But, let us imagine for a minute, President Bush had been serious in his State of the Union call to action. Imagine an energy technology breakthrough, that if backed by the federal government like President Kennedy's America to the Moon program, would at once reduce and perhaps eventually eliminate America's "addiction" to foreign oil, reduce America's net addition to global warming carbon emissions, and purge billions of tons of U.S. sewage, garbage, and other low-grade organic waste material from the environment annually. Imagine that the U.S. can, within a decade, achieve all these goals by deploying a new breakthrough American developed renewable fossil-oil-alternative production technology.
For those of you concerned about energy independence or maybe just a less polluted environment, you do not have to imagine. A commercial waste-to-oil refinery plant is in operation today that takes in waste material and converts it into golden oil, free of sulfur and bitumen (better known as asphalted tars), in a continuous process. Any "waste" including municipal garbage and sewage, slaughterhouse waste, old tires, wood and paper, and all manner of agricultural waste can be turned directly into a diesel quality light fuel oil. The fuel oil can be burned directly by electric utility generators or it can be taken to any petroleum refinery and refined into gasoline. The process is 85% efficient, and everything produced is environmentally benign and commercially useful. It produces by-products of methane gas, black carbon, fertilizer and several other oil derivatives, ultimately discharging clean potable water.
A company called Changing World Technologies, Inc. has developed a Thermal Conversion process that converts any organic waste material into a high quality clean fuel oil and other specialty chemicals. Through a joint venture with ConAgra Foods, Inc., this company has built a commercial facility in Carthage, Missouri, which is today converting a variety of waste materials from the nearby turkey processing plant into a high-grade fossil-petroleum alternative. This one small Carthage facility shipped more than 250,000 gallons (6000 barrels) of renewable diesel fuel in the month of April 2006, representing just 30% of the plant's capacity when operating at full capacity.
The process has also been successfully tested on numerous other waste materials including mixed plastics and rubbers from auto salvage recycling operations, and municipal garbage and sewage sludge. In each case, waste streams are converted into energy products and specialty chemicals, which do not damage our air, land or water resources. Waste conversion to synthetic crude oil can be a vast new U.S. energy reserve that is an environmentally friendly solution to handle the over 6 billion tons of U.S. agricultural wastes and an equal additional tonnage of human wastes annually. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. imported 3.3 billion barrels of crude oil in 2002. Converting the annual U.S. agricultural waste alone into oil would produce over 4 billion barrels of synthetic crude oil. U.S. produced crude oil that can be directly shipped to existing U.S. refineries and gas distribution pipelines.
Imagine if the federal government co-funded the modernization of local municipal sewage and garbage processing plants across America, which must be updated and maintained using city taxes revenues in any case, to promote the use of this conversion technology to produce millions, maybe billions, of barrels of synthetic crude oil. Even if just the ten largest U.S. cities modernized their sewage sludge and garbage disposal through the addition of thermal conversion they would produce more oil than would new wells in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The cost of ten such plants would total $1 billion, far less than the cost to drill new fields in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Imagine the tens of thousands new American jobs that would be generated building and operating waste thermal conversion oil production refineries as part of a national strategic energy independence and waste management modernization program.
Imagine that the U.S. could become totally energy independent over the same the 20 years that Pres. Bush plans to "research" hydrogen technology and drill for fossil fuels in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off-shore?
Imagine the foreign relations benefits to the U.S. if the U.S. government helped poor nations improve their sanitation needs while at the same time freeing those nations from expensive OPEC oil.
Imagine a President of the United States that would give a President Kennedy like "going to the moon in this decade" challenge to America to deliver a cleaner environment and reduced oil imports as part of a single strategic national goal - and really mean it!.
Imagine, instead of bidding up the price of oil to buy imported OPEC oil to stockpile in the finite Strategic Petroleum Reserve, we had a President that would spend that same money to build a conversion plant to turn the sewage and garbage of the Washington DC metro area into oil as a self-renewing Perpetual Strategic Petroleum Reserve that would fuel the U.S. military during normal as well as emergency situations.
The best hope for an inexpensive, inexhaustible supply of oil for the United States lies not in forever deeper and more expensive drilling far out at sea or in some artic refuge, or even in the distilling of ethanol that consumes massive amounts of vital foods like corn and clean pure water. Our best hope is in this new technology that converts the never ending supply of above ground waste generated by an ever expanding economy into a reliable, secure source confined within our own borders. Given the full implementation of this technology into our economy, we could, in ten short years radically reduce our dependence on foreign oil. All of the equipment necessary to construct a facility is off-the-shelf equipment currently employed by the oil industry. Each waste-to-oil thermal conversion facility may be constructed and in operation in a year or less depending on its size.
Read about this amazing technology, that is all but ignored and rejected by the Bush Administration, in Discover magazine - http://www.discover.com/issues/apr-06/features/anything-oil/