Sen. Clinton has proposed a solution to our dependence on Canadian and Mexican oil:
“We have all this empty federal land in Nevada. It should be packed with wind turbines and solar panels,” she said.
Her remarks at the town hall meeting came a day after she and other Democratic presidential hopefuls barely touched on Western issues — like water, grazing and mining — at a debate in Las Vegas.
I assume she’s talking about the land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. That amounts to about 2/3’s of Nevada’s total area.
Arguendo, let’s assume that Sen. Clinton is serious about the proposal. Does the end accomplish the means?
Sadly, no. Solar panels and wind turbines are methods of producing energy (electricity) not methods of producing fuel. The present automobile fleet in the U. S. is incapable of using electricity and less than 2% of our electrical power generation is from oil.
To understand the scope of the problem of powering vehicles and the issue of fleet turnover in accomplishing change consider this. In 2005 roughly 17 million cars were sold in the United States. Of those roughly 250,000 were hybrids. At that rate the entire fleet will become hybrids never. Add to that that even with $100 per barrel oil the ROI on hybrids is extremely slow and the battery life is, essentially, unknown. While hybrids (and fully electric cars) are promising technologies for the future, they won’t solve our problem of dependency on imported oil now or, indeed, during a hypothetical future Clinton Administration.
How could we solve whatever problem we have with dependence on foreign oil now? As I’ve written before a good start would be eliminating the subsidies on oil consumption which include ethanol subsidies and highway subsidies.
But neither of those would garner votes in Nevada or probably anywhere else other than a few precincts in Marin County and that, I think, explains why we aren’t getting serious workable commonsense proposals from any of the candidates and, instead, have crowd-pleasing campaign slogans which have no hope of actually accomplishing the goals that they’re purported to.
Switchgrass was a better solution. If you’re going to propose a technology that doesn’t exist to solve a problem you have now, at least it should be a technology which could actually solve that problem.