Belfer Center Study Concludes Reducing Car and Truck GHG Emissions Will Require Substantially Higher Fuel Prices; Income Tax Credits for Advanced Alt Fuel Vehicles Are “Essentially Ineffective” at Reducing Sector Emissions

08 March 2010
 CO2 emissions from transportation sector by scenario in the study. The dashed blue line is 2005 emissions; the scale on the right shows the percent of 2005 level. Source: Morrow et al. Click to enlarge.

A new study from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs finds that reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation will be a much bigger challenge than many assume, and will require substantially higher fuel prices combined with more stringent regulations.

The study—Analysis of Policies to Reduce Oil Consumption and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from the US Transportation Sector—finds that reducing CO2 emissions from the transportation sector 14% below 2005 levels by 2020 may require fuel prices above $8/gallon by 2020. It also finds that, while relying on subsidies for electric or hybrid vehicles is politically attractive, it is an extremely expensive and ineffective way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the near term. Economy-wide CO2 prices of$30-60/t CO2 are too weak on their own to motivate significant reductions in CO2 emissions from transportation. The key to obtaining significant reductions in transportation-related GHG emissions is to increase the cost of driving. The economy-wide CO2 prices applied increase the cost of driving only marginally with respect to the business-as-usual case. Direct transportation (fuel) taxes generate the greatest reductions in CO2 emission from transportation, achieving CO2 emissions at 86% of 2005 levels by about 2025. The gasoline prices that achieve these reductions are in the range of $7-9/gal, however, which is considerably higher than the American public has been historically willing to tolerate. Strong income tax credits for the purchase of new diesel, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid vehicles are very expensive and essentially ineffective at reducing GHG emissions from transportation. —Morrow et al. The study examined the impact of five scenarios: • An economy-wide cap and trade program along the lines outlined in the American Clean Energy and Security Act; • A strong gasoline and diesel tax; • Continuing to increase the passenger car fuel efficiency standards between 2020 and 2030; • Aggressive performance-based tax credits for alternative motor vehicles; and • Adoption of all of the preceding policies. The authors used the 2009 version of the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), an energy-economic equilibrium model of US energy markets, to estimate the impacts of these scenarios both in terms of carbon mitigation and economic costs. Four main results stood out, according to the authors: • All the policy scenarios modeled fail to meet the Obama administration’s goal of reducing total US GHG emissions 14% below 2005 levels by 2020. If there is a strict cap on emissions that must be met either with emissions reductions from covered sources or through purchases of offsets, the results suggest that large purchases of offsets will be required. The authors did not include sector-specific programs in sectors other than transportation are not included in our analysis; these may help meet the reduction goal, they said. • The largest reductions in GHG emissions from transportation are obtained by increasing the cost of driving with fuel taxes, resulting in lower emissions in 2030 than in 2010. While CO2 prices are equivalent to fuel taxes, CO2 prices at their projected levels are far too small to create a significant incentive to drive less. Fuel prices above$8/gallon may be needed to significantly reduce US GHG emissions and oil imports. At such prices, CO2 emissions from the transportation sector alone are reduced to 14% below 2005 levels and net crude oil and petroleum product imports decrease by 5.7 million barrels per day, relative to 2008 levels. Efficiency policies such as performance standards and purchase tax credits, while politically palatable, do not address growth in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), an important root cause of GHG emissions from transportation.

