Author: Oil to blame for crisis
The author of "Energy Victory" relates the present economic crisis with oil - not home loans.
Robert Zubrin, the kickoff speaker at the Illinois Commodity Conference in Bloomington next month, believes America's dependence on oil is responsible for the sliding economy.
"In 1999, the average U.S. worker supporting a family of four paid about 3 percent of their disposable income for oil. Today it's over 30 percent. Is it any wonder that such people are not buying houses?" said Zubrin.
The aerospace engineer, who previously wrote about the benefits of a manned expedition to Mars, makes the case for flex-fuel vehicles in his latest book.
Flex-fuel vehicles are those that can run on E-85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol, as well as unleaded gasoline - or any combination of the two. At present, approximately 3 percent of cars and trucks sold in the United States are flex-fuel vehicles.
Zubrin also makes the case for using methanol as an alternative fuel, along with ethanol.
"Making America a flex-fuel vehicle market would effectively make flex-fuel the international standard, as all significant carmakers around the world would be impelled to convert their lines," he said.
"Within three years of such a mandate, there would be 50 million vehicles on U.S. roads capable of running on alternate fuels," said Zubrin.
"It's what we need to break the oil cartel," he said, noting that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries controls 40 percent of the world's supply of oil while American oil companies control less than 10 percent.
"In six years, OPEC will have enough cash to buy the entire Fortune 500 in the United States," said Zubrin.
"It's not necessary to replace all the gasoline with ethanol. We just need to create a competitive situation," he said.
Just 10 percent to 20 percent of the oil needs to be replaced in order to reduce oil prices, said Zubrin, suggesting Brazil was a good model for the United States. "All classes of global society are mirrored in Brazil and half their fuel comes from ethanol," he said.
While a bill pushing for the flex-fuel mandate has been introduced in the U.S. Senate - the Open Fuel Standards Act - more support is needed, said Zubrin. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., along with presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, have all failed to co-sponsor the bill, he said.
Steve Tarter can be reached at (309) 686-3260 email@example.com.