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John Reilly

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John Reilly


Squeezing Algae for Oil

Light Sweet Crude


Friday, July 9, 2010

Not only is it incredibly risky, it’s financially irresponsible to drill more oil wells. Especially because there is more renewable oil on the surface of the planet than we could ever pump out of the ground.

Multiple companies in America are producing light-sweet crude oil from algae to make high-octane gasoline. I researched three of these: one in Silicon Valley, which Chevron recent bought out; one in San Diego, and one in Texas. The technology is already perfected and production has begun. If we would fund this like we subsidize the oil industry, we could be making 25 percent of our own oil in just five to seven years.

Drilling will never lower costs or produce energy independence for America. Today, only a small fraction of the oil produced in America stays here. Oil companies constantly manipulate stock around the world to cultivate the highest bidders and keep prices inflated. Giving independent oil giants control over U.S. oil reserves to sell on the world market only adds to their incredible wealth and makes us more dependent on them and foreign countries.

Growing algae for gasoline will lower costs at the pump very quickly. Plus it will give us the national security that comes with the independence of producing our own renewable energy supply.

There are strains of algae that are 50 percent light, sweet crude oil. It grows so fast it can double its bloom in an hour. You press the oil out and what’s left can be used for cattle feed or fertilizer. It doesn’t have the toxins that crude oil formed underground for millions of years has. All we need is to ramp up production. Do you know how many greenhouses and presses we can build for the price of one oil rig and a tanker?

I envision greenhouses in every water reclamation plant, purifying water and growing algae. It’s cheap. It’s low tech. It’s light-sweet crude oil, the good stuff, ready for the refinery. There is no change to our infrastructure. Keep your SUV. Algae uses no cropland, displaces no food crops, uses and purifies non-potable water, is carbon neutral, delivers up to 100 times more energy per acre than corn, is the same price as foreign oil, and it’s American.

It’s not just an environmental issue. Drilling for oil is a hundred-year-old archaic and obsolete practice that is way too expensive and unproductive to continue. Google “Algae for Fuel” yourself. The “alternative fuel” that everyone is waiting for is already here. It’s in production. It’s running cars and flying planes. Algae are what fossil fuels were originally made from. It’s always been the most prolific plant on Earth. We can grow it, cultivate it, and refine it just as fast and as cheap as we can drill for it, without any catastrophic environmental risks.

John Reilly, who grew up surfing, diving, and sailing on the ocean, came to Santa Barbara to go to school 27 years ago, and couldn’t leave. He is a material resource planner for a medical/aerospace based company in Carpinteria.

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