We interrupt our regularly scheduled program here at GM/EV central to bring some disconcerting news: we just learned the electrification of transportation could be a wasted exercise because America will have all the petroleum it needs, and oil prices will decline because they always do.

Since we believe everything we read, it naturally leads us to wonder: Are environmentalists and people interested in national security therefore barking up the wrong battery-powered tree?

According to one auto industry pundit, the implicit answer could be yes.


The Volt is meant to wean us from dependence on oil and its pollution. This week, the publication that named the Nissan LEAF's and Chevy Volt's powerplant one of the "10 best engines" offered an editorial effectively questioning these cars' raison d'être.

“Before this decade is out, we are going to see vast increases in the amount of oil and natural gas available,” John McElroy concluded in a column on the Wards Auto Web site.

The writer of the editorial titled, "Oil’s Price Always Comes Down" had led up to this by saying for nine decades, ups and downs have been normal, and Americans have strong reason to believe prices will drop.

“Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the price of a gallon of gasoline over the last 90 years, on an inflation-adjusted basis, always has declined after a spike,” McElroy said, “It may jump during war time or global turmoil, but then it drops.”

After years of following the issues, McElroy said he is no longer concerned with oil supplies.

“Every day, we are bombarded with screaming headlines about soaring oil prices. What we rarely hear is that the price of oil always retreats,” he said. “Five years ago, I believed in the Peak Oil theory. It postulated that global oil production would peak in 2006, and the following shortage would send prices skyrocketing. Sure enough, in 2008 a barrel of oil shot up to $150. But less than 12 months later, oil plummeted to less than $40 a barrel. Yes, the price now is back up to $100, but I no longer believe in Peak Oil.”

For the first time in 40 years, McElroy said, the U.S. Department of Energy is predicting an increase in domestic oil production by two-million barrels per day by decade’s end.

Thanks to hydraulic fracturing for both natural gas and oil, America will have new-found supplies of these natural resources.

Supply also will come, he said, from new Brazilian offshore reserves that rival those in Saudi Arabia, and due to be tapped in coming years.

And in Iraq, McElroy said, infrastructure is on its way to multiply output by six or seven times, possibly making that nation the world’s largest oil producer.

“And this will have enormous implications for the auto industry and policy planners,” MacElroy said confidently.

Yes, because of the new-found energy deposits and a 100-year supply of natural gas, he ends his piece suggesting it will affect policy for auto industry and government decision makers.

In fact, his message flies in the face of what the Obama administration, other government and auto industry decision makers are planning for.

And if he is right, it seriously erodes one of the primary arguments in support of electrification of transportation.

Although McElroy never says this about EVs explicitly, his editorial leads one to wonder what is the concern over gasoline prices and supply?

This is the trailer for "Gasland" a movie that exposes "fracking." McElroy calls fracking the "mother of all game changers," and dismisses the film as nonobjective, non journalism, over a non-issue.

McElroy also poo-poohs concerns over one of America's supposed saving technologies intended to deliver all this new fossil fuel. He said dangers of hydraulic fracturing, called “fracking,” have been overblown and sensationalized, and something easily controlled through regulation.

“Some environmentalists have seized on it as the next great danger to the planet. A documentary called ‘Gasland’ probably will win an Academy Award for hysterically pointing out the dangers of fracking,” McElroy said, “Of course, ‘Gasland’ approaches its topic with the impartiality and evenhandedness of pseudo-documentaries such as 'Roger and Me' and 'Who Killed The Electric Car?'

Oops. There at least he said something kind of snotty about a topic and perspective held dear by some EV proponents.

Pick your pundit

So what do we make of this? Is Green Peace all wrong? Al Gore? Or if not them how about the U.S military? European Union? The Obama Administration? General Motors? The rest of the auto industry? Are all the private, corporate and government entities around the world that are pursuing a whole new battery powered industry basing it on bad data?

Given also biofuels, fuel formulations made from natural gas, synfuels, and others under development, will we have plenty of fuel to burn?

Is the fight for electric transportation no longer as worthwhile an endeavor toward a clean and sustainable future?

McElroy says nothing about hydrocarbon emissions, but perhaps that omission was one he has worked out also.

All we can say for sure is that in today’s information age, anyone can stand on a cyber stump and call to like-minded souls with soothing words that play to pre-existing biases in their minds and hearts; there is always someone willing to convince you of what you want to hear.

While we prize the First Amendment, aspects of the free-for-all are nonetheless what are really disconcerting.

To be fair, one could turn this assertion back around on us, and say we are just a fan club on a misbegotten adventure.

If so, we are not alone in believing energy independence is a worthy goal, and we have yet to be convinced oil is not problematic for many reasons.

The troublesome thing is not everyone has the ability to discern truth from fiction. In fact there are a lot of intelligent people on all sides of the argument – in environmental and energy issues, and for that matter, most issues facing society in this divided/united world.

Who do you believe? In this clip Greenpeace alleges VW is standing in the way of EU legislation that would further limit new vehicle CO2 emissions. If you want to see part two, you have to sign up , and Greenpeace will email VW a protest on your behalf.

McElroy’s tagline says: “John McElroy is editorial director of Blue Sky Productions and producer of ‘Autoline’ for WTVS-Channel 56, Detroit, and ‘ Autoline Daily ’ the online video newscast.”

In his opinion piece, he makes a defiant presentation that effectively muddies the outlook, which of course is his right.

He presents his case with some facts, and we credit him for having the guts to express opinions that are tantamount to saying millions of people are wasting their time, and he knows better. Is he arrogant, over confident, a bold visionary, or something else?

We won’t call it, but will ask: what do you make of this? Do you have facts that counter McElroy’s convictions?

A while back we reported an opposite-minded pundit from HSBC bank who said the world would be out of oil by 2060, and now here is someone who won't call the end because he says it is nowhere in sight.

It is getting confusing here. Who has the story right?

McElroy does not say it, but others before him have made accusations that ideological blinders drive the EV movement.

Are his assertions nothing but a smearing of one old guard ideology vs. the new other?

What is the truth? Do you know?

Source: Wards Auto