Monday, June 01, 2009

Saudi royal: "U.S. can't be energy-independent"

So says Prince Turki al-Faisal, former ambassador to Washington and a key member of the Saudi royal family:

"You can't get rid of oil. You can't get rid of fossil fuels — gas and coal — unless you want to price yourself out of existence," Prince Turki al-Faisal, former ambassador to Washington, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

"I'd hope that the general public in the United States would be wiser than to be deceived into thinking that the U.S. can ever be energy independent," he said.

"The U.S. has rising energy needs despite the economic downturn," Prince Turki said. "If you are going to be paying for wind, electric and solar energy equivalents that cost five or 10 times more than it costs to use oil, you are going to price yourself out of the market. You are going to lose whatever competitiveness you have in your products."

"Politicians, when they do that,{promise energy independence} I think they are misleading their publics," he said.

During his election campaign last year, President Obama said, "I will set a clear goal as president. In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil in the Middle East."

In one sense what Prince Turki is saying is the simple truth - abandoning fossil fuels, especially combined with Obama's cap and trade nonsense is a road to bankruptcy.

But it's also worth remembering that the US is the Saudi Arabia of coal, with an estimated 400-600 years worth of supply.and that we can gasify coal at about fifty bucks a barrel or less. It's a proven technology that's been around since WWII (Hitler used it to keep his war machine running) and has been vastly improved since. And that doesn't include our resources of shale oil or America's own oil sources, which we're barely utilizing at the moment.

There's also nuclear power, something the Europeans and the Japanese embraced after the Arabs turned off the spigot in the 1970's.

And we could also try building a few refineries, which is where the real bottleneck in gasoline occurs.

Add all this to ramping up our domestic production and some basic conservation measures and and the US could achieve energy independence in a remarkably short space of time..certainly within one four-year presidential term. That would buy us the time we need and then some to develop the new energy technologies for the future. Not to mention a slew of high paid US jobs, a boost for our economy, more oil to sell to other countries and strategic leverage in certain areas where we need it.

Of course, if we did that two things would happen. First, government figures would no longer have the same access to what I like to call the Arab Oil Producers Government Pension Augmentation Plan, where Presidential libraries, honorariums, consulting fees,retainers, investments in certain financial instruments and foundations get paid for by certain cash flush oil producing nations.

Second, government would take a major tax hit,because higher gas prices mean higher tax revenues. In my native state that means the county, the state and the feds garner about 80 cents plus per gallon in taxes - the higher the price, the more they make. On power, it's a whopping ten percent of the bill locally.

In case you wondered, that's why the US isn't energy self-sufficient yet.


Christian Atheist said...

Good points as usual.....but,
it should surely be noted that nukes weren't the only thing Europe embraced in the '70s in response to the embargo.They also embraced the keffiyah. According to Bat Y'eor that decade also saw them throw Israel under the bus in order to clear the way ahead for the project she would christen "Eurabia". I'm sure you're aware of this but I never could resist carrying coal to Newcastle!
Especially since it is so lovely there this time of year ;~). .

Freedom Fighter said...

Correct, CA.

But as I'm sure Bat Yeor would tell you, the 'embrace of the keffiyah' as you put it was a response to Europe's declining birth rate, commercial appetite to sell manufactured goods to the Arab world, the need for new immigrants to pay for Europe's social welfare programs and especially ( in the case of DeGaulle, who originated the 'Eurabia' policies) as a counterweight to the hated Americans and a means for the restoration or French 'grandeur' and importance on the world stage.


Christian Atheist said...

Too true!Though at least the demography book was funny.I speak of course of Mr. Steyn's "America Alone". Ms. Y'eor's "Eurabia",not so much.

Anonymous said...

The 400 to 600 yrs. figure might be based on old numbers. Other estimates are between 100-250 yrs. (see and If we go to coal gassification, the coal will be used up even faster. I do agree with your general point that we need to use our resources rather than play politically correct games, but I think you're underestimating the difficulty and the speed in which improvements can be accomplished.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Anonymous,

I'm always suspiicous of stuff coming from wikipedia. I've seen numerous estimates on various energy sites that put the figure far higher.

You also haven't brought shale oil into the equation, which we also have in abundance.

As for getting the technology up and running, Hitler was able to do it in a matter of months when it was brand new technology, during wartime. There no reason to suppose that we couldn't do it in the same time frame if it wasn't for the other political factors I mention. Nor is there any real evidence I can find that gasification 'uses the coal up faster' than simply burning it.

The US actually had a synthetic fuel program in the 1970's that was online fairly quickly. It was terminated when th eprice of crude fell far below the $50 or so a barrel synthetic fuel costs to produce.

With crude now at $65 a barrel and climbing sharply, we might just want to revisit it.

Thanks for dropping by..


Rosey said...

I didn't see you mention natural gas, the US also has a lot of that.

The fact is we simply don't have the leadership and political will to achieve energy independence, but we do have the means.
Brazil achieved independence with a combination of sugar cane methanol, and drilling for oil offshore. France, as you mention, has lot's of nuclear power, making it more, but not totally independent.

The diesel engine was designed to run on vegetable oil, and does so nicely in warmer temperatures. We could actually power city buses with McDonald's used french fry oil. Why don't we? Must be those presidential libraries.

Model airplane engines run a combination of methanol (ethanol?) & castor oil. There are alternative fuels out there. Their viability of course depends on the price of a barrel of oil. over $75, a lot stuff makes sense. The fact is, we really aren't working on the problem very hard.