The President today called for America to “get off oil” and move to electric vehicles. Well, we’ve already seen that environmentalists now have such vehicles in their sights because the electricity is going to come from coal or nuclear sources. Hybrid technology remains very expensive, even as it is getting better. The GM Volt remains a concept car only and is already priced far out of the range of most Americans. I suspect that we will not see an affordable electric car until well into the middle of the next decade. I hope I’m wrong, though.
However, what really struck me was this comment: “Dependency on oil presents a real challenge to our economy.” Even at the current high prices, oil is, (admittedly, at least partly because of sunk costs), the most cost-effective means of powering the transportation that is fundamental to our economy. Even if you accept that a significant portion of our military expenditure is dedicated to securing oil supplies — and until I see a real analysis of how much smaller our military would be if we didn’t use oil I consider this to be a bit of a red herring — oil is fundamentally a facilitator of the economy rather than a challenge to it.
And I find the President’s praise for biodiesel offensive. The unnecessary push for that is, as I explain in my forthcoming book, substantially responsible for the stripping of the Indonesian rainforest and the threatened extinction of the orangutan. There are probably fewer orangutans left than polar bears, but somehow, they never get mentioned when people go, erm, ape for biofuels.