Public Comment

Commentary: Lies, Oil and Television

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday September 04, 2007



A media campaign on television has been launched to brainwash Americans into thinking that alcohol fuels are mechanically impractical for cars and to be produced, require huge amounts of petroleum. These are myths that I can strongly argue against with a few engineering facts. I believe the big oil merchants are influencing the press and promoting the idea that oil consumption is the “only way after all.”  

To begin with, we should be suspicious concerning the timing of these news pieces. These news pieces are being coincidentally run at a time when progress would be expected on the transition toward alternatively powered transportation. The public has been fed ideas that we can expect changes in how our cars are powered, and now is the time when it is psychologically prudent for the propagandists to give the public the letdown.  

I expect that many of the same corporate conglomerates that own the oil companies also own the television channels that run these stories. These same conglomerates could own the farm corporations who are most inefficiently growing corn to produce ethanol.  

Another main point is that we are still being fed huge gas-guzzling automobiles to drive. The mainstream advertisements promote the idea that we must have a huge, towering presence on the road or be run over by the other guy. Cars haven’t become smaller. This is another indication that a sincere effort isn’t being made to reduce our petroleum consumption. 

As for the technical arguments, they are as follows: Corn isn’t necessary to manufacture ethanol. It can be done with waste products like sewage and compost. Natural gas can also be used. Methanol, ethanol’s cousin that could power the Model T and is used in race cars, can be manufactured out of wood and potatoes. Hydrogen fuel can be derived from water with a solar-powered hydrolysis unit. These can be put on every block. Hydrogen can power fuel cell cars. It isn’t necessary to spend all that money on farming tons of corn to get ethanol.  

The problem with how the government wants to do things is they pick the most inefficient possible method involving the greatest number of steps to accomplish a task. This way the most people possible can be paid. If you are in charge of more people, your paycheck is bigger. 

The conspiracy I expect exists is this: Some big entities want us to stay plugged into foreign oil so that we will continue to stay plugged into the Middle East. Why are they doing this? I don’t have access to that.  

What can Americans do? At the very least, we can demand smaller more reasonable cars. We can demand that real progress be made toward alternately powered vehicles. We can openly disbelieve propaganda from the oil companies. 


Jack Bragen is a Martinez resident.