How can the market solve the oil dilemma?
Robert Bryce is a Texas-based freelance journalist and the current managing editor of Energy Tribune. His most recent book,Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence (2008) has been heralded as "visionary, even revolutionary" by The New York Times. In 2004, he published Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, which told the story of how the energy's corporations unraveling. His work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Slate, and The Atlantic Monthly. He resides in Austin, Texas.
Question: How can the market solve the oil dilemma?
Robert Bryce: Sure, well price matters. We see that today consumers are buying and they are not buying the trend is away from the big trucks and big SUVs towards smaller cars. Price matters because it is the only thing that is going to lead us away from using falls of fuels to some thing else, we are only going to switch away from the fuels we are using now when we find something that is cleaner, cheaper, more convenient faster etc or all the above. Right, we are not going to quit using files of fuels just because we decide oh well, I want to run my car unbrokenly or what ever, it doesn’t work that way, we have to have an alternative that is workable. So I think the price the higher price is well painful or may be part of transition. To some thing else and what is that some thing else I can’t say, but we clearly see a whole lot of money going into alternative energy now look Google was investing in the solar business, best performing stock in 2007 according to the Wall Street Journal was for solar incorporate up 800% last year. So price matters investors think that’s the better on solar and they may be right, they could be wrong that the point is we are not going to quit using what we are using now I think for decades to come because it’s taken us century or more to get were we are. So the transition away from oil or another fossil fuels is going to be in protracted transitions, because we have so much infrastructure already in place to use what we have.
Question: Can the government play a productive role?
Robert Bryce: Well, I think so one of the things that I think would be a smart move is to encourage more use of natural gas particularly in terms of natural gas fuel vehicles. Natural gas fuel vehicles are they net less green house gases then do gasoline or diesel vehicles. They met virtually no air pollutants and they are on a BTU basis their fuel is about a third cheaper than gasoline. So that is the positive thing I think that government could do by providing incentives, but clearly that hasn’t happened and it, one of the amazing things is that today Brazil, since everyone talks about ethanol and Brazil will, Brazil has ten times as many natural gas vehicles as the US even though the US has more than 10 times as many motor vehicles as Brazil. So yes, government could be providing incentives if it wants to reduce oil consumption, but instead it is providing mandates and ethanol mandate being clearly one of the most burnishes of the mandate that are now in place.
Date Recorded: 03/20/2008
Can the market do it? Can the government play a productive role?
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