Seven Ways Big Oil Rigs the System

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The following list was created by Fuels America, and originally published here:

Rigging Congress: In the last five years, the oil industry has spent over $885 million on lobbyists and campaign contributions to buy influence on Capitol Hill. That’s more than $1 million for every Member of Congress.

Rigging the Market: Big oil has a near-total monopoly on the marketplace — so when oil prices go up, you get gouged. Because oil companies want to protect that monopoly at all cost, they’ve taken aim at the commonsense, bipartisan renewable fuel standard — demanding that the EPA effectively cut the amount of renewable fuel in gasoline and raise the oil content. That would increase their profits, cost consumers more at the pump, and increase our dependence on foreign oil.

Rigging the Tax Code: For over 100 years (!), oil companies have held onto sweetheart tax breaks — supercharging Big Oil’s profits with hard-earned wages from American families.

Rigging the Fuel Supply: Oil companies made $100 billion in profits last year, but have refused to pay for infrastructure to sell more renewable fuels in spite of a law requiring them to do so. Now the companies want the government to excuse them from selling more renewable fuels due to a lack of infrastructure … a bottleneck they deliberately created in order to protect their monopoly on the marketplace.

Rigging Studies: The oil companies like to quote a study that said ethanol damages engine valves. Who paid for the study? The oil companies. How did they rig the study? By pre-selecting cars with known valve defects. Come on, guys. Remember when tobacco industry studies found that smoking wasn’t harmful?

Rigging the Debate: Big Oil companies have spent millions on slick advertisements attacking clean, American-made renewable fuel. What don’t the ads say? That fuels like ethanol are higher octane — making them better for your engine — higher performance, cleaner burning, and cost less money than regular gasoline.

Rigging the Airwaves: Where is the “American” Petroleum Institute getting all this money to attack our homegrown renewable fuels? Hint – API isn’t quite as “American” as the name would suggest.

Get the facts. Don’t get oil rigged.

Since ethanol can be made for a dollar a gallon using undrinkable water and unfarmable land with already-existing technology, oil's monopoly on transportation fuel is an idea whose time has passed.

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The Village Hub

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Villager tapping a sugar palm.
We thought you might find this invention as interesting and inspiring as we did. The "Village Hub" is a mini factory that can completely change the well-being of local villages in Indonesia. It is all based on the sugar palm. First, villagers tap the juice from a living palm tree, just like getting maple syrup from a maple tree. So it doesn't kill the tree. The sugar palms are growing in a biodiverse forest rather than on a monoculture farm. The trees don't need any fertilizer.

The juice is brought to the Village Hub, which is a system of interconnected small facilities in one central location. The Village Hub turns the juice into two products: ethanol to use locally as fuel, and syrup to sell.

Many of these rural areas often experience fuel supply difficulties, so this ethanol production is important. They also use the ethanol for bright light (using a Coleman-lantern-like lamp) and for clean cooking fuel.

Fermentation of ethanol produces carbon dioxide, which is captured in the Village Hub and fed into an algae pond (when carbon dioxide is added to algae, it grows a lot faster). The algae is then harvested and used as a high-protein feed for cattle and goats.

The manure from the animals goes into a small biogas installation, which produces methane that they use as fuel to create heat for the ethanol distillation. The leftover from the biogas installation is used as fertilizer to grow crops.

The other product the Village Hub produces is palm syrup. The palm juice is heated to evaporate some of the water, and that steam is used to preheat the juice before it goes into the evaporator (making the process use less overall fuel) and the contact between the steam and the cool juice produces condensation, which is collected and made available as clean drinking water.

The whole Village Hub unit is compact and transportable, and could change the lives of millions of Indonesians. Everyone involved with the Village Hub earns more money, so they can afford to send their children to school.

If you'd like to see a Village Hub in action, watch this YouTube video: Village Hub.

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Don't Send America's Natural Gas to Ukraine

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given a boost to those calling for the United States to expedite natural gas exports to help allies overseas. In this thinking, American gas exports — in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG — are not only a boon to the domestic economy but also a potent geopolitical tool to be wielded against the Kremlin.

Never mind that the United States won’t have its first LNG export terminal in operation until late 2015 at the very earliest; that all of its approved gas exports are already committed to long-term contracts; and that Ukraine does not even have a single terminal for receiving LNG.

Even without the newly concocted geopolitical rationale for exports, though, Washington seems favorably disposed to permitting much of America’s surplus gas to migrate overseas. Since the beginning of the shale gas revolution, which kicked off in 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy has approved six LNG export terminals with a combined export capacity of 8.5 billion cubic feet a day, and more projects are in the works.

But before we put more of our gas in the service of our foreign policy, be it saving Europe from Russia’s claws or Asia from its toxic air, we should ask ourselves one question: Why aren’t we using more gas in our cars and trucks?

Read the rest on Politico by Gal Luft: Don't Send America's Natural Gas to Ukraine.

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