the gas motor for longer trips. And those trips really would be long, as the car can average up to 100 miles per gallon with this type of system.