• Purchase tax credits are an expensive way to reduce oil consumption and GHG emissions from transportation. The authors found that artificially increasing the popularity of alternative motor vehicles through tax credits has the unintended effect of decreasing new conventional vehicle fuel economy as compared with implementing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards without the credits. Furthermore, aggressively subsidizing alternative motor vehicle purchase is a very expensive proposition, costing the government roughly $22–37 billion per year. Reducing this figure through appropriations limits would limit the influence of the subsidy program. • The macroeconomic impacts of reducing GHG emissions are small, even with relatively aggressive policy scenarios. Losses in annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), relative to business-as-usual are less than 1%, and GDP is projected to grow at 2–4% per year through 2030 under all scenarios. Similar results hold for other macroeconomic indicators. This result clearly illustrates, the authors wrote, that aggressive climate change policy need not bring the economy to a halt. Surprising results” occur under the performance-based tax credits and the combined policy case, the researchers noted. Although performance-based tax credits resulted in a reduction in emissions relative to the AEO 2009 base case, they caused CO2 emissions to rise higher than they would be if there was only an economy-wide CO2 tax, they found. There are several reasons for this counter-intuitive result. First, as discussed earlier there is an unintended interaction between the tax credits and the CAFE standards that decreases the efficiency of conventional vehicles. Since conventional vehicles still occupy the majority of the market, this has significant consequences for GHG emissions. Second, the tax credits give a significant boost to diesel vehicles. Diesels gain significant market share under the credits and increase driving, because they are more efficient. We believe this analysis underestimates the impact of these credits because NEMS does not account for the black carbon from diesel soot that has a medium-to-large global warming potential. —Morrow et al. The combined policy case has noticeably higher CO2 emissions than the case with only transportation taxes, they found. Again, the authors noted, alternative motor vehicle income tax credits actually impede fuel economy improvements in conventional gasoline vehicles, diluting the power of the transportation taxes to reduce CO2 emissions with lower VMT (vehicle miles traveled). All of our conclusions rely on the NEMS model that, like all models, has its flaws. We caution against embracing the absolute numbers resulting from our analysis. These results should, instead, serve as an indicator of the nature of impacts that would be observed in various transportation policy scenarios. The overarching conclusion of this report is that reducing GHG emissions and fuel consumption in the transportation sector will be an enormous challenge that requires stronger policy initiatives than are currently being discussed by policy makers. —Morrow et al. The paper is written by current and former affiliates of the Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center: W. Ross Morrow, assistant professor, Iowa State University; Kelly Sims Gallagher, associate professor of energy and environmental policy at Tufts University and a senior associate at the Belfer Center; Gustavo Collantes, senior energy policy advisor to the State of Washington; and Henry Lee, director of the Belfer Center’s Environment and Natural Resources Program. Resources Comments Once agaisn , lookinga tinmputs and notpoitp[uts can desistrot uyour bview. Fact: North America is a NET CARBON SINK. Is sequesters and absorbvs all the CO2 it emits and then some more for mo arounf the world , principally Eurasia. See a plethora of peer reviewed and published scientific papers from the Princeton University studies in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Noth Americans have already more than achievced its objective. We ar enot contributing to raising the CO2 levels in the world. Other peopels are., so let them duplicate the difficult and expensive land set-asides that what we have done. We are finished; and have done more than our share. We are already NO part of the problem, is indeed such a problem, even exists. Modern 21st century quanititative science, reveals that the very low increase in temperature from additional CO2 replacing, the partially denuded Earth's atmosphere may actually be BENIGN, and wholly benficial. The graph accompaning this post reveals that we have continued to DECREASE our CO2 emissions since 2005. We are now also BELOW are the 2005 emissions levels of CO2 measured then, from this suspect measures. I suspect that we catalog man-made emissions fairly well, but trees don't file emissions statements, so the natural sequestration of expanding forests and reforested, abandoned farmlands, such as is ocurring in New England and elsewhere, is unreported. Thsi is more akin to the the peopel saying we must spend more on outright failing public Schools in Washingtion DC; without noting that DC already spends more per pupil, than anywhere else in the Country. Including those good schools of suburban utopias. Or for that matter sending every student to Phillips Academy, or Choate, or Worcester Academy, or Andover where the Billionaire's kids go. The problem lies else where, and not looking at it correctly, precludes proper responses with CO2 policy as well as education. "Fact: North America is a NET CARBON SINK. Is sequesters and absorbvs all the CO2 it emits and then some more for mo arounf the world , principally Eurasia." Only because in the past we spent hundreds of years cutting down our forests and ploughing our grasslands. It's only now, because we put in land-use changes between 1952 and 1992, that we are RECOVERING LOST GROUND. A reversing of past mistakes is all it is. At close to 25-tonne per capita, USA, Canada and Australia are still about the highest polluters in the world. "Princeton University studies in 1999, 2000 and 2001." which of About 2,850,000 results (0.15 seconds)? US reduction needed to reach world per capita average: 76.8% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions "Once agaisn , lookinga tinmputs and notpoitp[uts can desistrot uyour bview." You can design and offer for sale all the hybrids and electric vehicles you want, but if gas remains in the$2-$3 range, Americans will not buy them. It really is that simple! Raise the gas tax and use the money to build public transport and fund rebates for hybrids and electrics. Higher prices will reduce CO2 emissions, but only by pricing people off the road, especially people on low incomes. Those on higher incomes will continue to buy bigger cars. Those who can still afford it are more likely to just pay more than make a different vehicle choice - what's the point in buying a small car if you need to transport a family. I have a larger car no than I had before because I need it, despite paying between$8-$10 at the pump. Higher fuel prices will just encourage people to offset their spending from elsewhere, so stuff the organic and the free range - get battery fed and intensuively reared if it means being able to fill up the car - thanks government - good ethics teaching there! Higher fuel prices will make the government more addicted to oil than its consumers because of the tax revenue it generates. In the UK the Government makes over £25bn in fuel taxes (with around a 25m car population - thats £1000 ($1,400) per car!!).

