A reader writes in who is intrigued by Robert Zubrin’s flex-fuel proposal – and suggests that it be paired with my former Manhattan Institute colleague Peter Huber’s idea for plug-in hybrids.
Mandating flex-fueled vehicles will allow the possibility of a competitive market for fuels other than petroleum. Promoting plug-in hybrids to that adds another fuel source to the competition, at least for short distance drives. We like competition, no? A final reason to take Zubrin’s tack and add plug-in hybrids to it as rapidly as possible is emergency preparedness. What if your car could provide emergency power to your house? Maybe not enough to run your central A/C, but it would be nice to keep the fridge cool, lights on and the fan running in your natural gas central heating system.
Take the best of Zubrin and add the best of Peter Huber’s The Bottomless Well, what is the downside?
The Bottomless Well (co-written by Mark P. Mills) is an excellent book and I’d recommend it (as well as Huber’s Hard Green) to all Planet Gore denizens. Huber supports plug-ins because electricity is the most democratic of all power options — so many very different fuels can produce it. Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers among fuel sources, because they have a lousy track record at picking technologies wisely. Like Henry Payne, Huber says we should leave that to the market. Here’s his take on the idea for a flex-fuel-vehicle mandate (sarcasm alert!):
Why not also mandate that all cars sold in the U.S. have plug-in rechargeable batteries, and also a hydrogen powered fuel cell, and also a flywheel for energy-recovery during deceleration and braking? For good measure, throw in an external-combustion steam engine too, that can be lit with wood chips, bacon grease, or coal – it can be done, it was in 1900, so why not again today?