Monday, April 14, 2008

Oped: Biofuels

Last Sunday the News Tribune published an oped written by myself and Tom Collina from 2020Vision on biofuels, in anticipation of our upcoming conference. Actually, I wrote about 1% of it and Mr. Collina the rest. An excerpt:

Can you imagine flying in a jumbo jet powered by coconut oil? Or maybe you would prefer to fly on liquid coal? Chances are you haven’t thought much about what powers your air travel, just as long as it works. But just as you can now buy a car that runs on ethanol or electricity instead of gasoline, the Air Force, Boeing and the airline industry are searching for alternatives to power their jets.

And right here in the Tacoma area they are coming up with surprising options.

The primary driver of this transition is cost. Today’s jet fuel is made from petroleum, which last month reached an all-time high of $110 per barrel. Oil prices have risen 50 percent in one year, and fuel accounts for one-third of an airline’s operating costs. The airline industry projects that, worldwide, its profits will be down 10 percent in 2008 because of the price of oil.

The Air Force has the same problem. Its huge demand for jet fuel means that each $10 increase in a barrel of oil costs the Pentagon $600 million a year. It spends over $3 billion more for fuel than it did in 2004.

There are national security drivers as well. As we know, our oil dependence influences our country’s relationship with the Middle East, where war and political instability threaten to disrupt supplies. Rising consumption by China and India will further pressure our limited supplies. President Bush has declared that America is “addicted to oil” – not only consumers but the military as well.

Read the rest here.