Life with the $8 -$10 gallon is not apocalypse. We already pay this in the UK since fuel prices have trebled over the past 15 years, thanks to successive greedy governments pandering to ecomentalist drivel.

Is a 15% reduction really worth such a hike in price, especielly if a much greater reduction could be made through a gradual increase in biofuels?

The policy impacts are clear to see just by visiting rip-off Britain. In short there's a fair level to setting fuel taxes - we passed that line many years ago (remember the fuel protests in 2000 - it may happen again soon).

With high fuel prices in Europe we still missing plug-in cars or biofuel usage. The study has a major flaw - it takes time and money for the new CO2 free technology replacing existing once. Only rising taxes and doing nothing when relaying on competition of private sector is not panacea from all our future problems. Those $30 billion for technology development and mainstreaming is absolutely minimum for US to avoid future oil and economy crisis. The fuel tax policy should come gradually on line supporting oil (coal) efficient technology competitiveness (in case it exists). Once again, looking at inputs and not outputs can distort your view. Fact: North America is a NET CARBON SINK. Is sequesters and absorbs all the CO2 it emits and then some more from around the world, principally Eurasia. See a plethora of peer reviewed and published scientific papers from the Princeton University studies in 1999, 2000 and 2001. North Americans have already more than achieved its objective. We are not contributing to raising the CO2 levels in the world. Other people are. So let them duplicate the difficult and expensive land set-asides that what we have done. We are already finished; and have done more than our share. We are already NO part of the problem, if indeed such a problem, even exists. Modern 21st century quantitative science, reveals that the very low increase in temperature from additional CO2 replacing, the partially denuded Earth's atmosphere may actually be BENIGN, and wholly beneficial. The graph accompanying this post reveals that we have continued to DECREASE our CO2 emissions since 2005. We are now also BELOW 2005 emissions levels of CO2 measured then, from this suspect measures. I suspect that we catalog man-made emissions fairly well, but trees don't file emissions statements, so the natural sequestration of expanding forests and reforested, abandoned farmlands, such as is occurring in New England and elsewhere, is unreported. This is more akin to the the people saying we must spend more on outright failing public Schools in Washington DC; without noting that DC already spends more per pupil, than anywhere else in the Country. Including those good schools of suburban utopias. Or for that matter sending every student to Phillips Academy, or Choate, or Worcester Academy, or Andover etc. Places where the Billionaire's kids go. The problem lies elsewhere, and not looking at it correctly, precludes proper responses with Science policy, CO2 policy as well as education. Fact: Stan Peterson has uncovered a global conspiracy, involving researchers from Harvard University, Stanford, Oxford, NASA, DOE and a few other dubious institutions (possibly with Communist ties). Thanks Stan! What would we do without you? I always thought there was something strange with CO2 data. It took a sleuth as yourself to finally uncover the truth. The only thing left to do now is to publish your results in a PEER REVIEWED journal rather than on random internet posts. It's 2010 now, so your (uncited) Princeton references are getting a bit old. Stan Peterson says: North America is a NET CARBON SINK. The US forest service says: From 1990 through 2005, the forest sector (including forests and wood products) sequestered an average 162 Tg C/ year. 1 Tg = 1 megaton. US carbon emissions: ~1800 Tg C /year. I have pointed this out to you before on this forum, but here you are repeating this misinformation. Seems like we have a classic case of "dogmatic rejection of reality". Scott, Petrol taxes are not just taxes, they pay for the roads that you as a motorist needs. Remember that the UK has no toll roads, like