“The peculiar thing about the liquid [alternative[ fuels market is, everyone seems to hate everyone else,” retired Gen. Wesley Clark said here yesterday, drawing chuckles from the audience.
Clark, now an energy investment advisor, urged attendees to seize the opportunity to work together and eliminate competition among themselves: “None of us can do it by ourselves, and if we don’t do it, we can’t get this economy going again.”
The economy and national security are inexorably linked, he said. The U.S. has lost 6.5 million jobs, net, since 2008, faces a projected trillion-dollar federal deficit, and has spent $3 trillion and lost 6,500 service men and women defending access to Persian Gulf oil. Yet we’re still dependent on imports.
The $300 billion the nation spends each year on imported oil amounts to $1,000 for every U.S. man, woman, and child, Clark said. Keeping that money here and investing in the abundant domestic energy resources – hydrocarbons, biofuels, sunlight, wind, coastal wave action, and minerals – would grow the economy. And it can be done without harming the environment.
To reduce oil imports, we need higher fuel economy standards, increased domestic production, electric vehicles on the road, and increased use of CNG, LNG, and ethanol.
Training, Too, at ACT Expo 2012
But the most important step, Clark said, is working together. “If we don’t work together, if we can’t have a shared vision, we can’t move this forward.”
ACT Expo pre-conference sessions last week offered attendees a wealth of information ranging from “101” courses on fleet management, alt fuel vehicles and CNG vehicles, to emergency and first responder training.
When it comes to installing fueling stations, a lot has changed in the last decade, said Carl Baust, fire protection engineer and session leader on fire department permitting of hydrogen and CNG stations.
Local fire departments’ once notorious concerns have largely been addressed in the California Fire Code, Chapter 22. And if you meet the requirements of NFPA 52, he said, “Now, it’s no big deal.”
Young people are excited and interested in the new technologies, he said, but some vested interests can still present barriers. Establish displays in shopping centers, expose people to the technology, he said, and “make it easy for people.”
Attendees at the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium first responder safety training on electric vehicles learned about the Consortium’s online QRG or Quick Response Guide. The QRG contains need-to-know info such as different manufacturers’ vehicle designs and high-voltage systems in hybrid and electric vehicles.