Writing in Monday’s Financial Times, James Woolsey, the head of the CIA from 1993 to 1995 and Robert McFarlane, who was Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser, argued that “America must end its dependence on oil”.
In order to do this their outlined a four point plan that was hardly rocket science or even radical, and could have been suggested over a decade ago when Woolsey was CIA Director. It just shows how slow are the wheels of political thought. Anyway their plan was:
- “First, we must move away from reliance on petrol towards a mixture of alcohol (ethanol and methanol) and petrol. Brazil has demonstrated that ethanol produced from sugar cane is competitive at the pump when oil is above Dollars 45 a barrel;”
- “Second, cars and trucks should be made to burn a variety of fuels. This technology has been available for generations. Half the new cars sold in Brazil now are flexible fuel vehicles. A vehicle can be given this capability for roughly Dollars 150;”
- “Third, we should move to using hybrid-electric vehicles. Half of the 150m cars and trucks on the road in America drive only 20 miles a day. Equip the hybrid with a more capable, but still state-of-the-art, battery, plug it in at night to “fill up” with electricity for the equivalent of as little as 25-cent-per-gallon petrol, and it will take you 20 miles with no loss of performance before any petrol is needed.”
- “Fourth, we should retool Detroit – the carmaking capital of the US – to use lighter, stronger carbon composite materials. Transforming all US vehicles over the next 20 years to be made of largely carbon composite materials could cut oil imports by 52 per cent and provide stronger, lighter and safer vehicles”.
Even these fairly conservative ideas will meet resistance from the US car manufacturers, but it could happen overnight if there was the political will. But that is a huge IF…