many other countries. The average fuel economy of cars in Europe is much better than in the US. I have no explanation for that, except the high petrol taxes across Europe. I get a feeling you seem to be thinking: "government, don't bother me, just fix the damn problem! And do it without budget, because I don't want to pay for it". A few points: 1) Having destroyed substantial forrest, the capacity to adsorb CO2 is slowly, but insignificantly ameliorating US CO2 net emmissions: http://www.jstor.org/pss/1349934 2) Miles driven in US looses 45min of productive time for 80 million workers. Gas price increases in 2008 reduced waste and improved the economy. 3) Investement in R&D should improve the efficiency and effectiveness of more diverse sources of energy. 4) With the amortization of solar cells now suspected to be 30 years up from 20 years, the grid equivalency cost for new dual purpose (roof and solar panels) solar installations is here now. 5) Change is good, " a rolling stone gathers no moss" Our economy is so moribund by market discontinuities that medical expenses for example are 100% higher than equivalent health outcomes in OECD counties. Changing energy use and sources will scrape the barnicles from what was once a dynamic economy. Lastly, This is one planet, our advancing technology may help us (if the Chinese don't get there first) AND the rest of the world reduce AGW to the benefit of our industry, workforce and economy. Pitty us if we do not compete for the green technology and its industrial benefits. NOAA has an interesting program, "carbon tracker", which details North American carbon emissions and sinks. "From 2001 through 2008 ecosystems in North America have been a net sink of 0.59 ± 0.55 PgC yr-1 (1 Petagram Carbon equals 10**15 gC, or 1 billion metric ton C, or 3.67 billion metric ton CO2). This natural sink offsets about one-third of the emissions of 1.9 PgC yr-1 from the burning of fossil fuels in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico combined." We are clearly a net CO2 emitter! Adding$5 worth of taxes to a gallon of transportation fuel – That’s like you carrying around leaches hanging off your arms and legs. That would be fine for people who are too weak to stand up for their freedoms and cast-off their ball and chain. In the U.S., high taxes on fuel are Not going to fly. We enjoy our cheap fuel. And that gives us a lower cost of living.

The notion that we should restrict our driving to lower CO2 is stupid. That would only inhibit economic growth. Plus, we’ve had the technology to increase mileage and fix exhaust pollution since the early 90’s. Most liquid fuels can be emulsified in water and then “plasma-vaporized”. This strips the hydrogen from the fuel and also splits part of the water into hydrogen, onboard the vehicle. Replicated hundreds of times in France and even verified by automakers. SEE:

http://www.rexresearch.com/gunnrman/gunnrman.htm

http://waterfuel.100free.com/geet_plasma.html

Why isn’t this mainstream technology? Because it’s a disruptive technology that was suppressed by automakers, because automakers are controlled by the same parties who profit from fuels. They’ve been selling you vehicles that are custom crafted to get lucrative profits out of the fuels they’re also marketing. It’s called Greed. Why would automakers sell you a vehicle that runs on only 20% of the fuel you are currently consuming, and allow you to extract the rest of your “fuel” from water, onboard your vehicle?

This is no time to increase fuel taxes, especially over a manipulated issue. Global warming, or is that climate change, or is that “Pollution Migration Effect” - has Not yet been accurately measured and described. We need to mitigate the “real pollutants”, not CO2. This study and many other studies are based on premature assumptions and incomplete science. Also, there are so many other variables that were Not analyzed. The combination of evolving alternative energy and biofuels, cutting edge automotive technology, and the concept of climate change and pollution mitigation - is complex. It has a multitude of facets – much more complex than a study based on narrow tunnel vision can handle accurately.

