Thursday, June 07, 2007

A REAL Policy for Black Republicans and Black Democrats: Alternative Energy by Akindele Akinyemi


The time has come for Black people on both sides of the aisle to discuss policies that will help benefit our communities across the State of Michigan. Whether you are a Black Democrat or Black Republican we need to convene a summit and began crafting policies that will help create legacies for our children down the road.
One policy that I have been researching for a while is how can we begin to reduce gas prices here in the State of Michigan. We often hear legislators on both sides of the aisle discussing the need for regional transportation by way of reducing gas prices. How come we do not hear Urban Conservatives discuss these type of policies?
We are too busy discussing things that are not relevant to the freedom of those who may live in poverty. I am a person who wants to get people out of poverty.
Alternative energy is the key for the future. The demand for transportation fuels in Michigan is increasing. The number of light-duty vehicles is projected to grow from 25.6 million on-road vehicles in 2003 to 35.6 million by 2025.
Unless we change our habits, petroleum will be the primary source of Michigan's transportation fuels for the foreseeable future, and as demand continues to rise and in-state and Alaskan petroleum supplies diminish, Michigan will rely more and more on foreign imports of crude oil.
Nearly 100 percent of the state's transportation system is currently fueled by fossil fuels. Moving toward a more diversified range of fuels and supporting the advancement of higher efficiency vehicles are two of the goals of the state's programs.
So how can we jump on the band wagon as producers and not consumers? Remember Black people here in America generate over $678 billion dollars a year as consumers.
There are several things I feel African Americans can jump on the band wagon to create legacies for our children if we are serious about regional transportation.
There are four alternative fuels I am going to discuss:
1. Compressed natural gas, or CNG, is natural gas under pressure which remains clear, odorless, and non-corrosive. Although vehicles can use natural gas as either a liquid or a gas, most vehicles use the gaseous form compressed to pressures above 3,100 pounds per square inch.
Some of the benefits of using compressed natural gas is producing both worldwide and domestically at relatively low cost and is cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel fuel. Natural gas vehicles show an average reduction in ozone-forming emissions of 80 percent compared to gasoline vehicles.
2. Ethanol. I cannot understand how African American farmers who have thousands of acres of land will not utilize this fuel and generate money. We grow thousands of acres of corn a year and what are we doing with it? I just read a report this morning from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth that Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG) Director Keith W. Cooley announced that six more service stations will receive a total of $43,397 in incentives to install dispensing equipment to offer ethanol (E85) and biodiesel (B20) fuel to the public. These incentives are part of a larger effort underway to increase fleet and consumer access to bio-based renewable transportation fuels across Michigan.
Are African Americans on board with this? While we sit at the City Council table and discuss whose house we are going to ticket people are making billions off of this. We need smarter policies.
3. GTLs. Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) fuels are fuels that can be produced from natural gas, coal and biomass using a Fischer-Tropsch chemical reaction process. The liquids produced include naphtha, diesel, and chemical feedstocks. The resulting GTL diesel can be used neat or blended with today's diesel fuel and used in existing diesel engines and infrastructure. These fuels provide an opportunity to reduce dependence on petroleum-based fuels and reduce tailpipe emissions.
4. Hydrogen and Fuel Cells. This is my favorite one right here. Most of us know that Hydrogen is the simplest, lightest and most plentiful element in the universe. It is made up of one proton and one electron revolving around the proton. In its normal gaseous state, hydrogen is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic and burns invisibly. It should not be considered a "fuel," but instead, should be considered as an energy transport mechanism.
Fuel cells generate electricity from a catalyst-facilitated chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen ions in a cell.
I am for mass producing fuel cell vehicles here in Michigan and especially Detroit. This is why we have the Next Energy facility in Midtown here in Detroit who are presently conducting fuel cell research. There will come a time when vehicles with fuel cells will use hydrogen that's produced either on-board by converting liquid fuels (gasoline, ethanol, or methanol) to hydrogen, or by using direct hydrogen that has been generated off-board and stored on the vehicle in compressed or liquid form.
We can use this type of technology for regional transportation by building light rail system based on this type of technology. Can you imagine how Detroit will be transformed in the next 10 years if we began to make plans for this type of groundbreaking form of transportation?
If we can get to the point of where Detroit and Wayne County are consolidated we may be able to get some things moving here in Detroit. I mean moving literally. This is why we need serious policy makers at the table.
At present, fuel cell vehicles have only been developed to what might be called the pre-prototype stage. That means there are very few fuel cell vehicles in existence, and all of them are actually used for testing. Most car manufacturers have or are working on demonstration models, some of which can reach a speed of 90 mph and can travel up to about 280 miles before they need refueling.
At the next Buy Black Weekend next year here in Detroit (which is our version of Mackinac Public Policy Conference) we need to convene a summit where we get Black Republicans and Black Democrats on both sides of the aisle to begin discussing our future. We should be discussing hydrogen fueling stations as well as bio-diesel fueling stations that are Black owned and operated.
When government is out of our homes and we are engaging in a free-market capitalistic system we begin to build legacies for our children right here in our community. We need to stop lying to our children and have them own and control their own destiny.
Who is ready to build with me?

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