The Yom Kippur War ended 50 years ago. Also known as the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, it wasn’t the region’s first military conflict – and certainly wouldn’t be the last. Although a ceasefire was brokered between Israel, Egypt and Syria on Oct. 25, 1973, the United States would feel the aftershocks for years.
Because in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel, Arab nations affiliated with The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) organized a crippling oil embargo that culminated in the 1973 energy crisis. Today, petroleum is still the primary energy source in the U.S.
There are environmental consequences to relying so heavily on petroleum – oil spills, tetraethyl lead, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change – but there are also economic consequences. The growing trend in electric vehicles is offset by the still overwhelming reliance of motor vehicles on gasoline. Putting just one type of gas in the tank is the energy equivalent of putting all of our eggs in one basket. Today, oil price fluctuations can have a huge sway over the economy. Just last week, the price for a gallon of gasoline jumped nearly 20 cents, seemingly overnight. Diversifying the energy sector is as much a matter of natural security as it is a way to cut costs and improve air quality.
Precise Alternative Fleet Solution recently set up shop in Green Cove Springs. For about $10,000, they’ll convert your car or truck to run on propane instead of gasoline. But why “sweet lady propane,” as Hank Hill used to say?
Well, propane isn’t a perfect energy source, but it is a better alternative to gasoline in many ways. Like gasoline, propane is an “organic compound,” not “organic” in a grocery store sense but “organic” because it is comprised of carbon atoms – just three, to be exact. Like gasoline, it releases greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when burned, but at a lesser rate per capita. It oxidizes more efficiently in a combustion reaction, emitting far less toxic carbon monoxide. That is why forklifts that run on propane can be operated indoors.
Propane is listed as a “clean energy fuel” by the U.S. government. A propane spill is nontoxic, much unlike the catastrophic spectacle of oil spills. The kicker is that it has the potential to be more cost-effective. In Florida, a gallon of propane can be half the cost of gasoline with about 85% of the fuel efficiency. That’s still a good deal when you compare apples to apples.
A step toward any proven alternative fuel source is a step in the right direction. This isn’t “paper straw” activism. Purchasing an electric vehicle or converting your existing car to be propane-powered would have immediate ecological and economic benefits.
Businesses and individuals should continue to be encouraged to incorporate alternative fuel options. The “Sunshine State” offers incentives to put up solar panels. Nuclear energy, which has no emissions, has gained wider acceptance. Propane itself has the potential to be a renewable energy source. A strain of bacteria, Halomonas bluephagenesis, has been demonstrated to produce propane as a biofuel when its genome is edited.
Step by step, Clay County can choose to be more self-reliant and walk away from a dependence on fossil fuels.