It’s time to roll-back taxes of all kinds and create more expendable income. Taxes have a stifling effect on personal freedom and economic expansion. Politicians love to spend your money. And where does it go? Mostly to pay interest on debt because of overspending, and also to award insider contracts for favors and special interests. Your money is being steered to them. Eliminate these two black holes and streamline government, and you would have a viable tax base - One that could be rolled-back rather than expanded. Then you’ll be looking at prosperity and a higher standard of living. Anybody paying more than 50 cents a gallon in road tax is getting milked.

@AK
In America the "leaches" are the drivers. They want their gas cheap and they are willing to let the IRS collect taxes off of you to pay for the true cost; http://www.iags.org/costofoil.html
http://www.icta.org/doc/Real%20Price%20of%20Gasoline.pdf
http://www.progress.org/gasoline.htm
http://www.progress.org/cobb01.htm

To use fuel taxes to build (all) high quality national roads and bridges and repair and police them appropriately is justified.

To use part of the fuel taxes to actively promote future cleaner more efficient vehicles is also justified.

To use part of the fuel taxes to clean old cars junk yards and get rid of old tires without pollution is fully justified.

To use part of the fuel taxes to clean damages done to the environment (and properties) by ICE vehicles is justified.

To use part of fuel taxes to treat people whose health has been affected by ICE vehicles is fully justified.

To use part of the fuel taxes to compensate victims of ICE vehicles is justified.

Considering the above, USA Fed Fuel Taxes should be much (10x to 20x) higher. Doubling those taxes every year for the next twenty years may not be enough

If the oil import fee and carbon tax funds were used for roads, to develop advanced vehicles and alternate fuels, that would be fine. Even use the funds to create high speed rail, put big rigs on CNG and get FFV cars using M85 would be good. Use the fees and taxes to fund 1000s of new biofuel plants to provide the M85 and it would be even better.

SJC, I agree with you on the application of funds towards renewable energy resources. Consider that with lower fuel taxes, there will be more disposable income to invest in new technology.

There should be a median ground found here. Where energy tax revenue can be applied to maintenance AND new energy investments. In general, lower taxes encourage new investment. But they don't guarantee it.

Why isn’t this mainstream technology? Because it’s a disruptive technology that was suppressed by automaker
The alternative explanation is "because it's snake oil". There have been hundreds of schemes which popped up, were touted loudly, and sank without a trace before yielding any sort of verifiable proof of their claims. From home hydrogen generators to cow magnets on fuel lines, none has proven to do anything except separate rubes from their money.

Adding water to fuel is a guaranteed energy loser, because you must spend the energy to evaporate the water and you don't get it back unless you can condense it. There may be factors which outweigh that loss (using the higher octane to achieve more spark advance and greater efficiency), but it's a fine line, not a panacea.

Isn't it strange that Aureon Kwolek appears to be for any kind of liquid fuel (whether it's corn ethanol or water emulsions) and rabidly opposed to electric vehicles? If he's not getting paid by either ADM or OPEC, he's working for free. (EVs threaten both ADM and OPEC, so they should be united in opposition.)

Adding water to fuel is NOT a guaranteed energy loser. CleanFlex Power Systems delivers 60-40 ethanol-water as a vapor through the air intake. A diesel engine runs cleaner with more power and saves over a dollar an hour in fuel costs. The ethanol-water vapor makes-up 15-30% of a diesel engine’s fuel consumption, using watered-down cheaper fuel. This can also be used on a gasoline powered engine.

Beyond CleanFlex, which is basically just a water-fuel vaporizer, plasma fuel reformers process a much higher percentage of water and a lower percentage of fuel. They have been demonstrated at NASA, the University of Minnesota, MIT, and by many others. The process energy is available in the hot exhaust, which normally is lost. There are different methods of creating the plasma. In one design, part of the hot exhaust is bubbled through a 20-80 fuel-water mix, and part of the hot exhaust is passed across the cooler water-fuel vapor passing in the opposite direction. An electromagnetic vortex is produced, which disassociates the vapor into hydrogen rich exotic gases. This works especially well with 20% crude oil and 80% salt water. Ethanol-water also works well when set-up right.

