John F. Kennedy and Energy Independence

March 9, 2012

By Russell D. Longcore

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy made a speech before a joint session of Congress. In that speech, he challenged America with the goal of sending an American astronaut to the moon before the end of that decade.

That speech took the American “can-do” spirit by storm. Over the next eight years, rocket after rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral… ironically later named Cape Kennedy…with crews of astronauts on board. American technology soared ever higher with every space flight. Our leaps forward were breath-taking. Remember, Orville and Wilbur Wright flew at Kitty Hawk only 58 years earlier.

Little boys used to dream of going into space. Science fiction TV shows, movies and books all allowed us to walk among the stars.

Now, whether a moon landing actually happened on July 20, 1969 is debatable. But the technological advances that were spawned by the space race are not debatable.

My point is that an American president called the nation to commit to a technological goal that eventually set the USA apart as the world leader in space technology. After a few years, the Space Shuttle program began and completed 135 missions over 20 years. It became so mundane that shuttle launches and landings only got a 20-second mention on the nightly news.

In 2012, America is faced with another technological challenge that remains unmet. That challenge is energy independence.

There are myriad reasons that the USA imports so much oil. And this article is not written to explore all the conspiracies that keep America strung out on Middle East crude. But there is an alternative that even the greenies cannot criticize.

Natural Gas.

The United States is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. We have hundreds of years of proven reserves, and more that lies untapped beneath American soil and sea. Sure, America will always need crude oil. But most crude is refined into fuels that power our vehicles. Electric cars are not practical yet because the storage battery technology has not advanced far enough yet to allow automakers to create 100% electric cars with the range of a petroleum-fed vehicle. Chasing the ethanol butterfly won’t work. Ethanol-based fuels create mechanical problems in modern cars. And forget solar applications… they’re too unreliable. Automakers face the CAFE requirements of overall fuel economy, and meeting those un-meetable standards will be monstrously expensive. And that STILL doesn’t get America off foreign oil.

But ALL internal combustion engines will run perfectly well on compressed natural gas (CNG). In fact, engines run cleaner, last longer and pollute less on CNG. There are tens of thousands of vehicles already operating daily on CNG, like buses, big trucks, and fleet vehicles. And the price of CNG for transportation fuel is only about $1.40 per gallon!!! So, why isn’t there a big push in America for CNG vehicles and CNG fueling stations? Honda already makes a Civic model that uses CNG. And when a diesel engine is converted to CNG, it becomes a hybrid, burning both fuels. There is absolutely no downside to CNG as transportation fuel and the more popular it became, the more the price would drop.

I dream of an American president standing in the well of Congress and announcing that his only goal as president is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. But that is not going to happen. So, wouldn’t it be exciting to have an American president stand in the well of Congress and announce that his only goal as president was to make America energy independent in his term in office? Here is what that president could do:

1. Create the demand among Americans by showing the benefits of CNG fuel and CNG vehicles.
2. Show Americans how much money they would save by operating CNG autos and trucks.
3. Work with Congress to rewrite current laws and regulations regarding fuels and the manufacture of CNG vehicles.
4. Cancel many regulations already on the books that impede our goal.
5. Create tax incentives for gas producers and oil companies to build hundreds of thousands of CNG filling stations. One incentive could be to allow the cost of a CNG filling station to be 100% expensed in the year it is built.
6. Refrain from loading on Federal sales and excise taxes into the price of CNG.

The more we use CNG, the less will would need supertankers to deliver foreign oil. Perhaps it would even be possible to use CNG so efficiently and effectively for transportation that America could supply its crude oil needs from its own production. I don’t know if that is a likely scenario. But common sense tells me that if 98% of our vehicles now use petroleum products, and we changed over to even 75% CNG, vast amounts of crude oil would not have to be imported to America. And if America stopped importing so much crude oil, the world spot price of crude would plummet, since demand determines the supply and the price.

And if we made such a commitment, do you think that it would effect job creation? The jobs created would be in manufacturing and other tech fields, which are the very jobs that have been going offshore for decades.

For those of you that read my work here at DumpDC on a regular basis, you may shudder to read that I am promoting tax incentives. My writings about taxation are primarily directed toward a post-secession new nation. What I am trying to do here is to look at where we are as a nation and deal with it constructively.

There is no reason whatsoever that our nation could not become entirely energy independent by the year 2020. Look what America did in the space race. We can do it again to make ourselves energy independent. The spirit of independence is what created this American experiment. We can re-capture that independence once again.

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© Copyright 2012, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.