Over at “Gas 2.0”, Naresh Vasant provided an explanation of how the GEET water-fuel reformer works:

“It’s ‘steam reforming’ which is a cracking process used in the petroleum industry. With an engine, it absorbs much of the wasted heat energy that goes out with the exhaust. The energy is returned to the engine in the form of short molecule gases that have higher potential energy than the original longer chain hydrocarbon. The cracking process cracks the water content also. Google search ‘steam reforming’. Its the #1 method of hydrogen production in the world. Decades ago auto makers tested, proved and patented these type of fuel reformers for use in cars but they won’t sell a car with them, not even after NASA JPL engineers proved it works well in the 1970’s and not even after MIT proved it works well all over again using a plasma fuel reformer during the past 10 years. This man, Paul Pantone’s (GEET) fuel reformer is the best I’ve seen, because the plasma doesn’t require an external power supply. It builds electrostatic potential similar (to) thunderclouds.”

I’m not opposed to EVs and PHEVs – never have been. I’m an advocate. But it will take 20-30 years for them to replace liquid fuels, which we still need during the transition. I will be buying a PHEV with the range extender.

EP – I’m advocating two technologies: (1) add-on 60-40 ethanol-water vaporizers for the air intake, that will reduce fossil fuel consumption and clean-up the exhaust…and (2) plasma fuel reformers that run an engine on 20% fuel and 80% water. Implying that I work for OPEC is totally illogical. And I don’t work for ADM. I’m an independent researcher. Whatever you do EP - don’t you dare go looking at the links I provide. That might alter your consciousness.

http://www.rexresearch.com/gunnrman/gunnrman.htm

http://waterfuel.100free.com/geet_plasma.html

Expensive energy will ruin the economy of the US or any other country.

The fastest way to reduce the energy from automobiles is the reduce the speed limits drastically on all highspeed motorways.

Even using US government statistics, it can be shown that making corn ethanol and much celulostic ethanol puts more CO2 into the air than just using more oil to make up the deficiency and growing large trees on the corn lands to absorb CO2.

The US does, as does any European economy, put much more CO2 in the air than is absorbed by the plant growth of that country. Thousands of millions of years ago the earth had a very high concentration of CO2 in the air and almost no oxygen and absolutly no humans. It would be best for the earth to regain this ideal state. ..HG..

Anne

I disagree. Fuel taxes, vehicle excise duty, plus the VAT which is irrationally applied to these taxes (i.e. a tax on a tax) pays for the UK’s highways, other forms of transport, but also other areas of expenditure that are not related to transport. This is because taxes collected from motorists go to the government’s central pot to be spent elsewhere. This turns transport taxes into stealth taxes – nothing to do with encouraging efficiency, reducing CO2 or improving the environment as the usual ‘sound-bites’ suggest. It’s more to do with generating revenue.

Given declining revenues and a growing budget deficit, it's not surprising then that the government has been sneaking in increases to motoring taxes when possible. Fuel tax was increased to offset the loss of revenue from the VAT reduction, but this was not reversed when VAT increased again. This is on top of the usual planned annual increases in fuel duty, not as aggressive as the previous fuel duty escalator, but nonetheless it is a regressive tax which is a headache to people on low incomes who need to travel to work but who don’t have the luxury to having walking or public transport as alternatives, or to invest in more efficient cars (income poor – asset poor).

If the money generated from these taxes were ‘hypothecated’ to a truly integrated transport system where everyone was able to choose the best mode of transport to suit their journeys (including the car, which is essential for some journeys – people forget this in PC Britain), I think people would be more accepting. In other words ‘The Damned Problem’ you refer to would have been solved long ago, as the money fed in will have paid for this many times over! But it isn’t. The little, investment is just tinkering at the edges. The roads are congested, yes, but then so is public transport and the rail network, which themselves are very expensive (as not enough of that lovely fuel tax is used to subsidise alternative transport). Better investment is needed in all forms, not just a few buses here and there, the odd illogical set of white lines here and there to make cyclists supposedly feel safer, or the odd extra lane on a motorway to make motorists feel their getting value – were not fools, were not stupid!

I’m not suggesting that we have zero or ‘low’ taxes. A reasonable level of tax is sufficient to persuade the majority to buy efficient vehicles, and this explains why the proportion of cars with large V8 engines and so on has been small, even before fuel taxes were ramped from the early 90s. So it’s an issue of fairness and the UK passed that threshold many years ago: a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Further improvements in efficiency are now increasing arguably because there are targets applied by the EU on car-makers to achieve average CO2 figures. Then there’s also the scrappage scheme (which itself is a huge waste of tax money and resources, given the energy intensive nature of car production).

Oh, and before anyone thinks of me as the sort of person that drives everywhere. I don’t. I use my car occasionally because I have the luxury to walk and take the train. I work at home and I have shops on my doorstep. The point to this is that this doesn’t give me the right to claim any moral high-ground to tax peope who need to drive other out of existence, as other do because they have the same luxury. This is because I am well aware of the problems others have in terms of transport, in a true social sense. It’s a shame that the Government and others don’t.

Scott,

You say it yourself: ...pays for the UK’s highways...

There is a lot more than highways. Much of the spending on roads is done by lower levels of government. These spendings will not appear on the DfT budget.

Even citizens themselves spend money on public roads. If you buy a new house in a newly built housing estate, you pay not only for your house, but also a share of the costs of public facilities. This includes roads, and is independent on how many cars you own or how much you use them. (Of course you need streets and parking in your neighbourhood if only it was for the ambulance to be able to get to you if you suffer a heart attack, but the amount of parking spaces and roads is dependent on how much traffic there is. More cars -> more traffic -> more roads -> higher costs). These costs will not appear on the DfT budget.

And then there are other costs than infrastrucure. The costs of traffic fatalities are by and large paid for out of general funds (NHS for example) or life insurance companies. These costs will not appear on the DfT budget.

You state a number of ~£ 25 billion in taxes per year. The estimated repair cost of potholes caused by this winter is a whopping £ 10 billion. Granted, it was a severe winter, but even a normal winter causes about half that cost. That is 5-10 billion a year for frost damage alone! I do not find it hard to believe the real cost of infrastructure in the UK is close to this £ 25 billion.

The real world is not at all like the simplistic picture that pro-motoring groups often like to paint. There are a lot of costs of car ownership and usage that are not very apparent at first glance. I know it is hard to accept, but the car IS an expensive toy.

"Adding water to fuel is NOT a guaranteed energy loser."

You pay ~540 calories/gram to evaporate water at STP. (This decreases at higher pressure, but if you're exhausting water vapor you've still paid the price.) What supports this claim?

"A diesel engine runs cleaner with more power and saves over a dollar an hour in fuel costs... using watered-down cheaper fuel."

Given how much taxpayer subsidy of the fuel price? (Give me enough taxpayer subsidies and I can make anything "work". But monetary subsidies are energy subsidies; they distort the scale.)

I'm well aware of the possibilities of carbureted fuels for diesel engines. I am also well aware that water has ZERO caloric value and any advantage it helps to supply is by other means. If you will not specify those means, you are a FRAUDSTER.

"plasma fuel reformers process a much higher percentage of water and a lower percentage of fuel."

Steam reforming of e.g. carbon monoxide to H2 comes at a net energy loss and entropy gain. "Plasma" reforming starts with a much lower-entropy energy form (plasma) and cannot decrease entropy over steam reforming. If you cannot supply firm figures to the contrary (which you don't), you are either deceived or a liar. (I don't count URLs as evidence. Quote specifics.)

"The process energy is available in the hot exhaust, which normally is lost."

Engines do not exhaust plasma.

Most of this iea has been around for literally decades; using the exhaust heat of an engine to decompose methanol to CO + 2 H2 was suggested long ago. Yet nobody has reduced this to practice. If there is a practical barrier to widespread use, the possibility may as well not exist (which I have bemoaned myself).

You can buy a California approved GridBuster genset for \$2,500 (after credits) that burns 50% E100 and 50% plain water. That means about half the fuel consumption of a gasoline ICE genset.

http://www.bgreentoday.com/?q=E-Fuel+Solutions+-+Grid+Buster+Ethanol+Generator

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